Research Outline

Charity Giving - American Muslims


To understand the Islamic charity landscape in the United States, including how much American Muslims donate to Islamic charities, how often do they donate, and what tools or services they use to donate.

Early Findings

  • About 20% of American Muslims give less than $100 to charitable courses per year, while 43% give between $100 and $999. This means about 63% of American Muslims give less than $1,000 to charity per year.
  • Approximately 21% of American Muslims give between $1,000 and $4,999 per year, while 6% give between $5,000 and $9,999.
  • Also, 3% of American Muslims give $10,000 or more per year to charity.
  • The primary reasons Muslims give to charity include:
    • "Feeling that those who have more should help those with less:" 20%
    • Religious duty or obligation: 17%
    • Because it makes them feel good: 8%
    • To make a change or desired impact: 8%
    • Desire to help others: 7%
  • About 89% of American Muslims give to their house of worship. Other causes favored by American Muslims to give within their faith community include domestic poverty (60%), education (60%), overseas relief (54%), youth/family services (49%), civil rights protecting the rights of religious communities (48%), and research organizations that study religious communities (28%).
  • In Islam, Muslims are obligated to pay 2.5% of their wealth to charity per year known as zakat, "if they have accumulated wealth equivalent to 3oz of gold throughout the year." . This is inclusive of "investments, ownership of gold and silver, as well as individual savings." For example, Islamic Relief USA, the biggest Islamic charity in the United States received $19.3 million in zakat contributions in zakat contributions in 2017.
  • Apart from the obligatory zakat commitments, Muslims are also encouraged, according to the Holy Book, to engage in sadaqa, a general form of alms giving.
  • Asides these two aforementioned reasons Muslims give, Muslims also favor the month of Ramadan to give as the rewards are said to be greater during this month.

Summary of Findings

Our preliminary research has provided information on the motivations of American Muslims to give, periods and reasons they give more, as well as the breakdown of giving by American Muslims by dollar value. Our early research also shows that data on the overall size of Muslim giving may not exist in the public domain. That said, using the breakdown of how much American Muslims give to charity per year and the number of Muslims in the United States, we can triangulate an estimate. In view of the early findings and project goals, we propose the following research paths listed below.