Originally a Hungarian civil society initiative to commemorate Mother Teresa’s death, International Day of Charity on September 5 took off worldwide in 2012 when the UN declared it an international holiday. Besides honoring Mother Teresa’s tireless work to help others overcome poverty and suffering, the holiday provides a platform for charitable opportunities to take place. If you can’t make a financial donation on September 5, there are still many ways to get involved. Overall, this day reminds us that simple acts of charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises and create more inclusive and resilient societies.
History of International Day of Charity
Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910, in the Ottoman Empire, and would go on to commit herself to religious life by age 12. She had always been fascinated by missionaries, particularly those in India, and left home at 18 to learn English and become a missionary in Ireland. She later moved on to India, where she learned Bengali and took religious vows to become a Catholic nun.
Her charitable work truly began in 1948, when she adopted Indian citizenship and worked with the poorest individuals in the country. In the coming years, she opened several hospices, established a congregation, and instituted leper houses and orphanages. Her congregation attracted many recruits and donors and went on to found many branches of her charitable organization that took her good work across the globe.
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 after 45 dedicated years of charitable service, is remembered as a woman of great faith and unmatched charitable donation. In fact, she left such a legacy that the Hungarian Parliament and Government established International Day of Charity in her honor in 2011. They chose September 5, the anniversary of her death, to commemorate her life with their civil service initiative.
The United Nations quickly picked up on this holiday, and by 2012 it was spread worldwide. The UN established it to recognize the charitable works of all organizations, including the work of Mother Teresa, and to highlight the power of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering. Critical goals established by the UN help guide the charitable works we should engage in – these are people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. On September 5 we can honor the work of Mother Teresa by experiencing the joy of charitable giving ourselves!
International Day of Charity timeline
The Cleveland Foundation, which was established in Cleveland, Ohio, became the world’s first community foundation.
The Revenue Act, passed by Congress in 1913, exempted charities from paying taxes.
- August 26, 1910
Mother Teresa is Born
Mother Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in the Ottoman Empire.
Before America was even a country in its own right, Harvard University organized the first American fundraising drive, which raised 500 pounds.
- 28 BC
Augustus the Charitable
Augustus, the first Roman emperor, gave 200,000 people public aid during his reign.
- 2500 BC
A mandatory tax (or ‘tithe’) to benefit the poor was first instituted by Ancient Hebrews.
International Day of Charity FAQs
When is the International Day of Charity celebrated all over the world?
Are there events for the International Day of Charity?
There are a variety of events, ran by organizations from churches to individual charities to the UN. Check out a charity you believe in to see if they are sponsoring any events.
Where is the International Day of Charity observed?
It was started in Hungary and was adopted by the UN, but is now celebrated globally.
Are there other National holidays on September 5th?
Yes – September 5th is also National Cheese Pizza Day!
How to Celebrate International Day of Charity
Donate funds to charity
There are few more impactful ways to support a cause that is important to you than donating funds. With your money, the charity of your choice can make great strides towards their goals, and you can feel good knowing you helped to get them there. Be sure to do your research on your charity of choice beforehand.
Find whatever stokes your passion and then find where your time is most valuable to them. Some charities will have you cleaning up natural areas, reading books to children, teaching special needs individuals.… the list goes on. Money isn’t the only thing charities can use and donating your time is often far more rewarding for you, as well.
Attend a charity event
Especially on International Day of Charity, there are countless charity events to attend. If there’s nothing that excites you in your area, reach out to an organization and see if you can host an event of your own. You’ll meet like-minded individuals who care about the same causes.
5 Fun Facts About International Day Of Charity
In the Holiday Spirit
December is historically the month of the year with the greatest amount of giving recorded.
n a month, more than ⅓ of Australians volunteer and ⅔ donate money - this makes Australia the most charitable country on Earth!
Battle of the Sexes
On average, women are more likely to help a stranger, volunteer, or donate money.
Older than Average
The average age of a United States donor to charity is 62.
10% of all online donations in 2016 were $1,000 or more!
Why We Love International Day of Charity
It reminds us to give back
It can be easy to live in our own lives and issues and the problems of the world fade away. International Day of Charity calls our attention back to the injustices of the world around us and shows us what we can do to fix them. Remember, every charitable donation, no matter how small, makes an impact. We just need to look around for what we can help solve.
It spreads awareness
Though it is uncomfortable to read about and see humanitarian crises, they are still out there. International Day of Charity raises awareness for causes that are urgent, impactful, and dear to many hearts.
It helps us find causes we believe in
Everyone has causes that they feel are more important than others. Some choose to focus on animal rights or environmental welfare, or eradicating racism. There’s a cause out there that stokes your fire, so use International Day of Charity as the reason to explore which charity you find most impactful!
International Day of Charity dates