Americans Donated $125 Billion to Religion in 2018 – 29% of All Charitable Giving

Of the $428 billion Americans gave to charity in 2018, by far the biggest slice of the charitable giving pie—$125 billion or 29 percent—went to religion, according to the just-released Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018. Contributions to religion in 2018 represented the fourth highest inflation-adjusted amount of giving to religion recorded to date.

Overall, total giving to charity was virtually flat during 2018 compared to 2017. Healthy growth was seen most in giving by foundations (7% over 2017) and corporations (5%). Bequests were flat (0%), and contributions from individuals declined (-1%). Even with these adjustments, giving by individuals was still 68% of the total giving pie.

Giving to religion declined in 2018 after six years of slow growth and one year of flat growth. Further, giving to religious organizations has been declining as a share of total giving since 1984, when it reached 57 percent. The 2018 record is the first time that giving to religion has fallen below 30 percent of overall giving.

What's growing instead? During the last fifteen years (2004-2018), giving to international affairs, human services, health, and environment/animal organizations saw the highest rates of growth. Giving to religion realized the lowest growth rate during the same 15-year period.

For more on giving levels by ECFA members, see ECFA State of Giving 2018. ECFA produces an updated edition each fall, tracking changes in giving by various types of ministry.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.