Planned Giving Guidance

Digital Dharma Fund Helps Sustain Monastery Websites

“With so much misinformation, even disinformation, on Hinduism abounding, it is deeply important to have accurate online resources on Hinduism—as many as possible,” explains Gayatri Rajan of California, a regular visitor to websites of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. The information is largely disorganized, lacking depth and authenticity. The Digital Dharma Endowment was created as a source of funding to provide for the monastery’s free, up-to-date, well-documented web resources which guide contemporary Hinduism around the world, empower institutions following the Hindu tradition and clarify the faith to lay people, academics, journalists and politicians.

Gaurav Malhotra of Chicago shares, “We can’t think of a richer, more accurate resource to enhance and expand knowledge and understanding of our religion. Being parents of a young child, we find this extremely important.”

“We are reaching out during the last quarter of each year for donations that will help support the website,” explains Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, editor of Hinduism Today, “and we follow the Wikipedia model for fund raising. Our first fund-raising drive, held in 2010, succeeded in raising $60,000. The 2011 drive brought in $64,000 to support our 2012 projects.”

This program, called the Digital Dharma Drive, gave 10 percent of its donations received during the first year to open the Digital Dharma Endowment (fund #85.) The fund was co-created by A.D. and K.D. Williams of Costa Mesa, California, who gave a contribution which brought the total to $10,000, the minimal amount required to open a new fund. “We realized the funding of the Digital Dharma Endowment is the equivalent of sustaining the online electronic keys that unlock the portal of freedom, namely from samsara.” The endowment will continue to receive 10 percent of Digital Dharma Drive donations annually. The principal goal of the endowment is to keep free web resources available in an ever-expanding list of formats and to continue sharing this treasure of human knowledge without charging fees or cluttering the site with distracting advertising.

The monastery’s websites advocate, promote and perpetuate the Hindu heritage and the vision of its founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), affectionately known as Gurudeva. A well-funded endowment can provide a steady income for generations to come. As Gurudeva emphasized, endowments also provide the means to contribute to the overall financial stability of an organization, thus protecting the future of Hinduism’s vast heritage. All donations to the endowment are tax deductible, and while tax deductibility may provide a business impetus to contribute, the more compelling reason to give is that the sites provide information on Sanatana Dharma that is complete, accessible and articulated without bias. Most importantly, the websites and the endowment serve a spiritual purpose, which far outweighs the tax benefits.

This sentiment was shared by Nandikesh Chandrashekharan of Washington: “The monastery’s websites explain Hinduism the way I need to see it—direct, authoritative and full of love.” Contributions to the endowment are managed with professional care. The annual grants of four percent of principal go directly to the enhancement of the websites and their content. Since the websites—those of Himalayan Academy, Hinduism Today and Hindu Heritage Endowment—are created and maintained by selfless monks, grants are not used to support staff salaries or administrative overhead.

The monks describe the Digital Dharma Drive and its endowment as a game-changing boon. “For years we struggled,” confides Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, “as many publication teams have lately, with how to keep our sites growing and improving while continuing to hold to our ideal of giving everything we produce for free online. Wikipedia gave us the model, and now we have the means, for the first time, to bring outside high-tech expertise into our plans and designs. It’s been amazingly empowering for us.” For more information, call or email the contacts below.

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