International Day of Charity

International Day of Charity - Thursday, September 5, 2024

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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.

Every year, charities all over the world help to save and improve people’s lives, fighting disease, protecting children, and giving hope to many thousands of people.

Learn about International Day of Charity 

Charity is vital, as it enables us to reach out to wider parts of society, assisting those who need our help the most. This is why the International Day of Charity is so important. It raises awareness about charity and why it is important to help those who are in need.

International Day of Charity serves to increase and enhance social responsibility across the entire world, increasing our support for charitable causes and bringing everyone together in solidarity. This day presents you with a great opportunity to get involved in the charity events that are going on around the world. 

As we will explain more in the next section, the United Nations created this date, and so they have a very big role to play when it comes to the charitable efforts that are going on around the world, especially on this date. The UN invites all member states, as well as various companies and organizations and individuals to celebrate this date by doing anything they can to contribute their charity efforts. The UN encourages activities that raise awareness, driving education, and charity donations in a way of pushing just how critical charity is. 

History of International Day of Charity 

To honour the important work that these many charities do, in 2012 the United Nations decided to nominate an annual International Day of Charity as an official day of recognition and celebration. The reason the date was chosen is because it is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

This choice commemorates the tireless work that Mother Teresa did by devoting her whole life to charity work. To celebrate this special day every year, the work of different charities all over the word is publicised and celebrated, and people are encouraged to donate money and time, to carry out charitable works, and also to educate people and raise awareness about the many charitable issues worldwide. Education and giving are the essence of this special day.

As the day commemorates the work of Mother Teresa, it is important that we tell you a bit more about her. Mother Teresa was born on the 26th of August 1910 as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She is honored as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in the Catholic Church. She founded a Roman Catholic religious congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, in 1950. The Missionaries of Charity is active all over the world, with thousands of nuns all around the world. The congregation manages homes for those who are dying of tuberculosis, leprosy, and HIV/AIDs. It also runs schools, orphanages, family counselling programmes, children’s counselling programmes, mobile clinics, dispensaries, and soup kitchens. Members take vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. They also profess a fourth vow, which is to give a “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.” Over the years, Mother Teresa has been awarded with many different honors. This includes being given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, as well as the Tamon Magsaysay Peace Prize in 1962. 

How to celebrate International Day of Charity 

There are various ways that you can get involved with the International Day of Charity. It does not matter how much money you have to spare or how much time you are available; charitable donations are welcomed in any form, big or small. It is all about doing what is manageable for you. After all, there is no point in getting yourself in financial trouble. If you cannot afford to donate any money, why not donate a bit of your time instead?

On International Day of Charity, it is worth taking a look at the different charities in your local area, as well as your preferred worldwide charities to see if they have any events that are going on. If they don’t, you could take it upon yourself to organize a charity event. Fundraising events are always welcomed. All you need is an idea that everyone can get involved in. It does not need to be complicated. This is why bake sales and fun runs work so well. Of course, you don’t need to organize an event to fundraise; there are plenty of other ways to do this. For example, you could decide to take on a challenge, such as a skydive, and raise donations for this, or you may decide to sell a certain craft or product and donate some of the proceeds to charity. The options are endless, so we are sure you will be able to find something that works for you. 

You can also spend the day learning more about Mother Teresa in order to pay honor to the International Day of Charity. There have been a number of films and books that Mother Teresa has been the subject of. Her authorized biography was published in 1992 as well, so you could read this. It is very interesting and gives you a great insight into Mother Teresa’s work. The Letters is a film that is based on Mother Teresa’s letters to Celeste van Exem, a Vatican priest. This film was released in 2014, and Teresa was played by Juliet Stevenson. This is one movie that you could watch on the International Day of Charity. Another great film is Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor. Geraldine Chaplin played Teresa in the film, which received an Art Film Festival award in 1997. You may also want to look into Malcolm Muggeridge’s Something Beautiful for God, which is a 1972 book and 1969 documentary film. The film has been created with drawing the Western world’s attention to the work of Mother Teresa. 

You can also spend International Day of Charity learning about different charities. There are lots of charities around the world, with various causes. This includes charities for mental health, animal shelters, charities for seniors, organizations for those with specific health problems, charities for the homeless, and so on and so forth. You are bound to find a charity that touches your heart and appeals to you. Spend some time doing research online to learn about the different charities and organizations. Not all of the charities out there today have big budgets to spend on advertising campaigns and such like, and so you may not be aware of the hard work that is being done. This is why we recommend taking the time to read up on the different charities that are out there, as you are bound to find one that you can relate to and that matters to you. You can make a donation to them, or you can get in touch and find out what sort of help they need. It could be that they would really value your time. Don’t forget to raise awareness on social media and such like. 

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


First Foundation

The Cleveland Foundation, which was established in Cleveland, Ohio, became the world’s first community foundation.


Charities Exempted

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.


American Fundraising

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

Early Charity

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?

September 5th.

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!

5 Fun Facts About International Day Of Charity

  1. In the Holiday Spirit

    December is historically the month of the year with the greatest amount of giving recorded.

  2. Gener-Aussie-ty

    n a month, more than ⅓ of Australians volunteer and ⅔ donate money - this makes Australia the most charitable country on Earth!

  3. Battle of the Sexes

    On average, women are more likely to help a stranger, volunteer, or donate money.

  4. Older than Average

    The average age of a United States donor to charity is 62.

  5. Big Spenders

    10% of all online donations in 2016 were $1,000 or more!

How to Celebrate International Day of Charity

  1. 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.

  2. Volunteer

    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.

  3. 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.

Why We Love International Day of Charity

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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