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New Survey Shows U.S. Religious Giving to Developing Countries at $8.8 Billion

Hudson Institute & Carol Adelman

WASHINGTON — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The first national random sample survey of U.S. religious giving from congregations of all denominations to the developing world shows that congregations are giving record amounts in relief and development assistance to poor countries. The pioneering study, combined with other data, found that religious congregations gave $8.8 billion in 2006, according to the recently released 2008 Index of Global Philanthropy.

The Index, published annually by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity (CGP), had previously reported religious giving of $5.4 billion for 2005, based on limited available data. The new survey, undertaken by the University of Notre Dame Center for the Study of Religion and Society, in partnership with CGP, was part of a comprehensive Notre Dame congregational survey supported by the John Templeton Foundation. This far-reaching study found that over half of U.S. congregations gave an average of $10,500 to U.S. organizations for relief and development in poor countries. Over thirty percent made donations directly to programs in developing countries as well as volunteering for short-term missions or service trips. The survey specifically excluded support for evangelism, recording expenditures only for such items as food, clothing, and medicines, as well as cash for schools, clinics and small business development.

The Index of Global Philanthropy is the sole comprehensive guide to the sources and magnitude of private philanthropy from foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, colleges and universities, and religious organizations to the developing world. In addition, the Index measures remittances that migrants send back to their families and home towns. In 2006, these private financial flows were more than four and one-half times U.S. government foreign aid to developing countries. The $8.8 billion from religious congregations alone was over one-third official U.S. government aid of $23.5 billion. “This Index breaks new ground by commissioning the first national survey of congregational giving to the developing world,” says Carol Adelman, director of the CGP. “But it’s not just about the numbers,” says Adelman. “It’s about people volunteering their time and expertise to help those less fortunate help themselves.”

The Index highlights examples of this religious giving at work—the Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, partnering with World Vision to support Rwandan children with shelter and clothing as well as vocational training and other educational opportunities, or the National Christian Foundation which provides advice to local churches on how to deliver their Sunday donations abroad quickly and efficiently. Gretchen McPike from Madison summarizes her family’s sponsorship of Clementine Umuhoza, a young Rwandan girl in the World Vision “Church to Community” program: “Instead of just a picture on the side of my refrigerator,” she explains, “Clementine became a part of our lives.”

For more information and to view the 2008 Index of Global Philanthropy, visit CGP on the Web at www.global-prosperity.org.

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