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April 8, 2010

FOUNDATION ENCOURAGES ATHEISTS TO GIVE MORE TO CHARITY

Filed under: Features — duncan @ 2:55 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Dale McGowan, email

Foundation Encourages Atheists to Give More to Charity

Not Compassion But Opportunity Lacking Among Unchurched, Says Director

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (April 8, 2010)—A national organization is encouraging atheists to give more to charity.

“The nonreligious are generous and compassionate, but our giving lags behind the religious. I want us to do better,” said Dale McGowan, a secular humanist who serves as executive director of Georgia-based Foundation Beyond Belief.

“It’s time for those of us who are otherwise engaged on Sunday mornings to have our own easy and regular means of giving. We need to encourage more humanistic giving.”

Surveys by philanthropic research organizations like Independent Sector have shown that churchgoers give a much greater percentage of their income to charitable causes than non-churchgoers. Arthur C. Brooks, author of “Who Really Cares,” claims the statistic is “evidence of a gap in everyday virtue.” But McGowan thinks the higher level of giving among churchgoers has more to do with the act of congregating and positive peer pressure than with virtue.

“Churchgoers are passed the plate and asked to donate 52 times a year while their neighbors watch,” McGowan said. “But atheists don’t really congregate, so we’re not nudging each other in public to give to charity week after week. We don’t have systematic opportunities for generosity.”

The recently formed Foundation Beyond Belief is already giving a major public nudge to the non-churchgoing crowd with a new website that combines social media with philanthropy to provide a virtual congregation space for the nonreligious.

Each quarter, Foundation Beyond Belief highlights charities in the following cause areas: health, education, poverty, environment, child welfare, human rights, animal protection, peace, and support for nonreligious parents.

The featured charities are carefully selected for their impact and efficiency, and must not proselytize to those they help.

Members join Foundation Beyond Belief by signing up for a monthly automatic donation. They use an online personal profile to indicate how they would like their contribution distributed among the charities. At the end of each quarter, 100 percent of the donations are forwarded to the charities and a new slate of beneficiaries is selected.

Since its January launch, the Foundation has raised $15,490 for charity from 425 members and aspires to raise $500,000 from 4,000 members by the end of 2010. To reach that goal, the Foundation hired a membership coordinator with funds from a $10,000 grant by the Institute for Humanist Studies.

In addition to improving the lives of those who benefit from the charitable giving, Foundation Beyond Belief may help improve the public image of the nonreligious. But McGowan says the Foundation’s giving program is ultimately not about fear, guilt or public relations—it’s about challenging each other to live out the principle of mutual care, one of humanism’s highest ideals.

“Regardless of worldview, most people give because they are challenged and encouraged to do so, because generosity feels wonderful, and because the habit of giving turns giving into a habit,” he said.

For information about Foundation Beyond Belief, visit:

http://foundationbeyondbelief.org

To contact Dale McGowan, email.

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Media coverage resulting from this press release:

This story was syndicated in dozens of media outlets across the nation through several national newswires, including MyFoxNational, Cox News Service and Religion News Service.

Foundation Seeks to Instill Charitable Values ‘Beyond Belief’
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April, 4, 2010

Atheists’ Collection Plate, With Religious Inspiration
The New York Times, April 2, 2010

Group seeks to prove atheists can be giving too
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 4, 2010

Foundation urges charitable giving among nonreligious
Religion News Service, March 3, 2010


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