According to the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), 1.1 percent of the U.S. population is Muslim-American. Muslim-Americans are a highly diverse minority with no one ethnic group making a majority.
Muslim-Americans are largely a community of color with African-Americans, Asians, Arab and Latinos making up the largest proportion of this small minority population. Muslim-Americans have a lower average income than the average American.
Prior research by the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shows that Muslim-American nonprofit leaders and nonprofits are under a great deal of stress and face a great deal of external prejudice and islamophobia.
Despite this external hatred of Islam and Muslims, a new report by the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, Muslim American Giving 2021, finds that Muslim-Americans are vibrant contributors to American philanthropy. Despite being only 1.1 percent of the population they make up about 1.4 percent ($4.3 billion) of individual giving. The report is funded by Islamic Relief USA.
The study investigated the opinions of Muslims and the general population regarding faith customs, donation practices and attitudes, volunteer work, COVID-19, uncertainty intolerance, financial well-being, and discrimination. The survey also looked at how Muslims made decisions about donations. SSRS surveyed from March 17 through April 7, 2021. Overall, the team surveyed 2,005 respondents, including 1,003 Muslim respondents and 1,002 general population adult respondents.
Despite islamophobic tropes suggesting that Muslim-Americans are more aligned to international causes, only 15 percent of their giving is focused on such causes while 85 percent of their gifts support American charitable causes. Despite being poorer than the average American household, Muslim-Americans participated in charitable giving and volunteering at higher levels than the average household.
The survey finds that Muslims give more towards both faith-based causes and non-faith-based causes than non-Muslims. Overall, Muslim-Americans gave $3,200 for charitable giving compared to $1,905 for the general population.
The strongest motivations for American Muslims are a feeling of compassion towards people in need (average 4.31 out of 5). On the other hand, among the non-Muslim population, the largest motivation was the willingness to help others who are less fortunate (3.93).
Compared to the general population, Muslims have a more positive image of the charitable sector (4.08 versus 3.58). The lowest motivations to give among both Muslims and non-Muslims were getting a tax credit, recognition, financial strain, and the belief that giving money to charities is wasted.
Overall, while the mean amongst Muslims is higher for most motivations, the rankings for motivations among Muslims and non-Muslims are pretty similar.
Finally, Muslim-Americans have been on the front lines of COVID-19. Muslim Americans make up only 1 percent of the national population, but they play a more significant role in the front lines of COVID-19. For example, 15 percent of physicians and 11 percent of pharmacists in Michigan are Muslim Americans.
In New York City, Muslim Americans make up 10 percent of the city’s physicians, 13 percent of the pharmacists and 40 percent of cab drivers designated essential workers. Muslim-Americans’ top recipients of charitable gifts other than houses of worship were domestic poverty relief, COVID-19 related charities and civil rights.
The survey revealed:
- Muslim philanthropy for both faith-based causes and non-faith-based causes is higher than non-Muslims. Muslim-Americans gave $3,241.96 for charitable giving compared to $1,905.23 for the general population.
- The findings of the survey also suggest that Muslims spend more hours volunteering every year when compared to non-Muslims. The volunteering comparison is also interesting, which suggests that generally American people spend 11.8 hours of faith-based volunteering and 13.72 hours for non-faith volunteering whereas Muslim-Americans spend 66.61 hours volunteering for faith-based causes and 45.93 hours volunteering for non-faith-based causes.
The study also shared important new information of where Muslim Americans donate.
- Domestic relief equates to 12.70 percent of total Muslim charity in the U.S.
- Civil rights protections for the members of their community is something in which Muslims spend quite generously. If we compare Muslim generosity concerning civil rights, Muslims pay approximately 10.14 percent of their contributions towards civil rights whereas this trend is 4.74 percent in the general public.
- Muslims contribute 27.45 percent of their faith-based charity to houses of worship. In comparison, the non-Muslim population offers on average 51.28 percent of their faith-based charity towards the house of worship.
- Muslim-Americans also gave a larger share toward COVID relief (14.26 percent) even for non-faith causes than the average population (6.65 percent).
The Muslim American Giving 2021 study also reveals interesting observations about Muslim philanthropy by race, gender, and age.
- Males donate more than females towards faith-based causes ($3,444 vs. $976 for faith-based reasons, and $2,611 vs. $856 for non-faith causes).
- Those 40-49 years of age give the highest average charitable giving.
Muslim-Americans are stepping up to play an important role in making our world and nation a better place despite facing prejudice, greater scrutiny and having fewer resources.