Dasvandh and End of Year Giving

bxp67488.jpgThis season, Americans are spending $465 billion, according to the National Retail Federation and a substantial portion of that is on gifts. Luckily, the final days of the year are a chance to give in a different kind of way and by doing so, gain a benefit – namely, contributions made to a charitable organization by December 31st count as a deduction on your 2011 tax return.

In Sikhi, there is the tradition ofdasvandh – or giving a tenth of your seva, time or profits.The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanaks own Gurbani in the line: One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has – O Nanak, he knows the Path (SGGS p 1245).

While it’s not clear how much the Sikh community actually participates in this tradition (perhaps we just don’t discuss itpublicly), it’s nevertheless clear that giving is an integral element of our faith. According to the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the fact that 35 percent of all American giving went to religious organizations in 2010 reflects how closely bound many of us are with our place of worship. In 2011, the United States now ranks the highest in terms of charity in a massive global survey that put the nation in fifth place just last year. According to those surveyed, two out of three Americans said they donated money to charity (65 percent), more than two out of five volunteered their time (43 percent) and roughly three out of four helped a stranger (73 percent).Finally,according to a new study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in nearly 90 percent of certain households, women are either the sole decision maker or an equal partner in decisions about charitable giving.

Consider the following things before giving to a charitableorganization to make the most of your donation: (1) check to see how much of your donation actually goes to the cause youre trying to support (as opposed to overhead costs), (2) find out if your donation will be matched up to a certain amount, (3) give directly to the organization rather than through a third party that collects a fee, (4) consider the benefit of donating appreciated stock and (5) research if the organization is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

While giving should extend beyond the holidays and the end-of-year, we realize that many people wait until this time to donate. Here is a list of organizations, Sikh and non-Sikh based,which I have researched and where you may be interested in giving part of yourdasvandhthis season. These organizations may be in addition to giving to your local gurdwara. We encourage you to look into these groups and others but remember, many of these organizations rely heavily on your last minute giving in order to meet their financial goals. If there are other notable organizations on your list, please do share them in the comments section.

In no particular order:

Global Fund for Women:A publicly supported, nonprofit grantmaking foundation that advances women’s human rights by funding women-led organizations worldwide. The organization provides general operating support grants to organizations working at the local, regional and national levels to enable women and girls to reach their potential and live free of discrimination and violence.Your donation to the Global Fund for Women will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, till December 31.

The Sikh Coalition:A community-based organization that works towards the realization of civil and human rights for all people. In particular, the organization works towards a world where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their faith while fostering strong relations with their local community wherever they may be. You can read about some of the organization’s recent accomplishments here.

Embrace: The mission of Embrace is to empower the disadvantaged to improve their lives through technologies.The Infant Warmer is the first in a line of affordable products that Embrace will innovate for low income communities. With the Infant Warmer, Embrace aims to give all infants an equal chance for a healthy life and by doing so, by 2013 will save the lives of approximately 100,00 babies and lifelong illness in 800,000 babies.

Baba Nanak Education Society:A grassroots organization that is taking the lead and responsibility to make a difference by supporting families in Punjab who have been impacted by farmer suicides. Its mission is to rescue the widows and children to get them back on their feet and off the streets by providing counseling, education, vocational training and a means to sustain themselves.A $360/year donation provides families with basic necessities. Go to Saanjh and select “Adopt a family” or go to A Little Revolution and select “Support education: rescue & revival project”.

Medical Missions for Children: An organization dedicated to providing quality surgical and dental services to poor and under-privileged children and young adults in countries throughout the world. You can buy a child a smile by donating $300. Yes – that’s all it takes to perform an entire cleft lip surgery on a child that is life changing!

Jakara Movement: A youth-based organizationthat encourages engagement with Sikh culture through education, research, and community outreach initiatives. With a focus on the interstices of education, health, gender, and social justice, the Jakara Movement inclusively engages large sections of the Sikh youth in various projects to strengthen their identity and consciousness as Sikhs, foster education through service-learning, and inspire activism and volunteerism within the greater Sikh community.Read more about these initiatives on the Jakara Movement blog.

Heifer International: Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, the organization empowers them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope. With gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways.

Ensaaf:A nonprofit organization working to end impunity and achieve justice for mass state crimes in India, with a focus on Punjab, by documenting abuses, bringing perpetrators to justice, and organizing survivors.Every donation goes directly to documenting abuses, litigating human rights cases, and organizing survivors to end impunity and achieve justice.

Kiva:A non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

Global Giving: An organization thatconnects you to over 1,000 pre-screened grassroots charity projects around the world. It’s an efficient, transparent way to make an impact with your giving.

The Fistula Foundation:Fistulas are obstetric injuries that often afflict young women in poor countries. They can be repaired easily and cheaply with proper surgical techniques. This organization supports work done in Africa in addressing this impactful problem.

Sikh Research Institute:The Sikh Research Institute aims to develop a principle-driven community by protecting the core and enlarging the resource pool. The organization’s efforts are divided into three focus areas: Training and Development, Global Awareness, and Strategic Solutions.

The Global Fund:The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need.

Partners in Health:At its root, the organization’s mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone.When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at their disposal to make them wellfrom pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.

SALDEF: The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) empowers Sikh Americans through advocacy, education and media relations.

SikhNet:SikhNet exists to provide a global virtual community for Sikhs and all those interested in the Sikh way of life. It does this by providing spiritual education and resources in a non-judgemental, neutral environment intended to inspire and uplift all those who participate in it.

Room to Read: The organization envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. Room to Read works in collaboration with communities and local governments in developing countries to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills theyll need to succeed in school and beyond.

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16 Responses to “Dasvandh and End of Year Giving”

  1. I would strongly suggest that you add Khalsa Aid to your list. They not only help the worldwide community in places such as Haiti and Kenya/Somalia, they also support the families of our shaheeds in Punjab.

  2. Harjit Singh says:


  3. Manjit Singh says:

    What's so special about das vandh.Every organised religion has a mechanism for the take,christians call it tithe ,muslims call it zakat,budhists call it bhiksha,hindus call it dakshina.The one thing constant is taking free money/materials from followers by making them feel guilty about the plight of others.Even today's so called god men/baba's still do it.

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