Last year, American’s gave a whopping $316.2 billion to charity.
Sounds big, doesn’t it?
It’s 2% of US GDP, a rate that charitable giving has been stuck at for four decades.
Philanthropy experts are asking how to get Americans to give more, and have suggested everything from skipping that daily latte to getting billionaires to donate at least 10% of their income to charity.
Just bumping the figure to 3% would mean an additional $158 billion for work to solve poverty, find cures for diseases, and improve public education.
But that 2% figure includes all the donations to 501(c)3 groups, those tax deductible donations made to churches, food pantries, or big-name nonprofits like Save the Children and the Red Cross.
It doesn’t include other kinds of philanthropy – volunteer hours, or money many recent immigrants send overseas to help impoverished relatives. For some families, especially lower income families, giving time may be easier to do when money’s very tight.
What is the right number? Many faiths’ tithing traditions would say 10%, but only about 5% of Americans seem to be giving that much
Philosopher Pete Singer’s The Life You Can Save calls for us to do what we can to end extreme poverty as a moral imperative, and asks us each to make a pledge to donate a certain amount to address poverty around the world. It even includes a list of ten effective groups fighting poverty around the world, from the Fistula Foundation to Oxfam.
What do you think? What’s the right percent of income to donate, and how much should Americans give?