U.S. religious donations to poor countries for relief and development hit $8.8 billion in 2006, according to the first nationwide survey of U.S. religious giving to developing countries.
The amount of $8.8 billion is equivalent to 37 percent of all U.S. government aid, pointed out the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity (CGP) in its 2008 Index of Global Philanthropy. Previously, the religious giving for 2005 was reported at $5.4 billion based on limited available data.
"This Index breaks new ground by commissioning the first national survey of congregational giving to the developing world," commented Carol Adelman, director of the CGP.
"But it's not just about the numbers," Adelman added. "It's about people volunteering their time and expertise to help those less fortunate help themselves."
More than half of U.S. congregations gave an average of $10,500 to U.S. organizations for relief and development in poor countries. And over 30 percent made donations directly to programs in developing countries as well as volunteering for short-term missions or service trips, according to the survey.
Highlights in the report on religious giving include the Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wis., partnering with World Vision to support Rwandan children with shelter, clothing, vocational training, and other educational opportunities.
The survey was conducted by the University of Notre Dame Center for the Study of Religion and Society, in partnership with GCP, as part of a comprehensive Notre Dame congregational survey supported by the John Templeton Foundation.