Social Services

These dependencies were described by Shoghi Effendi, in general terms, as "institutions of social service" that relieve suffering, sustain the poor, and provide shelter, solace, and education.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 184

These funds [from the Right of God] may be expended for the relief of the poor, the disabled, the needy, and the orphans, and for other vital needs of the Cause of God. Decisions concerning such factors as the timing, the methods of disbursement and the amount rest with the House of Justice.

16 February 1998, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer

Also in the future, dependencies will to be established as part of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár complex (Bahá’í Houses of Worship), including a hospital, a drug dispensary for the poor, a travelers’ hospice, a school for orphans, a home for the infirm and disabled, a university for advanced studies, and "other philanthropic buildings" open to people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West 21

1930–31): 20

Many years ago, the Guardian expressed the view that when a Local Assembly has a case of urgent distress before it, it should endeavor, first, to have the situation relieved by the individual’s own family, and second, to seek whatever civil resources may be available for help in distress. Situations of domestic abuse may preclude the involvement of family members and in such cases, Assemblies should refer to Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence: A Supplement to Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies.

Therefore, when individuals call upon Assembly Secretaries or individual Bahá?'i?s for financial assistance or food and lodging, they should in most instances be directed to the local social service office or travelers’ aid. Every Assembly should know where these offices are located, their telephone numbers, and even the persons within those organizations who can deal with such emergencies. In most areas, city or town offices and local police departments can provide this information.

Loving and careful support should be extended to any who have a true moral claim upon the compassion of individual Bahá?'i?s or the Local Assembly, but often loving consultation, rather than direct aid, may serve to resolve the cause of the distress. When considering appeals for assistance the Assembly must always view them in light of its other responsibilities. Assemblies should take care to ensure that the need is genuine, should they decide to provide material assistance.

Individuals to whom appeals for assistance are made must themselves determine the extent to which, in light of the vital needs of the Bahá?'i? funds, they should utilize whatever resources they might have in solving the material problems of humankind. It should be remembered that problems can often be solved in other ways than mere charity.

NSA-USA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chap 15, p. 18