10% to a good cause

July 31, 1998

Aberdeen University principal Duncan Rice and his wife are to be applauded on their Pounds 35,000 donation to the university's bursary scheme (THES, July 10).

This is not as exceptional as you imply. His gift is under a deed of covenant, which implies it is being spread over four years (at Pounds 8,750 per year). For a covenant to generate Pounds 8,750 per year gross, one only has to give Pounds 6,738 per year net (the university then reclaims the income tax) and because he must be paying 40 per cent tax, he will be entitled to a further Pounds 1,488 p.a. reduction in his own tax bill, giving a net cost to his wife and himself of Pounds 5,250 per year.

From salary surveys, this would appear to be well under 10 per cent of his own net salary, even without considering his wife's income.

Many Christians and others regularly give away at least 10 per cent of their income to charity, dating back to the ancient principle of tithing. We do not know how much Professor Rice and his wife give to other charities and their total giving may be higher. But looking at this gift on its own, while Pounds 5,250 per year is generous, it is no more exceptional than a lecturer on Pounds 20,000 salary giving away Pounds 100 per month (Pounds 1,200 per year). Many of your readers will be supporting churches and charities at this sort of level.

We thus need to see people like Professor Rice as part of the general community of realistic charitable donors, not as someone highly exceptional.

Gareth Morgan Voluntary sector research unit Sheffield Hallam University

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