Quantum jump in donations to charities

Updated 22 Jul 2014


KARACHI: Workers of a charity dish out food for Iftari near Numaish Chowrangi on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
KARACHI: Workers of a charity dish out food for Iftari near Numaish Chowrangi on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The total amount of donations Pakistanis make each year is estimated to run in billions of rupees. While gauging the exact figure is difficult given the undocumented nature of the country’s economic activities, educated guesses are available that are supported by experts.

Islamabad-based NGO Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) assumes that private donations amounted to around Rs200 billion to Rs300bn last year. Actually, these figures have been obtained by extrapolating from a report of the National Survey of Individual Giving undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network in 1998-99.

Back then, the survey found that the aggregate individual giving in cash, kind and volunteer time totalled Rs70.5bn in 1998. Now, the number must have swelled to somewhere around Rs300bn, the PCP believes.

Another way to gauge how much Pakistanis are giving is to look at the collections and spending of charities working here. While this may not give the whole story because many people prefer to donate privately, and quietly, it does provide us with a sense of the big picture.

Religious giving for poverty alleviation

Take Saylani Welfare Trust, for example. The most prominent thing the organisation does is to dole out food twice a day to more than 30,000 needy people through its nearly 100 centres (or dastarkwans), most of them in Karachi.

The total monthly cost of this demanding exercise is around Rs30 million, the organisation says.

In June this year, for instance, the charity distributed about 1.16m rotis, 115 tonnes of qorma, 63 tonnes of rice, 16 tonnes of sugar and pulses each, etc.

And this is not the only thing Saylani does.

Another organisation Alamgir Welfare Trust has allocated Rs1bn for the current year, Rs300m more than the last year’s allocation, to provide food, medical services, etc to the poor.

“Of the total amount the organisation collects each year, 60 to 70 per cent comes during Ramazan, of which 90pc is collected under the head of Zakat,” Trust’s Joint Secretary Shakeel Dehalvi told Dawn.

Abdul Aziz, president of Al-Khidmat Welfare Society, the Karachi chapter of Al-Khidmat Foundation, said his organisation fixed a budget of Rs540m during this calendar year.

Similarly, the annual budget of Edhi Foundation, one of the country’s largest charities, is also around Rs1bn, according to an official.

Moreover, there are hundreds of other philanthropic organisations getting generous donations, including Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT), Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Sindh Institute for Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), to name but a few.

The fact that such big organisations are working miracles each day on donated money only indicates how pervasive the trend of giving in Pakistan is, and that people here may not have deep pockets, but they surely have big hearts.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2014