How Much Money Should I Donate When Attending Church Services?

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Dear Farnoosh,

I attend church on a regular basis and am not sure what is a respectable amount to give as an offering. I have gone to a few different churches, and I found one that I like, but they ask [for money] every week, and for various reasons. This week they asked for a contribution to the normal dues, and a contribution for missionary work abroad. I enjoy the service, so I don’t want to short-change the church, even though that money could go towards paying off my debt. What do you recommend?

 

Ana

Dear Ana,

I brought in a special guest expert on this topic to help answer your question, since I don’t have a ton of experience donating to a place of worship. There’s no doubt many people are as equally puzzled as you. Kimberly Palmer, author of the new financial book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, weighs in with some terrific advice for you and everyone considering joining and giving back to their place of worship. She starts with a disclaimer: “Giving is always entirely optional, although in certain circumstances, including churches you attend regularly, you’re expected to give something to help support the community. As long as you’re trying out different churches, though, don’t feel pressure to give more than a nominal amount, because you’re considered a guest.”

 

Give What You Can And What Feels Right

It’s entirely up to you to decide how much you can give and what is appropriate given your monthly budget. If you’re curious to know, though, on average college graduates give about $1,200 a year to charity, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. That comes out to just over $20 a week. “And serious church-goers sometimes commit 10% of their incomes to the church,” says Palmer. But don’t let that pressure you if you simply can’t afford it. Never compromise your ability to pay off debt and save. Address those needs first. Finally, says Palmer, give what feels right. “Ideally, giving should feel good—not like a chore—because it’s aligned with your larger goals.”

Keep It Consistent

No matter what amount you decide on, try to give on a regular basis, advises Palmer. “Once you choose to commit to one church, you’ll probably want to contribute something each week so you feel fully part of the community.”

Keep It Discreet

Remember that you can put your donation in an envelope ahead of time to avoid the scrutiny of fellow churchgoers in your aisle.

Offer Help, Instead

If your budget is tight, don’t feel too much pressure to break the bank to give back. Instead, considering offering your time and energy to the group’s initiatives and causes. Volunteer on the weekends or during church-related events. “If you have a specific skill, such as accounting or graphic design, consider offering your services,” suggests Palmer.

Know How You’re Helping

Whether you’re giving your money or your time, make sure to understand exactly what you’re supporting. “You deserve to know how the money is being spent, including how much goes towards the actual cause you’re contributing to versus administration or overhead costs,” says Palmer. Organizations and non-profits, including religious ones, typically have this paperwork handy since they need to file it anyway. Don’t be shy. Your church should be willing and happy to share the information to donors. If you’re giving to a nonprofit, you can look it up on charitynavigator.org to see how it spends its money.

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  • Anonymous

    This is a great question and it doesn’t only apply to church services. Many religions have a call to donate at some point in the services and Farnoosh’s advice is spot on. Readers, how much do you typically give and how do you feel about being asked to donate?nCheers,nCaroline WaxlernLearnVest’s Chief Content and Community Officer

  • Marnie

    Oh my gosh — I don’t go to church but I always want to donate to charities. Once I got cornered by Greenpeace and accidentally become a member…talk about expensive.

  • Boots1807

    I always put my donations in an envelope ahead of time. No need to call attention to my donations.

  • Anonymous

    I’m happy Ana posed this question. It’s important to be charitable. In fact researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that spending just $5 a day on someone else makes you more happy than spending that money on yourself.

    • deedee

      That is a great idea!! especially with the holidays approaching…

  • Anonymous

    When I do my monthly budget I set aside 10% to give to church. I then give that away in quarter parts each sunday.

  • Rachel

    I give 10% of my monthly wages to my church and never regret it.

    • Rachel

      Addition to my previous post. I live on a fixed income therefore it is easy to take out that money as soon as I get my check.

  • Doz

    How much should I donate when attending church services? Since this is the question, I will respond by saying that the Bible has several references as what one should give and how it should be given. The Bible is full of references pertaining to this subject. I would suggest you read it. I have found good success in practicing these principles. No offence but when it comes to advice on this particular subject matter the authority is the Holy Writ…BIBLE.

