New research suggests religious people are more generous

Published 07 June 2014  |  
(AP)

People of faith are more likely to give to charity than those of no religion, new research shows.

More than three-quarters of people living in England who practise a religion have given to charity in the past month, according to a survey by ComRes for the BBC.

Just two-thirds of those with no religion gave to charity over the same period.

Religious people are also more likely to have friends or family who donate. More than seven in ten said their friends or family had donated to charity in the past month, compared to just over six in ten of those who do not practise a religion.

Being asked to give money is also an important influence on who gives to charity, the survey of more than 2,600 people found. Those who have given money to charity are more likely to have been contacted by a charity. More than eight in ten of charity givers have heard from a charity in the past month encouraging them to give
money to charitable or social causes. This compares to just half of non-regular givers. People who have donated to charity in the past month are also twice as likely as people who have not to have heard from a church or similar religious organisation. Nearly a quarter of those who donated had been contacted by a religious group.

The Methodist Church, which is calling on members to rethink what it means to be generous as part of its A Generous Life campaign, was among the first to welcome the findings.

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, Methodist General Secretary, said: "Religious faith should motivate people to acts of generosity and it's good to see this reflected in these figures. Of course, financial giving is only part of the picture. For some people a simple act of kindness, or the very fact that someone has made time for them, can mean more than any financial gift. But every act of generosity, however small, bears witness to a generous and loving God and helps to change the world for good."

Rev Arun Arora of the Church of England said of 2011, the latest year for which figures are available: "Members of the CofE - through the donations of parishes to other charities - gave £49 million to other charitable organisations, more than that raised by Comic Relief. Donations to parishes from individual donors amounted to £546 million, with an average of £46.40 per month from donors which compares favourably against the average donation to the charitable sector of £17 a month. The above figures reflect only what Christians give via church. Many will also give to other charities individually."

Helen O'Brien, Chief Executive of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said: "It is good to see that so many people are donating to charity, including people of faith. We appreciate that acts of kindness are also a valid and great support for people in need.

"CSAN's member organisations work with some of the most marginalised and isolated in our society, including those who are homeless, imprisoned and refugees. As we come to the end of Volunteers Week, our charities are thankful for their volunteers who give their time freely, generously and without expecting anything in return."

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