£4.4bn growth forecast for Muslim aid charities ‘optimistic’, says umbrella body

01 Mar 2023 News

By dragancfm / Adobe

A prediction that Muslim international development charities’ income will increase sixfold over the next 30 years to £4.4bn is “over optimistic”, an umbrella body has said.

This week, a report by think tank the Ayaan Institute identified 1,026 Muslim charities NGOs and with a collective income of £708m, with general donations accounting for 73% of this.

These charities have increased their income by 37% (£192m) from 2017 to 2020 and the report predicted that this could rise to £4.4bn by 2051, based on an income growth rate of 20% every four years.

Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) chief executive Fadi Itani told Civil Society News the research’s projections were “over optimistic”, as most growth in income has been driven by responses to natural and manmade disasters in recent years.

But he said the general growth of Muslim aid charities identified in the report should be celebrated.

“Most of the growth we have seen in the Muslim charities sector is a result of many disasters both man made and natural ones around the world from Syria, Yemen, the flood in Pakistan and recently the [Turkey-Syria] earthquake,” he said.

“The growth is good thing but the cause of it is not, as it is leading the organisation into more firefighting mode instead of strategic long intervention abroad and here in the UK.” 

Sector’s income could be even bigger

According to the report, the combined annual income for the charities in 2020 was £708m. 

The largest 20 charities generated 76% of this income, with the top 10 accounting for 62%. 

If all of the mosques, prayer venues, and individuals collecting Zakat were grouped with these charities that Muslim giving in the UK would “easily exceed £1bn a year in 2020”, the report estimates.

“The information in this report shows just how seriously Muslim communities take their religious obligations to help the poor and needy around the world. It is in the divinely ordained rituals and obligations of Islam that we find the greatest expressions of Ummah solidarity”, the report reads.

‘Good news stories about Muslim charities are rare’

The report states that positive news stories about the Muslim charity sector are rare as they are often overshadowed by “the negative linking of charitable aid to crime, terrorism, and extremism.”

It reads: “That negativity is also often perpetuated by groups with an anti-Islam or anti-Muslim political or racist agenda. Those negative stories can lead to investigations by the Charity Commission and restrictions on charity banking services. 

“Good news stories about Muslim charities, and their impact on beneficiaries, or the Muslim community as generous donors involved in caring for others and acts of kindness, are rare.”

Last year, Itani told Civil Society News that banking issues Muslim charities faced were “getting deeper” due to de-risking practices.

These practices are enforced on the accounts of clients at risk of money laundering or counter-terrorism, and can cause their bank accounts to be frozen or slow down payments. 

He said it makes organisations feel as if there is “a hidden discrimination against certain charities because of their names, the areas they work in.”

Fadi Itani: Growth of sector should be celebrated

Itani told Civil Society News: “It is not surprising to learn more about the generosity of the British Muslim community despite all the obstacles the community and its charities face, and this is a positive story that should be celebrated.

“Thanks to the generosity of the community, raising funds for good causes is never the challenge for Muslim charities.

“The real challenge is leaving a long-lasting impact that works to eradicate poverty, is sustainable and protects the environment from further climate change. This is something which we have been working hard to encourage charities to focus on.”

Bond: Muslim aid charities are one of the major success stories of the UK sector

Stephanie Draper, chief executive of NGO umbrella body Bond, said: “We welcome this report from the Ayaan Institute which is a testament to the hard work of Muslim humanitarian charities in the UK. These figures demonstrate the dedication of the UK Muslim community to those in need of support.  

“The growth in the scale of Muslim humanitarian charities has been one of the major success stories of the UK sector over the past twenty years.

“Often starting out as grassroots community groups, they are now a fundamental part of the response to conflict and poverty, not just in Muslim countries but in the UK as well.” 

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