21st December 2021
Would you give 10% of your salary to charity?
This is the title of an article published by the BBC in December 2021. The article was inspired by a now 12 year old global scheme called Giving What We Can (GWWC) and the story of one 27 year old who contributes 15% of his salary. There are of course other guides to donating most effectively like that of Peter Singer and Effective Altruism. For those who can afford to, and we would all make different judgements about at what point we can, this seems an important commitment in our global world. GWWC note that those signed up are on middle to higher incomes and with higher education levels and the median age of its members is around 30. And there is no desire to make people feel guilty for not feeling they can donate or for being in no position to do so.
Muslim friends of mine introduced me to the notion of Zakat – one of the 5 pillars of Islam – and mandatory giving. All eligible Muslims must donate at least 2.5% of their accumulated wealth for the benefit of the poor, destitute and others – classified as mustahik. My partner and I have both personally, and professionally through Eve Turner Associates, taken this to heart and for many years now donated at least 10% of our incomes to various charities.
I write this with caution. There are many people who are living in challenging circumstances around the world, through huge economic injustice demonstrated through comparative wealth statistics with the rich getting richer, and through climate, health, racial and other social injustice. So we can all do what we can, thinking of the bigger picture of our global, interconnected world, where we are all beings sharing this wonderful Earth we call home, without fear of judgement. But always with openness and generosity, and thinking about what we need compared to what we might want. At this festive season for many people worldwide, we might ask ourselves, “could I give some of my salary, or my income to others?” and reflect on how we can all make a difference, one act at a time.