Ramadan fundraising appeals have raised more than expected for some charities, although those with less of an online presence have suffered, according to the Muslim Charities Forum.
Speaking to Civil Society News, Fadi Itani, chief executive of the Muslim Charities Forum, said that despite charities being unable to carry out in-person fundraising activities such as community events and bucket collections in mosques, fundraising during Ramadan has on average been “quite good, a lot better than we expected”.
He said: “In 2018, our research found that £130m was raised for charities during Ramadan. We are not sure yet whether this will be matched this year, but so far results are good.
“From big charities to medium-sized charities, most are reporting that their income during Ramadan was OK, and some are doing as well as last year.”
Muslim Hands could be set for its most successful Ramadan ever
Muslim Hands was among the charities where fundraising results exceeded expectations.
It was particularly successful in its TV fundraising, where it raised £2m over three nights on the Islam Channel, including £1.5m on a single night for its Yemen appeal. Last year, three similar TV appeals raised £390,000.
The charity said that this year may become “the most successful Ramadan in its 27-year history”.
“Despite the pandemic, soaring unemployment rate and economic crisis, Muslim Hands has seen a huge surge in donations across all its platforms,” it said.
“Though events such as flagship walks have been cancelled until the foreseeable future, supporters across the world have nevertheless been forthcoming with their contributions, eager to make a difference.”
The charity had an income of £21.1m in 2018.
Islamic Relief raised more than £9m
In 2019, Islamic Relief raised £12m from its Ramadan appeal, but as of 22 May, this year's appeal has already raised £9.2m. The appeal is open until later this month and the charity is confident of reaching its target.
Last month Zia Salik, interim head of fundraising at Islamic Relief, said in an interview with Civil Society Media's Fundraising Magazine that collections in mosques and community events would normally raise about £1.2m in total for the charity, and that this will need to be replaced by other means.
He said: “We are expecting to take a hit on our offline income. But we are hoping to soften the blow a little bit by moving some of these activities online.”
He said the charity would hold some of its community events online, with international speakers presenting via videoconference rather than in-person, and focus on tv and telephone fundraising.
Subsequently, Tufail Hussain, director of Islamic Relief UK said: “This Ramadan, the impact of lockdown due to Covid-19 was a considerable worry as all our community events had to be cancelled. These events formed an important part of our Ramadan fundraising strategy.
“Despite not having much time, our teams successfully put together a contingency plan to ensure our supporters were given the opportunity to support Islamic Relief's life-saving work during this crucial fundraising period.
“No matter what the situation, one thing is certain, the huge generosity of the Muslim community who will always go above and beyond to help others who are suffering.
“We sincerely thank them for their incredible support to help save lives, especially as many of them would have been struggling themselves through this extremely difficult pandemic.”
Ramadan fundraising platform sees donations double
Itani said that with people at home, charities have been focusing on TV and digital channels for their fundraising, and that “innovative ideas, such as webinars and talks online with special guests and influencers, have made a difference for a lot of charities”.
Zaheer Khan, head of fundraising at Human Appeal, said his charity would be doing community events online and focus on strengthening relationships with existing supporters, for example by holding one-to-one Zoom meetings with donors.
Fundraising platform MyTenNights, which automates users’ donations during Ramadan, has said that donations through the platform more than doubled compared to last year.
It said 100,000 people donated a total £10.9m to a range of charities across the final 10 nights of Ramadan, compared to £4.3m in 2019.
Charities using the platform to raise money during Ramadan include Muslim charities such as Islamic Relief, but also non-faith charities such as Oxfam and Barnardos.
Ismael Abdela, co-Founder of MyTenNights, said that coronavirus “amplified the need for an automated donations service more than we could have ever imagined”.
Concerns around small charities
Itani from the Muslim Charities Forum said that despite the good news, there are ongoing concerns for Muslim charities.
One is that while Ramadan went quite well for charities overall, small charities did struggle.
He said: “Small charities that are not really active online suffered. They rely on community-based fundraising, and many weren’t fast enough to shift and to put infrastructure in place to increase their capacity to raise money online.”
He said mosques are also being hit hard, because they are shut and it is not so easy for them to move online. He said: “Some are already struggling to meet their financial commitments.”
Finally, he said that for Muslim charities, questions remain around what will happen after Ramadan, and how the situation will evolve long-term.