Charity means something different to everyone. For some, it’s something they do off their own backs and dedicate their lives to. For others, it’s part of their culture or their religion and is a pillar of their lifestyle from birth.
There are so many different charities around the world – each one focused on a different issue. The charity you give to will depend on the issues you’re most passionate about and their proximity to you.
It’s generally thought that humans care most about issues that are closer to them, which could explain that most people believe charity starts at home.
If you have noticed an issue that affects people where you live, one of the most effective methods is to lend your support to charities and organisations within your local area.
Helping the community through religion
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, and proverbs 19:17 state, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” It’s cemented in the Bible that acts of charity will be recognised by God, and for this reason, many Christians regularly give to charity.
There is no formal expectation to, but lots of churches set up their own community charities and encourage their members to donate regularly.
If you’re a member of the church and want to make an impact in the community, it’s worth seeing if your own church has a charity or a volunteer service you could join. These can range from homeless shelters, addiction services and women’s refuges through to community patrols and keeping the local area clean and safe.
Other religions also have a foundation in charity, including Islam.Depending on income, Muslims are required to make an annual payment called Zakat as part of the Five Pillars of Islam. Similar to Christianity, it is believed that by helping those in need you will be able to please Allah (SWT).
There is a list of people who can benefit from Zakat which includes but is not limited to:
- The impoverished or those on a low income
- The needy who don’t have enough food
- Those in slavery or captivity
- Those in considerable debt
Whilst charity starts at home, not everyone can receive Zakat and it can’t be freely distributed throughout families. Can a mother give Zakat to her son? No, because in the Muslim faith it’s an obligation to support your dependents irrespective of charity. In doing this, everyone is looked after and those who need the most help can receive it.
Helping the community outside of religion
If you aren’t part of a religion, there are still many ways you can incorporate helping those less fortunate into your life. If you have a bit of free time on the weekends or after work, you can volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen, or an animal centre if that’s what you’d prefer.
Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you can donate blood if you’d like to have a more direct impact on people’s lives.
There are lots of sporting events and interactive fundraising events such as walks and races that you can do to raise money, and these can be done with friends and family so are largely enjoyable for those involved.
You don’t have to just give up your time to help, you can lend your support to local events, or you can set up a direct debit that makes regular payments to a charity of your choice.
However you choose to help and whatever your motives are, helping people less fortunate than you is essential for creating a happy and healthy environment that everyone in the local area can benefit from and enjoy. Plus, donating to charity can increase your levels of happiness and even extend your life expectancy. Win win!