As the holy month of Ramadan gets underway, millions of Muslims around the UK and across the world will be preparing their minds and bodies for this intense period of fasting, spiritual reflection and worship. During this sacred time of the year, many Muslims will be giving even more to charity to help the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. While it is important for the giving public to continue to generously support the vital work that charities do, at the same time there are certain steps that all individuals should take to ensure that the money they are donating goes to the places and causes that they intended.
Giving during Ramadan
According to research from Islamic Relief, over £100 million is expected to be given to charity by British Muslims over the course of Ramadan. The organisation states that this is likely to be a conservative total, given that their study did not include donations to local mosques or non-Muslim charities. Islamic Relief on its own raised £14.4 million during the previous Ramadan, amounting to a third of its overall income, which highlights the generosity of British Muslim donors and the importance of this holy month to supporting the vital work of charitable organisations.
However, recent criminal cases have highlighted the potential for individuals to abuse the good name of charities and take advantage of the generosity of donors. Such incidents include criminals posing as charity workers and carrying out fake collections, using the money for their own illicit activities and thereby taking funds away from deserving causes.
According to the Charity Commission, the regulatory body for charities in England and Wales, only 2 out of 5 charity donors make checks when approached for donations, giving greater room for criminals to capitalise on their goodwill.
Promoting safer giving
This year, the Charity Commission has launched a public awareness campaign aimed at increasing alertness amongst donors about what they should expect of charities they are donating to during Ramadan. Backed by the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), an umbrella organisation that supports and represents the largest Muslim charities based in the UK, the campaign lists a selection of tips which people should keep mindful of to minimise the risk of donating to false collections.
Tips before making any donations to a cause include:
• Checking the charity's name and registration number - this can be done through the Charity Commission website.
• Checking public fundraisers have a license from the local authority or police.
• Asking collectors for more information about the charity and verifying their ID.
• Making sure that the charity's fundraising materials feature the charity's registered name and a landline contact number.
In addition, MCF is also urging charities fundraising during Ramadan to ensure that they are transparent about their activities and can demonstrate their operations in the countries for which they are raising funds. In particular, exhibiting good practice through FRSB membership and adhering to good accountability codes of conduct and practices in the sector, such as Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP), Sphere Standards and other accountability frameworks should be commended and highlighted as examples of good practice.
British Muslims should be lauded for their generosity and willingness to support charities helping those in dire need around the world. At the same time, it is in the best interests of the giving public to do what they can to ensure that their valuable donations are going to the right places and causes that they intended. By taking a bit of extra time to check a charity's credentials and being inquisitive when approached by public fundraisers, we can have greater confidence in our donations being used properly.