Tithing Defined

Tithing is giving a percentage of your income or assets away to worthy causes that are usually charitable or spiritual.

Many people believe and it is often confirmed by spiritual texts that in order to get something, the best way is to give it to someone else first. The belief often extends to tithing 10% of your income will return that amount many times over to you.

Historically, different traditions have recommended different amounts :

  • For Jews, the traditional tithe is 10% of their income

  • Roman Catholic natural law teachings set the standard of giving everything one has in superabundance to those unable to find enough to eat or to meet similarly basic needs.

  • Muslims are required to give, each year, 1/40th of their wealth, although the rate varies according to the type of assets owned.

The amount that seems to be most recommended in general media is at least 10%.

According to The Economist, about $65 billion a year would be enough for “basic transfer programs to lift everyone above the bare-minimum poverty line.”

It is estimated that there are a billion affluent people in the world. Peter Singer uses the definition of an affluent person being someone above the average income in Portugal.

If The Economist calculation is correct, that means each affluent person would only need to donate $ 65 to basic transfer programs to lift everyone above the bare-minimum poverty line.

That seems quite doable. All that appears to be done is discover what would be the best programs to achieve this. Though it is probably unlikely to be this simple.

If you are wondering how you stack up compared to the rest of the world, Giving What We Can has a How Rich Am I Calculator.