CAIRO: Egyptian families spend LE 45 billion a year in charity, according to a recent report by cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC).
In 2009, 8.15 million families donated their money and time to charity, representing 86.7 percent of Egyptian families, said the report.
The number of young adults and youth volunteering for charity is around 657,400 in ages ranging from 10 to 29 including 30.2 percent in the age group (18-21).
The report highlights the fact that charity is one of the main development tools of society, as people feel obliged to participate in improving the conditions of their communities.
However, psychologist Dr. Kamal Mogheith disagrees, saying that the main reason behind people’s donations was religion, not social or civil development.
“I believe Egyptians resort to donating money to achieve personal salvation from hell or the punishment of God according to their religions. People try to improve their relationship with God through donating to charity; it has nothing to do with social development,” Mogeith told Daily News Egypt.
According to the report, 97.9 percent of Egyptian families donate their money to charity as zakat (2.5 percent of a Muslim’s annual savings paid each year to charity; it is one of the five pillars of Islam) or tithe (amount paid as a voluntary religious contribution in Christianity).
“Religious morals are the main reason that drive people to donate their money and work on achieving social solidarity, for both Muslims and Christians,” Saber Taaleb, former member of the Islamic Research Center, told Daily News Egypt.
“For Muslims, zakat is obligatory on every Muslim able to pay and its amount is set by Shariah. There’s also sadaqah [voluntary charity for Muslims] which has no limits and guarantees its donor great spiritual rewards,” Saber added.
The donations are usually directed towards the poor, the needy and assisting orphan girls in handling the expenses of marriage. According to the report, the poor receive the largest amount of donations.
Places of worship, both mosques and churches, come in second when it comes to giving donations. They are responsible for 23 percent of the donations, around 75.3 percent of their donations are given in cash.
Mogeith believes however that the donation system in Egypt should be more organized and official through credible organizations instead of individuals to guarantee that the charity is used in the right place to serve the right people.
He cited the Bill Gates and the Ford Foundations as examples of successful charity foundation abroad.
The report says that 77.22 percent of families that usually donate money, increase their donations when they receive a salary raise, this rate increases in Lower Egypt to 81.3 percent.
This story has been amended to correct inaccuracies in the numbers initially reported.