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Christian millennials give 3 times more money to charity than non-religious counterparts: study

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A new survey reveals that Christian young adults are three times more likely than their non-Christian counterparts to give money to both religious and non-religious charities.

A survey published by LifeWay Research Wednesday asked 905 young adults between the ages of 25 and 40 years old (millennials) about their money management habits. The respondents in the study, conducted in partnership with the Christian financial institution AdelFi, between Jan. 18–22, included a subset of 495 Christians.

In a statement announcing the survey's results, LifeWay Research CEO Scott McConnell explained that “AdelFi was interested in understanding what differences exist in how younger Christians handle their money compared to non-Christians.” Based on the results of the study, McConnell concluded that “Christians are much more active in donating their finances and no less active in trying to do good with their spending.” 

“One would expect Christians to give more than non-Christians to churches and religious organizations, but they are also more likely to donate to 3 out of 4 other types of recipients,” he added. “While overall the financial generosity of Christian young adults is very noticeable, there remains a large group who don’t practice their belief in the need to give to a local church.” 

LifeWay Research indicated that “the typical Christian young adult donates more than three times as much as non-Christians over a year ($1,820 vs. $556).” Additionally, Christian young adults were more likely to give to a local church (37%) than their non-Christian peers (8%). While 28% of Christian young adults donate to religious organizations, 11% of non-Christians do the same.

As McConnell indicated, the disparities in charitable giving rates between Christian and non-Christian young adults extended beyond churches and religious organizations. Nearly half (47%) of Christian young adults surveyed reported donating no money to “individuals or families in need.” In comparison, most non-Christian young adults (62%) told pollsters that they did not give any money to “individuals or families in need.”

While majorities of both Christian and non-Christian young adults estimated giving $0 to GoFundMe campaigns, a higher share of non-Christian young adults (80%) declined to contribute to the crowdfunding platform than Christians (73%). The percentage of non-Christians who did not donate to “non-religious charities or educational organizations” (80%) exceeded the proportion of Christians (71%) who did not contribute to such groups. 

When measuring total donations overall, Christian young adults were more likely (45%) than non-Christian young adults (30%) to say they donated to any kind of charity, religious or non-religious. Participants in the survey also weighed in on how they spent their money. 

A majority (59%) of Christian young adults said they tried to purchase from companies that act in ways that honor Christ. Most Christians (56%) cited tithing to their local church as a biblical commandment that still applies today. 

The overwhelming majority of Christian young adults (69%) thought they had an obligation to be good stewards of their finances. McConnell was not surprised by this statistic: “Most people want to be financially responsible, and most Christian young adults see this as a responsibility that comes with their faith.”

However, a smaller share of Christian young adults (48%) believe Christians “have a responsibility to do business with companies that are owned or operated by Christians.” Forty-four percent of Christians answered in the affirmative when asked if their religious faith influenced their financial decisions. Just 10% of Christians listed religious leaders as having an influence on their financial decisions. 

Reacting to the role their faith plays in the financial decisions of Christian young adults, McConnell said, “Young adults are very conscious about trying to make a difference in society with their purchases,” adding, “Christian young adults are no exception.”

According to McConnell, “Most of them approach spending decisions with a desire to honor Christ and to be good stewards of their finances all while seeking to do business with companies that help others.”

The study had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points and a 95% confidence interval. The results mirror the findings of previous surveys.

A 2012 study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that the least religious states gave significantly less money to charity than the most religious states in the U.S. Similarly, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute determined that “church attendance” was one of the most essential “forces behind American charity” in his book Who Really Cares

However, a 2015 study by the academic periodical Current Biology suggested that children raised in non-religious households were more likely than those raised in religious homes to practice charity. Scientist Tom Trinko pushed back on the findings of that analysis, contending that the study confuses “non-religious” with “atheist” and is therefore misleading. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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