Global Tithe Index
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The Instrument

CoverThe Global Tithe Index (GTI) is an instrument that provides an objective means of comparing the level of tithe giving in one country with that of another country, taking into account the respective level of economic activity and prosperity of each country. It is not meant to be used to motivate church members to tithe more faithfully, but as a management tool to help instruct policy and make decisions on the proper deployment of stewardship education resources at union, division, and General Conference level. It helps focus on various regions by making comparisons with countries in the same geographical area and by uncovering trends over time. 

With adjustments made for inflation and currency exchange rates, the GTI also makes possible comparison across time by eliminating issues that would seem to make the tithe vary in a study of giving over time. Unless demographics or the instrument change (changed assessment of the country), the GTI values will change only through better faithfulness or by doing a serious audit of church books. Because it is very difficult to compare tithe giving between countries which have great economic disparities, this instrument tries to level the field by using a common economic indicator, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, and comparing it with the aggregate tithe volume per country, divided by the number of members (tithe per capita). This approach builds on the following premises:

  • The GDP per capita represents a broadly based economic indicator of the average economic activity of all inhabitants. It indicates the average value of goods and services bought and sold in a given country for each inhabitant. The GDP shows the magnitude of the economic activity of the average individual. While it is not the same as the average per capita income, it provides an objective measurement to compare income in different countries, based on the magnitude of what their citizens consume and the wealth they generate as an average for their national collectivity.

  • The GDP statistics use the Purchasing Power Parity method. Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) are currency conversion rates that convert figures to a common currency and equalize the purchasing power of different currencies. In other words, in the process of conversion, they eliminate the differences in price levels between countries. This further smooths out the terms of comparison, as inflation factors are taken into account. This is the preferred method when trying to compare standards of living in different countries.

  • Long-term fluctuations of exchange rates are also factored in through this method, although significant short-term fluctuations will cause temporary distortions. These are taken into account in the narrative by comparing average exchange rate to the dollar between the previous and the current year.

  • Tithe per capita reflects how much the average Seventh-day Adventist church member reports earning in a given year. If we multiply the figure by ten, it should theoretically reflect the wealth Adventist members have generated for themselves and, to a large extent, show what they consume in order to live.

  • The GDP per capita and the Tithe per capita for each country stand in a given relationship called the Global Tithe Index. This relationship fluctuates, and is dependent on several factors. One of these, presumably the most important, is the level of faithfulness of the members in each country. For instance, if the average tithe per capita was 100 USD both in the U.S. and in Haiti, it is obvious that members in the U.S. would thereby show much less faithfulness, since Haiti is a much poorer country than the U.S.

The Formula 

This year, an important refinement is introduced to the formula. Instead of using a formula that generates an abstract number where the value of 1 is the ideal, the formula has been improved to show a percentage of what the aggregate tithe should be.
The formula works on the assumption that based on the Gross Domestic Product per capita according to the Purchasing Power Parity method, 10 percent of that Gross Domestic Product per capita should be contributed to the church by the members taken as a whole, which translates into a certain amount, equivalent to the Total Tithe Potential (TTP). The ideal, where all members would give a faithful tithe, would translate into a ratio of 100 percent of the Total Tithe Potential. The new formula shows what percentage of the Total Tithe Potential members in a given country actually contribute. The higher the percentage, the closer they are to 100 percent faithfulness.

As a result, we have introduced a new column in the table called Total Tithe Potential (TTP). It shows the total tithe that could theoretically be received in a given country, based on the Gross Domestic Product per capita, if 100 percent of the members were 100 percent faithful. Data from previous years have been restated to facilitate year-to-year comparisons. All the other components of the formula remain the same.   

The Formula is the following:

GTI Formula

The formula will yield a fraction of one, one being a number representing complete faithfulness. Let’s take the following example:

If the GDP per capita is $45,000, and average tithe per capita in that territory is $4,500 (reflecting complete faithfulness), we would have the following formula:

GTI Formula 2

If for the same GDP per capita, the average tithe per capita in that territory is $2,250, the formula would look like this:

GTI Formula 3

In other words, the ratio that comes out of that formula represents the potential that has been realized compared to the ideal, which is 100 percent or 1. The lower the ratio, the less the potential that has been realized against the ideal, and therefore the lower the faithfulness of the members in the aggregate.

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