BHA responds to BBC survey on charitable giving

A ComRes survey for the BBC that has been published today has implied that people who are religiously practicing are more likely to donate to charitable causes than those who are not. The study, carried out via telephone with 2,606 English adults, reports that 77% of those who claim to be religiously practicing gave to charity in the month preceding the study, compared to 67% of other respondents. However, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has questioned the nature of this giving, and noted that these recent findings are contradicted by previous research into volunteering. For example, a 2007 study undertaken by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations found that ‘religious affiliation makes little difference in terms of volunteering’, and that six sevenths of registered charities are not religious in nature.

 

The ComRes study focuses on English practicing religious adults, a narrow group in comparison to those within England who identify as religious, and does not take into account which charities money was donated to or in what manner the money was donated. As most Christian churches within the United Kingdom involve the passing round of collection plates as part of religious service, this effect is most likely to affect the results of those asked; and as some of this money will be spent on causes that benefit the churches involved but not wider society, charitable giving by those who are religious may not actually be of as much great benefit to society as the figures might suggest.

Read the BHA’s briefing on Religion, belief & volunteering

For more details please check BHA