Survey: Bible Readers Give More Than Those Who Don’t

April 17, 2014       Patrick Sullivan      

Americans who read the Bible give more than Americans who don’t — roughly $500 more per year, on average. Bible readers donated a median $600 to nonprofits during 2013, compared to a median of $100 for non-Bible-readers. The more someone is engaged with the Bible, the more they give, with those reporting the highest level of engagement donating a median $1,500, versus $30 for non-readers.

Those are some results from the American Bible Society’s (ABS) State of the Bible 2014 report. “While anyone who has ever taken a statistics class knows correlation does not equal causation, the results of this survey are certainly intriguing,” said R. Mark Dillon, ABS executive vice president for mission advancement. “Care for one’s neighbor and support of one’s faith community are themes that run throughout Scripture.”

The 2014 State of the Bible report’s “Giving to Non-Profit Organizations” section surveyed 1,645 Americans, both online and by phone, this past January and February. The report found that 75 percent of adults gave to nonprofits, including charities, churches, and religious organizations. “This represents a statistically significant increase from the number of adults who gave to a nonprofit organization” in 2012: 71 percent, according to the 2013 report. The research was conducted by the Barna Group of Ventura, Calif.

ABS did not research the number of organizations that respondents gave to, nor did the research break out giving to churches versus giving to other types of organizations. Dillon said what surprised him most was that the Bible-engaged gave more even though their income was lower on average: $56,000 compared to $67,000. “This speaks to the Bible’s encouragement of giving to others in need,” he said.

The mean gift for all adults was $1,693. Practicing Christians gave about three times more than non-practicing Christians and non-practicing members of other faith and those with no faith. Practicing Protestants gave a mean of $3,109 and a median of $1,500, and practicing Catholics agave a mean of $3,096 and a median of $1,000. Non-practicing Christians gave a mean of $989 and a median of $100, while non-practicing members of other faiths and those of no faith gave a mean of $1,260 and median $50.

Mean and median gifts for all adults were greater last year than in 2012. The mean and median annual gift amounts for 2013 were $1,693 and $200, while in 2012 those numbers were $989 and $100. The number of donors giving $5,000 or more jumped 5 percentage points, from 7 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013, while the number of those reporting no gifts fell from 29 percent to 25 percent.

Those 68-years-old and older tended to give the highest dollar amount to charity, with median giving at $800. The eldest Bible Readers gave a median of $1,500, while the eldest non-readers gave $200. Those cohorts between ages 30 and 48 (Busters) and 49 through 67 (Boomers) both gave a median $300 to charity in 2013, with Bible-reading Busters giving $1,000 and Bible reading Boomers giving $800. Non-readers gave $100 and $125, respectively. Millennials (ages 18 to 29) gave the least: $100 for Bible readers, $10 for non-readers and $30 on average for both.

Millennials were the most likely to say they gave nothing last year, at 37 percent, and elders the least likely at 9 percent. Practicing Protestants (9 percent) and Catholics (7 percent) were far less likely to say they gave nothing than non-practicing Christians (27 percent) and non-practicing other/no faith (39 percent).