Overseas Giving by U.S. Churchgoers

  • Overseas
  • 2016

American Christians have actively donated to charitable work overseas for more than 200 years. And there is evidence that the level of foreign donations by U.S. Christians has risen briskly during the past decade.

American churches contributed about $13 billion to relief and development abroad, in the latest year. (This totals both direct mission work and giving to other aid groups.) That religious giving compares to $5 billion sent overseas by foundations, $8 billion from secular relief organizations, and $11 billion donated internationally by U.S. corporations. The $13 billion in religious overseas philanthropy also compares impressively to the $33 billion of official development aid handed out by the federal government that same year.

One indicator of the sharp rise in overseas giving by U.S. churchgoers is the Mission Handbook compiled by the Billy Graham Center. It cumulates the budgets of prominent Protestant groups that are providing international aid—like World Vision, Compassion International, Heifer International, and Opportunity International. Between the years of 1992 and 2008, those budgets more than doubled (in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars).