New Research on Women, Religion and Giving
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy recently released Women Give 2014.
The report details a meaningful shift in religious-based giving, specifically in regards to young, single women who are religiously unaffiliated.
The religiosity-giving relationship, which has been assumed to be the same regardless of gender and age, is a more complex relationship than previously thought. For the first time, this research examines the intersection of religiosity, gender, and age in a single analysis and finds a significant change in patterns of giving. In an important shift from the standard religiosity-giving story found in most previous research, young single women who are religiously unaffiliated – the ”Nones” – give roughly two times larger amounts to charitable organizations than women who are affiliated but infrequently attend religious services.
Why the Shifting Landscape Matters
The influence of religiosity on giving is frequently used to argue that those who are more deeply engaged in religion are more likely to give and give more to charitable organizations – the standard religiosity-giving story. Yet, in the 25 years from 1987 to 2012, the percentage of American adults expressing no religious preference increased from 7 to 20 percent—the so-called “Nones” – religiously unaffiliated Americans.
At the same time, the most religious generations in American history—those born 1905-1924—are passing away while the new generations entering adulthood have weaker attachment to organized religions. In light of the relationship between religiosity and giving to charitable organizations, do Americans’ weakening attachment to organized religion suggest that their commitment to charitable organizations will also weaken? Will weakening attachment to organized religion among women and among men have similar implications for their respective charitable giving?
As with previous Women Give reports, Women Give 2014 affirms that gender and age matter in charitable giving. It suggests that nuanced fundraising strategies which build strong relationships with both men and women and demonstrate that their goals and approaches are relevant to those different audiences will help assure that resources continue to be available to meet society’s challenges.