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Study: What motivates Christians to give?

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For a number of Christian, giving is both a spiritual gift and a discipline of discipleship to Jesus Christ.

Barna Group, a visionary research and resource company widely considered to be a leading organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture recently revealed the giving habits and motivations of particularly churchgoers and Christians.

For Christians, emotions motivate charity

The research group reported that the main reasons people say they have gotten involved in a cause in the past are primarily emotional: They believed they could make a difference (62%) or they saw or heard a moving story (45%). 

More than a third of adults remember being driven by an overwhelming sense of purpose (38%) or a relationship with someone who was already involved in the cause (34%). 

Direct requests for involvement seem to be less convincing, Barna reported.

However, such pleas may be more effective within the context of church attendance and faith commitment. 

Three in 10 (30%) practicing Christians (self-identified Christians who say their faith is very important in their lives and have attended a worship service within the past month) took up a cause because their church “cast a vision” for it. 

Christians Are Mostly Likely to Give to Church or Missions

A majority of practicing Christians (91%) said they’ve given money to church. According to Barna, many church-going donors likely assume other needs or causes are being addressed or at least financially supported through their tithes and offerings, trusting their church to be a facilitator for further giving to and/or resourcing of other programs. 

Further, sizeable majorities of practicing Christians say they give to missions (75%), local organizations that take care of people in need (70%) and directly to individuals who require assistance (64%). 

According to the research, in all categories, practicing Christians outgive their non-practicing peers, and they are 14 percentage points more likely to donate to organizations that address issues overseas. Evangelicals are also more likely than other faith groups to have donated to a church (93%), missions organizations (81%) and those in need (72%), showing consistency as a group in whether they give and what they give toward.

About the Research
The statistics and data in this report released Novermber 2018 were drawn from a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group in USA. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.

Practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who say their faith is very important in their lives and have attended a worship service within the past month

Non-practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who do not qualify as practicing.

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