The holy month of Ramadan is incredibly special for Muslims – it is commonly known for the long fasts healthy and able Muslims observe from dusk to dawn, abstaining from both food and water. Yet, Ramadan is so much more than just abstention from food and water. Whilst bellies stay empty throughout the day, Muslims fill up on other deeds such as giving to charity. Last year, exclusive research by the Muslim Charities Forum, a network of Muslim charities working for social good here in the UK and abroad, found that British Muslims gave a massive £130 million in charitable donations. An incredible figure that rightfully deserves recognition and celebration, which is also testament to the power of fundraising.
However, with all acts of giving, unfortunately, comes those who are willing to exploit the kindness of others for their own aims. Given the huge potential that the contributions of the Muslim community in Britain give to making real changes to the lives of millions across the world and in the UK, we at MCF, believe it to be a necessity that we help to ensure that donors are empowered in their contributions, and ensure that they know how to give in a smart and safe way. However, there is also a role for legitimate fundraisers to play to encourage safe giving and set yourselves clearly apart from those who are fraudulent.
The charity sector, like the ever evolving and expanding global community, has become amass with options. But with these options come challenges of navigating which avenue is safe and impactful so that their selfless donation does not fall into the wrong hands. As modern, educated and engaged British Muslims, this donor community are concerned about how they can ensure their charity, given with good intention, is delivered to where they intended it. We want Muslims donors to be able to differentiate between the overwhelming majority of genuine charities and their fundraisers and sham entities, whilst both groups compete for a donor’s attention.
To help the donor community, MCF have launched a new public awareness campaign, ‘Give Smart, Give Safe’ to build awareness with the public on how they can ensure their donations reach their intended cause and has the greatest possible impact. Through our own research and taking into consideration official government recommendations, we are hoping this campaign can further than any previous campaigns highlighting safe giving this Ramadan.
We encourage donors to make sure that a charity is registered with the Charity Commission. This is vitally important to ensure that an organisation is legitimate and their information is up to date on the Charity Commission website.
Often, donors will browse around to see which charity to donate to. Which has led to the growth of some charities promising to deliver 100% of a donation to the specified cause, which admittedly sounds enticing. At MCF, we believe it’s important to not just look a charity’s admin cost, but the impact that they are having. Unfortunately, the myth that the lower the sum spent on administration and other costs in a charity the better is exactly that – a myth. So, if your charity has a higher or lower than average admin cost, do explain the reasons why, so donors can be well informed and base their donation decisions with full knowledge.
Nowadays, no-one can escape the internet with the average person glued to their phones for more than 4 hours a day. Routinely, charities are moving to online platforms to advertise their campaigns and giving electronically has become easier than ever. Some Muslim charities receive over half their Ramadan income through online donations. Which has resulted in new and sophisticated ways of separating well-meaning donors from their hard-earnt cash. Which is why donors who give online will need to ensure the website they use is secure, which can be confirmed by the presence of a padlock icon or a ‘secure’ message by the URL bar. So, we urge all charities to put the resources into making their websites secure to give donors peace of mind to give, resulting in greater donations.
Street fundraising has become increasingly popular as thousands of Muslims descend onto mosques to attend special prayers during Ramadan. Which means fundraisers may position themselves on the streets or outside a mosque. As a legitimate fundraiser, make sure you always have some form of identification. You should be more than happy to provide answers and explain the work of your charity, if asked. If a donor is not convinced or needs more information, they may ask to take down some contact information or will donate when they have learnt a little bit more about the charity’s operation. It is important that donors are not pressured to give. In addition, when street fundraising, it is advisable to make sure that any donation buckets used are sealed, as per best practice. Fundraisers will also need to have permission from either the local police or council to collect any monies.
With all the opportunities and challenges outlined in mind, Muslim charities are undoubtedly integral to the fabric of the third sector. Incredible work is done every year and millions of lives are touched positively. Let us help British Muslim generosity transform more lives, which is why we ask charities and fundraisers to follow our key tips so that donors can give smart, give safe this Ramadan.