Tithing in 2007
Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money. In 2007, the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.
Not surprisingly, some population groups were more likely than others to have given away at least ten percent of their income. Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom tithed); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%).
Several groups also stood out as highly unlikely to tithe: people under the age of 25, atheists and agnostics, single adults who have never been married, liberals, and downscale adults. One percent or less of the people in each of those segments tithed in 2007.
Among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. The study also showed that Protestants were four times as likely to tithe as were Catholics (8% versus 2%, respectively).
Tithing Since 2000
The percentage of adults who tithe has stayed constant since the turn of the decade, falling in the 5% to 7% range. The Barna tracking reported that the proportion of adults who tithed was 7% in 2006 and 2005; 5% in 2004 and 2003; 6% in 2002; and 5% in 2001.
Giving to Places of Worship and Other Non-Profits
In 2007, 84% of all adults donated some money to churches or non-profit organizations. That figure has also remained consistent in recent years.
The median amount of money donated during 2007 was $400; the mean amount was $1308. Those averages are higher than was revealed earlier in this decade, but represent a decline from the previous year. (The mean sum of donations per person in 2006 was $1348.)
The Barna study pointed out that one-third of all adults (34%) gave away $1000 or more during 2007. Nearly one-fifth (18%) had donated $100 or less.
Evangelicals Christians distinguished themselves in their generosity. More than four out of five (83%) gave at least $1000 to churches and non-profit entities during 2007, far surpassing the levels reached by any other population segment studied.
Almost two-thirds of the public (64%) donated some money to a church, synagogue or other place of worship. The median amount donated to those religious centers was $101; the mean amount was $883. Those figures were up slightly from the previous year.
In all, one-quarter of the people who gave any money to religious centers (25%) donated at least $1000. A whopping 96% of evangelicals gave money to a church in 2007; 81% of them donated at least $1000.
Christians Give the Most
Christians tend to be the most generous group of donors. An examination of the three dominant subgroups within the Christian community showed that evangelicals, the 7% of the population who are most committed to the Christian faith, donated a mean of $4260 to all non-profit entities in 2007. Non-evangelical born again Christians, who represent another 37% of the public, donated a mean of $1581. The other 42% of the Christian population, who are aligned with a Christian church but are not born again, donated a mean of $865. Overall, the three segments of the Christian community averaged donations of $1426.
The Christian giving was divided between Protestants (mean of $1705) and Catholics ($984).
In contrast, Americans associated with non-Christian faiths gave away a mean of $905 during 2007. Atheists and agnostics provided an average of $467 to all non-profit organizations.