  • Godgiven

    I am retired and have no salary from a job and living off my savings and investments so how much donation should I give every Sunday to the Church?rn

    • poorhouse

      “each according to as he purpose in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God so loves a cheerful giver”

    • poorhouse

      “each according to as he purpose in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God so loves a cheerful giver”

    • jerrif

      Do you receive any social security? Otherwise I would suggest asking God in prayer what you shoudl give. You don’t mention whether you are retired by choice or necessity and whether you have adequate savings/investments or not, but either way God will put on your heart at what level/amount you should give and will provide–I can attest to that!

    • Deewright1

      If your investments made money and earned interest, then 10% should be tithes.. break it down how you like but.rnOffering is based on what you can and are willing to part with. If your retirement and savings leave you well off then you should be able to give very generously. If your retirement leaves you strapped, and your not living comfortably, then work out a budget , give what your ABLE to give and pray for increase , so WHEN you receive more, you CAN give more… right!! rnrn

  • Joy

    If you’re a christian then you should be giving away 10% to the church . Look at Deuteronomy 14:22. If you’re giving away to charity you should give whatever you feel like giving. It should not make you go into debt. I give away 10% to my church and another 5 to 10% towards various charities.

    • david

      It is important to read to 29. Remember to go to the place where God has told you to go. This isn’t a Church. He wants you not your money!
      22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

      28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

  • K J Sargent

    Church giving is a duty of christianty the bible teachs 10 percent tithe or your increase so we all are giving at the same level God makes it an even playing field. anything above the ten percent is an offering, And the amount you give is totally up to you. It all belongs to God anyway…

    • Dan

      If you look through the New Testament there is no command to give, making it a duty. We are told only to give from our hearts as we have been prospered. 10% can be a good guidline or starting point but comes from the Old Testament where it was a command/duty to give a tithe (10%).

      • Don

        But Christ taught a higher law (Law of Christ) than in the old testament (law of Moses). He taught of the widows mite. all the rich people gave of their abundance she gave all she had, her last 2 mites. Christ blessed her above all.

      • Christine

        Awe…yes, this is true. But you will also notice in the book of Acts that the Community of believers “sold all that they had and gave according to those who were in need”…. its critically important to keep Scripture in context and not pick and choose….

  • M A Hartwell

    I pay by Bill Pay automatically every week. The downside is that I don’t have the feeling of giving as an act of worship every week, but I do like the consistency and I’m less likely to think I need the money for something else.

    • Anonymous

      Great tip @M A Hartwell. Thanks for weighing in! I’m so thrilled that has become such a lively discussion. Cheers, Caroline

    • MadeInDetroit

      I get paid every other week, but tithe weekly to help the church with thier budget. I also use Bill Pay, but have the check come to my house. I don’t forget to tithe, and I still get to put a tithe in each week.

  • Don

    Tithing is 10% by deffinition. to know how to best donate look at religions whos money does not go to clergy there you will find what Christ taught by their fruits you shall know them. in Religions people who serve should do it without desire of payback. If their tithes go to building materials and the sort, you are never pressured to pay because someone might have to take a pay cut. when you do this 10% feels great, and does not become a sacrafice.

  • Steve

    If you treat the church as just another social club or charity then the advise given makes sense. If you recognize your giving to God as a covenant relationship with the living creator then the widow’s might makes perfect sense. She didn’t have enough so she gave all she had believing in God as her provider. She demonstrated her trust believing He not only could but would provide all her needs as according to His Word. It is impossible to please God without faith. Truthfully if one knows their maker and hears correctly they should be giving as according to their heart. Assuming their heart is right with God and they know His voice.

  • Diamondmcmagic

    You should give 0%.

  • Sue Green

    Why do you go to church? You need to pay the teacher wherever you go; if you are being taught. (See Luke 10:6-8) Sadly it doesn’t sound like anyone is being taught from the BOOK, that would be the Holy Bible anymore.rnIt sounds more like a social club you are thinking of joining. God demands 10% and gifts and offerings over that. Really, God requires more than 100% He wants your all, He wants your trust in Him. Your first fruits, that’s like your first paycheck, a raise etc.and then the 10% of your gross- you do the math, we never will have enough to pay what it is worth or what is required. That is why we get back to the “TRUST Him” to supply your needs. He never said, pay your bills and if there is any left over FOLLOW ME!rnsue

    • Ssly

      Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. You have to fulfill your worldly obligations, that is good stewardship of what God has entrusted you with in this world. However, good stewardship also means investing your time and money in helping and supporting others who are less fortunate.

