Seminar for Muslim Non-Profits to Cover Science, Psychology of Fundraising

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Fundraising is the bane of existence for many non-profits. From fish fry dinners to elaborate 5 star hotel soirees, many masajid and Islamic organizations are constantly organizing and struggling for funds. Geared towards board members, funding committee heads, and leaders of non-profits, Helping Hands Relief and Development (HHRD) is hosting a seminar on effective fundraising on March 22, 2014, which will be held on site at Dar al Hijrah, in Falls Church, VA.

It is an effort to give back to the community that supports them in their overseas relief efforts. The on-site seminar is currently taking registrations for a maximum of 50 seats. The event is free of charge and lunch is included. People of other faiths are also welcome. The daylong seminar will also be accessible online, says Asif Khan, the Regional Director of HHRD. Online participants have to register and will receive a login for the live stream.

“Relief organizations are perceived as takers, not as givers,” says Imam Johari Abdul Malik, who proposed the idea. Khan says strong community organizations are beneficial for the growth of HHRD.

Effective fundraising requires being able to look at the organization’s mission and programs through the eyes of the donor rather than from the perspective of those who run the organization. “There is a science of fundraising, a psychology,” says Imam Johari, who will rely on his exposure as a successful fundraiser for the past 15 years, as well as his formal education in the field.

Tech-savvy Imam Johari and other community leaders will lead the sessions on competence and corporate governance, leveraging social media, and making specific appeals. Topics will include direct mail campaigns, benefits of buying mailing lists, mechanisms for periodic fundraising, and web presence.

Speakers chosen according to their level of expertise, include Dr. Yaqub Mirza, of Sterling Management. He has several years of experience in managing endowments. This concept of waqf (endowment) is an Islamic invention. In waqf, land or cash is donated and the assets are held by a charitable trust. In countries like United Arab Emirates and Egypt there are many hospitals, and educational institutes that are run by trusts, neither by the government nor on donations.  They pay staff salaries, give out scholarships and provide services through the waqf.

Dr. Talat Sultan, Director, Center for Islamic Research at ICNA & Helping Hand will lead a session. Dr. Iqbal Unus, an Adviser at the Fairfax Institute (TFI) at International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is an expert on governance in Muslim Community Organizations. He will speak on best practices of non-profits.

Planning for competency brings corporate success. If a masjid wants to expand they have to look for competent and credible people, says Imam Johari, to get to the next level. He finds some organizations that he visits with credible staff, but who are not suited for the position they hold, leading to failure. “Credibility is not enough,” says Imam Johari.

Samir Abo-Issa, with a Masters in Philanthropy, is the Executive Director at the 31-year-old financially stable Dar al Hijrah. He will address the nuts and bolts of an effective annual campaign. DAH started with funds for a $200,000 annual budget- currently it is over $2 million.

According to Imam Johari, it is fundamental to get a critical analysis of the organization’s documents, e.g. insurance and tax papers. These are bedrock issues for a community organization. He gives an example of a non-profit that had their tax-exempt status revoked because they didn’t file the paperwork on time, which caused headaches for donors.

Rather than holding worshippers hostage during Ramadan, the seminar will show how non-profits can make it easy for donors to give through the year.  Creative and trendy options will also be discussed.

New issues in giving will be addressed as well. “Putting a credit card number on a pledge card and giving it to a stranger is a concern for donors now, [in an age of identity theft],” says Imam Johari,”how can we tackle this?”

“The focus of philanthropy must be relationship-building that is customized to the needs and desires of the donor. Individuals have different motivations for and patterns of giving. The more you know about potential donors’ motives and how they like to give, the better positioned you are to make effective solicitations,” advises the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Lack of due diligence, competent leadership, corporate governance, creating a solid non-profit board, staff engagement in fundraising planning and implementation are all issues that organizations need to focus on to grow.

“There is nothing to sell here,” Asif Khan clarifies. He hopes it is also a great networking event for local non-profits.

Khan mentions that HHRD does other programs such as Youth for Haiti summer internship to give back to the community in the US. Building Beautiful Minds was a similar workshop focusing on individual growth offered by HHRD that was ‘successful in several regions.’

To register for the event please visit: