LifeWay Research Study Shows Personal Connection Drives Churchgoers to Give to Charity

When it comes to charity, a personal touch works 10 times better than Facebook — at least for churchgoers, according to a study released April 17.

A new report from LifeWay Research found more than half of Protestant churchgoers say a personal connection inspired them to give money to a charity for the first time. The evangelical research firm conducted the survey this past Aug. 22–30.

Social media such as Facebook inspired only 4 percent of similar donations.

Three-quarters of churchgoers support at least one charity besides their church. According to the survey, nearly half do volunteer work, while a similar number have made changes to the charities they support.

Churchgoers like to give — and to get involved, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“The question is, where will churchgoers give this year? The answer lies in having a personal connection,” McConnell said. “It turns out charity really does start close to home.”

Charitable giving

The nationally representative study asked adults who attend a Protestant church at least once a month to look at their charitable giving from 2016.

Sixty percent of those churchgoers gave to the same number of charities in 2016 as they did the previous year. Fifteen percent gave to more charities. Eight percent gave to fewer, while 15 percent were not sure.

Among those who donated to charities, 49 percent made changes in which charities they supported in 2016. This included about a third (31 percent) who gave to a charity they’d never supported before.

“The reality is that funding for charities is anything but stable,” McConnell said. “When a donor adds a charity, it can take away from ministries they have supported in the past.”

When asked what factor most prompted them to give, 21 percent say they knew someone who worked there. Nineteen percent had met someone from the charity, while 18 percent say friends of theirs supported the charity.

Fifteen percent had been to a fundraiser, while 15 percent had received a letter from the charity. Eleven percent had volunteered for the charity.

Phone calls (5 percent), television ads (5 percent), social network sites such as Facebook (4 percent), online ads (3 percent) and email appeals (2 percent) were less influential.

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Source: Baptist Press