When COVID-19 first hit, Malaysia’s generous spirit was revealed in greater clarity than ever before. However, as things settle and we face the future, is the economic impact of a pandemic, greater scrutiny of charitable organisations and rising costs affecting our giving?
Soaring inflation and the rising cost of living are on everyone’s minds these days. Malaysians are facing food shortages and ballooning grocery bills as businesses are being forced to hike prices due to higher logistics, raw materials and labour costs.1
It’s clear that Malaysians are generous and compassionate. In 2020, over RM1 million was donated to pandemic-related initiatives helping the underprivileged on one e-wallet platform alone2. In the face of hardship, Malaysians united together to support one another through one of the biggest crises in modern history.
Across the country, families and individuals are reviewing their budgets, tightening belts and trying to save for rainy days. In the midst of it all, has charitable giving been the first to go? We asked several Malaysian Christian millennials to answer.
>> Thinking more about where the money goes, more inclined to give directly
“For me, inflation is one and income is another. Everything’s going up in cost, but my income isn’t increasing. I haven’t stopped my regular monthly donation to the organisation I support, but I’m starting to find myself more willing to meet immediate needs.
For instance, I know that the grasscutter I pay today will have at least a hot meal later, or the uncles and aunties walking around selling fruits will have something to take home if I support their business. I’m having to rethink what giving looks like, and whether I want to give to charities or directly to people I know need it most.” – U, 33, male, T20
>> I give because I’m only a steward of what God has given to me
“Exposure to painful content such as pictures, videos, personal stories, recollections of experiences during difficult times e.g. loss, injustice, natural disasters have played a big part. I don’t think too much about whether or not I’ll have enough for the coming days, but so far I usually have enough to meet my needs.
I also know and understand that I am only a steward of all that was first given to me by God Himself, and having experienced generosity firsthand is a factor as well. You give what you get.” – E, 28, female, B40
>> Needs to budget more wisely, but wants to keep giving
“I have been supporting various international NGOs for a number of years, but lately have been seeing bad press on how funds are being managed. That is making me question if I’m managing my finances properly.
With a young family to support and prices increasing everywhere, I feel the pressure to budget better. I want to provide for my family and keep giving; so far God has been generous in meeting all our needs. – M, 31, male, M40
>> With all the needs arising post-pandemic and feeling the pinch of inflation, it’s become harder to give
I haven’t changed my giving so far but definitely feel the pinch because of inflation. I’ve tried to budget it in and hopefully am able to continue to give. Also, due to the pandemic and the increase in needs, giving is not as straightforward for me as it used to be. There are so many diverse needs today, especially in Malaysia itself, so I feel the responsibility to make wise choices and ensure the money is spent properly. – H, 41, female, T20
>> Generosity is a lesson in obedience. Trust God to provide.
I’m definitely feeling it. When I go to the supermarket these days, I notice that everything’s gone up by at least 20-30 sen. So far, I haven’t changed my giving and somehow, God has been covering the bills.
I feel incredibly blessed that I’m able to still give, and I hope that I’ll be obedient if He ever challenges me to give more. I think generosity is a lesson in obedience. To trust that God will provide. A friend’s mother once told me, “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.” And that has stuck with me. ” – C, 30, female, M40
“If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord, and He will repay you.” – Proverbs 19:17
As Christ-followers, we are called to be generous to the poor, to reach out to the vulnerable and marginalised. In following the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, generosity becomes a part of our lives.
There are also promises in God’s Word that He is our Provider (Matthew 6:26, Acts 14:17, Philippians 4:19). If God has commanded us to help the poor, we can trust that He will enable us to carry it through.
But that doesn’t mean we blindly give too. When choosing an organisation to support, remember to do your research, understand the work being done and ensure that the funds are being responsibly managed and used.
Whether in plenty or in lack, we can give because He makes it possible. We can trust that God, who loves His children, will help us obey His Word and give to others. He will meet all of our needs.
If you would like to take a step of faith and give towards a meaningful cause, look for NGOs around you or check our Christian Social Work map.
1. Prices of F&B goods on the rise amid cost pressure, 2022, The Edge Markets
2. Malaysians donated over RM1 million during MCO via Boost, 2020, FinTech Malaysia