I had some fabulous teachers from grade school all the way through graduate school. The best ones taught me a basic principle you might have been taught as well: when approaching a complex, difficult problem, break it down into individual parts, otherwise you’ll get lost and discouraged in the complexity of the problem.
Global poverty is one of those complex problems that leave us all overwhelmed. Can you blame us? Nineteen thousand children die every day of easily preventable causes. A billion people go to bed hungry every night. Another billion lack clean water. Three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day. If not overwhelming, those statistics are at the very least mind numbing.
Here’s where I apply the principle my teachers taught me.
If American Christians—just a portion of our country—increased their giving by just 1 percent, we could wipe out extreme poverty in a generation.
Let me explain.
There are 350,000 churches in America and 238,000,000 Christians. Their combined annual income is $5.2 trillion. The average giving of Christians in the U.S. is just 2.4 percent, which equals about $125 billion a year. That giving supports all the churches, soup kitchens, and aid organizations already doing a great amount of good.
But let’s say that we could increase the giving of Christians in our country by just 1 percent, from 2.4 percent to 3.4 percent. That little bit of extra generosity amounts to about $52 billion a year of money now available to us to tackle global poverty. This works out to about sixty cents per day per Christian.
How much would you give if your children had no food, water or health care?
Over twenty years that extra 1 percent adds up to an astounding $1,040 billion. So what would we do with that kind of money? Let’s go shopping.
That still leaves us with $454 billion unspent. Yet the things I’ve listed above would effectively decimate extreme poverty and human suffering on our planet. With the rest we could find a cure for cancer, end homelessness, and do all kinds of good for our world. The exciting thing is that ending extreme poverty is doable. We really could do this. We could. And we should.
Simply throwing money at them won’t solve these problems of extreme poverty. But they can’t be alleviated without money. We know how to address these problems. We have the expertise, the technology, and the access to defeat the world’s worst problems.
Let’s start a 1 percent revolution. Will you join me?