Those of us who own a toilet are better off than nearly half of the world’s population.
Shocking statistics like this one have led many top earners, perhaps most famously Bill Gates, to give huge percentages of their income away.
The Giving Pledge, started by Bill and Melinda Gates asks top American earners to pledge to give the majority of their wealth away. Mark Zuckerberg, George Lucas and Michael Bloomberg are among the signatories.
Motivated by Jesus' radical teaching on money, many Christians give generously. Rick Warren’s policy of reverse tithing (giving away 90% and keeping 10%) has caught the imagination of many.
But who are the UK-based Christians leading the way in generous giving today? Many of them go unnoticed, quietly keeping their local churches and charities alive. Others through their wealth or celebrity status attract more attention. Here we list just five people helping to make a difference in today's world:
Peter Vardy - Inheriting his father’s highly successful business, Peter says he has been “blessed beyond measure”. He believes that with this blessing comes a responsibility. Giving millions away every year, Peter has funded the building of schools with the aim of providing “long term employment and regeneration in areas of high deprivation.” A committed evangelical Christian, Vardy attracted controversy in 2002 when it was claimed by Tribune Magazine that the Emmanuel Schools Foundation Peter had set up was teaching creationism. Peter later won a case in the High Court against the magazine for suggesting this. He donated the damages to charity…obviously.
The controversial figure has promoted many charitable causes
Bono - One of the most famous people on the planet, the U2 lead singer has been been involved in countless charitable initiatives including Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8. Often meeting with world leaders, Bono has pleaded with presidents and prime ministers to remember the poor. Has he put his money where his mouth is? Opinion is divided with some arguing the singer should give more of his own money to the causes he supports. He's also been accused of tax avoidence. Opinion is even divided about his faith, with Christians often asking ‘is Bono a Christian?’. Bono himself responded to critics with his best selling book of conversations Bono on Bono.
Bob Edmiston - The founder of Christian Vision Bob Edminston is said to be worth over £500m. The charity, which was set up in 1988 uses radio, TV, internet and mobile phone technologies to spread the gospel. Lord Edminson made his millions through importing cars and property sales. He donates a percentage of both his IM Group and IM Properties to fund new schools in the Midlands.
John Wates - The Wates family has a heritage in philanthropy, with John’s father setting up the Wates Foundation in 1966. Spurred on by their Christian values, the Wates's have promoted family values, community work and the environment. Awards have ranged from helping to keep a struggling village shop open to financing the salary of a church youthworker in Northolt.
You - In a 2009 report titled Why Christians Give it was found that on average, Evangelical Christians donate 11.5% of their household income to both churches and charities. The Church of England alone receives £750m from churchgoers. Daniel Jones from Stewardship says “You often hear the phrase ‘Christians give what is right, not what is left’…For many, giving is the first line on the budget, as important or more important than the other big expenses like rent, mortgages, utilities and tax”.
June 29th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes