A new study has found that people who go to church regularly are more likely to donate to religious institutions and those who attend services more often are more likely to give generously.
The findings indicated that those who attend religious services at least once a month make an average annual contribution of $1,848, while those attending religious services less than once a month donate $111.
The report, released on Oct. 24 by the Chicago-based Giving USA Foundation, was based on data from the University of Michigan's Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), which tracks the giving practices of more than 9,000 individuals and families.
"By combining the PPS's extensive, reliable data and the expertise of our research team, the report gives us the ability to discover how patterns of giving to religion are evolving over time, and how faith and religion influence donors' giving to non-religious causes as well," said David King, Ph.D., the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the school.
"This report also raises the importance of the need for research in new areas such as how congregations teach, manage, and create a culture around charitable giving in an era of declining religious affiliation," Berry added.
According to Giving USA, donations to religious causes amounted to close to a third of all charitable giving in 2016. A total of $122.94 billion, or 32 percent of charitable donations, had been donated to religious institutions that year. That figure was more than twice the amount received by educational institutions, which is the next highest sector within nonprofits, garnering $59,77 billion.
The study found that Protestants give more to religious causes ($2,809), compared to Jews ($2,291), Catholics ($1,372) or those of other affiliations ($1,979).
African-Americans are more likely to give a greater percentage of their donations to religion than other groups — 74 percent, compared with Hispanics at 66 percent and 58 percent among whites.
The report also suggested that religious giving increases with income and educational attainment. Twenty-one percent of heads of household without a high school degree had donated to a religious institution, while 49 percent with education beyond a bachelor's degree gave to religious causes.
The researchers noted that age is also viewed as a factor in giving. Those who are aged between 40 and 64 tend to give more to religious causes, with an annual average donation of $2,505, compared to donors under age 40 at $1,892. and those over 65 at $2,338.
"(Y)ounger generations do give to religion, and do so at a rate that is similar to earlier generations," said Rick Dunham, a board member of Giving USA Foundation and president of a fundraising company that focuses on faith-based nonprofits, according to Religion News Service.
"It is reasonable to expect that as younger generations mature, they will be similarly engaged in charitable giving as older generations are," he added.