Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

By Mohammad Shakir

Let me give you an analogy: you have a younger sibling. They are leaning to walk and talk, play and read – but they are quite there yet as they are continually learning. As an older sibling you are there supporting and helping them along to learn tho

se life skills that you as an older child or adult take for granted.

Now, let’s apply this to the charity sector. Over 5,600 charities registered with the Charity Commission during 2011-2012. These new charities or “new siblings” are often founded by people who have great ideas, vision and drive; but lack the experience and knowledge it takes to run charity transparently, accountably and successfully.

If we look at the goals and missions of charities in general, you will find words such as improve, promote, alleviate and help – all words which connote building something positive. Much like our siblings, we would want to support these “newborn” charities achieve the best that they can through offering advice, sharing our own experiences and wisdom. The support we give may even be more physical in nature such as attending their conferences or supporting them in meetings much like you may attend a siblings’ football match or graduation.

There is a place for experienced organisations to help those that are smaller and don’t have the knowledge or expertise to lay solid foundations and not make mistakes on the way.

There is always time for sibling rivalry when you grow up!

January 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

A Sound Education – affordable and accessible – or not!

By Mohammad Shakir

Some of you may know about that many private schools in the UK are registered charities – in fact a quick search on the Charity Commission website shows that over 25,000 organisations are educational in nature. Whether they are after school clubs, scouts or pre-school play groups; all organisations are involved in supporting the education and development of the youth today.

What you may not know is that expensive private schools such as Eton College, University College School and Highgate School are all registered charities. One of these private institutions, Fettes College in Edinburgh is under threat of losing its charitable status unless it greatly increases access for poorer students within the next 18 months. The school charges over £9,000 per term for boarding pupils and little over £7,000 for day pupils.

For a charity to have charitable status, it has to demonstrate that it provides public benefit. While the fact that admission and boarding fees Fettes is seen as a barrier to an education at the school, the question remains – should schools which charge fees, close to the price of one year at university keep their charitable status.

I feel that schools in general offer an immediate public benefit to pupils by the fact that they are a place to learn – so schools are welcome to a charitable status on that ground. But the question of access is one that needs to be looked at. There are many state schools which offer a rounded and engaging education for many children, which are over subscribed. A private school is  an option which parents should be able to consider as a viable alternative to over subscribed state schools – if the child shows the aptitude and willingness to make the most of their education.

January 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Social Media for Fundraising

This is a guest post from Alison Richmond at Alison has worked in the fundraising industry for several years and enjoys discovering new fundraising ideas for charity.

Our modern world is plagued with unthinkable facts that we see and hear of those living in extreme poverty.  The unintelligible statistics of 800 million people who don’t have access to safe drinking water, 3 billion people who live on less than $2.50 per day and 22,000 children who breathe their last breath daily, as a direct result of poverty.  Something I discovered only recently numbs the mind; there are 100 million more people on Facebook today than there are getting clean water.

The power of social media today is an unrivalled tool for charities to reach the masses.  If every registered user on Facebook were to give £1 to charity, uncountable lives would be spared.  98% of charities maintain a presence in social media and some incredible feats have been achieved utilising that power.

‘Child’s i Foundation’ is a charity which focuses on helping abandoned children, those orphaned or neglected.  25% of their donations come from their online sources and a recent campaign saw them raise £10,000 in 48 hours to save the life of four-week old Joey, left alone in a taxi park.  Joey needed a life-saving operation to strengthen his heart and ‘Child’s i’ took to the internet to find the funds.  After 250 donations and 38 hours (10 hours faster than they had allotted) the £10,000 target had been smashed and Joey’s life was saved, allowing him to swiftly recover and achieve adoption in just six weeks.

Child’s i used a ‘Just Giving’ webpage, an institution often used by fundraisers to find sponsors for their sporting events.  Just Giving optimises the government’s tax relief Gift Aid and for every £10 donated, the charities receive £11.74.  Just Giving has become synonymous with online fundraising and giving.  The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability also launched a cost-free video campaign and hit their target in less than 24 hours without the use of a budget, donor website or film crew.

The beautiful thing about charities optimising social media is the aspect of sharing the load.  Commercial companies won’t promote each other in the interest of protecting their brand but the inherent nature of charities allows them to endorse other organisations striving to achieve the same effect.  Water Aid’s Twitter page periodically links out to other charities such as EndWaterPoverty, Third Sector and even individual philanthropists.

