Posts tagged ‘Zakat House’

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

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

Cultivating an online garden

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.

November 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm Leave a comment

Bringing charities in from the cold

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.

November 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

Security in my humanitarian space

The Humanitarian Space - Would you like to join?

By Dr. Hany El Banna

Security means safety, stability, sustainability and productivity. While my humanitarian space means my rights, dignity, privacy and ability to develop my country.

But why are we talking about my humanitarian space? Because it is a basic human right for each and every one of us. This is my main philosophy. This is the main philosophy behind the creation of Zakat House. Financial security for small and start up charities that want to carry out humanitarian works – a home for them in the heart of London’s West End.

We did not only want an empty space for these organisations – a desk, computer or individual- but we wanted to give them an interactive humanitarian space and experience, to bridge the gap between them and other start up organisations and allow the cross fertilisation of thoughts, dreams, visions and the dynamic cohesive productivity towards common solutions.

Early this week, I saw the beginning of the fruits of this interactive, humanitarian, connective space. Abdurahman, the MCF coordinator asked me to draw a three year strategy for their organisation. I thought that this was not my job. This is either the job of a highly paid consultant costing up to £500 a day, or it is his job – because I believe that strategic thinking is not something you can only you can learn at Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge, but something that has been intrinsically embedded inside every creation including birds, fish and reptiles.

Instead of talking to Abdurahman individually we called Fatima from the International HIV Fund, Abubaker from Zakat House and Rahma from the Somali Relief and Development Forum. We all sat together around one table to discuss how they can think strategically and effectively about their goals and objectives.

Once they started their own discussion, I pulled out and I watched from behind the glass door, and felt the heat of the motivated discussion amongst them. I smelled the scent of the beautiful fragrance of the flying, argumentative humanitarian thoughts between the four organisations.

Then I saw, the bonding result of the intellectual cross fertilisation process amongst them. After two sessions each lasting 90 minutes, they managed to structure the process of strategic thinking, which was more valuable than a consultant’s colourful presentation or handout. The outcome of this interactive bonding, productive humanitarian space was:

  1. Building confidence in the hearts of the coordinators.
  2. Enabling them to think loudly and collectively for a common goal
  3. To create the teamwork not amongst members of the same organisation but amongst DIFFERENT organisations.
  4. To incite their common vision, common objectives and leadership quality.
  5. To save time that was going to be utilised by a consultant.
  6. To save the £500-£1000 that a consultant could be charging us.
  7. To cement the infrastructure of the social fabric of society empire multi storey building.

While having my lunch with another organisation in the kitchen, Fatima from IHIVF, came to make her presentation to reflect the recipe of our new cuisine which has been cooked elegantly in the Anglo, Pakistani, Indo-African kitchen of our organisations. Please come and have a bite! I can tell you it tastes mmmmmm……

October 28, 2011 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Getting satisfaction from a smile

By Mohamed Mohamed

Over the last 2 months, I have been working as an intern at Zakat House. I feel proud and honoured that I have done something valuable with my time. Knowing that every blog, letter and Facebook update that I have done will somehow to try to persuade someone to give from their time or money to help the less fortunate. My time that I spent has been a big help to me in such a way that will benefit me in my professional career.

Three months ago before the end of the academic school year, I made a promise that over the summer that I wouldn’t do any clinical attachments at the hospital but rather something different to what I am used to. I’ve always believed in the proclamation that says “charity does not decrease wealth” and how true that has been during this journey.

During my time here, I have been fortunate to meet people from all different walks of life, people from different backgrounds, people with different interest, people with different lifestyles but are all united in one cause – helping the people who do not have the same luxuries as we do. It’s the people you work with that really shape up how office life is to be viewed.

One of the main lessons that I’ve learnt during my time here is the importance of good communication skills and a friendly disposition. This helps you settle in to any environment quickly because it helps you win your work colleagues over with your character. No one ever wants to work with anyone who does not have a friendly temperament and someone who finds it difficult trying to communicate with others as it usually leads to frustration.

At medical school which I am currently studying in Romania always tell us how important it is to have good communication skills between doctors and patients. However this is also true in working with charity organisations as there is a potential donor which you do not want to lose. This donor could be the difference between life and death to someone in need. As a result with good communication it builds rapport, good understanding and a good relationship between people.

There are many benefits in working for charities as a volunteer such as using your skills and experience no matter how little it is, it helps the community and those around you. At times you work under pressure, which is a good thing because it shows your mental strength and how you can cope in different situations.

This I feel is a valuable experience which will forever remain with me as it has taught me to be calm and carry on even when the going gets tough. Working as a volunteer helps you personally by allowing your mind to become free and think of different and new innovative ideas in ways you can help them grow.  I feel that also by doing charity work it will stand you in good stead as it will set you apart from the crowd.

Charity work says a lot about your character, giving you a multi-dimensional personality and highlighting your good nature. Even more importantly, volunteer positions show future employers your drive and dedication. Such accomplishments demonstrate initiative, personal will, leadership skills and the ability to work hard.

I am forever thankful to those wonderful people who have helped me and given me the opportunity to volunteer, my next aim is to complete my medical studies to become a doctor and hopefully this will allow me to become more fully involved in people’s lives so I can bring them a simple smile and bring me satisfaction in doing it.

September 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

What’s in an office?

By Mohammad Shakir

An office can be anywhere; a dedicated room at home, a large building with a lobby and nice sofas, or a simple converted house. An office, much like most things in life, is what you make of it.

Zakat House offers a variety of services for small and growing charities and social businesses, such as a support unit which offers guidance, advice and resources in fundraising, governance, marketing and communications through its Charity Support Unit.

It is all well and good to have those services, but you all organisations need somewhere to work, an office space which is affordable and solely for charities and social businesses.

Between May 2010 and May 2011, 8,000 charities closed down and were removed from the Charity Commission’s register. It is clear that the charity sector is need of support. Affordable office space combined shared resources such as the support unit can be vital to the helping those smaller and newer charities a foot up in staying open and achieving their charitable objectives.

Zakat House is excited to announce that they will be offering affordable office space from their new premises near Tottenham Court Road. The building, will offer affordable office solutions, conference and meeting rooms all with excellent transport links to major London train stations and airports. This charity hub in London can help the charity sector weather the current tough economic climate.

P.S Here are some images of the new building!

 

September 6, 2011 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

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