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?”
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).
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.
Every day throughout the daily train journey to work, I keep hearing the word “Platform”. According to the English dictionary the word platform means “a flat raised area or structure”. So what does this have to do with anything?
I discovered that my line of work involves building platforms in the UK – platforms for UK communities to interconnect together and support each other through sharing a common value system. I work in a building that is a platform for charities to develop and nurture their good work and raise their own internal platforms in what they do best, which is to deliver goodness to their local community.
We also build platforms for individuals to further understand that working as volunteer means you are supporting a cause of which the rewards are out of this world.
The most important platform that I am currently building is my personal contribution to society, the electrifying feeling when I get out of a bed and go to work , the notion of supporting in one way or another a community, an individual, a mother, a child, grandmother within society.
Next time you board a train do remember that building a platform is a lifelong project that must be carried out every day of our life. Who knows someone somewhere might be building a platform for you?
By Abubaker Adam
By Mohammad Shakir
OK. So the title of this blog needs a bit of explaining. I came across this article on The Guardian’s Voluntary Sector section today about building an online community. For me, the more you put into it, the more you get out it – much like a garden.
You see, in a garden, you sow the seeds and water and prune plants to ensure the health growth of flowers and crops (I know this, because my mother does it). This leads to great smells and fresh fruit and vegetables for your enjoyment. An online community is much the same.
It’s all well and good having a website, a Facebook page, Twitter account and You Tube Channel – but what is the point if you don’t use it? I include Zakat House in this as well, where we have an idea about what tools we have and what direction we need to go in, but haven’t quite given it the due care and attention that it deserves.
Much like the flowers that bloom and crops you eat, the visitors that visit your website or those that follow your social networks have to be nurtured, entertained and encouraged to actively support your cause. You need to excite them and entice them through what you can offer on your different platforms.
Regardless of what approach you take, smaller charities may rely on social networking and online tools as the cornerstone of connecting with your online community. It can be a cost effective approach and should not be sniffed at.
The irony is you are most likely reading this on your computer, phone or tablet device and have been directed here from a social network of sorts.
By Mohammad Shakir
As the winter months set in and the rain and snow get ready to besiege the United Kingdom once more, we will be looking to wrap up warm, keep a hot drink with us and take that extra blanket out of storage to ensure we aren’t caught in the bitter cold.
Let’s use this scenario with charities; especially new and growing charities. Let’s say you have just received your registration from the Charity Commission – what do you do next?
Well regardless of your aims and objectives, there are certain things you will need such as a place to meet with partners and colleagues or a place where you can use an office or desk on an ad hoc basis. A place that is flexible and easy to get to. A place where everyone knows your name… (OK, that last one is not necessary, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing).
The concept of Zakat House is to support these charities by offering services that cater to their size and needs. In reality – does a charity which has one person coordinating its work really need anything more than one desk with phone and internet connection?
We have to encourage these new charities to work transparently and diligently to make sure that the money and aid that is donated to them reaches the beneficiaries for which it was raised.
Charities don’t work for profit or loss – they work to achieve something that is greater morally, spiritually and with a greater humanitarian and community spirit.
Come and join the Zakat House family.
By Mohammad Shakir
Trustee Week 2011 ended last Friday. The purpose was to highlight the role of trustees within charity sector and what it means to be a trustee and encourage more people to be a trustee.
A trustee is essentially a member of a Trust which runs a charity. It is a voluntary position where a person devotes their time and expertise in ensuring that a charity runs transparently, smoothly and with accountability. It is a position of responsibility within a charity as you are accountable for the donations that are given by the members of the public.
A trustee is entrusted with all those responsibilities. But that shouldn’t put you off. It can be an enriching experience where you get the opportunity to use skills that you may not use in your working life or at home.
The other aspect of a trusteeship is that almost anyone can become a trustee, subject to interview and background checks.
Some people are disqualified by law from acting as trustees, including anyone described in section 72(1) of the Charities Act 1993. This includes:
- Anyone who has an unspent conviction for an offence involving deception or dishonesty;
- Anyone who is an undischarged bankrupt;
- Anyone who has been removed from trusteeship of a charity by the Court or the Commissioners for misconduct or mismanagement; and
- Anyone under a disqualification order under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
At the end of the day holding a trusteeship of a charity is a two way street. A charity gains the benefits of your expertise and you can have a rewarding experience helping a charity and learning something new.
You don’t have to start your own charity to become a trustee; you can join an existing charity that is working in a field that you have an interest. The options are almost limitless. Give it a try, you may enjoy it.