Practicing Christians give more to charity than non-Christians: study

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Practicing Christians are far more likely to give to charity than non-Christians, according to a newly released study as part of the American Bible Society's State of the Bible USA 2023 report.

Released Tuesday, chapter eight of the ABS' report, titled “Generosity,” examines charitable giving patterns based on people’s religiosity and level of Scripture engagement.

Overall, 68% of American households donated to charity in 2022. This represents an increase from 2021 when only 62% gave their money to charitable causes. While charitable giving rose from 2021 to 2022, it still remains behind the 69% measured in 2019. 

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The latest data from ABS shows that a much higher percentage of “churched” people donated to charity last year than their “unchurched” counterparts.

The research defines a churched person as someone who has attended at least one church service other than a funeral or a wedding in the past six months, while an unchurched person is someone who has not.  

Ninety-one percent of respondents living in a churched household gave to charity in 2022, while 52% of the unchurched made charitable donations last year.

On average, the churched also gave a higher amount of money to charity than the unchurched. The average amount donated by a churched household was $4,749, while unchurched households gave an average of $3,338 to charity. 

Additionally, the research revealed that those who attend online church services are more likely to donate to charity than those who go to in-person church services. Ninety-five percent of online churchgoers and 87% of in-person church attendees gave to charity. Those who go to online services gave an average of $5,223 to charity. The average amount donated to charity by respondents who attend in-person church services was measured at $3,330.

When breaking down respondents into practicing Christians and non-practicing Christians, those who fell into the category of practicing Christians gave more to charity than their non-practicing counterparts. Practicing Christians were defined as those who “identify as Christian” and “attend church at least once a month,” in addition to viewing their faith as “very important in their lives.”

Respondents who either do not go to church monthly or see their faith as very important are categorized as “non-practicing Christians.” Those who did not identify as Christians were labeled “non-Christians.”

Ninety-five percent of practicing Christians donated to charity, followed by 68% of non-practicing Christians and 51% of non-Christians. The average amount of money donated by practicing Christians amounted to $5,350. That figure dropped to $3,806 among non-practicing Christians and $3,163 among non-Christians.

The research also classified respondents based on their level of Scripture engagement or the extent to which the Bible impacts their lives. The term Scripture engaged refers to those who score 100 or higher on the “Scripture engagement scale.” The term “movable middle” encompasses those who score between 70 and 99 on the Scripture engagement scale, while the “Bible disengaged” consists of those who score less than 70. 

The Scripture engaged had the highest frequency of charitable giving (92%), followed by the movable middle (76%) and the Bible disengaged (54%). The Scripture engaged gave an average of $6,230 to charity, more than double the $2,882 donated on average by the Bible disengaged. Those in the movable middle gave an average of $4,805 to charity.

The data contained in the State of the Bible USA 2023 report is based on 2,761 responses collected Jan. 5-30. The survey had a margin of error of +/-2.59 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. 

In a statement reacting to the findings, ABS Chief Ministry Officer John Farquhar Plake remarked that it will not "come as a surprise that people who are invested in their Christian faith give back.” 

“Overall, Americans are generous,” he added. “More than two-thirds of us supported charities in some capacity in 2022! The question for ministry and NGO leaders is how to best channel that generosity for positive impact for the communities that need it most.” 

One more installment of the State of the Bible USA 2023 report is slated for release in December. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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