    • Ssly

      Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. You have to fulfill your worldly obligations, that is good stewardship of what God has entrusted you with in this world. However, good stewardship also means investing your time and money in helping and supporting others who are less fortunate.

  • Middle

    I think the church taxes are too high. We need to invest in new leadership that will promise to lower our tithes. Time to boot those fat cats from the priest hood.

  • Vickynjoel

    There is only one scripture in the bible where God says “Test me on this” and that is giving. Giving has a lot to do with our heart. It also has to do with trust. Yes in the old testament it mentions to give 10%, and in the New Testament Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law but complete it and fufill it. It is more of a question of heart and obedience. I have given to God in the ups and downs in my life, but one thing is for sure, I can testify that God has more than taken care of me and has blessed me.

  • Dick Nuggets

    Church is for idiots….. If I was dumb enough to go, I’d give coupons instead…..

  • Adrianna1027

    I don’t see 1 reference to the Bible in the advice given. We are to follow what the Word of God says about giving. The Bible says God gives us the ability to gain wealth. We are required to tithe 10 % and when we do, God blesses the 90% left. I ‘d rather live on the 90% blessed than have 100% but not be blessed. We give to our spiritual leaders and usually it is used for their salary, for the church expenses and some is given to missions or other ministries. What they do with it they will be accountable to God but I am responsible and accountable for being obedient to God regardless. Even Abraham and Jacob gave the tithe. Jesus when speaking to the Pharisees in Luke 11:42 said that while they should have tithed, they should not have also forgotten about justice, mercy and faith. Jesus also said “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give unto God what is God’s”. Jesus never spoke about it being abolished. Note – we are to give with cheerful hearts. :-)

    • SmithG8168

      II understand your point about not worrying about what is done with the offering and I don’t. But the concept of a tithe is from the old testament. There is no command from Jesus to tithe in the New Testament. In the verse you cited Jesus isn’t telling them to pay a tithe but chiding them for paying the tithe of mint and rue but disregarding justice and the love of God. In the preceding verse He says to give that is within as charity. There is no percentage identified. I want to do what is right to please God- not an oligarchy of church leaders. As I study the New Testament it seems to me my offering should be given with a cheerful heart. I conclude from that I should decide what to give based on my circumstances and then God will judge not how much I gave but how I gave it. The leaders of the church I go to ask for money every year to accomplish good deeds regardless of the economic consequenses for the individual in our congregation. I feel like they are taking advantage of folks that love God and don’t want to offend Him. I don’t believe the end justifies the means. Any insight to help me would be greatly appreciated.

  • jerrif

    I think the advice here is totally off the mark. The Bible clearly says to give the “first fruits” of your labor–not what is left over after paying for the cable you really don’t need or the 5th latte of the month. You are blessed with everything you have because of God and therefore should give willingly and cheerfully. If you have made bad choices with your finances and can’t give 10% or more of your gross income then confess this sin to God and ask Him to help you get to a position to be able to tithe. Then commit to giving what you can from your income and 10% of any additional money you may be blessed with–the unexpected bonus, insurance refund etc. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will be able to tithe!

  • http://www.facebook.com/huffodesign Nicholas J Huff

    Our pastor/priest just asked us to reflect and “voluntarily” fill out a form (Offeratory Program) to let the church know how much we are going to give at each weeks collection for the next year so that “they” can plan & prepare a budget for next year. nnThis actually made me reflect if I am going to the right place on Sundays.nnBy the way, I also don’t like to us the envelopes with my name on them because I have seen some churches look at them to figure out who and who isn’t giving and use them to pressure and award members based on the size of your gift. If the church doesn’t have a problem with me not using them than that’s the church I want to be at!! Some places even give you a pretty “label” based on the size of your gift (watchman, chairman and if you are really rich “Ambassador”). Funny thing, widows mite wouldn’t even be able to enroll in the membership program!! :( nnMy dad remembers in the old days near Chicago when he was a boy, his church charged a weekly renters fee for the pew you sat in based on the size of your family.nnI believe the purpose of church isn’t to create Obligation programs and Memberships but to share unconditionally with each another as children do.nnIf the community isn’t giving enough to a certain church than why can’t the church downsize instead of using fancy tactics? If another church is getting more & growing maybe it’s because the leaders simply are more equipped & connected rather than because the community doesn’t give!! The only way to put some sense in our unequipped leaders is to get tough and say NO and find the right leader that feeds you. nnI am very saddened that some of our leaders today are more concerned about their budgets, knowledge, the size of their name on the brochure & how big their church is rather than the example of Jesus Christ. I have been reminded that at the end is like the beginning- we are alone and not judged as a social group or community- so listen to your heart and have the courage to follow it! That is why our brothers and sisters left us the Holy Bible. Use it or the wolves in sheep clothes will use it against you. nnJust remember, Nobody is perfect.

