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Toby and the Tithers

The news that Oxford academic Toby Ord has pledged to give away £1 million during his lifetime - and is encouraging others to pledge 10% of their income to charity - made the national news recently. If Ord had been a wealthy donor, it would still have been newsworthy, but the fact that he is a philosophy researcher on an ordinary salary makes the story all the more interesting. Fundraisers will wish that there were many more Toby Ords around. But of course there are!

I know a lot of ordinary people who regularly donate 10% of their income to charity. They do it in a proactive way, seeking out the causes they wish to support and giving regularly and tax efficiently. Who are these people? Well, the ones I know are Christians, but there are others of the Jewish and Muslim faiths (and no doubt others too) who also give generously as an expression of their beliefs.

For example, a church client of ours in the Midlands, with a membership of 300 and not in a rich area, recently held a gift day for its capital appeal. The result? £880,000 in gifts and pledges. I suspect some members will remortgage their homes too to deliver on their commitments. So what can we learn from all this?

Firstly, that there are actually a lot of Toby Ords out there, not just a few.

Secondly, that people motivated by their beliefs (faith based or otherwise) can do extraordinary things and, if the cause is right, will respond very generously.

Thirdly, that such people plan their giving and think seriously about it. They need a clear vision of why they should give and how it fits with their philosophy or belief system, as well as what difference it will make.

If we can connect with such people and get these things right, the results can clearly be spectacular.

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