When most people think of monks, the first thing that comes to mind is how they don’t have any possessions and how they live a life of poverty and chastity.

While this is true at a personal level, in the sense that they may personally not possess anything or need money, monks still need to find ways to make some money, or at least, to raise funds in order to support themselves and their communities.

So how do monks make money?

In different parts of the world, monks from different religions and different denominations raise funds in different ways, not for themselves, but to support their communities and help others in need.

Keep reading to discover 7 ways in which monks make money. 

How Do Monks Make Money? 

Monks in most religions give up their worldly possessions and live a life of poverty. Even so, they still need to find ways to make some money or raise funds in order to support themselves and their community. They will also raise money to support charitable causes.

Monks make money in the following ways:

  1. Begging or going on alms rounds
  2. Sponsorships and donations
  3. Gardening and Farming (including beer and cheese)
  4. Selling products they make themselves
  5. Making and selling crafts
  6. From Tourists
  7. Giving teachings and blessings

Let’s look at each of these closely.

1. By begging or going on alms rounds

In some religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, monks are not allowed to own anything. This includes money. As a result, they have to rely on the generosity of others for their basic needs like food and shelter. They will beg for alms from lay people or from other monks.

Of course, technically speaking this is not a way of making money because they do not get any money but they do get food and maybe some clothes in lieu of money and so we have listed it here.

2. Sponsorships and Donations

People may sponsor a monk or make donations to the monastery. This is a common way for monks to make money, especially in countries like Tibet, Nepal, and India.

Many rich people who believe firmly in a particular faith will sponsor an entire monastery or even an entire order.

Catholic monks in the west also receive donations from the faithful as a way of supporting their religious communities. Many also receive direct support from the Vatican.

The everyday faithful also support monks through small donations, quite similar to how they might support a pastor or a priest.

3. By gardening and farming

Many monasteries have their own farms or gardens where they grow crops and vegetables to feed the monks and sometimes to sell for income.

In Europe, some monasteries even make their own beer and cheese. The monks sell these products to raise funds for the monastery. With Trappist beers like Chimay and Orval, the monks use the income to support themselves and their religious community and also to do charitable work.

4. By selling products they make themselves

Apart from edible products like beer and cheese, some monasteries also make soaps, candles, baskets and herbs.

Some monks make and sell different kinds of products like paintings, sculptures, hand-carved woodcrafts, jewelry, and so on. You may have seen some of these products for sale in religious stores.

Monks also make money by selling books and CDs of religious teachings, chants, and meditation music.

5. By making and selling crafts

Many monasteries run their own handicraft workshops where they make and sell various items like clothes, bags, and jewelry. The monks themselves may not be involved in the making of the handicrafts but they will help to sell them.

For instance, monks who live in the monasteries around Mount Athos in Greece make handicrafts like wood carvings, prayer ropes, crosses, candles, etc. which are then sold to tourists and others.

6. From tourists

Some monasteries are located in tourist destinations and they make money from selling souvenirs to tourists, or by providing accommodation and catering services.

Some historically significant monasteries have entrance fees which can help finance the monastery’s operations. For example, the famous hilltop monasteries in Meteora, Greece change a small fee of a few Euros to help defray some of their costs.

7. By giving teachings and blessings

Buddhist and Hindu Monks often give teachings on the Dharma or their religion’s scriptures. They may also offer blessings to people in exchange for donations. This is a common way for monks to make money in countries like Tibet, Nepal, and India.


When we ask the question – How do monks make money? – what we really mean is how monks raise money for supporting themselves, their communities, and the causes they believe in.

When it comes to raising money there exist different traditions in different religions, in different denominations or orders, and in different parts of the world.

In some parts of the world, it is customary to see monks beg and ask for alms from common people. They may also give teachings or blessings in return. Monasteries are often supported by patrons through sponsorships and donations.

In Europe and the west, monasteries get support from the church. Monks also make products that they sell at monastery shops or through resellers. Beer and cheese made by monks are quite popular across Europe.

Some monks also make non-edible products like handicrafts, soaps, wood carvings, crosses, etc., and earn money from selling these.

And monasteries charge entrance fees to tourists which help cover some of the expenditures in running the monasteries.