The Tzu Chi Foundation was founded as a charity organization with roots in Buddhist origins and beliefs due to poverty and the lack of services by a Buddhist nun Cheng Yen on May 14, 1966 in Hualien, Taiwan. She was inspired by her master and mentor, the late Venerable Master Yin Shun, a proponent of Humanistic Buddhism, who exhorted her to "work for Buddhism and for all sentient beings". The organization began with a motto of "instructing the rich and saving the poor" as a group of thirty housewives who donated a small amount of money each day to care for needy families. The group has grown to become a civil society actor, with approximately 10 million members and chapters in 50 countries.
Four notable causes of Tzu Chi are Charity, Medicine, Education, and Humanity, as highlighted by the official motto, or concept of "Four endeavors, eight footprints" The eight footprints are charity causes, medical contributions, education development, humanities, international disaster assistance, bone-marrow donation, community volunteerism, and environmental protection.