There are almost three million Muslims in the UK. From May 15th this year, most of them will be celebrating Ramadan, a time of immense charitable giving.
Lots of Muslims choose this time to donate what’s known as ‘Zakat’, an obligatory donation for anyone following the teachings of Islam. Millions will be donated across this period for worthy causes.
We asked Adrian Johnson, Fundraising Manager at Medical Aid for Palestinians, all about Zakat donations in 2018.
What are your charitable activities at Medical Aid for Palestinians this Ramadan?
For many UK charities, their annual Christmas campaign will be their biggest fundraiser of the year, but organisations should also consider an annual Ramadan appeal.
Each year, British Muslims donate a vast amount of money to good causes. This giving, known as ‘Zakat’, is an obligation for all Muslims to give a proportion of their wealth to charity each year, and it’s usually given during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with faith, prayer, pilgrimage and fasting.
Ramadan lasts for one month and moves each year according to the lunar calendar. This year, it’s expected to begin around the 15th May. According to a report by the Charity Commission in 2016, British Muslims as a whole donated at a rate of £38 per second during Ramadan, or £371 per individual over the year.
How can other charities benefit from Zakat giving?
Our charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians, is a non-political and non-religious organisation, but like many UK charities, we have a number of supporters who are Muslim. Each year, before and during Ramadan, we have a fundraising campaign, which includes an option for supporters to make a Zakat donation. This campaign includes appeals both online and offline, but online makes it far easier to reach the people who most likely to want to give in this way, as you can target appeals based on the individual’s interests.
As our budget is limited, we tend to focus on using Facebook ads. Facebook allows for great flexibility on how much you spend and on who you want to target. We use images and words that are likely to appeal to Zakat donors, and we choose an audience for our ads based on interests in Muslim organisations and media.
Our Facebook ads lead to specific landing pages on our main website. The landing pages have images and words that reflect the ads. Throughout the year, all of our donation images have a tick box option to make a Zakat donation. If you want to include this option, you may need to edit your online donation form.
Is there anything else to remember?
It’s not possible to know which of your individual donors might be looking to make a Zakat donation, so the option should be open to all supporters. This means that your online Ramadan donation is likely to be seen by people who are not looking to make a Zakat donation, they just want to donate generally. You don’t want to make these potential supporters feel that they cannot make a non-Zakat donation in response to an appeal.
You should also make sure that Zakat donations are recorded accurately. In order to meet the expectations of your supporters, they are spent on the activity for which they were intended. It should be noted here that there are specific religious rules on what Zakat donations can and cannot be used for. This includes helping the poor and destitute, but it may exclude some charities’ activities.
If you have the means, you may also want to consider creating a “Zakat calculator”, which provides the supporter with a way to work out how much they need to donate in order to meet their religious obligation. This is not essential, as many supporters will already know how much they need and want to give.
You can learn more about Zakat donations to Medical Aid for Palestinians at: www.map.org.uk/zakat
Want a branded Zakat calculator for your charity? JustGiving’s got you covered. Create one in just a few clicks by following the instructions on this blog.