Do you give enough?

There are plenty of opportunities to give to good causes and there is also great scope in the UK for philanthropists to give more. NPC’s recent report into ways to increase and improve philanthropy (see link) reminded me that donors are not always motivated to give by the impact they can make but often are encouraged to give by their peers. “Whether giving a large one-time charitable donation or deciding on one’s annual giving level, most people want to give in line with the perceived average amount.”

If you search giving on Google, then the questions that come up such as ‘How much to give as pocket money?’ ‘How much to spend on a wedding present?’ confirm that there are strong social norms at play that mean we want to know what other people give. No charity is going to be offended (or know) if you give too much or too little yet many donors still want to make sure they are in line with the average.

So how much do other people give?

Well, if you are rich enough to take the Giving Pledge then you are asked to commit ‘the majority of your wealth’. For the rest of us, the expectation is that we give somewhere between 1% and 10%.

In Christianity the faithful are supposed to give a tithe, which means a tenth of their earnings. In Islam, the required charitable contribution is called Zakat and is 2.5% of your wealth each year. In the Jewish faith, tzedakah, means giving away 10% of your income.

The Life You Can Save has a calculator to help you work out 1% of your annual income (see link) and this is the minimum amount we should all give suggested by effective altruist, Peter Singer. There are other organisations promoting giving 1% including Philanthropy Ireland’s ‘The One Percent Difference’ campaign. Their idea is that anyone can afford 1% and the aim is to double the giving levels in Ireland. “The idea is simple, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, we all give the same – 1%.”

So to increase philanthropy some role models giving more than 10% could be really helpful – especially when unlocking the wealth of high-net-worth individuals whose giving in 2015 equated to just 0.1% of their wealth (see link). But in the meantime, check your annual giving and see if you can increase it. Because rather than fitting in with the average, we should all seek to stand out in our giving.