Great post today from Jeanine Skowronski at Yahoo Finance about the Global Rich List, a website that seeks to enable you to determine exactly where your income ranks you compared to every other person on the planet.
For example, if you make $52,000 a year (the median American household income for 2009), you are the 58,252,719 richest person in the world (or in the top 0.97 percentile of all moneymakers).
You can even get a widget from the site that lets you share your exact ranking with others through your Facebook page or personal website.
Far from being an effort to enable you to boast in your riches, however, the site purports to show just how much you can do with your comparatively vast wealth:
The site uses your wealth ranking to invite you to share your wealth with others. It told me, for example, I could buy 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras for just $8 (as opposed to 12 organic oranges for the same price) or a $30 first aid kit for a village in Haiti (instead of an ER DVD box set). However silly these suggestions may be (who spends $30 to watch ER?), charitable giving is clearly the point.
The site is fascinating and fun–after all, who can resist taking fifteen seconds in order to determine where they rank compared not only to the Joneses but to every Jones worldwide?
According to the site, Poke “wanted to do something which would help people understand, in real terms, where they stand globally. They want us to realize that, in fact, most of us who are able to view this web page are in the privileged minority.”
The assumption, however, that once we realize how privileged we are, we will become more generous in sharing with others runs counter to two stark realities:
- Giving is learned, not latent. It is not a lack of information that makes us less generous, nor the presence of information that makes us more so–nor even the presence of compelling opportunities for giving. (Aha–we pause at that last thought! We fundraiser types are conditioned to believe that compelling opportunities are the necessary and sufficient condition for giving among those with the capacity to do so. So, um, how’s that working for you?)
- The more we have, the less we give. The most generous people in the United States are those who make well below the median American household income. In fact, the more we make above that amount, the less we give away as a percentage of our income.
So what are you doing today to help your champions learn giving? Are you doing anything more than presenting compelling opportunities for giving? What one thing can you do today to coach your champions to grow in their generosity?