May 20, 2009 — According to the study by Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity (CGP), church donations to international relief organizations based in the U.S. jumped 17 percent from 2006 to 2007, with 74 percent of American congregations giving toward global aid agencies. The average church gave $11,960, and more than a quarter of those gave directly to programs in other countries for a combined $3.3 billion. Other means of church giving included short-term mission or service trips (34 percent of all congregations did this), as well as long-term development projects (30 percent) that contributed more than $1.4 billion to aid countries.
“Together, religious organizations and PVOs [private and voluntary organizations], including volunteers to international development causes, gave more in aid to developing countries than the U.S. government did in 2007,” said Carol Adelman, director of the CGP. “Religious congregations … are becoming major players in the world of international development, bringing new ideas, dollars and people to the table to help the world’s poor.”
So where exactly did all this money go? The CGP found the greatest areas benefiting from American goodwill were Latin America and the Caribbean (36 percent); Asia and the Pacific (29 percent); sub-Saharan Africa (21 percent); Europe and Central Asia (9 percent); and North Africa and the Middle East (5 percent). At least 34 percent of congregational giving went toward education, while 26 percent was allotted for health and medical projects.