Muslim Americans donated more in 2020 than non-Muslims, we found in a new study. They are also more likely to volunteer, we learned.
Only 1.1% of all Americans are Muslim, and their median income is lower than that of non-Muslims. But as we pointed out in our Muslim American Giving 2021 report, their charities comprised 1.4% of all donations from individuals. American Muslims, a highly diverse and rapidly growing minority, contributed an estimated US$4.3 billion in total donations during the year, mostly to non-religious causes.
As philanthropic scholars, we believe that our findings are important not only because it is the first time that we can see the size and scope of giving by this small and highly diverse community, but also because American Muslims are subjected to great discrimination. have to face.
giving more, including for civil rights reasons
We partnered with Islamic Relief USA, a non-profit humanitarian and advocacy organization, to conduct this study. Our findings came from our survey of more than 2,000 Americans, half of whom were Muslim, that the SSRS research firm conducted from March 17 to April 7, 2021. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Participants answered questions about their faith customs, charity practices and volunteer work, as well as what causes they support and their concerns about COVID-19. We also inquired about how economic and political uncertainty and financial well-being affected their giving and volunteering. Finally, we also examined whether they had experienced discrimination and their thoughts about the level of discrimination in society.
We found that Muslim Americans donated an average of $3,200 in 2020, compared with $1,905 for other respondents. They were also different from non-Muslims in many ways. For example, about 8.5% of their contributions supported civil rights causes, compared to 5.3% of the general public.
We believe this elevated level of giving reflects efforts to fight Islamophobia, the fear of Islam based on bigotry and hatred against Muslims. Similarly, Muslims gave more to increase public understanding of their faith. About 6.4% of the religious research they funded, compared to 4% from other sources.
Muslim Americans push Islamophobic tropes through the causes they support. For example, about 84% of Muslim American charities support American charities, with only 16% of this money going overseas. This contrasts with a false belief that Muslim Americans primarily support foreign causes.
Other top secular charitable priorities of Muslim Americans were domestic poverty relief and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
American health, employment and food security comprised 8.8% of Muslim American faith-based charities to causes seeking to reduce the toll COVID-19, compared to 5.3% for non-Muslims. Additionally, these charities also included a large proportion of non-believing Muslim Americans. Muslims gave 14.3% of their non-belief to COVID-19 reasons, a stark contrast with others. Of the non-Muslim population we surveyed, 6.7% of non-religious people supported this type of charity.
We attribute this pattern to the fact that Muslim Americans are over-represented among medical professionals and frontline workers. For example, 15% of physicians and 11% of pharmacists in Michigan are Muslim American. In New York City, Muslim Americans make up 10% of the city’s physicians, 13% of pharmacists and 40% of cab drivers, all of whom were designated essential workers.
All observant Muslim adults with the means to do so are expected to donate in observance of faith-based traditions. One, known as zakat, is more formal and is one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims are expected to follow. Another, sadaqa, happens voluntarily.
It made us want to see whether religiosity played any role with the charitable patterns of American Muslims. It turns out that Muslims who displayed a high level of religiosity, such as praying more often, were more likely to give to charity than those who prayed less. We found similar trends among non-Muslims.
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We plan to conduct this study annually for the next four years and monitor how Muslim giving patterns change over time. In addition, we will add more questions about how faith-based and secular motivations are shaping Muslim American giving.