NPQ would like to hear from its readers on a very interesting possible trend in charitable giving. What’s your analysis of this issue?

Most of us in the nonprofit sector are used to looking at a pie chart of giving wherein the biggest slice by far is devoted to giving to religious institutions. Last year, however, according to Giving USA, that pie slice declined as a proportion of the whole from 32% to 31%. Giving to religious institutions was essentially stagnant while other giving was increasing.

Now, we have Women Give 2014, a study released by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at IUPUI, which points to an interesting trend among women that may begin to connect a few dots for us. According to that study:

  • Younger single women who are not religiously affiliated, here referred to as “nones,” give on average twice as much as women who are affiliated with religious institutions, but only attend services infrequently.
  • Younger single “none” women give twice as much to institutions that are not religiously affiliated as they do to those that are.
  • Among younger “nones” of both sexes, women give twice as much as men.
  • Younger women who are “nones” give two-and-a-half times as much as older women who are also “nones.”

What this report cannot tell us is whether the giving pattern exhibits a trend that will last or is simply a function of our current age.

Context: Since 1987, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religious affiliation has increased from 7 percent to 20 percent. Among younger Americans, that number is 30 percent.

As was said in the report, though the issues of religious giving and giving by women have been studied separately in the past, no study has looked at gender, religiosity, and giving as a whole. They ask, “If religiosity-giving patterns differ between women and men, what does this mean for charitable organizations in the future?”

We encourage our readers to look at the rest of this interesting report and please share with us and your colleagues the thoughts you have about the implications of this trend.—Ruth McCambridge