New research reveals that younger Catholics are more likely to give to charitable causes through online donation options and that overall, Catholics are concerned with the needs of the poor in their area.
“The knowledge gained from this report is important for our
understanding of the current patterns of giving among Catholics,” said
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, chairman of the U.S. bishops’
national collections committee.
“We now know that online giving to charitable institutions is rising
each year. These results … will allow the Committee to assess our
current systems for receiving donations. Moving forward, we will also be
better equipped to implement any changes needed in order to reach
Catholics, particularly young Catholics, who are giving online.”
The study by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the
Apostolate was commissioned by the bishops' collections committee, and
examined how and why working-age donors participated in online giving.
The data was delivered to the bishops Nov. 10 during the bishops' annual
assembly in Baltimore, Md.
The study showed that 32 percent of Catholics have given online
donations at some point, and found that Catholics between the ages of 16
and 34 were more likely to feel comfortable with and use online
financial platforms than respondents between the ages of 34 and 65, with
73 percent responding that they were at least "somewhat" comfortable
with making payments online.
The survey also found that among Catholics who attend Mass less
regularly and are not very likely to donate to a second collection, one
in four would prefer to give online.
“Because respondents under 35 are least likely to be aware of second
collections and less likely to be attending Mass weekly, an option to
give online would very likely provide significant additional fundraising
if young adult Catholics were made aware of this opportunity," the
The study showed that respondents gave online because of the medium's
convenience, followed by being able to respond quickly to an urgent
need, and “ease of tracking gifts online."
Those who gave via offline avenues, such as mailing checks or in-person
donations, cited "not feeling comfortable providing financial
information online, preferring to give in person, and a concern that a
donation would not get to the right charity or be used for the right
purpose were most often noted as being important to their decision to
give by other methods," the study said.
Median donation size was not significantly different between online and
offline gifts. Religious organizations were the most popular recipients
of donations, according to the study, with 46 percent of all donors
giving to a religious group at least once a year, and 80 percent of
weekly Mass attendees.
Other groups earning high percentages of donations were "care or health
research, veterans or first responders groups, children’s groups, and
domestic food aid or disaster relief."
Catholics also stated their concerns for Catholic giving and need in
their parishes, noting that helping "the poor and needy in their local
community" is a top priority for over 70 percent of Catholics. Other
major concerns reported by respondents were the needs of "local Catholic
schools" and the needs of their diocese.