But the activities don’t stop at the big hitters like Facebook and Twitter.  Many charities maintain online blogs, within which they publish regular updates on the result of their charity work.  By allowing the end users to see positive results of their altruism, they keep their givers engaged and promote further donations.  Those who have yet to donate can also see directly what they could be achieving.  The innovation extends to websites offering PPC (Pay Per Click) models which afford the charity a donation based on the cost-free activity of an online user.

In essence, social media provides a previously missing middle platform between charities and donors.  In the past, the satisfaction one could glean from philanthropy would come from within or from the thanks of a telephone operator.  It hadn’t yet been possible to document the direct actions of fundraising and get that information to the masses in a simple and efficient way.  By following your chosen charity through social media; you can experience the effect of your actions, increase the power of your benefaction and network all of your contacts into the fight against poverty too.

September 25, 2012 at 9:18 am 1 comment

What should the environment mean to us?


By Mohammad Shakir

As part of a Muslims life – one is meant to take care of their bodies and the world around it. In this lifetime, Muslims as trustees are responsible for maintaining the unity of God’s creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment.

If you travel to different parts of the world, you can see that we have numerous natural beauty spots such as the Grand Canyon, rainforests in the Amazon, Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. All these places show the earth’s natural beauty. Even here in the UK we have the National Trust and English Heritage which conserves landmarks of natural beauty and places of interest.

There is logic in looking after the earth because in turn it looks after us. The oxygen we breathe comes primarily from plant life and in turn we expel our carbon dioxide which is absorbed by plant life.  The earth also protects us in other ways as well. The Ozone Layer, a protective layer of oxygen in the stratosphere, protects living creatures on earth from potentially harmful sun-rays which gets absorbed by this layer.

We cannot forget the role the earth plays in sustaining us through food as well. All fruit and vegetables are grown for nourishment and come from the earth through plants. It also sustains livestock similarly through plant life.

So it is a truly two way relationship – we protect the earth and the earth will protect us.

June 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Everlasting Philanthropy

By Mohammad Shakir

We know the ways that we can all support different charities. Donations are the most common way, as money can help a charity support their projects in a variety of different ways. But in times of austerity there are other ways you can support a charity. Time!

Time is one thing that is in my opinion much more precious than money. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – you can’t get it back. It is such a rare commodity that I am compelled to quote a line from a famous epic film:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The truth of the sentiment can be found in most faiths but is also pertinent to those without faith. Our time in this life is limited. Depending on your belief – there may be a life after this or not. But surely we owe it to ourselves to ensure that make the most of the time that we have. Giving your time to a cause that you believe can be fulfilling and worthy.

Sometimes events happen in our lives which make us have an introspective look at the way we spend our time. Whether you are working or playing, spend your time wisely so that you don’t regret the way you are spending it.

May 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

Does religion hold the values that all people should hold?

By Dr. Hany El-Banna

It is essential for us to understand that Allah created the universe and all its inherent attributes for our comfort. By His command, the seas have been tamed and we can traverse the planet to seek of His bounty. “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect” 45:12-13*. He created the sun, without whose light and warmth we could not survive; the moon, a source of inspiration for poets and the stars and planets which move in galaxies. Without them, would life on this earth be possible. Of course not! “It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for it; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time)” 10:5*.

All people should co-operate in matters upon which they agree and be magnanimous and understanding about matters on which they differ. For example, we all have common traditions, customs and terms. If we look to the different holy books we will find that they all agree on more than 90% of their content. Much of what they say is about worshipping the Creator who has created this universe and treating each other with respect. Religion I believe is a positive force that can do following:

  • Construct the earth not monopolize it
  • Make people happy not miserable
  • Participate in good initiatives
  • Understanding and cooperation not animosity or rancour
  • Harmony and friendship not hatred and alienation
  • Praying, not cursing

It is in this comfort that we live, living our everyday lives with the earth around us to sustain us. This is agreed upon by people of different faiths. We should look at what binds us together rather than divides us. If we look at the most basic level, we are all human – surely that should be enough.

*To read this verse you can visit Quran Explorer

January 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

2011: Have you sowed the seeds of success?

By Mohammad Shakir

Wow! We have had amazing year at Zakat House. We have been blessed to meet and work with talented and gifted individuals from impressive organisations and bit by bit we are seeing the Zakat House dream come to life.

From travelling around the UK and Europe to working with other charities to support their projects during Ramadan, Zakat House as an organisation has been immensely busy.

