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Source: Ryerson University

People with strong faith donate, volunteer more: study

October 23, 2006

Professor Ida Berger recently published a study on the influence of religion on philanthropy in Canada

Individuals who have a strong faith in their religion tend to volunteer their time to organizations and donate more than those who aren't religious, says a Ryerson University expert on the voluntary sector.

"People who identify strongly with their faith have more access to activities through their church, synagogue or temple to engage in volunteer and fundraising activities than individuals who aren't religious," says Professor Ida Berger, author of a study, The Influence of Religion on Philanthropy in Canada.

Berger examined data from a 2000 Statistics Canada survey of over 14,000 Canadians' philanthropic activity and their religious affiliation. The religious groups include Christians, Jews, Eastern religions, other religions and non-religious groups.

The professor of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies found that individuals who are religious, particularly conservative Protestants, are more likely to donate and volunteer than people not affiliated with a religion, or those who identify themselves with other religions. Seventy-five per cent of the money conservative Protestants donate goes to religious causes compared, on average, to 46 per cent with other religions and those not affiliated with a religion. Seventy-two per cent of Jews give to non-religious causes, making this group the highest group who donate to causes not tied to a religion."The evidence clearly shows that religious affiliation is an important determinant of Canadian philanthropy," says Berger.

When it comes to creating a fundraising campaign or recruiting volunteers, Berger does not recommend a cookie-cutter approach, but a targeted one instead. "Mass one-size-fits-all recruitment or management strategies are unlikely to be the most effective," she says. "Recruiters should identify behaviourally relevant bases of segmentation and develop communication, training and management methods targeted at the most promising segments. This research suggests that religious affiliation may be a very fruitful segmentation criterion."

The study, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, is published in the current issue of the journal Voluntas.


Ida Berger Suelan Toye
Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies Public Affairs
Ryerson University Ryerson University
Office: 416-9779-5000 x 6712 Office: 416-979-5000 x 7161



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