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Donations to churches at all-time low, Gallup finds

Donations to religious organizations continued at an all-time low last year, a new Gallup survey found.

Forty-four percent of Americans, the same percentage as in 2020, said they donated to a faith-based organization. It’s the lowest percentage in the history of Gallup, which began asking the question in 2001. Back then, 62 percent of Americans said they donated to religious organizations. In 2005, it was 64 percent before falling to 56 percent in 2009 and 52 percent in 2017.

The news comes as more religious organizations accept crypto-currency to broaden the giving appeal to younger attendees.

Some of the decline could be attributed to the pandemic and the lack of in-person services or church attendance. Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones, however, noted that the decline also mirrors a drop in church membership.

“Over time, as formal church membership has declined, so too have donations to religious organizations,” he wrote. “The 44 percent of U.S. adults donating to a religious organization nearly matches the 47 percent who belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple.”

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Gallup surveys in 2020 and 2021 found an all-time low of 47 percent of Americans saying they were members of a church or synagogue. It was the first time the number had fallen below 50 percent. In 2001, it was 66 percent and in 2011, 59 percent. In 2016, it had fallen to 55 percent. Barely one-third (35 percent) of Americans say they volunteered for a religious organization in 2021. In 2017 it was 44 percent. Overall, 56 percent of U.S. adults say they volunteered at any charitable organization in 2021. In 2020, it was 58 percent.

“A recovery in volunteering may be more elusive as concerns about COVID-19 exposure and public health safety measures limit Americans’ willingness and ability to perform volunteer work,” Jones wrote. “While there was hope earlier in 2021 that COVID-19 vaccines would allow Americans to return to their normal activities, the unpredictable nature of the virus and emergence of new variants has forced leaders and citizens to reconsider when — or if — the pandemic will end.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice