Author Topic: How much to give to charity?  (Read 6693 times)

nushagak

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How much to give to charity?
« on: July 26, 2014, 03:37:18 PM »
So... my household is in debt. We need to address that and are actively taking steps to do so. But we attend church every Sunday and I figure other religious (and non religious) mustachians must have the same conundrum:

Do you give money to charity if you are in debt?
If so, how much?


Tithing is, unfortunately, out of the question for us. We really can't afford it. But it's difficult to let the church offering plate pass over every week without contributing something. So I'm looking for guidance here on what the appropriate amount should be.

lizzzi

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2014, 03:49:03 PM »
Before I was FIRE, I contributed my time and expertise to charity instead of giving much money…although I gave token amounts to certain office collections  at times.  My agency was good about not letting people hit each other up for charities, although there was a United Way drive once a year that I would give a minimal amount to, just so the office could say they had 100% contributions. I was active in my church's music ministry and figured that that could be my contribution, but I did give a regular, minimal amount into the collection plate. I agree that it's hard to let the collection plate go by without tossing something in. My job was socially worthwhile, so I considered that my main contribution to humanity. It may sound hard-nosed even on MMM, but until my family and I were secure, I thought we needed it most. Charity begins at home.

surfhb

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2014, 03:51:59 PM »
Throw in $10 and volunteer a couple days a month.    :)

MBot

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2014, 04:56:37 PM »
I find the "percentage" is useful to ingrain the habit of giving and the idea of proportionately giving.

Even if you don't believe 10% is actually asked, I would suggest percentage instead of a token or number amount.

Maybe a small place to start is the idea of "one days wages" - what do you gross in a single day? Could you donate that amount once a year or once a month or once every three months?

The "throw in $10 and volunteer a couple days" suggestion may have been tongue-in-cheek. I hope so. Some groups may need your time more than money. Some may also benefit from skilled volunteers like accountants. But most religious organizations provide a lot of services of kids, the infirm elderly, and others who can't financially contribute. They also have many retired or underemployed volunteers/admin/choir members etc. They will benefit more if you work a couple hours overtime and donate that money instead - volunteer hours don't pay for the soup kitchens food or the light bills or the janitor's wages or the tank of gas to officiate that out-of-town funeral for your grandmother.

As I said, if you don't believe a certain percentage is asked I don't think you should, but the idea of percentage/proportion is still really useful. I give 10% plus more to specific things at my church, and another 1% to international microloans thru Kiva. (Edited to add yes, we are in debt. We have student loan debt that will take another few years to pay off, we give a big chunk of income to that, and we don't make a ton. But if we had multiple years without systematic giving, we would take on a different character in the process)

Of course, there's some tax benefits involved as well, and giving in North America does come back and benefit you in the end too. So in the end it turns out as giving 6-7% after all the tax credits in my province. 
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 05:14:02 PM by MBot »

mak1277

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2014, 05:19:22 PM »
Nobody but you can truly answer this question.

If you really don't have the money to tithe, then you shouldn't. But you need to ask yourself if your other expenditures are really optimized. Are you prioritizing cable, fancy coffee or other luxuries over tithing?  I'm not judging, I just think you need to examine your budget and decide how important tithing is to you vs. Other outflows.

Having internet strangers tell you it's ok not to tithe is only going to make you feel better for a few minutes.

SingleMomDebt

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2014, 11:20:34 PM »
I used to tithe $. But now am tithing my time and miles (charity app).

Maya Angelou says something  along the lines that once we are able to help it is our duty.

I believe by making your foundation strong first, you can help others with more magnitude.

If church, maybe volunteer greeting or tend childcare one service a month.. Something of the sorts. My 2 cents :)

CDP45

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2014, 11:31:39 PM »
      41And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

kite

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2014, 06:12:07 AM »
What kind of debt and how manageable is it?
An affordable mortgage is one thing, consumer debt is something else.  You know the difference.
As far as offering plates, it's an essential life skill to learn to let these pass without feeling like your self image and reputation depend on being seen putting something in there.  Surely, your church takes a check  that you can mail them monthly when you are paying your bills.  Budget the amount that works for you, send it and forget about the plate.  There are countless other plates, jars and hands out for donations,  homeless, girrl scout cookie sales, Big Pink, etc.  Whether or not you give is up to you, but it's certainly reasonable that you would either not have cash on hand when faced with the request,  or you've already made your contribution for the month. 


