The number of U.S. households contributing to charitable causes fell below 50% in 2018, according to a report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released July 27.
Only 49.6% of households engaged in charitable giving, a 16.6% decline from 2000, with both faith-based and secular non-profits impacted by the downward trend.
“We’ve seen a downward trend in households’ participation in giving since the Great Recession, but this is the first time that only half of U.S. households donated to charity,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at, in a press release announcing the report.
Several of the data sets used to create the report only include total annual giving of $25 or more, so a household contributing below that amount in a given year is considered a non-donor.
An average of 46% of U.S. households donated to religious entities from 2000-2004, declining to 29% by 2018.
Similarly, between 55% and 57% of households donated to secular charitable entities from 2000-2008, dropping to 42% in 2018.
In terms of donation amounts, religious causes received an average of $1,107 in 2000 per household, which dropped to $771 over the next 18 years. Average donation amounts to secular causes went from $684 in 2000 to $509 in 2018.
“Just over one third of the decline in giving participation can be attributed to changes in income and wealth,” the report said. “Trust and giving rates both decreased among both younger and older Americans; in addition, both trust and giving participation rates decreased more among younger Americans than older Americans.”
In other words, the downward trend is primarily due to an increase in the number of households not donating to any charitable causes, with the number of households giving to religious causes declining more than those giving to secular causes.
The full report is available here.