Religious Attendance Relates to Generosity Worldwide

Gallup data reveal that adherents of all the major world religions who attended religious services (attenders) in the past week have higher rates of generosity than do their coreligionists who did not attend services (non-attenders). Even for individuals who do not affiliate with any religious tradition, those who said they attended religious services in the past week exhibited more generous behaviors.

These findings are based on Gallup surveys conducted from 2005-2009 in 145 countries, which asked individuals about whether they in the past month donated money to a charity, volunteered time to an organization, and helped a stranger. It has long been known that in the United States, religious attendance is associated with higher rates of volunteering and monetary donations, but the global data suggest the relationship exists in almost all countries.

For all three measures of generosity, those who attended religious services in the past week were more likely to say they engaged in the behavior than those who did not attend. The largest difference is for volunteering, which increases from 18% for non-attenders to 26% for attenders.

The differences in generous behaviors between attenders and non-attenders are consistent within the vast majority of individual countries. Statistical analyses of each of the 145 countries were run to examine the statistical relationship between the measures of generosity and religious attendance. In almost 90% of the countries surveyed, there was a statistically significant positive relationship between attendance and donations based on gamma values of the cross tabulations.

Similarly, in 87% of the countries surveyed, a positive relationship existed between volunteering and attendance, while this was the case in 73% of countries surveyed in regards to helping a stranger. This suggests that the association between generosity and attendance of religious services is not dependent upon characteristics of a particular country, such as wealth or development, but rather a robust relationship globally. This research extends the findings of Pelham and Crabtree by demonstrating that a positive association between religiosity and charitable behavior exists within the vast majority of countries. What is less clear is whether it is religiosity in all its forms or only religious service attendance that holds such a relationship.

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This analysis is between believers who attend services and those who don’t.
It would be interesting to see the difference between believers who attend and non-believers in general.

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