  • Taylor S.

    Very interesting. I give 10% to my church. I write a check monthly. I feel I am helping my community needs. I feel my minister is more aware of the needs than I would be. I respect and admire him greatly.

  • Finephotography

    i don’t think anybody here has ever had to choose between putting gas in their car or eating that day.

  • Chrisitne

    1 Corinthians 2:12-16 Now we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God, so that we might understand the things God has so freely given us. (13) These are the things we are talking about when we avoid the manner of speaking that human wisdom would dictate and instead use a manner of speaking taught by the Spirit, by which we explain things of the Spirit to people who have the Spirit. (14) Now the natural man does not receive the things from the Spirit of God u2014 to him they are nonsense! Moreover, he is unable to grasp them, because they are evaluated through the Spirit. (15) But the person who has the Spirit can evaluate everything, while no one is in a position to evaluate him. (16) For who has known the mind of Adonai? Who will counsel him? But we have the mind of the Messiah!n

  • Chrisitne

    1 Corinthians 2:12-16 Now we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God, so that we might understand the things God has so freely given us. (13) These are the things we are talking about when we avoid the manner of speaking that human wisdom would dictate and instead use a manner of speaking taught by the Spirit, by which we explain things of the Spirit to people who have the Spirit. (14) Now the natural man does not receive the things from the Spirit of God u2014 to him they are nonsense! Moreover, he is unable to grasp them, because they are evaluated through the Spirit. (15) But the person who has the Spirit can evaluate everything, while no one is in a position to evaluate him. (16) For who has known the mind of Adonai? Who will counsel him? But we have the mind of the Messiah!n

  • sannb

    God’s truth and word is timeless and is a wonderful place for fabulous frugal women to find wisdom! Check out what Matthew 6 has to say:nn”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb?nn28u201cAnd why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, u2018What shall we eat?u2019 or u2018What shall we drink?u2019 or u2018What shall we wear?u2019 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

  • anonymous

    Please don’t give money for missionaries abroad. They come to places like India and bribe people into believing in Christianity. So many people in India have no absolute respect for Christians there. They consider it more of a cult. I seriously don’t understand the urge for Christians to increase their folk by conversion. If one wants to they will come to you. Don’t go and convert them with all these bribes.

    • rithika

      I agree it is such a scam in India.

  • Tom Delaney

    Interesting conversation here. I dont hear anyone saying “give how much you can and feel like”. Seems to me this is yet another tax for Sunday morning entertainment.

  • butterfly_58

    Giving is an item of worship, if you love Christ Jesus and is committed to Him follow what the bible says. See 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. It is God who prospers us; I’m a living witness, when you put heavenly things first, blessings will follow. May the love and peace of God be with you all!

  • Scrozven

    Instead of donating to a church donate to an organisation that specializes in medical sciences or building homes for the homeless, just saying.

  • Dinesh

    DEAR SIR/ MADEM

    IAM DINESH
    KUMAR FROM INDIA. IAM A POOR PASTER. RESENTLY I START CONSTRICTION MY CHURCH.
    BUT I STOPED DUE TO ECONOMICAL PROBLUME. I WANT $32000 DOLLERS PLEASE HELP
    ME.

    MY NAME:GALI
    DINESH KUMAR

    MY ACCOUNT
    NUMBER : 20178945372

    BANK NAME :
    STATE BANK OF INDIA

  • Dinesh
  • http://nightplanet.blog.com Shortbread Shippey

    Not one penny. Ever. You should be saving up for a brain transplant instead.