I have been wondering this for some time and was sparked to ask this when I just saw this similar question about Tibetan monasteries by mfurlong.
It is very unclear where the money that goes to the Dalai Lama comes from. All the money falls into a Department of Finance and includes sources such as charitable trusts, publishing company, hotels, and a craft distribution company. All of this money is supposed to be aiding the Tibet in exile organization but that is all a matter of mystery also.
Most Buddhist monks in the world depend on alms – food, money, or supplies donated by Buddhist practitioners. They also depend on larger donations from wealthy Buddhist families. This tradition goes back for centuries, not just in Tibet but in other predominantly Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka.
The Dalai Lama, being internationally popular even among non-Buddhists, receives money from a variety of charitable organizations, Buddhist groups from around the world, and business ventures embarked upon by the Tibetan Government in Exile.
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