Scripture engaged Americans gave more than $100B to charity in 2021: report

A man reading the Bible.
A man reading the Bible. | Getty images

Scripture engaged Americans donated more than $100 billion to charity last year, giving more on average to churches and other charitable organizations than the other subgroups surveyed, according to a new report. 

The American Bible Society released the eighth chapter of its annual “State of the Bible” report earlier this month, which focused on the charitable giving habits of Christians and the American people as a whole. The survey found that Scripture engaged Americans, those who score the highest on a scale measuring Scripture engagement based on responses to a series of questions examining the “frequency of Bible use and the impact and centrality of [its] message” on their lives, gave a total of $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021. 

According to the report, compiled based on responses from 2,598 U.S. adults collected from Jan. 20-28, charitable giving among Scripture engaged Americans accounted for 44% of all donations given to charity last year. Additionally, Scripture engaged Americans gave an average of $2,941 to charity in 2021. Their counterparts in the “movable middle” and the Scripture disengaged, as determined by their scores on the Scripture engagement scale, gave an average of $649 and $924 to charity last year, respectively. 

On average, a majority of the donations from Scripture engaged Americans went to their church, parish or temple. With Scripture engaged Americans’ average contributions to their place of worship measured at $2,124, other top recipients of charitable giving among this subgroup included national religious charities ($344), other religious organizations ($277) and local non-religious charities ($162). 

Respondents in the “movable middle” gave an average of $335 to their place of worship, followed by $168 to other religious organizations, $85 to local non-religious charities and $43 to national religious charities. On the other hand, the Bible disengaged directed most of their charitable donations ($406) at religious organizations besides their place of worship, more than double the average amount given to places of worship ($163). 

The Bible disengaged donated an average of $285 to local non-religious charities and an average of $28 to national religious charities.

Scripture engaged Americans also had the highest proportion of givers among the three categories of respondents as determined by their scores on the Scripture engagement scale. Eighty percent of Scripture engaged Americans gave to charity in 2021, compared to 68% of those in the “movable middle” and 53% of Scripture disengaged Americans.

Among Scripture engaged Americans, a majority (58%) donated at least $210 to charity while an additional 24% gave less than $210, and the remaining 18% did not give to charity. A plurality of those in the “movable middle” (37%) gave less than $210 to charity, followed by 36% who did not donate at all and 27% who contributed more than $210. An outright majority of the Scripture disengaged (52%) did not give to charity, while the remaining 48% consisted of an even split of those who gave less than $210 and those who donated more than $210. 

Practicing Christians also donated money to charity at a higher rate than their non-practicing and non-Christian counterparts. Eighty-one percent of practicing Christians donated to charity in 2021, compared to 61% of non-practicing Christians and 52% of non-Christians. 

The latest chapter of the State of the Bible report also illustrated a correlation between the amount of money an individual gave to charity and their score on the Human Flourishing Index, developed by Harvard University to measure a person’s “happiness and life satisfaction,” “mental and physical health,” “meaning and purpose,” “character and virtue,” “close social relationships” and “financial and material stability.” Those who gave more than $210 to charity last year had an average score of 7.6 on the Human Flourishing Index’s 10-point scale. 

Individuals who gave less than $210 to charity achieved an average score of 6.9 on the Human Flourishing Index and those who gave nothing at all to charity had an average score of 6.7. On the 10-point scale specifically measuring an individual’s level of meaning and purpose, those who gave at least $210 to charity registered an average score of 7.7 in contrast to those who gave less than $210 (6.9) or those who did not donate to charity (6.7). 

John Farquhar Plake, the director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, reacted to the findings of the report in a statement. “Year after year our research shows there is a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing, suggesting that people find a sense of meaning when they give to a cause they believe in,” he said. “Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture–rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well.”

The State of the Bible report also illustrated a noticeable gap in levels of charitable giving based on age. Eighty-four percent of the elderly gave to charity in 2021, along with 73% of baby boomers, 61% of those in Generation X, 53% of millennials and exactly one-half of the youngest group of American adults that comprise Generation Z. 

The report concluded with a look at the role that Bible users, defined as those who interact with the Bible at least three to four times a year, believe that their use of the Bible plays in their amount of charitable giving. Fifty-five percent of Bible users who agreed that “as a result of using the Bible, I am more generous with my time, energy, or financial resources” gave at least $210 to charity, while 19% donated less than $210 and the remaining 26% did not give to charity.

A majority of those who agreed that “as a result of using the Bible, I show more loving behavior toward others” (54%) reported giving at least $210 to charity. An additional 26% who credited the Bible with making them more loving toward others did not give any money to charity while the remaining 20% donated less than $210. 

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

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