Social capital, volunteering, and charitable giving

Lili Wang, Elizabeth Graddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


This paper explores the impact of social capital - measured by social trust and social networks - on individual charitable giving to religious and secular organizations. Using United States data from the national sample of the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, we find that social trust, bridging social network, and civic engagement increase the amount of giving to both religious and secular causes. In contrast, organizational activism only affects secular giving. Volunteering activity, and human and financial capital indicators positively affect both religious and secular giving. Finally, those who are happy about their lives and those who are religious give more to religious causes, but these factors do not affect secular giving. We find evidence of important differences in the determinants of religious and secular giving, suggesting the need to distinguish these two types of charitable giving in future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-42
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Religious giving
  • Secular giving
  • Social capital
  • United States
  • Volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management


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