In 2008, the United Nations declared August 19 to be World Humanitarian Day to commemorate the loss of life in the 2003 Canal Hotel bomb attack in Baghdad and to pay tribute to aid workers who have risked and lost their lives in humanitarian service. In addition, World Humanitarian Day also highlights all humanitarian crises currently occurring in the world today.
For the most recent World Humanitarian Day, Dr. David King, the Karen Lake Buttrey Director for Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and assistant professor in philanthropic studies, wrote an article ‘How religion motivates people to give and serve’ for The Conversation.
“My main goal was to raise awareness for a broader audience on how faith is a motivator for giving and serving, as well as to illustrate how and why faith-based organizations are doing this work,” Dr. King said.
In the article, he describes the commonalities between the three Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and how those faiths act as a motivator for giving and serving.
“The values of giving are deeply rooted in those faiths’ texts, traditions, and practices. They all place giving and serving at the root of what it means to be a faithful practitioner,” he said. “Thus, giving and serving act as a uniting place across faiths.”
In addition, Dr. King sees this not only as a uniting factor within and between faith traditions, but also between those of faith and non-faith traditions.
“I think we’re drawn to this desire or need to help one another, because that is something humans do for one another, whether that be through a religious institution or a value-based system,” he said.
He also sees the benefits of an article on religious faith and giving, regardless of belief.
“For those who are religious, our faith teaches us and gives us ways to practice giving and serving on a regular basis,” Dr. King said. “The more we give and serve, the more we learn and grow in our generosity.”
There are also advantages of understanding faith-based giving for those who are not religious.
“Faith is a significant motivator for a majority of Americans and the way we give,” he said. “Fifty-five percent give out of faith motivation. It’s important to note that this allows for a lot of conversations and shared purpose between those who practice faith and those who don’t, while also providing a point of unity to work for humanitarian change.
“Whether you’re a secular nonprofit or a faith-based one, it’s by working across those lines that you can best provide services to people on the ground. It’s the best way to gain access, buy-in, and engagement.”
Dr. King also commented on his point that ‘evil in the name of religion does not have the last word.’
“Without acquitting religion, there are numbers of people who twist religious beliefs and values for hatred and for division,” he said. “I would say though, that the overwhelming majority engage in faith traditions and practices for good in the world. Faith leads us to make the world a better place.”
Do you agree with Dr. King? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.