Giving Tuesday: Giving like a 21st Century Billionaire or a 1st Century Widow

November 27, 2023

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday

And last year rich people gave a ton of money away, even with the stock and bond markets plummeting:

“The wealthiest 25 persons in the U.S. had donated US$196 billion over their lifetime by the end of last year, compared to US$169 billion a year ago, according to a Forbes’ report published Monday. The US$27 billion jump outpaced the US$20 billion annual gain in the two previous years and doubled what the top 25 gave in 2018.

The top 25 richest Americans gave more even as their combined wealth declined 15% year over year to US$936 billion by the end of 2022, Forbes said.”1

This report about the giving rate of billionaires in the twenty-first century reminded me of that story about Jesus of Nazareth and what he said about one widow in the first century.

Here is a physician’s testimony, named Luke, from King Jimmy’s translation of the New Testament:

And [Jesus] looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

(Luke 21:1-4, KJV)

Old Fashioned Word Alert: Penury.

That means, extreme poverty and destitution.

It’s hard for any of us to give like a billionaire, but it’s even harder to give like that widow.

Much can be gleaned from those four verses.

Here is one takeaway: it’s not the size of the gift that matters.

You can give a ton and it means nothing.

You can give nearly nothing and it means everything.

Poverty of pocketbook and poverty of heart are two different things.

And let’s just say, this widow wasn’t giving for a tax deduction.

That’s not to say that utilizing tax deductions is a bad thing. It’s a privilege to live in a country that encourages giving to charities, churches, clubs, and communities through the tax code.

Take advantage of it!

But remember it is not so much WHAT you are giving that matters on Giving Tuesday or any other day of the week.

It’s WHY you’re giving.

What if we gave on Giving Tuesday like we shopped on Black Friday?

How might the world or your neighborhood look different?



  1. America’s Top 25 Billionaires Gave $27 Billion in 2022, Outpacing Previous Years