Buddhists must act with love and compassion towards those living in poverty so that all people have the necessities to survive without suffering.
Many Buddhists believe that they should be socially engaged. Therefore, many Buddhists are involved in projects and charities which actively help those experiencing suffering due to poverty.
Most traditional Buddhist communities consist of both monks and lay people. Lay people are encouraged to give money for the upkeep of the temple and food to help support the monks. This good action will help them in their personal quest for Nirvana.
This attitude also extends to helping the poor within and outside of their own communities.
Whoever in your kingdom is poor, to him let some help be given.Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta
Many Buddhist charities work to relieve poverty. The Karuna Trust works in India and strives to help oppressed people to develop the skills, dignity and confidence to transform their lives and take their rightful place in society. It targets those living in extreme poverty and is not limited to any religious identity.
The charity believes in 'compassion in action'. This is a reflection of karma. The main projects focus on education but there is also support for the very poor to acquire the leadership skills needed to take responsibility for their own futures. The charity believes in sustainable development. Through its projects, people are helped to help themselves in the long term.
Buddhist Global Relief works to alleviate the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged in the developing world, particularly during times of emergency, eg after a natural disaster, but also on a long term basis.
Long term action targets education and sustainable food production and the charity has worked in Cambodia, Haiti, Vietnam and Kenya. In Niger in 2011, the charity joined with other groups in attempting to help reduce malnutrition by supporting a project aimed at improving breastfeeding practices through support groups and the training of nurses.
Fair trade is supported by many western Buddhists. It is a non-profit organisation working directly with businesses, groups and individuals often in developing countries to receive fairer financial rewards for their produce.