We have had the pleasure of speaking to students around the UK and Europe gauging their thoughts on community initiatives and social entrepreneurship – essentially spreading the word about Zakat House. Our presentations at the FOSIS and FEMYSO events created a buzz and we that will continue in 2012.

Ramadan and Eid saw us working within the community with charities and highlighting the importance of supporting projects that are based in the UK as they are as worthy of our Zakat donations as much as people in need abroad. We have to remember that wherever we look, there maybe people suffering – we may not see it on the surface, but someone suffering from mental depression, discrimination or abuse are worthy of our help as much as a person abroad.

Moving into our new premises in September was the first part of a dream realised. At time of writing we have four charities that are working in and using the facilities based at Shaftesbury Avenue. As this number grows, we will see this “hub” mature into a community which will be able to help the entire charity sector, not just small and growing charities.

It may be the case that we want to help as many people as possible, here in the UK and abroad. We must not lose sight of the fact that as human beings, regardless of race or religion, we should be ready to help our fellow man that is in need. Surely we would want to be treated the same if that was us asking for help.

December 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

The Power of the Desert


By Abubaker Adam

I came across a wonderful article on BBC News today looking at potential plans for the energy supply around Europe. The plan – to use desert power to supply up to 100% of local needs and up to 15% of European demand by 2050.

The article made me think of the benefit this will bring to the poor and destitute across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa. The reality is that some of the poorest nations on earth across Africa and some parts of Asia enjoy an abundance of sunshine. In some Middle East countries the sun can shine up to 15 hours per day.

In my view the most underdeveloped countries do not require handout or regular donations; they have the skills, natural assets and willingness to change their lives forever. They require respect, recognition and the opportunity to show what they are capable of producing for humanity.

International relief organisations and NGOs need to invest in such technology and initiatives with key strategic partners and build infrastructures that are sustainable, manageable and cost effective; and in the regions in which they work.

If desert power helps relieve poverty and helps build nations, it can be a wise long term investment for large NGO’s and governments. It this is successful, I believe this will change the humanitarian landscape and can see the eradication of poverty by the end of the century. All NGOs and governments need to do is shift the focus from handouts to investment.  As the old Bedouin saying goes,” you will be surprised what you find in the desert?”

December 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

This time next year…

By Abubaker Adam

Only Fools and Horses was a British sitcom, created and written by John Sullivan in the 1980s. Set in Peckham, South London, it followed an ambitious market trader Del Boy Trotter and his brother Rodney in their humorous trials in order to get rich quick.

Various schemes included buying and selling a variety of low-quality goods, such as Russian Army camcorders, luminous yellow paint and horse riding helmets. Their company “Trotters Independent Traders” became synonymous with a three wheeled Robin Reliant.

You may be thinking, why am I highlighting a famous sitcom from years gone by?

Many start-up charities have one goal when they start their work – raise as much money as you can – in effect a get rich quick mentality.

We have to encourage charities to shift from this mentality. Their first goal should be to deliver; deliver to their beneficiaries; deliver their promises to their donors; deliver their social values to their community.

I believe that charity work is built on four wheels of success – transparency, communications, integrity and delivery. If any of these four wheels are not correctly administered, then you will be life with three wheels like the Trotter’s Robin Reliant which runs at limited speed.

We should all live by the values of working professionally and transparently, not cutting corners or speeding through to reach our goals (see below).

December 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

A warmer winter for UK Charities

By Mohammad Shakir

Anyone that followed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this afternoon will have noticed that he announced an exemption on paying VAT for charities which share services and resources such as staff and IT equipment.

This is a major positive step as the current economic climate has led to charities downsizing such as Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) moving in with the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in summer next year in order to save costs.

At Zakat House, we have a growing number of small charities and organisations that share resources such as IT services and marketing and communications staff.

The exemption is mandatory and was introduced under European law in 1977, but has never been applied in the UK. This will help our partner organisations such as the Muslim Charities Forum and the Small Charities Coalition as well as charities that are based at Zakat House.

Our dream is to ensure that new and growing charities get a chance to achieve their goals through offering them affordable office space and the chance to plug their resource gaps by sharing resources with their fellow charities.

We also encourage all charities to share their experiences so that all can learn from the best practice of another.

So we welcome the Chancellor’s exemption on VAT – but we are also aware that there is so much more work to be done to ensure that the charity sector can weather this financial storm.

To find out more about what Zakat House can offer – click here.

November 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Muslim Bloggers Directory

Find Social Cause Activism & Activist Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Blog Directory