India has a growing economy, why should I donate to India?

The United Nations Poverty Index classifies India as a middle-income country, based on overall GDP. However in spite of rapidly increasing GDP, huge inequalities mean that many millions continue to live in extreme poverty.

Brick Kiln labour

A third of the world’s poor live in India trying to survive on less than 80p per day. The people who suffer most are the Dalit and tribal communities. Caste-based discrimination and lack of access to education mean all too often the people from these communities are caught in a cycle of poverty and social exclusion. In many cases people from these communities are forced to migrate to find work often daily wage labour in brick kilns, building sites, agricultural labour and certain degrading caste ‘duties’ such as cleaning dry latrines, sewers and removing animal carcases.


In the financial year 2021/22 we were able to directly help 247,000 people in South Asia.

How do you select your projects and partners in India?

Karuna has an established due diligence process for selecting new projects and partners. All projects are visited and regularly assessed by our programmes team to see their work, establish they have defined financial structures and ensure they are registered with both the Foreign Contributions Regulatory Association and Indian Charity Commission. New projects and partners are approved by the Karuna trustees taking into account whether their aims and objectives fit with Karuna’s strategic aims.

Where do you work?

In 2021/22, we supported work in 8 Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. In Nepal we supported work in 7 districts; Kathmandu, Dharding, Ghorka, Chitwan, Rupandehi, Palpa and Kaplivastu.

Can you fund my project?

Karuna does not invite or consider unsolicited applications for funding.

Can I visit or volunteer for your projects overseas?

Karuna does not organise or host project visits. This is due to safeguarding responsibilities and partner capacity. Most of our partners are small community based organisations who do not have established volunteering programmes. They do not have time and resources to host visitors.

Do you convert people to Buddhism?

Karuna does not convert people to Buddhism. We work with organisations who identify as Christian Dalit, Muslim Dalit, Buddhist, Hindu, Tribal or prefer to have no designation at all. Many Dalits choose to convert to Buddhism in India because they want to follow in the footsteps of Dr BR Ambedkar and because of its radical critique of caste. If someone chooses to practice Buddhism because of participating in a meditation class, going on retreat or having contact with some of our Buddhist partners, it’s based on a deeply personal decision, a choice which can be incredibly liberating for that individual.

What is Karuna’s commitment to Safeguarding?

Karuna is committed to protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from all forms of physical or psychological violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment, exploitation and sexual abuse.

To find out more about our commitment to safeguarding click here.

What does Karuna do about corruption?

Karuna has an anti-corruption policy to ensure grants paid by Karuna are only used for proper purposes. Grant payments are paid directly to partner bank accounts to ensure funds are received directly by the projects. Any NGO in India who is licensed to receive foreign funding must adhere to strict criteria laid down by the Indian Government. As such, these organisation, including all of our partners must maintain the highest possible standards of financial management otherwise they will lose their permission to receive money from abroad All Karuna projects submit a 6-monthly progress report, periodic in depth evaluations, as well as annual audited statements of expenditure. These reports are reviewed by Karuna programme managers.

Karuna means “compassion” in Sanskrit. It evokes an active form of compassion based on wisdom rather than pity or sadness.

What is Karuna’s connection to Buddhism?

Karuna was originally founded by Triratna Buddhists over 40 years ago. This legacy continues in the form of our trustees being members of the Triratna Buddhist Order with a vision to end caste-based discrimination.

While the trustees are members of Triratna, many of the employees are not, nor are the majority of our partners or beneficiaries. We fund in-country partners, who come from a range of religious backgrounds and whom we have selected because they serve communities who are severely affected by caste-based and gender discrimination. As such, we work with organisations who identify as Christian Dalit, Muslim Dalit, Buddhist, Hindu, Tribal or prefer to have no designation at all.

We do fund a small number of explicitly Buddhist projects and we ask our supporters at the time of sign up whether they are happy for a portion of their gift to go towards these projects (less than 5% of these total opted-in donations go towards projects of this kind). These projects are Bhaja and Bordharan retreat centres, which offer free and low-cost retreats to people of any persuasion from the surrounding slum areas of Mumbai and Pune.

Whilst our Buddhist values and background are important to our identity and organisational values, our purpose as an organisation is to end caste-based discrimination, poverty and inequality in India and Nepal.

Donation FAQs

Someone from Karuna knocked on my door, but I don’t want to give my account details. Can I still make a donation?

Yes of course. Please contact Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer, on 0207 700 3434 or email

Can you claim gift aid on my donation?

Yes of course! Gift Aid means your donation will go even further overseas because we can claim an additional 25% from the government on top of your donation.

