Who Really Helps the Needy? Pew Study Shows Us, and So Does the Orlando Sentinel

Religious people donate and volunteer more than their nonreligious neighbors

“Echoing a new Pew Research Center study that found religious people are more apt to volunteer and make charitable donations than others, the Rescue Mission and other Central Florida charities say the faith community provides critical support in providing food, shelter and clothing for the needy.”

 

Religious people donate and volunteer more than their nonreligious neighbors. This has been established for years (yes, I’ll show that in a moment), but professionals in the mainstream media don’t often pick up on it.

So it’s a pleasure to read a news feature in The Orlando Sentinel – which not only reports a new Pew Research Center study on the fact, but takes the reporting down to the level of real people and groups in its own circulation area.

Starting with a minister who pastors a church and serves dinner at a rescue mission, the article broadens into a trend story:

Echoing a new Pew Research Center study that found religious people are more apt to volunteer and make charitable donations than others, the Rescue Mission and other Central Florida charities say the faith community provides critical support in providing food, shelter and clothing for the needy.

In survey results released last month, 45 percent of highly religious people — those who said they pray daily and attend weekly services – reported they had volunteered in the past week. By comparison, only 28 percent of others indicated they’d volunteered over that time frame.

Sixty-five percent of the highly religious individuals said they had donated money, time or goods to the poor in the past week, compared with 41 percent of people who were defined as being less religious.

You could use the story in a journalism clinic on showing how national studies shed light on local trends. Not only does the Sentinel summarize the Pew findings, but it provides the big picture on charity in Central Florida:

The roughly 7,000 nonprofits classified as 501(c)(3) in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties raise about $4.6 billion each year in charitable donations, he said. congregations are likely responsible for harnessing an additional $1.5 billion, he estimated, extrapolating this number from the few churches and faith organizations that have publicly available tax reports.

These congregations also help direct people toward the right nonprofit resources, said Eric Geboff, executive director of the Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando.

Even among secular non-profits, 10 percent to 15 percent – such as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando – are “grounded in faith,” the Sentinel says.

This story even passes a crucial GetReligion test, specifying the church that Fulmore pastors: Church of Christ at Gotha. Many mainstream media just call clergy “pastor,” as if all churches and denominations are interchangeable.

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