By: Susan Raymond, Ph.D., 03/03/06
This is the first in a three part series on faith-based philanthropy and nonprofits in America.
We are a nation of believers. 82% of American adults (admittedly only 69% of those with post graduate degrees) believe in God. But the patterns of belief and changing. Those changes have potential implications for both philanthropy and the constellation of nonprofits that make up America's service sector.
As usual, a caveat is in order. The United States does not include questions about religion in its census, and has not done so for 50 years. The information that is available comes from private and academic surveys. Further, it reflects what people say they believe and how they say they behave. What is actually true, therefore, is difficult to specify with any precision. Still, because so much of American life is lived in the context of faith, and because the link between faith, philanthropy and nonprofits is so deep, even weak data provide an important starting point."