How can I fundraise for Karuna?

Thank you for wanting to support our work. There are many ways you can fundraise for us from ‘give as you earn’ schemes at work, running a marathon, sponsored bike rides or fun events. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, take our look at our online fundraising page. You can also contact Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer, on 0207 700 3434 or email and request a fundraising pack which is packed full of ideas.

Can I make changes to my donation?

Yes of course. Having a Direct Debit is a really easy way of administering your donation. Any time you want to make changes you can get in touch with Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer, on 0207 700 3434 or email

How can I cancel my donation?

We’re sorry to hear you’re thinking of cancelling. You can of course adjust your donation to any amount that might be more amenable. If you’re still thinking of cancelling, please contact Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer on 0207 700 3434 or email

How do I leave a gift in my will?

In order to leave a gift to Karuna, you just need to note our name and charity number (327461) in your will and the amount you would like to leave. You can also call Patrick for more information on 0207 700 3434 Please do consider leaving a gift in your will. All the legacies we receive, including modest amounts, will contribute to making a lasting change in the lives of those we work with.

Can I donate money to a specific project?

If there’s a specific Karuna project you feel inspired by, please get in touch with Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer, on 0207 700 3434 – or email

Can I sponsor a child through Karuna?

Whilst we don’t offer individual child sponsorship, you might like to know that in 2021/22 16,730 children from marginalized communities were supported to stay in school.

How do I know my personal information will be kept safe?

We appreciate the trust you have shown in us by providing your personal information. We take the protection of our supporters’ personal information very seriously. You can read our privacy policy.

I have more questions, who can I speak to?

You can contact Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer on 0207 700 3434 or email All other contact details can be found on our contact page.

Karuna's Finances

What are Karuna’s sources of income?

Approximately 68.5% of our income is from individuals, most of whom learnt about Karuna through our Door to Door fundraising. Approximately 27.5% is from charitable trusts and institutions. We also receive gifts from wills.

How much do you spend on fundraising?

In the financial year 2021/22 we spent £395,417 or 14% on fundraising, growing and maintaining the income.

How much do you spend on governance?

In the financial year 2021/22 we spent £86,265 or approximately 3% of our overall income on governance. For example, this includes the cost of our annual independent audit, legal fees, trustee training etc. 

How much do you spend on Projects?

In the financial year 2021/22 Karuna invested £2,028,199 in our programmes in South Asia enabling us to fund 47 projects implemented by 31 partners across 8 states in India, 3 districts in Nepal and 2 districts in Bangladesh. These projects focussing on Education, Gender Equality and Livelihoods Development reached an estimated 247,000 direct beneficiaries.

How much do people at Karuna get paid?

Generosity and simplicity are at the heart of our Buddhist values. Our average salary for staff is £28,655 gross. All Karuna staff work to principles of simplicity, at Karuna that policy is for each person to be paid the same regardless of seniority. Managers don’t necessarily get paid more than other staff and this includes our CEO!

For more details on any of these questions please visit our Financials page.

How to make a complaint or give feedback

We do our best at Karuna to provide good levels of service and to interact positively with members of the public. However, if you are not happy with any aspect of our work or a member of the team - please get in contact and let us know.

In the first instance, please contact Patrick Harper, our Supporter Care Officer, who is based in the Karuna office in London. Patrick can be contacted directly on 0207 700 3434 between 10am and 5.30pm or by email:

You can also write to him: Karuna, 72 Holloway Road, London, N7 8JG

Please give a clear description of your complaint and what you would like us to do to sort things out, and include your contact details so we can get in touch with you.

There may be a straightforward explanation which we hope will satisfy your query, or it may well be there is some aspect of our performance where there is room for improvement. We are committed to listening to your feedback, and dealing with your complaint in a timely and efficient manner. Equally, we also welcome compliments on what we do.

If we receive a compliment we will pass this on to the person/s concerned. It means a great deal to our team to be acknowledged for their hard work and commitment.

If your complaint relates to the handling of funds or charity governance, please contact The Charity Commission.

Just Giving

Next steps

We will aim to resolve your complaint as quickly as possible. Our intention is to acknowledge your complaint within 24 hours. We will aim to investigate your complaint within 7 working days. If we can’t meet this deadline, we will get in contact, explain why and give you an alternative date.

If you are not satisfied with our response

f you are not satisfied with the way we have handled your complaint, and the outcome, please contact our Head of Fundraising, Steven Murdoch on 0207 700 3434 or email:

Thank you.

How can I contact Karuna?

You can contact Patrick Harper, our supporter care officer on 0207 700 3434 or email patrick@karuna.orgAll other contact details can be found on our contact page.