We all want to do good and help others, and one of the ways that the Torah and our Rabbis have structured this natural desire is through the requirement to give charity. The laws of who is required to give and how much are complicated and require Rabbinic guidance; each individual’s situation is unique. That said, our Rabbis tell us that as a default, an average person should give 10% of their (post-tax) income to charity.
In theory, this sounds great. In practice, once the money appears in your bank account, it becomes very difficult to part with it and we all have many worthy plans for our earnings. Each month brings new expenses, and it is very easy to justify not giving because of one’s legitimate needs. Giving gets pushed off, reduced or sometimes just never happens. In the meantime, local national and global Jewish institutions are unable to serve the community as fully as they might otherwise be able to because of a lack of funds. Many people give when asked, but do not track what percentage of their income they are giving. Others were told in the past that their level of income did not meet the threshold for being obligated in ma’aser, and when income naturally rose, they never increased their giving. Others simply need a bit of a push to get started.