Charitable Giving to Religion Increased Slightly in 2019

Amid strong economic conditions, Americans gave $450 billion to charity in 2019, according to findings in Giving USA 2020. Comparing 2018 to 2019, total charitable giving rose 4.2% measured in current dollars (and 2.4% adjusted for inflation). Not only was 2019 a strong year for philanthropy, but it was also one of the highest years ever for charitable giving. "Clearly, Americans prioritize generosity as a key part of their lives,” said Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation and founder and CEO of Dunham + Company.

Giving to religion--defined as congregations, denominations, missionary societies, and religious media--remains by far the largest overall recipient of charitable dollars at 29% ($128.17 billion) of the charitable giving pie.

Giving to religion grew slightly from 2018 to 2019 (2.3% or .5% adjusted for inflation) in contrast to a decline from 2017 to 2018. Unfortunately, growth in religious giving lagged far behind the growth of almost every other charitable sector. Of the nine major types of recipient charitable organizations, growth in giving to religion ranked eighth.

Published since 1956, Giving USA is the longest-running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in America. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and published by Giving USA Foundation.

For ECFA’s annual analysis of giving patterns among its members, see to download the free series of reports.

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.