In an official publication produced by Statistics Canada in April 2012, it was reported that people who are more religiously active (i.e. those who attend religious meetings or services at least once a week) are more inclined to donate and, on average, they make larger donations. In 2010, 93% of them had given money to one or more charitable or non-profit organizations. Nationally, their average annual donation was $1,004. In comparison, 83% of donors who attended less often or not at all had donated, and their average annual donation was $313.
As in the United States and some European countries, religious organizations in Canada receive the largest share of the total value of donations. Of the $10.6 billion given by Canadians in 2010, $4.26 billion was given to religious organizations. This constituted 40% of the total value of donations, down from the 46% recorded in 2007.
Clearly, people give to causes close to their hearts. But did you ever pause to consider that many secular organizations are eligible for funding that religious organizations cannot receive? For example, a number of Canadian charitable foundations state on their application forms that grants to religious groups are excluded. Most corporations are unwilling to support charitable causes that have a religious basis. Government funding for churches is limited to purposes that serve the wider community, such as wheelchair ramps, or for the sake of local heritage. And those who aren’t religious don’t give to churches!
Thankfully, faithful Christians are generous. But the church’s basis for support is narrower than that of other charitable organizations. As Anglicans making decisions about where to contribute, we must exercise good stewardship by making the church a top priority. If the work of the church doesn’t make it to the top of our priority list, who else will support it?