Our Readers Ask

How Much Should I Donate?

“God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Those words are known by millions throughout the world. However, some churchgoers may feel obligated to donate beyond their means. In fact, some religious denominations require that their members donate a fixed sum. The practice is called tithing, that is, giving 10 percent of one’s income to the church.

Does the Bible really require that we offer a fixed sum as a donation? Put personally, how much should I donate?

Requirements and Voluntary Donations in the Past

The Bible contains clear instructions to the nation of Israel about the amount God required them to give. (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21, 24; Deuteronomy 12:4-7, 11, 17, 18; 14:22-27) These requirements were not excessive. Jehovah promised that in return for obedience to his laws, he would make the nation ‘overflow with prosperity.’—Deuteronomy 28:1, 2, 11, 12.

In other instances, the Israelites could voluntarily donate as much or as little as they desired. For example, when King David planned to build a temple for Jehovah, his subjects donated “gold worth five thousand talents.”* (1 Chronicles 29:7) Contrast this with what Jesus observed when he was on earth. He saw “a certain needy widow drop two small coins of very little value” into the temple treasury chests. How much did her donation amount to? Only 1/64 of a day’s wages. Yet, Jesus said that this small sum was acceptable.—Luke 21:1-4.

Are Christians Required to Give a Set Amount?

Christians are not under the Law covenant given to Israel. Thus, they are not obliged to give a set amount to God. However, in the true Christian congregation, giving is a source of much joy. Jesus Christ himself stated: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.

Jehovah’s Witnesses support their worldwide preaching work through voluntary donations. These donations are used to print literature, such as the magazine you are reading, and to build and maintain their places of worship, known as Kingdom Halls. None of the funds collected are used to pay salaries. Some who devote themselves full-time to share in the disciple-making work do receive assistance to defray their transportation costs and other personal expenses. But no one demands such help. In fact, the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not receive any financial assistance to support their preaching work. Instead, most work secularly to support themselves, just as Paul did when he worked as a tentmaker.—2 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

If a person wants to make a donation toward the work accomplished by Jehovah’s Witnesses, how much should he give? The apostle Paul wrote: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:7.

[Footnote]

In 2008, the average price of gold was $871 an ounce, making this contribution worth some $4,794,855,000.