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New Survey Shows U.S. Religious Giving to Developing Countries at $8.6 Billion

Hudson Institute & Carol Adelman

WASHINGTON—A national survey of U.S. religious giving from congregations of all denominations to the developing world, combined with other data, found that religious congregations gave $8.6 billion to the developing world in 2007, according to the newly released “Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances” published annually by Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity (CGP).

The CGP again partnered with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society to conduct an independent study of U.S. congregational giving. Combined with data from the Billy Graham Center on giving by Protestant mission agencies and data from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the “Index” provides a unique look at overall international relief and development giving by U.S. religious institutions.

This year’s “Index” finds that U.S. religious congregations continue to be extraordinarily generous to the developing world. A total of 74 percent of U.S. congregations reported an average donation of $11,960 to U.S. based international relief and development organizations. About 89,000 congregations contributed a total of $3.3 billion directly to programs in foreign countries. Roughly 34 percent of the congregations reported that people from their congregation went abroad on short-term mission trips and about 73 percent of these congregations provided a total of $759 million in support for these trips. Another 30 percent of congregations supported longer term mission trips for relief and development by providing $1.4 billion in donations.

For the totality of religious giving, 36 percent of contributions went to Latin America and the Caribbean, 29 percent went to Asia and the Pacific, 21 percent to sub-Saharan Africa, 9 percent to Europe and Central Asia, and 5 percent went to North Africa and the Middle East. A total of 34 percent of contributions went to education, 26 percent to health and medical projects, 22 percent for disaster relief, 17 percent for economic development, and half a percent to democracy and governance.

The “Index” is the sole comprehensive guide to the sources and magnitude of private philanthropy from U.S. religious congregations, foundations, corporations, private and voluntary organizations (PVOs), volunteers, and colleges and universities to the developing world. This year’s “Index” finds that these sources contributed a total of $36.9 billion in 2007, over one and one-half times U.S. government aid for the same period.

“Together, religious organizations and PVOs, including volunteers to international development causes, gave more in aid to developing countries than the U.S. government did in 2007,” says Carol Adelman, Director of the CGP. “Religious congregations—like Saddleback Church in California—are becoming major players in the world of international development, bringing new ideas, dollars, and people to the table to help the world’s poor.”

The “Index” highlights examples of religious giving at work. In addition to Saddleback Church and its P.E.A.C.E. program—which is helping Rwanda recover from the effects of genocide—the “Index” features Forgotten Voices, a charity helping local communities care for AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Engineering Ministries International, a Christian development group that uses volunteer designers, engineers, and architects to create a wide variety of infrastructure projects around the world.For more information and to view the new “Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances,” visit Hudson Institute’s CGP on the Web at www.global-prosperity.org.

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