Why Donate to Charity: Tithing 101

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why donate to charity? What causes should you support? Do you think everyone who can afford it should donate a portion of their income to charity?

Though growing your wealth is a worthy goal, so is sharing your wealth to help make the world a better place. Not only does it benefit charitable causes, but it is also deeply rewarding for you.

Read about the benefits of sharing your wealth through tithing.

What Is Tithing?

Why should you donate to charity? Tithing means giving your wealth to spiritual institutions or philanthropic organizations that you care about. Corporations can donate a portion of their proceeds to worthy causes. For example, the CEO of Medtronic pledged to give 2 percent of the company’s profits to charity. As a company has grown, they’ve gone from donating $1.5 million in the first year to $17 million in more recent years.

For individuals, there are two types of tithing:

1. Give money. God created a world where the success of an individual contributes to the success of others around them. When you share your wealth and care for others, you bring additional prosperity for yourself. To celebrate this reality, a common practice is to give 10 percent of your income to the church, mosque, or synagogue you attend or derive spiritual guidance from. You can also dedicate a portion of your income to donating to charitable organizations you care about. 

Example: Canfield and his co-authors for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series decided that they wanted to donate a portion of the proceeds from their books to organizations that addressed pressing issues in the world such as homelessness, teen suicide, and the environment. Over the years, Canfield and his co-authors have donated millions to worthy organizations. They also donate part of their personal incomes to their respective churches and chose to recruit additional co-authors for their books. Though this meant that they’d earn less money per book, it gave them the ability to produce over 200 books, which they couldn’t have accomplished with just two co-authors. They’re convinced that sharing wealth in these ways brought them maximum prosperity compared to holding onto it.

2. Volunteer. Many charities do work that benefits the community. But many of them rely on volunteer help rather than maintaining a dedicated staff. Volunteering your time to these organizations is a way to share the wealth you have with the community to help make it better. 

Tithing and Abundance

It may seem counterintuitive that giving away money would bring you more prosperity while buying things for yourself wouldn’t. Yet this is what many dedicated tithers report. One reason could be that tithers consciously choose to grow and share their wealth while steering clear of greed. Instead of feeling a sense of scarcity that makes them want to hold onto their money, they feel a sense of abundance: They have enough wealth to meet their needs and share it with others. 

This sense of abundance is good for the environment. When you feel you have enough, you aren’t interested in overconsuming material goods, which depletes the environment of its limited resources. Instead, you share the money that would’ve been spent on goods with the world to make it a better place.

Financing College by Avoiding First Class: Tom’s Story

Tom, a neighbor of Canfield’s, is part of the Director’s Guild of America and helps produce films around the world. Tom’s contract specified that he’d be flown first class anywhere he went. On a shoot in New Zealand, he wanted to fly his sons there and asked what the cost of a coach class ticket was. It was $1,800—Tom’s first class ticket had cost $7,700. Tom hadn’t known just how expensive it was to fly first class. He wondered if his company would be willing to book his tickets in coach class and give him the difference to use for things like motorcycles or vacations. But he also thought of people who couldn’t afford to attend college and decided to use the difference in cost to pay students’ tuition. 

The first year, Tom was able to pay one student’s tuition for a whole year and now gives to conservation efforts. As Tom told more colleagues about his decision, they started following suit, too. His decision illustrates how getting enough and sharing the rest can make the world a better place. 

Why Donate to Charity: Tithing 101

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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