Thanksgiving kicks off the most charitable time of year. People from all over the world take stock of the many things to be thankful for and give back to others who may not be as fortunate. Charitable giving can be a good faith gesture toward the next year or a sign of goodwill toward those who may not be as fortunate. It doesn’t matter if you give time by volunteering, set aside a portion of your income to donate, or spend time helping a family or friend in need. All forms of giving make the world a kinder, better place.

Some people have even created a tradition of giving each year. In the U.S. we’ve coined Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, where people come together to give to charities after a weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping and celebratory eating.

Giving can also be tied to faith. In religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, giving to the poor or less fortunate is woven into the fabrics of devotion. Giving up a portion of your income can signify faith and thankfulness for God’s gifts throughout the year.

Charitable Giving in Jewish Culture:

In the Jewish faith Tzedakah is the Hebrew word for acts of charity or giving such as providing relief, giving money to the poor, or other forms of providing assistance. Tzedakah is not so much a gift of generosity or benevolence, but an act of justice and righteousness. Giving to those less fortunate is seen as a duty, a non-negotiable responsibility.

Jewish law dictates one-tenth of net income after taxes be given to help the poor or those less fortunate. People who are struggling financially can give less, but most people are expected to give something.

There are levels of Tzedakah, some are more meaningful than others. The website, lists these types in order of least acceptable to most:

  • Giving Begrudgingly.
  • Giving less than you should, but giving it cheerfully.
  • Giving after being asked.
  • Giving before being asked.
  • Giving when you don’t know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient knows your identity.
  • Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient doesn’t know yours.
  • Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity.
  • Enabling the recipient to become self reliant.

Charitable Giving in Christian Culture

Giving in Christianity is seen as an act of love or benevolence. An article in New Statesman explains, “Christians believe that God’s love and generosity towards humanity moves and inspires us to love and be generous in response.”

Giving is not a command or a requirement. Christians are encouraged to give to their ‘neighbors’ near and far. Traditionally, this giving is called “alms” or “almsgiving.” Alms are often given at church to support the church and the poor. It can also be given during lent to those less fortunate.

Charitable Giving in Islam

Charitable giving is built into the laws and governance of Islam. Zakat, or giving to the poor, is the third pillar of Islam. Followers are obligated to give a certain proportion of their wealth to charity, usually 2.5 percent of their income.

Zakat is believed to purify the remaining portion of a person’s savings and to help establish the economic balance and social justice in society. Muslims believe zakat has many benefits aside from helping the poor. The BBC explains:

The benefits of zakat, apart from helping the poor, are as follows:

  • Obeying God
  • Helping a person acknowledge that everything comes from God on loan and that we do not really own anything ourselves. And since we cannot take anything with us when we die we need not cling to it.
  • Acknowledging that whether we are rich or poor is God’s choice, so we should help those he has chosen to make poor.
  •  Learning self-discipline.
  •  Freeing oneself from the love of possessions and greed.
  •  Freeing oneself from the love of money.
  • Freeing oneself from love of oneself.
  •  Behaving honestly.

Charitable giving is on the rise all over the world as people decide to support causes and organizations that matter to them. Along with feeling great about helping others, donating to a charity gives you the chance to stand behind the causes that mean the most.

Whether it’s your religion, a family tradition, or a way for you to speak your mind, giving to charity during the holiday season can be a huge asset to those in need. Giving allows you to speak for those with no voice and share your good fortune with those who might need a little help.

*CAI, as an organization, has no religious affiliation. However, our global community of supporters are members of as many differing faiths as they are countries. We stand united in our shared vision to create peace through education.