• Zakat Foundation of America - 10 Ways to End Poverty

    Education can help end the cycle of poverty—Bangladesh orphans showing off their school work.

10 Ways to End Poverty

July 29, 2010

Today, about 80 percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. We all want to end poverty in the world, but many of us do not live up to our duty to each other to meet that goal. We forget about the poor, ignore them, or just are not sure how to help. In light of this, we have a couple of suggestions to help you easily do your part to end poverty in your neighborhood and even worldwide.

1. Break the guilt cycle.
Too often we hear about the state of poverty in the world and do nothing about it. We see the poor begging in the street, and many of us pretend they’re not there and just keep walking. Accept the fact that you can make a difference and that even a seemingly small selfless act is better than quiet guilt.

2. Spare some change.
If every person that was well off gave a buck or two a week—less than most of us find between sofa cushions—it would go a long way in helping feed and clothe the poor and eradicating poverty worldwide. Money donations are always appreciated, and seemingly modest amounts can make big differences.

3. Sponsor an orphan.
There are 145 million orphans in the world (UNICEF 2007). These children usually lack sufficient care, shelter, food, clothing, clean water, etc. Often, these needs can be met for $1 from a generous sponsor. Zakat Foundation of America can help you reach out to children in need through our orphan sponsorship program.

4. Volunteer.
Not all of us can afford to donate money (though, remember, every penny helps). If this is the case, then consider donating time. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; take out an hour or two of your time to volunteer at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen in your town. You can also help by joining Zakat Foundation’s many volunteer programs and opportunities.

5. Make a Sadaqa / Zakat box.
If you can discipline yourself to save for those new shoes, or that new cell phone, you can make yourself start a Zakat fund. Make a Zakat box, like one you would see in a local Masjid. Set it up at home, where your family (or even visitors) can contribute to ending poverty.

6. Clean out your pantry.
Got canned goods and other non-perishables stacked in your kitchen cupboards? Throw them in a box and donate them. They are practically forgotten in the second shelf of a cupboard or pantry, but if donated to a food bank, they can stop several people from going to bed with achingly empty stomachs tonight.

7. Clean out your closet.
We have ve all got at least a few items of clothes we’re not wearing. If you’ve got too much stuff hidden away in drawers, or are looking for a way to maximize closet space, clear out the excess and donate it for others to enjoy.

8. Buy fair trade products.
Well, you will probably need a few things to fill up all that extra closet and pantry space now, right? By buying fair trade products, you will be participating in a sustainable trade system—one that rewards manufacturers fairly for their work. This will provide poor communities around the world with the ability to develop and rise out of poverty.

9. Write to your congressman.
Yes, we are serious. For change to happen, sometimes you have to put some pressure on the lawmakers. Write to your local, state and federal officials. Insist that they push for sanctions on corrupt countries who refuse food and aid to poverty-stricken countries.

10. Spread the word.
Any time or money you sacrifice to help the poor is a generous donation, but it’s not enough. You have to encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. Mention to them how they, too, can stop poverty. Be an ambassador for good.