The intent of this post is not to toot my own horn, but to share with you how and why we are able to currently give 10 percent of our pre-tax income to the church and other charitable endeavors. First off, I don’t believe that everyone Christian needs to tithe. I believe that God looks at the heart in terms of how willing one is to give to the church. I’ve outlined the different types of rich and poor people and the spending habits as it relates to giving to the church.
I’ve always given a bit of money to the church. While in college, I had part-time jobs and always gave a bit to my church. It wasn’t much, but I was a poor college student who needed to buy food, books, gas, and clothes. When I got my first job, I gave a bit more, but it wasn’t nearly 10 percent. However, I always had a goal of reaching a 10 percent threshold in my contributions to the church.
After I got married, we increased our contributions to the church to about 10% of our after tax income. Since our goal was to give 10 percent of pre-tax income, we had a bit more work to do. It came easier as our incomes grew as our cost of living didn’t rise as fast as our incomes.
How We Give Now
We decided to open up a Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund for a few reasons. First, we did not want to give a full 10 percent of our pre-tax income to our specific church. It’s no secret that we make a significant amount of income so 10 percent of that income is a lot for our small church. We also had the desire to give to other causes, such as other churches, and associations (i.e. Red Cross). The gift fund also allows any money to grow over time by investing it in broad market indices or in a money market account depending on your goals. Fidelity charges a small 0.6% to manage the account. Lastly, we get the full tax deduction by contributing to the fund (before we donate to a cause). This has been a great feature for tax purposes because we don’t always know where we want to donate, but we get the full tax deduction anyway.
It wasn’t easy to reach this goal, but we have been blessed to earn a significant income. And quite honestly, it is easier to give more when your income is high. The real test for us will be to see how much more we can give without a growth in income. It comes down to giving during the hard times as well as the good times. We will continue to stretch and give more because not only does it help someone in need, but we believe it is also a commandment from God to further the cause of Christianity.