Poll: Fewer Americans say they donated to a religious charity this year

Poll: Fewer Americans say they donated to a religious charity this year
A donation bin sits near shelves with canned foods at the San Francisco Food Bank June 23, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Fewer Americans said they donated to a religious charity this year than in previous years, according to a new Gallup poll.

What did the poll find?

According to the poll, 52 percent of Americans said they have donated money to a religious charity this year. Though slightly more than half of Americans said they made a contribution to a religious charity in 2017, Gallup said there was a decrease of 12 percentage points from 2005.

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents said they donated to a secular charitable organization this year, a number consistent with previous years.

The poll also found that 44 percent of Americans said they volunteered for a religious organization within the past 12 months. Another 51 percent said they volunteered for a secular charity this year.

What does it mean?

Gallup said their findings indicated that donations to religious charities have declined alongside Americans’ membership in houses of worship. The 12-point decline in religious charitable contributions from 2005 and 2017 coincides with an 11-point decline in the percentage of Americans who said they are a member of a church or synagogue. In 2005, 64 percent said they were a member of a church or synagogue compared to 53 percent in 2017.

Gallup said that “overall charitable activity has been high and steady.”

“This may reflect a strong cultural norm for Americans to help others, not to mention the incentive provided by the tax-free status of many charities,” they said.