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Charity statistics in USA
By Eric Gondwe (a Bethel Orphanage volunteer)

According to The NonProfit Times, Americans donated $240.92 billion to charity during 2002, up 1 percent from 2001. Total giving represented 2.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). It has remained above 2 percent since 1999. Corporate donations grew 10.5 percent (8.8 percent when adjusted for inflation) from the revised 2001 estimate of $11.03 billion (The NonProfit Times, Posted July 1, 2003).

Donations from living individuals remained the largest portion of the giving pie, representing more than 76 percent of all giving. Donations by foundations (not including corporate foundations) experienced a 1.2 percent decline (-2.7 after adjusting for inflation). Donations to foundations fell even more dropping an estimated 14.3 percent (-15.6 percent after inflation.) (ibid).

The single largest sector that received donations were religious organizations. They received $84.28 billion, representing 35 percent of the total estimated giving in 2002. The next largest sector remained educational institutions, though donations to such organizations decreased 1.1 percent (dropping 2.6 percent after inflation). Education represented 13.1 percent of all estimated donations (ibid).

The third were health organizations. Fourth were human services which represented 7.7 percent of donations. 5) Arts and cultural organizations, 6) Public-society benefit organizations, 7) Environmental organizations, 8) International affairs (e.g. peace and human rights organizations) (ibid). Figure 7 below gives a summary of where the donations went.

Figure 7. Charity Statistics (Billions of U.S. dollars)

(Source: Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), “National Philanthropy Day 2003: Talking points”)


Donations to Each Sector





Religious sector















Human Services





Public/Society Benefit





Arts, Culture & Humanities










International Affairs









There are two donor segments in the donor community: individuals and institutions (corporate donors). Institutional or corporate donors include all organized formal groups such as churches, businesses, schools, foundations, other non-profits, governments, multilateral institutions and so on.

1. Individual Donors

The following are some statistics on individual donors. The first covers on all groups in the US –Christian or non-Christian. The second covers on professing Christians from all denominations. (Source of the data: Generous Giving, Inc, Statistics>Topically Arranged Statistics>Charitable Giving).

All US Individual Donors:

1) Forty-two percent of donors donated to a direct mail appeal during a 12-month period in 2002-03. Other top mediums donors responded to include workplace campaigns (33 percent) and personal, face-to-face requests (32 percent). About a quarter of the donors surveyed (23 percent) gave to a request over the phone during that year. In terms of broadcast media, about 14 percent of the donors interviewed gave to a TV ad during that year and another 12 percent gave in response to a radio ad. Only 3 percent said they gave a gift in response to an online request,

2) In 1998, donating households gave 60.1 percent of their contributions to religious organizations, 9.0 percent to human services, 6.5 percent to health, 6.4 percent to education, 3.3 percent to arts, culture, and humanities, and 3.2 percent to environment,

3) In 2000, 78 percent of Americans donated some money to at least one church or nonprofit group. Twenty-two percent did not give at all,

4) There has been a steady decline in percentage of Americans who donate, down roughly 6 to 8 percent each year from 1998 to 2000,

5) As of 2001, Baby Boomers (ages 35-55) are generous donors but do not tend to give to churches. “Baby Busters” (ages 20-35) give very little money at all but tend to give volunteer time,

6) People who do not give philanthropically as youngsters are less likely to do so as they mature and age (Parents, watch your kids’ financial behavior),

7) The two groups in the United States that donate the highest percentages of their income are the poor (those making less than $20,000 per year) and the rich (those making more than $100,000 per year). Middle-class Americans (those making between $40,000 and $100,000 per year) are the smallest percentage givers,

8) Nearly equal percentages of both the wealthy and general population rated their spiritual or religious beliefs as important for their charitable donations (36 and 37 percent, respectively),

9) Both white and black adults donated more than twice as much per capita as did Hispanic adults ($1218 by whites, $1094 by blacks, $528 by Hispanics). However, Hispanic adults tend to have relatives abroad where they send large sums of their income, much more than blacks and whites donate to charitable causes,

