Posts tagged ‘Knowledge’

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

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

What does it mean to be a trustee?

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.

November 8, 2011 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Reading… it helps!

By Mohammad Shakir

This year’s International Literacy Day is focusing on the link between literacy and peace.

The link between reading and peace is an interesting one. Let’s have a look shall we? Reading can lead to a greater understanding about a subject, person or initiative. I was taught from a young age that knowledge and information is the greatest currency here on this earth. It can lead to a rich life, not just materially, but personally and spiritually.

For example, say you are a plus one at a wedding at a table where you know absolutely no one. Knowledge on current affairs, sports, entertainment or philosophy (take your pick) can be the kick starter to a rich and fulfilling conversation with the person sitting next to you. So instead of being bored and looking at your face in the back of a spoon, you can engage and interact with others around you.

Gaining knowledge is an important part of life. For those of us lucky to do so, get a chance to go to school and formally learn about a variety of subjects, much of which wouldn’t be possible or fully appreciate if we can’t read. Indeed, without literacy skills, I doubt you would be reading this blog.

So this International Literacy Day how about we pick up a book and read, if we have children, read them a bedtime story or help one of the one in six adults around the world that can’t read. Reading can make a difference and those of us that can, shouldn’t take it for granted.

September 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm 2 comments


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