Religious Values Fuel Charitable Giving

Bruce Deboskey had an interesting article in the Denver Post in February 2014.

Below are a few highlights and statistics.

Connected to Give: Faith Communities is a recently published study that takes a closer look at the ways religious and spiritual values fuel philanthropy in the United States. The study concludes:

A donor's identification with any religious tradition increases charitable giving — and not just to the organizations identified with the donor's particular religious or spiritual identification. While congregational giving remains a cornerstone of giving for religiously identified Americans, the more connected they are to their faith community, the more likely they are to support a wide variety of charitable causes.

The comprehensive look at U.S. giving patterns, published by philanthropy-research organization Jumpstart Labs, also uncovered these findings:

• Seventy-three percent of American giving goes to organizations with religious ties: religious congregations (41 percent) as well as religiously identified organizations or RIOs (32 percent) such as Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army or American Jewish World Service that pursue a variety of charitable purposes.

• While most charitable dollars flow to RIOs, more individuals contribute to non-RIOs such as United Way, the arts and environmental groups.

• Most donors contribute to both RIOs and non-RIOs, not one or the other.

• People with religious or spiritual identifications give at higher rates, primarily because they give more to RIOs.

• Households affiliated with the five largest religious groups in the United States — Black Protestant, Evangelical Protestant, Jewish, Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic — give to charity at similar rates.

• Among Americans who donate, more than half say their commitment to religion is an important or very important motivation for charitable giving.

Co-author Shawn Landres, CEO of Jumpstart Labs, states:

"Frequently lost in the conversations about strategic philanthropy, with its focus on metrics and outcomes, are the values that drive us to do good in the world. For most Americans, those values play out in a religious or spiritual context. Identifying and bringing our values to our philanthropy helps us stay focused on what really matters — the fundamental belief taught by all major religions that we are all in it together and that we are accountable to something greater than ourselves."

In the course of history, religion has often been a tremendous divider of people. The Connected to Give study demonstrates that religion can also be a powerful uniter in support of the greater good. At a time of enormous needs, the values taught by the world's religions can inspire, motivate and challenge us all to charitable action.

Bruce DeBoskey, J.D., is a Colorado-based philanthropic strategist working with the DeBoskey Group to help businesses, foundations and families design and implement thoughtful philanthropic strategies and actionable plans. More at