10) 53 percent of all black households donate to charity, and 59 percent of their donations go to churches and other religious purposes. Nine of every $10 of their donations goes to churches or religious groups,

11) Blacks give 25 percent more of their discretionary income to charity than do others (Excluding giving by Hispanics to relatives abroad). For instance, blacks who make between $30,000 and $50,000 donate an average of $528 annually, compared with $462 donated by their white counterparts in the same income range. Most of their donations are given to churches, rather than to other non-profit organizations,

Individual donors among professing Christians in the US

The following are some statistics about typical Christian donors:

1) Religious observers (only 38 percent of all Americans) donate two-thirds of all charitable dollars in the United States,

2) Religious observers (those who attend weekly services) donate 3.4 percent of income annually, while nonreligious people give 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent,

3) Households that donate to both religious congregations and secular organizations donate over three times ($2,247) more than do households that donate to only secular organizations ($623) per year,

4) In a typical month, six out of every 10 U.S. adults donates money to a church or other nonprofit organization; three-fourths of all adults do so during the typical year. Twenty-six percent of adults who give money to a church also donated funds to religious nonprofits other than a church,

5) In 2001, Protestants in the United States donated an average of $1,093 to their churches in 2001. That figure was more than double the average amount given by Catholics to their churches, $495.8,

6) Among the 10 largest denominations in the United States, those whose churches receive support from the highest percentage of adherents are Presbyterian, Assemblies of God and Churches of Christ. The denominational churches that had the lowest proportions of attendees donating to the church were Episcopal, Pentecostal, and Baptist,

7) In 2001, Protestants in the United States donated an average of 57 percent more money to nonprofit organizations than did their Catholic counterparts—$1,379 compared to $878.8,

8) In 2000, American evangelicals collectively made $2.66 trillion in income,

9) Total income of Christians (including nominal Christians) in the United States is $5.2 trillion annually, nearly half of the world’s total Christian income combined. Religious observers comprise an estimated 38 percent (about 100 million people) of the U.S. population. There are almost two billion Christians worldwide. Thus about 1.9 billion or 95 percent of Christians share the remaining half of the Christian total income,

10) If members of historically Christian churches in the United States had raised their giving to the Old Testament’s minimum standard of giving (10% of income) in 2000, an additional $139,000,000,000 a year would become available assist in Christian based mission work.

2. Institutional/Corporate Donors

The following are some statistics about institutional/corporate donors (source: Generous Giving, Inc, Statistics>Topically Arranged Statistics>Charitable Giving)

1) Donations by foundations (not including corporate foundations) increased to $25.9 billion in 2001; this is an increase of 5.4 percent from the previous year (2.5 percent adjusted for inflation). Foundation grants accounted for 12.2 percent of total giving in 2001,

2) Donations by corporations decreased to $9.1 billion in 2001, a drop of 12.1 percent (-14.5 percent when adjusted for inflation) from a revised estimate of $10.3 billion from the previous year. This decrease reflects a 17 percent decline (-20 percent adjusted for inflation) in corporate pretax profits. Corporate giving was 4.3 percent of total contributions. In 2001, corporate charitable contributions were 1.3 percent of corporate pretax profits, one of the highest shares of profits in recent years.3

Generous Giving,Inc, Statistics>Topically Arranged Statistics>Charitable Giving (Retrieved May 2004)

Generous Giving,Inc (Retrieved May 2004)

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    Bethel Orphanage is a Zambian charitable organization among Christian charities caring for orphans, in Kafue, Zambia, Africa. AIDS in Africa has increased the burdens of child charity organizations like Bethel Orphanage that help children orphaned from poor families. Orphanages have a challenge of keeping up with the growing numbers of orphans. Bethel is among African Christian orphanages in Zambia working to fight the AIDS orphan crisis. Persevering in the pillars of religious service & ministry: “Pure and undefiled religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress," (James 1:27). Supporting helpless children through your child sponsorship outreach. Orphanage volunteers most welcome. Volunteering opportunities available at Bethel. 101 ways to support children.

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