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Charitable Giving Statistics

When we consider charitable giving as a percent of income, we see some surprising data. The following statistics from 1991 depict the average amount that individuals gave to charity, according to salary brackets:

Individuals earning $20,000–30,000 gave $1,207, or 4.8 percent.
Individuals earning $30,000–40,000 gave $1,318, or 3.8 percent.
Individuals earning $50,000–100,000 gave $1,837, or 2.5 percent.

Why did those who earned more money give less than half (in percentage terms) of what those who made less gave? Why should our giving decrease as our blessings increase? Although the data is old, the trend has not changed much in the succeeding years.

The decision as to how much we should give should be made individually or as a family. C. S. Lewis made an interesting comment on this subject:

I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. . . . If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, . . . they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. (Mere Christianity, 1952, 67)

One thought that has been helpful to my family has been the habit of giving in percentage terms rather than in dollar terms when trying to determine the amount we should give. For most people, paying tithing is easy; making other contributions is much harder. If you put your contributions in percentage terms, Heavenly Father will know that regardless of how great or how small your financial blessings, the amount you give will always be the same. Remember, do not let your giving decline as your income increases! The amount you are able to give should increase over time.


President Hinckley commented:

You know, as I know, that when you pay your honest tithes and offerings, the windows of heaven are opened and blessings are showered down upon you. That which you give is never missed; it becomes not a sacrifice but an investment under the wondrous powers of the Almighty to bless you. (Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Volume 2, Intellectual Reserve, , 2005, 330)

Elder F. Burton Howard gave the following comment:

The real reason for our mortal probation is to confront challenges, not escape them. It is to learn to give, not to learn to get. In earth life as in the university, we cannot complain about not getting passing grades if we are unwilling to take the test. There are no shortcuts to the plan of salvation. There is no exaltation without effort. We have nothing more important to do than to fully, honestly, and completely obey the laws upon which blessings are predicated. Make no mistake about it, we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). (“On Giving and Getting,” New Era, Oct. 1985, 44)

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