How Much Do I Need to Give?

Corey —  April 3, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much you NEED to give? Whether you are wondering about the standard amount of tithing or giving to charities, this is a very popular question. Regrettably, this question has been debated for decades (if not longer) with no happy answer. While I will work to answer this question, I want to point out that I don’t intend to give an easy answer. I won’t suggest that you should give this much or that much.

Should Giving be a Necessity?

The first thing I want to point out is that giving should not be a necessity. In my opinion, the question, “How much do I NEED to give?” is the wrong question to ask. In fact, it often misses the purpose of giving altogether. Let me explain. By asking how much do you need to give, you are looking for a set amount to satisfy some mysterious requirement. When we ask this question, as we often do, we are acting as if God wants us to give a certain amount away. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think God is about easy answers. The world that we live in is much more complicated than a simple black and white solution – It’s easy to see why this applies to giving. People’s financial situations are different for everyone, so how can there be a standard for giving?

More importantly, asking what is necessary to give away defeats the purpose of giving in the first place. Giving is suppose to encourage generosity and help for others. Asking this basic question, while it may be intended for good, is actually (at least partially) motivated by selfish desires to satisfy this false assumption of good. I know this to be the case for me. Usually when I ask how much should I give, I am trying to give the bare minimum to appease my conscience or guilt.

Giving Should Never Be Coerced

If you are asking this question, while it may be motivated by this desire to keep more money for yourself, it is moving in the right direction. Asking this question in the first place suggests that you recognize that the world is in bad shape and you want to contribute towards making it a better place. The simple fact is that no one is perfect. There is no ideal person for giving. If we wanted to, we could criticize everyone for being too selfish at times. The purpose is not point out everyone’s faults and therefore justify how we spend our money on ourselves, but instead move towards giving freely.

I should point out that giving should never be seen as a competition. The point isn’t all about just giving more, but changing the motivations behind our giving. After all, the widow’s offering shows us that it’s not the amount that is important, but the sacrifice.

Perhaps the question should not be how much do I need to give or even should I give… but instead, “Why Should I Give?” Perhaps when we begin to buy into this idea of generosity, we will move beyond these legalistic questions of how much or how little… Instead, we may be able to start making a difference in this world.

Why is Giving Important for You?



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.