Study: Religious People Give More To Charity — Unless Shopping Plans Get In The Way

WACO, Texas — Religious people give more to charity than non-religious people, but if their giving delays their plans to make a big purchase, they’re less likely to be as generous to charitable causes, a recent study finds.

The study, conducted by marketing professors and researchers at Baylor University, found that religiosity and materialism affect charitable giving patterns in opposite ways.

Researchers recruited 180 adults and assessed how their levels of religiosity affected their attitude toward helping others and their attitude toward charitable organizations. The authors were careful to distinguish religiosity from religious affiliation. Religiosity, they write, “is something that individuals experience outside of their place of worship and constitutes a way of viewing and experiencing the world that is different from their less religious (or nonreligious) counterparts.”

Generally, those in the survey who expressed high levels of religiosity also had favorable attitudes towards charitable organizations and toward helping others. But materialism, or the craving for material possessions, hindered those positive attitudes at times.

“We can’t always assume that religiosity ensures charitable giving,” says study author Dr. Meredith David, assistant professor of marketing at Baylor, in a university release. “Our study results suggest that increasing materialism lessened the positive effect of AHO [attitude toward helping others] on the breadth of giving.”

Dr. David and the research team believe they can use their research to help charities find the ideal donation candidates and prepare themselves to ask for donations more effectively. One method could include tapping into one’s natural desire to give, while offering some sort of public acknowledgement or other means to scratch one’s materialistic itch.

“Large donations that come with naming rights, spur news coverage or exceed the donations of other prominent individuals are all examples of how materialism can be used to drive charitable donations,” they wrote.

The study was published in the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing.

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