Who are the most generous givers?


I just found this article that takes a look at the various income brackets in the U.S. and their average giving percentages. It turns out – which may or may not be a surprise – that the poor are the most generous in terms of percentage of income given.

“In fact, America’s poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What’s more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.”

most generous givers

I found it interesting that the two most common reasons that the poor gave were…

An understanding of sowing and reaping

“I believe that the more I give, the more I receive, and that God loves a cheerful giver,” Davis said. “Plus I’ve been in their position, and someday I might be again.”

Less fear about money than the rich

Herbert Smith, 31, a Seventh-day Adventist who said he tithed his $1,010 monthly disability check — giving away 10 percent of it — thought that poor people give more because, in some ways, they worry less about their money.

“We’re not scared of poverty the way rich people are,” he said. “We know how to get the lights back on when we can’t pay the electric bill.”

What Jesus had to say about it…

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

  1. Thanks for highlighting this article. My experiences affirms the observations of this article. I work with a church in a third world country, Papua New Guinea. The minimum wage is .35 USD per hour. Most of our church members work at that wage. Over the last few years I have learned important lessons about giving and generosity from the worlds poor. Lessons I never learned while living in North American in the midst of the wealthy.

  2. Larry

    Is it surprising that no group contributes close to 10%? What does that tell us about our nation as a whole, Biblical or not?

  3. Interesting research.

    I’ve always wondered myself why those with the least seem to give the most. I remember seeing the old ladies in my church gladly filling the offering plates when most of them were on social security or other similar fixed incomes, while getting money from the younger affluent couples was like getting water from a rock.

    Traveling I’ve also been amazed at seeing the greatest generosity come from people who live in the poorest countries.

    I surmise that one of the reasons that the poor give more has to do with empathy. If you are poor you better understand the importance of helping out people in a similar situation as yours.

    Another reason may be that being poor makes you truly find those things that fulfill you and make you truly happy like spending time with family, taking walks, or laughing with friends. Money begins to take on less importance in your happiness and thus is easier to part with.

    Regardless your posting has made me re-examine how much I give as well =)

  4. Karen

    For more ideas on giving cheerfully, you may want to visit http://www.cheerfulgivers.org

  5. Wise Debtor

    Great article.

    My folks always made me give 10% of everything I earned (allowance, lawn mowing, etc) and there was always enough left over to do with what I want. No matter how much I made.

    It’s during the times I have not given 10% that I was always short or tight on money.

  6. Stats Stats

    This is a case of someone taking a notion and making a chart around it. I believe that because I just finished studying the topic in sociology and saw no less than 2 charts and 1 detailed report that state something different that this chart. That material claims that the middle-class gives more as a percentage of income, followed by the rich, and then the poor.

    I also wonder, how many of the poor are charitable givers while receiving welfare and food stamps? Giving a large percentage, say, of your earned income, isn’t difficult when you don’t have much of an earned income but still receive money.

    Just a thought.

  7. Peculiar Dad

    “The love of money is the root of all evil.” It seems as people accumulate more wealth, they’re perhaps faced with heavier temptation and duty of what to do with it. By these numbers, it appears they’re not following God’s commandments on the situation. Anyone seen the movie, “The Ultimate Gift?” Great movie on this topic.

  8. Kelly Blackwell

    That was an excellent article. We found it (thanks to your mentioning it) and everyone at my office passed it around (I work at a non profit Christian radio station). Glad you pointed this out! 🙂

  9. Night Owl Mama

    thats why the rich stay rich and the poor get poorer depends on the richness that your looking for

    some can be blessed for giving more

  10. Bryan G.

    I read the aricle, and I was reminded of the scene in the bible where Jesus watches the old lady give her two pennies, and the rich gave their big donations. What did Jesus do? He stood up and declared the gift of 2 pennies more righteous the any other, and the others’ dontations fowl. Why? Because the poor give of their abundance freely, usually unknown to anyone. While the, unrepentatant, lover of money gives for public display so they can brag about it.

  11. That is a real sad fact! Why is that those who are also in need are more motivated to give? and those who are blessed financially or has a good financial situation can not give more. In our Church, we are having issues about the tithes. But we are praying to God that He may give us the desire and the conviction to give more for His kingdom. Let us also pray for those who are not giving to the Lord’s treasure well, let us pray for them and for us also to still have faith in the power of God.

  12. sherma

    Sometimes i wonder what i am doing that is wrong. I am born again christainand it has being all most ayear now i am asking god for a finanical breakthrough but i have not gottern it i pay my thithes and offering which is 10% of your salary it is a pleasure for me to that because i am a cheerful giver.And yet still i have not gottern my breakthrough i am broke no money in the bank i am in debts leaving from pay check to pay check. Sometimes i just feel like giveing up but you know what i will not stop praying i know i am going to get my breakthrough.

  13. Caleb Gosa

    Sherma, Christ NEVER told you or ANYONE to tithe. Tithing was the tradition of the Old Testament. You need to join Christ in the New Testament as stated in Luke 14:26, 27 & 33 and give up ALL that you possess if you want to be a TRUE follower of Christ. I did, and now I feed 1,700 meals a week to the poor in the Philippines.

    You are tithing (10% is not ALL) by the LIES of RELIGIONS, not the inspired word of God.

    Christ NEVER COMMANDED ANYONE to start a Christian RELIGION of any kind but the Southern Baptist Convention says there is 1,000 Christian RELIGIONS. They all think their doctrine is right and the other 999 are wrong. Christ said to do as He COMMANDED the TRUE disciples to do but the RELIGIONS trick you into doing things that Christ NEVER COMMANDED ANYONE TO DO except for a speck or two of things, but the rest is made up LIES. (Matthew 15:7-9)

    They cannot show you a single verse where Christ said a single thing good about RELIGION, RELIGIOUS LEADERS, CRAFTED TEMPLES or the DEVIL. They are the same ***BALL OF WAX***.

    Christ said to feed the innocent, poor, created temples, not the hand crafted temples in Matthew 12:6-9. Acts 7:47-48 and Acts 17:24 says that GOD DOES NOT LIVE/DWELL IN CRAFTED TEMPLES but they will convince you that God inspired His words ‘OUT OF CONTEXT’. Christ says in Luke 6:20 “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God. The gospel (GOOD NEWS) is only to the poor, suffering and new adopted creatures of God in Matthew 11:5 and Luke 4:18, but RELIGIONS LIE and say it is to EVERYONE.

    STOP TITHING and give up ALL that you possess (I DID) or you cannot be a disciple of Christ, EVER. (Luke 14:33) Unless you follow the words of Christ exactly as God inspired Christ to say them, you will be lead into the abyss by a RELIGION’S misguidance. RELIGION teaches you that God inspired some of His words ‘OUT OF CONTEXT’ and you should trust religious leaders words but not God’s inspired words exactly as God inspired them.

    RELIGIONS is the LOG in the eyes of mankind.