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How Does the Baha’i Faith Get its Funds?

Susan Gammage | Apr 2, 2024

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Susan Gammage | Apr 2, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

How does the Baha’i Faith get its Funds? Do Baha’is pass a collection plate, or demand tithing, or solicit everyone for donations? No — none of the above. Instead, only Baha’is can voluntarily contribute.

The Baha’i Faith does not accept contributions from anyone who isn’t a Baha’i — only registered members of the Baha’i Faith can give to the Baha’i Fund.

Giving to the Baha’i Fund, therefore, is an exclusive privilege of the Baha’is rather than a duty or an obligation. Contributions are private and voluntary, and no soliciting of money from individuals is permitted. This makes contributions from Baha’is an entirely spiritual act, motivated solely by generosity and gratefulness.

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That’s why Baha’is believe giving to the Baha’i Fund is much more than just a monetary act — it attracts spiritual blessings and confirms their trust in God’s divine plan. This belief fosters a sense of security and peace of mind, even in challenging financial times.

I like the preamble to this prayer from Abdu’l-Baha for the Baha’i Fund because it says several important things:

All the friends of God [the Baha’is]… should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be. God doth not burden a soul beyond its capacity. Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. … O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path.

In this passage from the Baha’i teachings, we learn that:

  • Every Baha’i should contribute. This is a Faith of universal participation, which affects how we spend our time and our resources.
  • Baha’is contribute to the extent possible, however modest. Giving to the Baha’i Fund is not limited to the affluent; it is a practice encouraged for individuals of all financial means. Baha’is are encouraged to give according to their capacity, emphasizing the spiritual intention behind their contributions rather than the monetary amount.

A wonderful book of stories about the Baha’i Fund, includes many inspiring accounts of people’s sacrificial actions to raise money for the Fund, such as choosing to walk rather than take the bus; or selling one egg. Westerners might have trouble relating to this humble, devoted level of sacrifice, but when I read these stories, I am struck by their sincerity and purity.

  • God doesn’t ask us to give more than we have or to go into debt to contribute.
  • For every contribution we make, God will give a tenfold reward. What bank offers that kind of interest rate? 

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, has given us a wonderful explanation of the Baha’i attitude towards the Fund:

We must be like the fountain or spring that is continually emptying itself of all that it has and is continually being refilled from an invisible source. To be continually giving out for the good of our fellows undeterred by fear of poverty and reliant on the unfailing bounty of the Source of all wealth and all good — this is the secret of right living.

I love that giving to the Fund is the secret of right living!  

Here is a prayer, revealed by Abdu’l-Baha, that Baha’is say for the Fund:

O God, my God! Illumine the brows of Thy true lovers, and support them with angelic hosts of certain triumph. Set firm their feet on Thy straight path, and out of Thine ancient bounty open before them the portals of Thy blessings; for they are expending on Thy pathway what Thou hast bestowed upon them, safeguarding Thy Faith, putting their trust in their remembrance of Thee, offering up their hearts for love of Thee, and withholding not what they possess in adoration for Thy Beauty and in their search for ways to please Thee. O my Lord! Ordain for them a plenteous share, a destined recompense and sure reward. Verily, Thou art the Sustainer, the Helper, the Generous, the Bountiful, the Ever-Bestowing.

In it, we ask God:

  • to illumine our brows
  • to support us
  • to walk steadfastly on the right path
  • to open the portals of God’s blessings

We remind ourselves that in giving to the Fund:

  • God has given us everything we have, and out of this bounty, we are giving some of it back
  • we’re safeguarding the Faith
  • we’re trusting that God will bless us as He has promised
  • we’re offering it out of our love for God and searching for ways to please Him.

Finally, we ask God:

  • to ordain for us a plenteous share, a destined recompense, and sure reward 

We end the prayer by reminding ourselves that God is the Sustainer, the Helper, the Generous, the Bountiful, and the Ever-Bestowing.

So, how are the Funds of the Faith used? They sustain the activities at the local, national, and international levels and channel financial resources in ways that promote the well-being of humanity in general. These include the publication of Baha’i literature in every language, the maintenance of Baha’i Houses of Worship and properties, and the support of social, economic, and educational projects that benefit the wider community, especially in the world’s poorest places. Baha’is around the world participate in and support thousands of non-profit, public benefit activities, from global NGOs to local charities.

This means that contributing to the Baha’i Fund allows us to participate in a collective mission aimed at advancing the betterment and unity of humanity and the establishment of world peace, the primary goals of the Baha’i Faith.

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As individuals and families, budgeting our money often involves making decisions about saving, investing, and spending. Giving to the Baha’i Fund adds another dimension by reminding us to maintain a balanced, healthy perspective on wealth — both materially and spiritually. It encourages us to be detached from material possessions and fosters contentment with a simpler lifestyle, while still enjoying the things we do have.

By contributing to the Baha’i Funds, we align our financial decisions with our spiritual values; we participate in a united global mission of unity and peace; and we experience the contentment that comes from selfless service. Giving to the Baha’i Fund is not just a budgeting decision; however. It can produce a transformative commitment to a higher purpose. It’s not just a philanthropic gesture, but a profound act that yields lasting benefits for individuals and their communities. It’s more than a financial transaction — it is a spiritual investment in a more aware, advanced, and amiable future civilization. 

Finally, Baha’is believe that their material wealth is a trust from God, and that freely sharing it through the Baha’i Fund is an act of devotion and service to humanity. This perspective transforms my financial giving into a sacred duty, and for all of these reasons, I am grateful!

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