Tithing is the Biblical term that means giving away 10% of all we earn. When I referred to that during a class I was leading, one of the participants said, “You mean we get to keep 90%!?”
Yes, if you want to, and you can also use much of that 90% to make a difference in the world without giving it by carefully choosing where we bank, spend, and invest.
Jim Marsh Jr. says he is sleeping a lot better since he knows how the money he has invested is being used. A child and adolescent psychotherapist and Methodist pastor, it is important to Jim that his funds be used to help people who need access to low cost loans to get ahead.
In an article titled, “Putting Your Money Where Your Values Are: Introducing Social Investing,” Andy Loving, a Certified Financial Planner® who founded Just Money Advisors, Inc., discusses how we can use the money we don’t give away to help the poor. (The article can be found at http://faithandmoneynetwork.org/resources/recommended-reading/.) Loving suggests a number of possibilities:
- Move your checking account to a community bank that lends money to the poor. (Ironically, big banks won’t lend you money unless you already have money.)
- Invest in fair trade companies that pay small farmers and artisans in developing countries fair prices for their coffee, cocoa, fruit, and other products.
- Support fair trade companies by purchasing their coffee, chocolate, clothes, and gifts, even if you have to pay a little more.
- Invest in micro-lending institutions that make loans as small as $25 or $50 to help individuals start small businesses by renting a stall to sell their excess produce, or buy supplies to make beaded jewelry, weave scarves, etc.
- Research your own investments to know whether the stock you own is supporting wars, human slavery, or unjust and unsustainable business practices.
- Form a Socially Responsible Investment club to share your findings with each other.
Perhaps most important, educate yourself. No, most important is to MOVE SOME MONEY!
Go to our Resources section and click first on Personal Interviews, then on our series titled “Faith and Money: Making the Connection.” The DVD titled “The Money We Don’t Give Away” features a great interview with Andy Loving and Jim Marsh, Jr., who talks about how he got into Socially Responsible Investing and what it has done for him.
A 2011 USA Today column: “How Christianity and Capitalism Can ‘Heal’ the World,” quoted Olivia Teter, a vice president at the spirituality-based RSF Social Finance, as saying, “You can transform the world if you can change the way people work with their money.”
In the same article, Andy Loving was quoted as contrasting “conventional investing”– Wall Street economics – with what he calls “Sabbath economics.” He said, “With one, it’s all about getting the greatest possible return. With the other, the point is creating the greatest possible good while netting a good return in the process.”
It is, in effect, opening the door to a whole new concept of using the money we don’t give away to make a difference in the world. That’s a door worth opening to a new world of giving and a new way of living.