Thegoblinchief

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2014, 08:09:56 AM »
My answer when still religious was nothing. It depends on the church, of course, but I also struggle to define most American churches as charities. They're non-profits, but little donated money goes to people in need. Most of it goes to infrastructure and salaries.

Hannah

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2014, 09:19:42 AM »
This might not be the answer you were expecting, but I would pray and consult with your spouse and develop a conviction. Then in a few months as your financial situation changes, revisit your conviction.

I personally find it true that is a blessing to give generously when the giving is in line with my priorities. Part of my definition of financial freedom is the freedom to give generously. It's a little out of line with FIRE, but I like this forum anyways since I learn a lot from the contributors.

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2014, 09:39:42 AM »
Let me preface this with the fact that I am not a current churchgoer. With that being said, I do not really consider the money given to the church as a "charity" donation. What I mean by that is - even though you go to church for "free" there are still salaries to be paid, lights to turn on, things to be replaced and remodeled, etc. Without the money from the plate, a church would literally close down and you would no longer be able to attend. With that in mind, I would say you could donate whatever you feel the church is worth to you, taking into consideration your other debts. I think the person who suggested that it should still be a percentage - ie, 1%, 5%, one day's salary, had a good idea. Just remember that if you are not paying anything, then someone else is paying your share, since you are using the service.

Note: I know that some church money is used for soup kitchens, etc. I am not meaning to offend anyone with my post, but a church is a business too.

solon

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2014, 04:32:19 PM »
This might not be the answer you were expecting, but I would pray and consult with your spouse and develop a conviction. Then in a few months as your financial situation changes, revisit your conviction.

This is really the only solution. Yes, the church needs funding, and yes, there are many personal benefits to giving. But you have to pray and wrestle with God over this. You can't give for guilt, or for what you will receive. You have to give because of a love for God and what he can do through you and through your church. And while you're praying, pray specifically about an amount. I've talked to many people who wrestled with God over this matter. Many people say God impressed on them a certain amount or a certain percentage. Those people couldn't be happier than to give that amount. They don't have to be asked to give.

lakemom

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2014, 04:50:18 PM »
Our pastor like to use the term "sacrificial giving."  As a Christian we are asked to give of our "first fruits" not whatever is left over after life happens.  When dh and I were at our low point if life financially (during/after a failed business) we kept ending the week with nothing left for the collection plate as our expenses (with loads of debt repayment) were actually much more than our income.  After a lot of discussing and hours of prayer on both our parts we made the decision to give first and pay our expenses second.  It was life changing!  Now we give generously to both the church and the children's school.  This is a question that only you and your spouse can answer but prayer never goes amiss.

ender

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2014, 05:41:11 PM »
Enough that it makes me aware there is far more to life than simply counting my money.

Giving keeps me honest, keeps my motivations in the right place, and provides a continual heart-check for me.

firelight

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2014, 06:07:02 PM »
How about giving a lump sum to the church after you are out of debt? God or Church won't find fault with you for delaying donating when your own situation is bad and could use help.

Beric01

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2014, 06:10:52 PM »
I would have to agree with others. Donate your time, and get out of debt before you donate with money.

pucksr

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2014, 06:19:19 PM »
Tithing was originally a tax(and was frequently required).

I am not religious, but it might be useful to think of it this way. If you would pay taxes in your financial situation then you probably owe a tithe.

As an aside, the charity of your fellow churchgoers might factor into the equation(it factors into your pastor's calculations).  Most liberal denominations give 1-2% on average. More conservative one get closer to 10%(Mormons give the most).

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arebelspy

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2014, 03:01:01 PM »
Give whatever feels right to you.  That may be some, or it may be none, for the moment.

Hopefully realizing that your past spending (i.e. the stuff that caused the debt) is taking money from the less fortunate in the present (i.e. money you would be donating is going to service that debt) will help motivate you to kill that debt ASAP.

Don't care what others think of your giving, or lack thereof, or whatever.   Give what feels right to you.
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Cassie

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Re: How much to give to charity?
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 08:21:20 PM »
WE do not go to church often but when we go with others to their church we put something into the plate.   $5.00 or whatever you can afford but I would not let it pass without doing something.  The amount does not matter-just the point that you are willing to give something since you are participating.   some day this will be a not fond memory when you are in great financial shape which you will be.  Good luck!