Jump to content

Creating a web-based Sikh charity network

Recommended Posts

taken from sikhnet.com.

Every so often, we are harassed with requests for money from individuals with a genuine need. I say harassed because, at present, acting charitably towards such requests is like taking a shot in the dark. This is frustrating. We seldom know how many people have contributed and if the need was already or, was ever met. Often, we are also unable to verify the legitimacy of their request. We saw recently, how everyone was seeking for someone to coordinate a fundraising activity but no one wanted to take the responsibility. This has prompted me to take some steps.

Under the present circumstances, most people would be reluctant to give, because, if everyone gave, as we probably should, we would far overshoot the mark, and that would be a waste. The net result is generally the opposite. Most people wait to hear from others and hardly enough individuals contribute, fearing that too many others may have contributed already. This is shameful and distressing. After all, what is our life worth if we cannot share our resources with the needy?

We have many charitable organizations but they lack proper communication with the global Sikh community. We do not even know if they are willing, or equipped to meet all the needs of their community, where each cent is spent, and how far their needs have been met. All we know is that they ask for, and need more, while countless poor and sick children remain in need of proper education and so many widows still suffer in Punjab. These institutions appear to be quite ineffective in the view of what could be achieved if we were to unite and act globally.

Today, in the age of the Internet, our methods of conducting charity are still rooted in the dark ages. Properly connected Sikhs could be a powerful resource. For example, just a Five-dollar contribution from each one of us can be enough for many worthy causes, and this should not be so difficult, especially among the Diaspora Sikhs.

Here is an attempt to share and integrate our communication regarding charitable projects, at one central location. I propose to call it "Sikh International Fund and Trust" or SIFT for short. An email for this account has been opened. It is sift-1699-@-hotmail.com without the dashes. There is a Paypal account also opened with the same email address, so that small contributions could be pooled together and sent as one check. But please DO NOT send any money to this account until we have registered it as a non-profit organization, and definitely never send any check or cash.

In most cases, there should be no need to send money here. This would keep us free of the burden of managing funds. It should be sufficient to email your pledge for the project of your choice. This would be posted at the web site so that everyone aware of what is available and what still needs done. Each local group at various locations could keep record of their own pledges and send their contribution directly to a recipient. It is easy to keep track of every receipt and disbursement to the penny, without even touching a calculator, on a Quicken database. Posting regular reports on the web is so easy then. I can help if someone needs to learn use of Quicken for this purpose.

Paypal is available in India and anyone with an email address can send and receive funds free of charge. Transfer of funds is immediate and it is traceable. Therefore, this should be the preferred method except for some unforeseen change in their policy. In India, receiving funds without a bank account is not easy. In that case, you should send a cashier's check by registered mail.

If the money is sent directly to the person it was intended for, there should be no accumulation of funds with SIFT. Contributions exceeding the need could be added to a general pool here, but not at present. Existing charitable institutions, like Nishkam, may be able to dip in that general pool, if they share the details of their activities and the financial information with us and not keep it in some accounting books somewhere.

Sikhs should not be expected to honor every request for charity. For example, we should not be paying someone's rent, a car payment, or back child support. Except in some exceptional circumstances, charity funds should be used mostly for health, welfare (food and clothing) and education of the needy, in that order, with a priority given to the needy Sikhs in India.

The purpose of this venture is to consolidate all the information regarding all the contributions earmarked for a specific cause, and a transparency of all activity with detailed accounting posted on the web. For this reason, all requests, or a copy of any requests made anywhere else, should be posted at this proposed web site.

The Internet can easily become a source of electronic begging. With the same request posted on various forums, one group may not know what another group has given already. A consolidation would eliminate this. I have applied for a domain name "sift1699.org" where we could share these details. A forum should be also available at that site, but only for pledges, suggestions, objections, and new requests. All Sikhs should then make it their duty to check it every week. We will need help in creating such a web site. Until such a site is created we could use this thread on Sikhnet for the same purpose.

Accumulation of funds can generate disputes. This can be avoided if various groups held and spend the funds locally and just kept us updated. A shortage in one area could be replenished from other locations. If everyone cooperates, I see no possibility of any shortage. We could even establish much needed scholarships for Keshadhari Sikh children, in the entire world, who stay in college, earn good grades, learn Gurbani and Gurmat, and refrain from drugs. Local individuals could oversee them and make sure that these students continue to meet these conditions. Various other worthy projects could be launched from this web site, but they should be managed locally, without ever having a need to manipulate the money from here.

Often it is difficult to determine if someone's need is genuine. We should attempt to ask the local Gurudwara and those who live close to a potential recipient, other than the relatives or close friends, to verify and determine their need, before sending any money. I feel that, to be sure that the funds are used properly, a lump sum should not be sent to any individual for anything. You could pay the outstanding bills or expenses directly or pay in increments while verifying, perhaps through some local volunteer, that the money is used for its intended purpose. Information posted at a central web site would help coordinate such projects without overlapping or skipping any needy areas.

Someone may ask how this venture differs from what we have been doing already. At present, as I have said above, the public is mostly in the dark regarding how much had been collected, how to send the money, where the money was used, the legitimacy of need, and if the need was ever met. On one hand, several groups may be working for the same project. On the other hand, no one may be paying any attention to some other equally worthy cause. If this confusion was eliminated, we could move forward freely in giving and sharing, coordinating what we give and how we give.

When acting globally, we will also need to be careful that we do not serve as a conduit of funds to some criminals. We should not contribute if the intent does not appear honorable or if the recipient is otherwise unknown and cannot be verified as someone with a genuine need.

I have tried to cover all the important items that I could think of. Please post your suggestions.

Yuktanand Singh

Saline, Michigan, USA

Please discuss :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...