Giving 10% of one’s income to charity is a concept familiar to Mormons (although paying tithes to the Mormon Church is not really the same in its purpose as paying 10% to, say, Oxfam — no judgement implied). One Oxford academic has decided to go further. He has pledged not only to give up 10% of his income but also all of his income above £20k ($30k). Dr Ord predicts being able to donate £1m over the course of his life and thus save thousands of lives. His website (Giving What We Can) encourages others to donate at least 10% and usefully ranks charities according to their cost-effectiveness.
I find Ord’s decision inspiring and wish him well in keeping to his goal (the pull of Mammon should not be underestimated). He goes where tithing does not — hurting the rich (or in Ord’s case, the non-impoverished). Up-scaling our donations according to wealth seems like a sensible way to discharge our obligations to the poor and remove the love of money from our hearts.
Could I do it? Probably not. Off the top of my head, I think our household of five in this corner of England could live comfortably and make room for future needs with no more than £50k ($75k) p.a. Tithing 100% (to the church, or to other charities, or both) of income above £50k is something I really wish I could aspire to. Even then I think £50k is too high a ceiling if I am to “give away [a relatively sacrificial amount of my possessions] to the poor.”