In a world marked by economic uncertainty, growing community needs, and rapid technological advancements, the landscape of charitable giving is rapidly changing. And one thing is clear: faith communities are taking charge.
The latest Giving in Faith report reveals that people of faith are remarkably generous: Over 95% of faith-based givers donated to organizations or individuals in need in 2023, despite recent economic uncertainties. And the future of giving looks even brighter for 2024.
As part of this study, nearly 3,000 faith leaders and people of faith shared their perspectives on giving, community outreach, and technology. Based on their responses, the report dives into the motivations driving generosity within religious communities and how outreach efforts are influenced by evolving congregational and community needs.
It also sheds light on the role of digital and the impact emerging technologies are having on worship and giving. Finally, it provides a glimpse into the future of generosity and how faith leaders and people of faith are gearing up for a fruitful year.
Five key findings from the 2024 Giving in Faith report
The Giving in Faith report offers faith leaders exclusive insights into how faith communities are navigating these dynamic times.
According to Wale Mafolasire, founder and CEO of Givelify, “acting on the insights presented in the report will not only empower effective leadership but will also continue to strengthen the impact of faith communities on individuals and social issues affecting them, making a lasting impact for more good.”
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key findings from the 2024 Giving in Faith report.
1. Faith communities are abundantly generous
Despite recent reports suggesting that giving in the U.S. is declining, the study shows that charitable giving is, in fact, alive and well in the U.S., especially within faith-based communities. Many other reports only consider a narrow range of charitable giving, not accounting for informal giving that many Americans consider as philanthropy.
The Giving in Faith report shows that in 2023, just over 97% of faith-based givers surveyed gave money, time, and/or items. More specifically, more than 95% of faith-based givers surveyed reported that they gave money to one or more places of worship, registered nonprofits, mutual aid groups, or directly to people in need.
A key reason for this abundant generosity? Their faith. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed agreed that their faith inspires them to give generously to their place of worship, while 79% agreed that it also inspires them to give to causes, organizations, and people in need outside of their congregations.
2. Digital giving is the new norm
Over the years, advancements in technology and, more recently, the impacts of the pandemic have accelerated the digitalization of giving. Faith-based givers have embraced this trend, with digital giving showing continued growth year-over-year.
In fact, 77% of givers stated that they utilized at least one digital means — such as a website, mobile app, or digital currency — to make donations to their places of worship in 2023.
Of the 51% of faith-based givers who only use one giving option, they prefer to give digitally, with 66% exclusively using a digital method to give to their place of worship.
For places of worship, it’s clear that digital charitable giving is here to stay. According to faith leaders, digital giving made up 60% of congregations’ total annual contributions. Faith leaders have embraced this change, with 98% reporting that they offered digital giving options to their congregants in 2023.
3. Supporting essential community needs is paramount
Beyond offering spiritual guidance to their congregations, places of worship play a pivotal role in serving their communities. In the most recent Giving in Faith study, almost all places of worship reported offering at least one outreach program to support the unmet needs of their communities.
These efforts are largely driven by the congregations. Seven out of 10 faith leaders surveyed reported that, in 2023, the collective desire of attendees to support more outreach in the community was the primary motivator for increased outreach.
When asked which causes their congregation should support if given additional funds, over half of faith-based givers surveyed prioritized primary or essential needs, such as food and clothing, as the most important cause.
Similarly, faith leaders (89%) cited programs addressing primary needs as the most important cause to support. In fact, in 2023, 82% of these places of worship engaged in support through programs such as clothing and food banks.
4. Future of faith-giving is bright
Looking forward, the future of religious charitable giving looks bright. Both faith leaders and their congregants aspire to be even more generous in the coming year.
Only 2% of faith-based givers intend to give less money to causes and organizations this year, with most wanting to give the same or more money to their places of worship and nonprofits in 2024.
The same is true for faith leaders. Although most feel their place of worship is doing enough to support the needs of their communities, they desire to do even more. Nearly all faith leaders surveyed plan to maintain or increase their community outreach efforts in 2024.
All in all, faith leaders and their congregants are generally optimistic about the future and are looking forward to doing even more good in the year ahead.
5. Excitement around emerging technologies
As emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) revolutionize various aspects of our everyday lives, faith leaders are keeping a close watch.
When asked about their awareness of emerging technologies, 78% had heard of at least one type of VR or AI-powered tool in 2023, with 57% having heard of ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot.
However, although most faith leaders have heard of these tools, few have used them within their place of worship, and many have mixed feelings about the increasing use of AI in their daily lives.
Those who have adopted these technologies in their place of worship have found innovative ways to use them — from translating written sermons into different languages to automating announcements and readings with AI voice generators.
Despite some hesitancy to use AI, most faith leaders are excited about the potential for emerging technologies to help their congregation become more consistent in their giving and outreach.
Inside the report, we explore some of faith leaders’ most pressing questions, including:
What are the key motivators driving religious giving?
Are there generational differences in giving motivations?
How are other congregations approaching community outreach?
What causes do people of faith care about most?
How are faith leaders leveraging new technologies?
Get your free copy of the 2024 report today to discover the answers to these questions and more. Equipped with these insights, you can ensure you adapt to evolving congregational needs and forge a stronger, more resilient congregation for the future.
About the Author
Lindsey is the Customer Marketing Content Lead at Givelify. She is passionate about creating educational content and joyful experiences that help our Givelify community find success with our mobile giving platform. Through her content, she aims to uplift and support faith-based and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to do more good in the world.