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Muslim Charities & Charity Commission

The month of Ramadan is finally upon us. It is a time in which we can grow closer to our Creator, primarily through the noble acts of fasting and by occupying our time with the performance of beneficial acts of worship such as prayer, recitation and giving charity to organisations which aim to further the Islamic cause.

The drive for fundraising from Muslim charities is clearly visible during the blessed month. Prime time on all Muslim television stations will be dominated by charity appeals, the continuous barrage of emails and pamphlets through the door and not to forget the reminders on social media (and don’t forget to hit the ‘like’ button!). We see charities, both the well known as those whom we have never heard of before, telling us of all the fantastic work they are doing in the UK and abroad in helping needy Muslims. Frequently, the appeals touch our hearts, and it is from amongst the blessings of Allah that the Muslim community donates in an almost carefree fashion in the month of Ramadan.

Whilst our intention first and foremost should be to seek the pleasure of Allah through our sadaqah, perhaps it is important for us to question what happens to the money we have donated? Are charities really doing the work they claim to do? Whilst we certainly shouldn’t doubt an organisation for no apparent reason, I believe we should primarily aim to support those organisations which clearly have a track record in spending charitable funds in a wise manner and alongside this, have gone to the trouble of making their accounts crystal clear for the public to see.

All registered charities are regulated by the charity commission, and charities have a duty to provide their annual accounts to the commission. The accounts need to be audited by an independent firm which has no affiliation to the charity in question. The accounts are then made available on the charity commission website for the public to see how a charity spends its income (http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/). Not only do such procedures act as a deterrent to foul play within charities, they also give the public confidence to donate to those charities which have demonstrated clarity in their affairs.

Whilst it is very encouraging to see many well-known Muslim charities providing their accounts, a small number have submitted sparse amounts of information. One well known organisation has failed to provide any accounts for the last 4 years, whilst another has only been registered since the end of 2011, despite the fact that it has been fundraising for the last 4 years! Although this does not in any way imply that these charities have been partaking in foul play, such actions are highly unprofessional. In addition, failure to provide details of financials can be seen as disrespectful to those giving money to these charities. The least these charities can do is inform their donors what they have been doing with the money which has so generously been given to them through clear, independently verified accounts.  

In light of this, I advise Muslims to do a bit of homework this Ramadan prior to donating their sadaqah and zakat by taking part in the following steps:

  1. Find out if the charity has a proven track record in seeing through its projects. Did they really do what they claimed they would?
  2. Ask other Muslims what they know of the charity in question. Word of mouth is a very powerful medium.
  3. Check the charity on the charity commission website. See if they are registered, and check if they have provided their accounts for public viewing. Charities which have failed to provide up to date details shouldn’t receive public donations, unless of course they are able to explain in a satisfactory manner the reasons for not providing these details.
  4. Those charities which have been clear in their finances and have built up a sound reputation for doing good work should receive generous donations. They should be encouraged to continue their excellent work, and perhaps we should donate even more to them than what we usually would.

If we collectively take such an approach to our sadaqah, it will encourage better standards amongst Muslim charities. Such a simple act of ‘self-regulation’ will make the collective body of Muslim charities much stronger, which will ultimately have benefits to the worthy causes in which they operate.

 

 


Sources: www.islam21c.com

Notes: 
Islam21c requests all the readers of this article, and others, to share it on your facebooktwitter, and other platforms to further spread our efforts.

About Sameer Mallick

11 comments

  1. Mr.
    I would to comment further and say why are so many charities Muslim and non Muslim repeated the same work occupy, different offices, employ different staff? surely if they jioned up shared one complex,used the same staff there would be more money available for the people who need it. It is the same with aid given by Western governments too often it is administered by NGO’s who occupy plush offices and have fleets of Pajero’s for their staff to drive around in but when I look for the results of their work I see little impact on ground. Smaller charities are much more effective at service delivery and still carry grass roots visions for helping the people who need it – we Muslims should be speaking out clearly and without fear when we see these things happening as we are supposed to be an example for the rest of humanity instead we just join in with the indulgence

  2. Mr.
    I do not agree it is ok for Muslim charities to be in competition for doing good… to many of them, just like some Christian Charities, are more concerned with occupying expensive offices in the capital rather than the funds reaching the people they are meant to, surely they can operate the same from cheaper accommodation in less expensive cities. I volunteer for a small charity and we transfer securely zakat to other countries with the minimum of cost, not involving staff or premises cost. Is just about building empires now and less about maximum aid reaching those it was meant for.May Allah bless those with the right nyat.

  3. It’s not just about online accounts
    Asa Dr Sameer

    Firstly, jzkh for raising this issue of awareness of the charity industry, and this concept of what I call “responsible giving”.

    You mentioned that we should try and identify charities with a record of good financial housekeeping and support such organisations. I think this is good advice, but I would urge readers to not just leave their questioning at that door.

    My experience in the not for profit sector over the last few years has taught me that unfortuneately charity has become a big business with organisations vying with each other for your hard earned pounds. Personally, I have no problems with that, and I think it’s great that people should be competing with one another for goodness. My issue is how some organisations go about this.

    The classic example is when a charitable organisation raises funds for a campaign where there is a strong emotional response from the Muslim community. Syria and Burma are two very apt contemporary examples. In such a context some of the largest Muslim NGOs raises thousands of pounds to help our brothers and sisters, but do we care or even ask will this money reach those who we intend to benefit? Should we be asking this question at all? I mention Syria and Burma specifically, because they are regions where there is a real need and where people want to help. However, the geopolitics of both these situations mean that it is almost impossible for foreign NGOs to get into these countries to help those most in need. If that is the case then where exactly is our money going?

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying don’t support good charitable causes. What I’m trying to say is make sure you are comfortable with where your money is going and who and how it helps. At the end of the day we all want to see the maximum return for deeds, so why should charity be any different.

  4. Why does the article avoid mentioning the charities in question?

    Personally, I don’t see the benefit.

  5. What About Eid??!!
    Oh…just checked ‘Eid Celebration Committee’…the guys who do 1Eid…they’ve been around for a while…but nothing…and those guys are ALWAYS asking for money!

  6. how come my comments are not being posted ?

  7. charity
    You noticed it as well. I was surprised Iera did not submit yet when I was s a few ago.

  8. Name and shame
    These charities should be named and shamed. It’s their *duty* (as the article mentions) to let their donators know where the money’s gone to.

  9. save money
    u could as well have named those muslim charities out of line @ c c where also below certain limit no regn needed, although i doubt this is so here.

  10. Mohamed Al Naamani

    Muslim Charities
    Dear Dr Sameer,
    I would like to express my sincere appreciation for enlighting us living outside the UK about the charities organization, especially how to cross check their accounts records. This is very important especially the internet is harboring a lot of bogus claimants, as everyone knows. I would like to add that charity organization should clearly display links to its auditors and government organization monitoring them (such as the UK charity commission)to assure contributors. Jazaak ALLAH Kheir.

  11. Muhammad Islam

    Self regulation must start at home, first by islam21c
    On the same morning Islam21c send out this article, they send out another for a charity whose accounts are overdue (by 392 days)….

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