Poor Are the Most Charitable

According to a recent analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, America’s poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do.

Chart: Those in the lowest U.S. income group give the largest percentage of their incomes to charity.

As pastor I make it a point not to know who gives what at church, but I can still testify to the generosity of many people with lower incomes that I have known over the years. Why do you think the poor tend to be more generous with their giving?

Scripture: 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)

HT: Christian Personal Finance


  1. John W says:

    I’ve pondered this from time to timed and noted the greed — almost blind and unaware greed — of the people who have (the “haves”) versus the people who do not have or have less (the “have nots”).

    Perhaps some can be attributed to proportion. My $20 is less of my overall value and income than someone worth and earning half that.

    Perhaps some can be attributed to really understanding the situation — true commiseration and compassion.

    Perhaps some can be attributed to subtle materialism under the explanation of “goals”. The Haves need to pay on that car, boat, house, summer home, golf membership, soccer lessons, dance lessons, summer camp, and so on. Do they really “need” that? Do we begrudge them their success in life such that they are bad for not giving up some of that to be proportionally as generous as a “have not”? Perhaps we should hold some accountability there. Accountability, not “judgmentalness” (you know… that thing I know *I* do so very well?).

    The Haves have “Joneses” to keep up with — whether or not they know it, and whether or not they know or understand they do that.

    However, there is certainly a balance to be struck. Most people can still be credited with earning their living; they work hard for their luxury items. At the same time, there is a moral responsibility to help those less fortunate. The people that work hard for where they have gotten should be able to enjoy that without guilt; but they should also give out of their own generosity and not out of a guilty, karmic balance.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Good thoughts, John. Thanks for sharing.

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