There have been recurrent discussions on the vitality of religion and its place in human life, culture and society. There are different stands and perceptions endorsed by different people.
However, when it comes to charity the well-researched fact is that, religion does dominate the scene.
The research commissioned by BBC in the UK, states that people who profess a religious belief (may it be any) are significantly more likely to give to charity than non-believers. “Three quarters of people in living in England who practise a religion (77%) have given to charity in the past month. This compares to only two thirds of English people who do not practise a religion (67%)”.
Even according to the World Giving Index, Religion is dominant factor which dictates the giving behaviour of people around the world. As many as 39% of all donations made in the USA goes to religious charity. Myanmar, which has topped the list of most generous nations for the 4th time, too reflects the same fact.
Hence, to study the charitable behaviour of people requires the profound understanding of world religions and how they endorse giving.
Christianity – Tithing is a form of mandated giving unique to Christian charity. It refers
to the practice of giving a tenth share of the produce to God or to the Church. The tithe is predominantly meant for maintenance of the church and payment of salaries to clergy members. In addition to this, the tithe is used to assist the poor and for missionary work around the world.
Islam – Islamic charity can be divided into two categories: Sadaqa and Zakaat.
Zakaat, which is known as poor tax is one of the five pillars upon which the Muslim religion is based, where 2.5% of one’s saving is compulsorily given every year. Zakaatis said to purify wealth from all sin.
Sadaqais a voluntary contribution. It can be given using money, personal items, time or other resources. From a social perspective, Sadaqaprotects the poor from impoverishment, and ensures that they do not turn to unlawful means to feed themselves.
Hinduism – In scriptures like the puranas and vedas, different types of daana are mentioned. Ishtdaan is purely for religious causes and institutions while Poort daana is for secular causes like education, hunger etc. If the item or property is dedicated or released for general public use, the giving is treated as utsarg. Giving can be done in various ways like feeding the poor, giving away property or assets, etc.
Hinduism does not mandate donations but advocates it by stating the benefits of giving, which is attaining moksha. Attaining moksha is the highest purpose of human life, as per Hindu philosophy. It considers worldly pleasures as Maya which hides the reality from you. Hence, by giving them away one makes his way towards moksha easier. Jain concept of daana is similar to that of Hindu perception.
Judaism – In Judaism, tzedakah(righteousness) refers to the religious obligation to do what is right and just, ask jews to contribute towards charity. Jews give tzedakah, which can take the form of money, time and resources to the needy. The Torah (one of first five books in judaism) requires that 10 percent of a Jew’s income be allotted to righteous deeds or causes, regardless if the receiving party is rich or poor.
Sikhism – Sikh traditions of charity are derived from Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhism endorses giving in two forms, Seva and Daswandh. Seva more accurately, KarSewa, literally meaning service by hands is often seen in construction, cleaning and maintenance of Gurudwaras. Daswandh refers to a tenth part of one’s earning, which belongs to the Guru. Every Sikh is advised to contribute this tenth to the Gurudwara (or at another charity institution) at the time of certain religious occasions. Apart from these there exists the ritual of serving langar – a community drive offering free food to all. People from all the religions can voluntarily donate to buy supplies for langar.
Zoroastrianism – Zoroastrian theology’s emphasis on living the good life; the encouragement to create material wealth with the accompanying social obligations to put it to good use, explains the immensely extensive welfare system put in place by the Parsi community in India. The driving force behind a Parsi’s charitable instinct is his religious ethos. From a religious point of view, Parsis consider poverty, suffering and want as an affliction of evil. To remove poverty, disease and suffering is not only a religious duty, but an act of spiritual merit, depriving “evil” of sustenance.
Buddhism – Daan has been frequently mentioned in Bauddh texts. The practice of daan is considered essential for the donor to start on the path to nirvana . On the other hand, it also sets the Bhikshusfree from material pursuits, and allows them to focus on their meditation and spiritual practices. Three main forms of daan are mentioned in Pali texts: ViharDaan (construction and dedication of a monastery for the Bauddh monks)Bhiksha (Giving alms to poors, monks and beggars), and MahaDaan (offering food formally to monks for seven consecutive days, and concludes with providing them with necessities of monkhood).
How to leverage religious charity with modern day giving –
It is easy to leverage these religious notions of charity to endorse giving. This can be done by motivating the religious population to donate more for secular causes, stating the religious benefits of charity or by partnering with religious institutions and convincing them to donate certain amount for secular causes like education, healthcare for poor, etc. To receive heavier contributions from religious donors, one can start fundraising campaigns at the time of major festivals like Diwali, Eid or Christman.
This can be easily achieved by hosting fundraisers on crowdfunding sites. As crowdfunding is dependent upon small donations from people, you can start a fundraiser at festive times, send emotional appeals to religious donors by writing fundraiser story using traditional symbols of giving. You can also arrange offline fundraising event at places of worship, to attract religious donors. Here are some more fundraising ideas for you to act on this.
Giving is adored by all major world religions. All we need to do is to strategize smartly to leverage the opportunity.