Charitable giving increased in 2021, while volunteering continued a multi-year decline, according to a Gallup report published Jan. 11.
A strong majority (81%) donated money to a charitable cause last year – an eight-point increase from 2020 and just two points below the 2017 percentage (the most recent survey prior to the pandemic).
Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of U.S. adults donating to charity ebbed and flowed between a high of 87% (2005) and a low of 76% (2009) before dropping 10 points between 2017 (83%) and 2020 (73%).
Giving to religious organizations remained unchanged at 44% from 2020 to 2021, while donations to other charitable organizations rose 10 points to 74%.
Religious giving has experienced an overall steady decline since 2005 when 64% gave to religious causes – the highest total in the past two decades – before dropping to 59% by 2008, to 52% by 2017 and to 44% by 2020.
“Over time, as formal church membership has declined, so too have donations to religious organizations,” the report said. “The 44% of U.S. adults donating to a religious organization nearly matches the 47% who belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple.”
Non-religious charitable giving has fluctuated between a high of 79% (2001) and a low of 64% (2020) during the past 20 years, with the only decline in giving since 2009 taking place from 2019 to 2020.
While giving rebounded in 2021 to near pre-pandemic levels, the percentage of U.S. adults volunteering time to charitable organizations declined two points to 56%. This continues a decline that began after 2013 when 65% volunteered – the highest levels in the past two decades.
Volunteering ranged from a high of 65% (2013) to a low of 51% (2008) from 2001 to 2017 when the downward trend began.
Religious volunteering declined three points to 35% in 2021, while non-religious volunteering rose four points to 47%. Volunteering at secular organizations has outpaced religious volunteering every year over the past two decades.
The high point of religious volunteering in this time period was in 2013 when 46% reported doing so, while the high point for non-religious volunteering was in 2008 and 2017 when 50% reported doing so.
Households with an income of $100,000 or more were most likely to donate to charitable causes last year, with 92% doing so (up five points from 2020), followed by those earning $40,000 to $99,999 (84%; up six points), and those earning $40,000 or less (68%; up 12 points).
The same pattern was seen for volunteering: 68% (down seven points) of households earning $100,000 or more did so, followed by 59% (up one point) of those earning $40,000 to $99,000, and 42% (down two points) of households earning $40,000 or less.