|The Economy Continues to Squeeze Americans’ Charitable Giving|
June 28, 2012 – Many experts believe the world economy, weighed down by trouble in Europe and diminishing growth in China, is slowing down. A new public opinion survey by the Barna Group shows deepening economic concerns among American adults and increasing downward pressure on their charitable donations. Barna has been tracking indicators of economic confidence and impact on donations at regular intervals since late 2008, when the economy began to falter.
Impact and Outlook
As for their outlook, Americans believe the poor economic situation is here for the long-term. Half of adults (50%) say it will take three or more years to recover or the economy will never fully return to its pre-2009 form. This is on par with last year’s measurement, but significantly higher than it was during the first few years of the economic crisis.
Giving and Donations
As for giving to churches, Americans are increasingly likely to cut back on donations to congregations and houses of worship. In the current study, one-third of Americans (34%) have dropped the amount donated to churches in the last three months. This is the highest the indicator has been since the tracking began in 2008.
Furthermore, 11% of Americans say they have completely dropped all giving to churches in recent months, also the highest it has been in the four waves of tracking conducted by Barna. In November of 2008, 4% had cut church giving entirely, but 7% had done so in April 2011.
Other population segments who were particularly affected by the economy were households earning less than $40,000, divorced Americans, those associated with a faith other than Christianity and non-voters.
Republicans and Democrats were quite similar to one another in their responses to the economic queries. Members of both parties experience similar levels of financial pain; both demonstrate similar concerns about the future prospects of recovery; and both groups are equally likely to have reduced charitable giving to non-profit organizations. They only difference was that Democrats have cut back more so than Republicans in personal giving to churches.
In terms of religious segments, practicing Protestants were among the least likely to reduce giving to churches. However, perhaps to make up the difference, they were among the most likely to scale back their giving to other non-profit organizations. In contrast, practicing Catholics are more optimistic than Protestants about a speedy recovery; however, they are more likely to cut back donations to churches.
Putting the Findings in Context
“As for the political environment,” Kinnaman continues, “it is striking to see the similarity between the perceptions of Democrats and Republicans in terms of their concerns and challenges economically. With the upcoming election, both groups are looking for the candidates to speak authentically to the personal side of the economic situation. Even among Democrats, their vote, economically speaking, is more up for grabs than one might expect with an incumbent candidate.”
About the Research
Practicing Protestants and practicing Catholics are adults who describe themselves as Christians, attend a worship service at least once a month and say their religious faith is very important in their life.
About Barna Group
Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each update on the latest research findings from Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Other research-based resources are also available through this website.
© Barna Group 2012.