Charity and its Necessity


In our hectic lives, we do not think about the need for donating to better the lives of orphans. Life is so hard and busy for most everyone, that nowadays it has become almost impossible to think of anything but survival for most people around the world.

One thing which keeps coming back to my mind is the generosity of Americans. They donate for community upliftment and to the poor in a consistent manner, all through their lives. It appears to me that charity is part and parcel of the American culture – a culture of giving back to the society. Richer Americans donate more and even the average American gives donations.

What about India and Indians ?

We donate hardly. In proportion to the wealth of the country, the donations do not measure up. Richer people donate less, and average people do not donate. The situation is in stark contrast to the U.S. Why do Indians ignore charity ?

There are many reasons – one big reason is the doubt in most people’s minds if their donations would ever reach the needy, rightfully so. India is a corrupt society, so it is reasonable to derive a conclusion that the poor people for whom donations are meant for, may not in fact receive the benefit of charity. The other reason is the virtual lack of knowledge – hardly any advertisements – on public charities and the tax benefits that come along with donations to notified charities. Most people just ignore or do not have the time to investigate charities and make up their minds whether to donate or not.

Ofcourse, a donation mindset is important before one can bring himself / herself to make the donation. India being a poor country (whatever we see in economic statistics has not yet percolated to the poorest of the poor people in the country, despite whatever the economists say), it is critical to identify social institutions (preferably privately managed) which have a good track record in the society that they serve and a solid financial reputation. Look at the directors on the boards of such institutions, look at their website, ask around, check their credentials, ensure they have Income Tax exemption as a designated charity, and if possible, visit their office or their orphanage or their school. It is important to verify that the money that you ultimately decide to donate does not go waste, and it does reach the poor people served by that institution.

Well, it is hard to do all this in our hectic lives, no doubt. But it is important to select one or two charities and consistently donate every year. May be it is on the occasion of an important milestone or anniversary in your life, so that you do not forget. Do this every year. May be it is just INR 5,000 or INR 10,000 – it does not really matter. The key thing is that you develop a charity mindset, and you encourage your children to do so likewise.

You should never advertise what you donate. I cringe from seeing my name anywhere at the place that I donate to – it is not what I am expecting. The money that we donate is really meant for the very poor orphans who have suffered in their lives and have not had the luxury of having their parents in charge of their care. There is no need for them to know who donates the money that they need – suffice for them to know that there are good hearts and minds out there in the world, who do care for them, though once in a year.

I hope you will take it upon yourself to identify a charity of repute in the near future, and donate something to that charity. Please do this every year. It should become a habit. Let us show we have our hearts in the right place.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
31st July 2011
Mumbai

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