Interfaith Philanthropy: Giving Across Faith in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism

Degree Name

MS in Management

First Advisor

Jeffery Lewis


The topic of this study is interfaith philanthropy, or charitable giving by individuals of one religion for the benefit of a community of another religion. There have been studies done on secular givers and inter-denominational givers but little has been done to examine why people might give across religions. My main research question then, is:

What drives believers of one religion to give charitably to those of another faith?

By understanding the individual donor’s needs, a fundraiser can offer satisfaction to the donor in return. The Seven Faces of Philanthropy developed by Prince and Files was used as a typology framework in this study for distinguishing characteristics of people who participate in charitable interfaith giving. The Seven Faces of Philanthropy model pinpoints what kinds of preferences interfaith givers have that might motivate them to give. Data were collected from two groups: 1) faith leaders (such as Pastors, Ministers, Imams and Rabbis) and 2) individuals who have given charitably to people or organizations of another religion. Each faith leader was given a structured interview. Second, an anonymous survey was conducted of individuals in faith organizations who have given charitably to causes of another faith. Individual givers already active in interfaith giving were sought through organizations that support interfaith giving. Two “face types” were most prominent with interfaith givers: then Altruist, and the Investor. The Altruist is motivated by life-changing and life-saving works. The Investor is motivated by good professional practices, respect and personal acknowledgement. Fundraisers who are cultivating interfaith donors can use this type of information to develop an approach and relationship building with the preferences and needs of the interfaith donors for mutual benefit.

Finally, people who give to faiths other than their own may become a mobilizing force for creating unity between communities with differing religions thus, a force for social change.


Community Psychology | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Social Psychology and Interaction

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