>The $1 Difference

>According to the World Bank approximately 1.4 billion people around the world live on less than $1.00 per day. The total population of the world is expected to reach 7 billion by the end of this year. That means that nearly 20% of the world population is now living on less than what I spend for a coffee on my way to work every morning.

I made just over CDN$57,000 in 2010. Out of curiosity I typed that into the calculator on globalrichlist, where to you think I landed?

I thought maybe top 25% but boy was I wrong! It was interesting to see that I am approximately the 58 millionth richest person in the world. Not so impressive until you put in on the scale of just under 7 billion people. With that in mind I’m in the top 0.97% of global income!

That’s not a typo!

I made more money in 2010 that 99.03% of the rest of the people on the entire planet!

That got me thinking. If 1.4 billion people are surviving on less than $1 per day ($365 per year) what would it look like for them and for me if I intentionally lowered my income to help raise theirs? A person living on CDN$365 per year falls in the bottom 8% of global wealth. What if they had $730? They would leap-frog over an addition 1.5 billon people and rise 26% from the bottom 8% to the bottom 34%. That’s what.

What about me? By lowering my income by the same margin my position on the global scale dropped by less than 0.01%. It didn’t even register on the two decimal place display on the Global Rich List! That got me thinking again, how much of a personal sacrifice would it take to lower my position by even 0.01% and how much of an impact could that have on someone living on less than $1 per day?

I had to lower my income by $1100 to drop my position on the scale about one tenth of one percent. And what does adding that same amount to the poorest of the poor do? CDN$1465 per year ($365 + $1100) puts you in the TOP 31% of the world’s wealth!
That is astonishing to me. Let me put in another way so you can understand.

By lower my position on the global wealth meter by just 0.01% I can raise the position of one of the world’s poorest people by a whopping 61% and move them into the top half – no the top 3rd, of the world’s wealth!

A few months ago I wrote a few posts where I tried to get you thinking in terms of living a more charitable life. As anticipated I got some push back. A lot of you claimed that small amounts of philanthropy don’t have an impact. Clearly these statistics expose the lie of that argument.

According to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) one dollar a day will; provide 11 families with clean drinking water, plant 6 life giving and income generating fruit trees, put a roof on 3 homes or send a child to school for a year. We – the top few percent of the world’s wealth – can do this without noticeably changing our own position.

Not only can we do it. We must.

It is the single most repeated command in all of scripture, both Old and New Testament. Over 3000 times in fact the bible tells us in one way or another to help the poor. God’s strongest condemnations and most violent destruction are reserved not for those who reject Him but for those who refuse to share their wealth.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy [Ezekiel 16:49]

This is going to be hard for some of my Christian friends to swallow but God is more concerned with how we treat the poor and needy around us than how we treat Him! The clear fact is that He will punish greedy Christians more severely than generous Atheists!

Think about that for a minute.

We all know what happened to Sodom. But the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, it was greed! As one of the top 1% of the wealthiest people on earth, that’s me! And I dare say it’s you.

How you spend just $1, is a life and death decision. Not only for the poorest of the poor but for you too. Small amounts of philanthropy save lives – maybe even your own.

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17]

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1:27]

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6:8]


  1. >You're so right. But who can we give money to, and know it actually makes its way to a poor person? I don't trust anyone these days. Seriously, I'd like to know. I'd donate money if I knew someone other than a scammer would get it. Me, I give money directly to people who need it. Seems sensible to me. But it never reaches outside the country. I'd like to help (not that I have much to donate, of course, but still). Just found your blog through anythingbuttheist. I'll be back!

  2. >Well, Lauren, I think that's about the most Christian thing I have read in years. Everbody wants to sing and dance and praise the Lord and wear Easter bonnets, but that's not the heart of Christianity. Well done.Frank

  3. >writenow…All I can say is do your homework. Most credible organizations will happily give you their audited annual reports. Personally I follow the 80/20 rule. If less than 80% of the money finds it's way directly to those in need I don't give.This is no way an endorsement, but 3 of the best organization I know are the aforementioned Mennonite Central Committee (MCC.org)Doctors Without Boardersand on the local front, The United Way

  4. >We in Malaysia are a very charitable lot and many people donate money to many charities both within and outside the country regularly. But, it is most sickening to hear that some of the money do not get to the poor that the money are intended to but to the unscrupulous politicians and officials of certain countries. Nevertheless, we still continue with our charitable ways.

  5. >Lauren, What a great post. I've been lurking and reading (and appreciating) your stuff for some time but this post made me want to say thank you. I think the books "Walking With The Poor" by Bryant Myers and "When Helping Hurts" by Steve Corbett give some good insight on how we can be good stewards of God's resources that have been put under our stewardship. May we all learn to walk humbly before our God. Blessings on your journey this coming year.

  6. >Great post Lauren!We'll have to wait and see about they atheist punishment thing. ;-)But seriously, you've done a good job reminding us all just how good we have it, and why we should be generously sharing the wealth!

  7. >hak55… See my response to writenow above. Keep doing your homework, don't stop giving out of some fear that you will be taken advantage of. As the old saying goes "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."Those unscruplous fraudsters usually get caught and punished severely. Here in Canada fraud is the second most seriously punished crime on the books, next to murder.

  8. >It seems to me that God is just as concerned with how treat others as to how we treat him, as they go hand in hand. The way we treat others is a reflection of how we treat God (as a Christian). Great Post!

  9. >Lauren,glad you sought me out. I've always believed that nothing ever happens without a reason. I am waiting to find out what made you find my profile.Maybe I'd find something in your posts that answers something I am seeking answers to.You are right. We often forget why religions came to be – forget the teachings of the great masters and immerse ourselves in meaningless rituals.If yours post makes at least 1 person seek out a needy family and help them out – then it has served its purpose.

  10. >addmanrcace… The scriptures I quote are all in response to the question of "what now?" If you love God, what now? Go to church every Sunday, sing praise and heap addoration on Him day and night? No you get up and go help someone…

  11. >Brilliant use of math to demonstrate our financial wealth and our spiritual poverty. We pay a heavy price for our abundance. It's easy to see when you visit a country like Haiti with so little wealth. I don't want to live in Haiti but I do love the simple life they have because they have so few silly choices to ponder over. 180 types of salad dressing? And so little money buys so much of value. http://www.USofHaiti.org

  12. >I've been executive director of two different non profits that assisted individuals and families in need, so I know a thing or two about the complexities of what happens to dollars that get donated. While I understand and respect the dessire to screen agencies through the 80/20 rule, I think it misses the point. If an organization spends $80 on helping down and out folks and only $20 on being an effective organization, they will have limited reach. We understand in the corporate world that companies need to invest in their own infrastructure and marketing plans to expand their business. Charity organizations have the same needs. However, donors don't usually want to pay the light bill, the printing, the insurance or any other expenses – which is why a lot of well intended non profits with ethical leaders just barely eke out their missions. I don't think the leaders of charities need to get rich, but they should be allowed a living wage and health coverage. As far as how to help others through out the world and be sure your dollars are getting directly into the hands of people trying to improve their lives, these days I put money out to others through micro-finance over at Kiva.org

  13. >Belladonna…Of course the 80/20 rule works best with larger and more established organizations. A newer/smaller organization is going to have more difficulty following that plan. Kiva is a great model but, like everyone else, they have overhead too.

  14. >I tried to link to the link you have for the globalrichlist but it did not go through, can you repost the link or send it to me.Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s