All of us have our own reasons to contribute to charity.
How much should we give, how we should give and to whom we should give are matters which are quite personal to each and everyone of us.
In a world where spending less and less is become a mantra, charity is quite a misfit. What corresponding value do we see or get when we give to charity? How should we allocate scarce funds for charity? When even paying down a punishing debt requires self discipline, what kind of motivation and self discipline does giving to charity need?
I think my earliest introduction to charity was watching my eldest brother make donations to roadside beggars. My original motivations were, I suppose, also from the concept of “being good.” Being good means we should help people and one way is to make donations.
As I grew older, my motivations changed. It changed from the vague concept of “just being good” to specific guidance from our Holy Book.
Though I am no religious expert, some verses from our Holy Book have really struck some chords in me. My favorite guiding verses on charity are:-
Verse 274 of Surah 2
Those who (in charity),
Spend of their goods
By night and by day,
In secret and in public,
Have their reward
With their Lord:
On them shall be no fear,
Nor shall they grieve
Verse 18 of Surah 57
For those who give in charity,
men and women,
And loan to God,
a beautiful loan,
It shall be increased manifold,
(to their credit)
And they shall have (besides),
A generous reward.
Verse 9 of Surah 76
Saying, we feed you
For the sake of God alone
No reward do we desire
From you nor thanks.
These 3 verses (I am sure there are many other verses extolling charity) are my favorites. They are my guiding lights and give me my strong motivation to give and to expect nothing in return from the recipient(s), not even a word of thanks.
I am sure that all the great religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc., have equally compelling messages on charity.
For people with strong religious beliefs, the motivation for contributing to charity may probably come from religion.
What about those without strong religious beliefs? Where does their motivation and discipline come from?