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Top Reason U.S. Churchgoers Give? It’s Relationships

Personal relationship is the most common reason U.S. Protestant and nondenominational adults who attend church at least monthly donate to charitable causes, according to a LifeWay Research report published on April 17.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they donated because they “personally knew someone who worked at the charity” when asked what led them to do so with regard to their most recent charitable donation.

Other reasons given for giving include personal interaction with a representative of the charitable organization (19 percent), knowing others who support the charity (18 percent) and involvement in the charity’s fundraising event (15 percent).

LifeWay found that “snail mail” appeals are more effective than calls or online solicitation, with 15 percent of respondents donating after receiving a letter requesting support.

By comparison, only 5 percent of those who “received a phone call from the charity” and 2 percent who “received a fundraising email from the charity” made donations.

Other forms of fundraising proved equally ineffective, with 5 percent donating due to “an advertisement for the charity on TV,” 4 percent because they “saw something about the charity on a social network site,” 3 percent because they “saw an advertisement for the charity online” and 1 percent who “saw an advertisement for the charity in a magazine or newspaper.”

Apart from financial support for their church, a majority (74 percent) of U.S. adults contributed to at least one charitable organization in 2016, LifeWay found, with 15 percent donating to one charity, 20 percent to two, 14 percent to three, 7 percent to four, 7 percent to five, and 11 percent to six or more.

Sixty-percent of respondents said they supported the same number of charitable causes in 2016 as 2015, with 17 percent supporting more, 8 percent less and 15 percent unsure.

The full report is available here.