Category Archives: charity

American Grace co-author David Campbell on religion and giving



David Campbell (Co-Author of American Grace) has a piece in on the link between religion and giving.


Over the last twenty years, one of the most stunning changes to the American social landscape has been the dramatic rise in the percentage of Americans who report having no religious affiliation—the group that has come to be known as the “nones.” Today, 20 percent of Americans disclaim a religious affiliation,and among millennials, it is over 30 percent. At the same time, there has been a growing debate over whether the secularization of society will lead to a decrease in charitable giving, with secularists—whether they consider themselves atheists, agnostics, or humanists—tending to argue that fewer religious Americans will simply mean fewer contributions to pay for churches and synagogues that fewer Americans are attending anyway.

Not exactly. A new report by Jumpstart and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy details the many ways that religion and the charitable sector are intertwined. Based on a major national survey, this report finds that three-quarters of all household charitable giving goes to organizations that have religious ties. These span the range from large organizations like the Salvation Army (which, many Americans do not realize, is actually a church) to small soup kitchens run out of church basements.

Read the rest of David Campbell’s “Religious People are More Charitable” (, 11/26/13)


Would you dine with a stranger for charity?

Stranger dining - photo by memetic

Stranger dining - photo by memetic

Eco-activist Franke James was invited in an e-mail by a stranger to dine with her (in her home) and in exchange have $200  contributed to the charity of her choice?  Would you do it?  At what price?

The question raises social capital questions of trust of strangers and raises interesting questions of when chance encounters lead to interesting new ties.

Franke James probably would have felt like a chump if it had come to violence or roberry but she chose to trust (after an initial Google search of her dinner stranger).  Here’s the whimsical tale of what happened.

James think this might be a really nice model for doing good (getting money donated to charity) while meeting strangers (that might help build new social ties).

NYT: “Hostile outlook may affect breathing”: social capital responsible?

“Hostile Outlook May Affect Breathing, Research Shows” (NYT Science Times, 6/19/07)

While the NY Times doesn’t label social capital a potential culprit to explain the relationship between more difficult breathing and hostility, alternative research has highlighted the relationship between issues like charitable giving or trust and pleasure sensors in the brain, and substantiated that there is a link between socializing and the reduction in our stress levels.  Makes one wonder whether in the same way that dreams and sleep play a critical role in cementing in learning and recharging our systems, whether things like socializing, giving and trust might also be a resetting and calming tonic for the system that prevent or reduce issues like breathing problems which might come from an accumulation of these stressors.

NYT article here, excerpts and summary follow:

“Having a hostile attitude may affect your breathing, a new study reports.

“Using a sample of 4,629 healthy adults ages 18 to 30, researchers determined hostility using a 50-item questionnaire and then administered breathing tests to record objective measures of breathing efficiency and lung capacity. The study appears in the May issue of Health Psychology.”

[The study controlled for age, height, socioeconomic status, smoking and asthma.]  For reasons not explained the low lung function was consistently found among hostile black men and women and in hostile white women. They didn’t find a statistically significant lung function decline in hostile white men.

The authors speculated that it could be environmental factors or even that low lung performance triggered hostility.

Donate, then smoke a cigarette?

The Freakonomics blog reports on research of Univ. of Oregon economics professor William Harbaugh and psychology professor Ulrich Mayr that found that “giving to charity can directly stimulate pleasure sensors in the brain.” This parallels some of the research that has come out on the relationship between trust and pleasure sensors as well (oxytocin).