Scrooge Lives! and the poor give more than the rich

From yet another review (Moll, CT) of Passing the Plate (Oxford University Press).

. . . America’s biggest givers—as a percentage of their income—are its lowest income earners. The widow who gave out of her poverty rather than her wealth (Mark 12:42; Luke 21:1-4) has a lot of company, it seems. Yet so does the rich young ruler.

“Americans who earn less than $10,000 gave 2.3 percent of their income to religious organizations,” Smith, Emerson, and Snell write, “whereas those who earn $70,000 or more gave only 1.2 percent.” While the actual percentages are slightly higher for Christians who regularly attend church, the pattern is similar. Households of committed Christians making less than $12,500 per year give away roughly 7 percent of their income, a figure no other income bracket beats until incomes rise above $90,000 (they give away 8.8 percent).

In fact, in absolute terms, the poorest Christians give away more dollars than all but the wealthiest Christians. We see the pattern in recent history as well: When Americans earned less money following the Great Depression, they gave more. When income went up, they began to give less of it away. . .

Why Americans don’t give more:

  1. They can’t; too much is tied up in houses and cars.
  2. They don’t trust the churches and organizations.
  3. The churches and organizations aren’t giving away much either’ it’s all spent on themselves.
  4. They aren’t asked to.

The Cheerful giver dilemma: “Offering money, many Christians believe, should be like Hollywood’s version of romance: spontaneous, exuberant, and impulsive.” . . . “So we give our money like we spend it: haphazardly and without intention.”

Boring is better: planned, once-a-year, automatic withdrawal.

Other interesting quotes from the review;

American Christians’ lack of generosity might not be as shocking if it didn’t contrast so starkly with their astounding wealth.

. . . A man’s pocketbook, Martin Luther said, is the last piece of him to be converted. Money has a strange power . . .

I know a lot of very generous people, but according to this review, they appear to be in the minority.

Read it all in Scrooge lives!

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3 thoughts on “Scrooge Lives! and the poor give more than the rich

  1. While it’s sad to think that the poor give more than the rich, I kind of think the poor are richer because they give. For most of us, it isn’t having dollars that make us hapy but making a difference in someone’s life can bring a smile to almost anyone. You may also want to visit http://www.cheerfulgivers.org for more ideas.

  2. All true and yet compare American giving versus individual private giving in other economically advanced nations. America is far more giving than other nations.

  3. Ben says:

    Karen, very true. Keep up the good work. I certainly know a lot of people here that don’t have much money but are very happy.

    Michael, good point. Now that you mention it, I seem to recall you making this in one of your previous posts.

    As you can see from the blogs I feed on the right, yours is a clear favorite. It’s not unusual to find myself wanting to draw attention to every single one of your posts.

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