By HH Kavicandra Swami
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what it means to give fifty percent. For most householders their income does not allow them to live and to give 50% to the temple.
The following from a purport by Srila Prabhupada might help to clear the air. I have inserted a few comments using [ ] to indentify them. The stress is on preaching, not what our our financial condition is. By finding some way to preach bhakti will be the most pleasing to guru and KRSNA. One need not be rich to please guru and Gauranga.
SB 1.5.37 Purport
The major portion of our monetary income, not less than fifty percent, must be spent to carry out the order of Lord Krsna. Not only should we give the profit of our earning to this cause, but we must also arrange to preach this cult of devotion to others because that is also one of the orders of the Lord.[My understanding is that if one is using his home for the service of the Lord, offering everything to KRSNA and performing kirtan and scriptural studies with the family, the expense of the home is being used for devotional service.]
The Lord definitely says that no one is more dear to Him than one who is always engaged in the preaching work of the Lord’s name and fame all over the world. The scientific discoveries of the material world can also be equally engaged in carrying out His order. He wants the message of the Bhagavad-gita to be preached amongst His devotees. It may not be so done amongst those who have no credit of austerities, charity, education, etc. Therefore, the attempt must go on to convert unwilling men to become His devotees. Lord Caitanya has taught a very simple method in this connection. He has taught the lesson for preaching the transcendental message through singing, dancing and refreshment. As such, fifty percent of our income may be spent for this purpose.[The home and spare time should be used for preaching. That could be by inviting guests for kirtan, discussion of philosophy and/or prasadam, depending on the persons invited. Sometimes it may only be prasadam. The family can also go for harinam sankirtan or book distribution.]
In this fallen age of quarrel and dissension, if only the leading and wealthy persons of society agree to spend fifty percent of their income in the service of the Lord, as it is taught by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,[Those who have wealth can support or build temples. They can finance KRSNA conscious festivals]
there is absolute certainty of converting this hell of pandemonium to the transcendental abode of the Lord. No one will disagree to partake in a function where good singing, dancing and refreshment are administered. Everyone will attend such a function, and everyone is sure to feel individually the transcendental presence of the Lord. This alone will help the attendant associate with the Lord and thereby purify himself in spiritual realization. The only condition for successfully executing such spiritual activities is that they must be conducted under the guidance of a pure devotee who is completely free from all mundane desires, fruitive activities and dry speculations about the nature of the Lord. No one has to discover the nature of the Lord. It is already spoken by the Lord Himself in the Bhagavad-gita especially and in all other Vedic literatures generally. We have simply to accept them in toto and abide by the orders of the Lord. That will guide us to the path of perfection. One can remain in his own position. No one has to change his position, especially in this age of variegated difficulties.
SB 1.5.37 Purport