Founded in 1984, Islamic Relief has grown into one of the world’s largest relief and development charities. With offices and operations in dozens of countries, as well as 16 partner offices across the globe, we work collectively to help millions of vulnerable people every year.
A crucial step, as we grow, is evolving our governance arrangements to meet the changing needs of the Islamic Relief family and the challenging environment in which we operate. In 2014 we formally began an ambitious programme to overhaul our global governance so the Islamic Relief family can continue to operate effectively on a larger scale and remain true to the vision of our founders.
Last year our reform programme reached an exciting milestone, with the creation of our first ever International General Assembly (IGA). This is the highest body of the new Islamic Relief Worldwide governance structure and consists mainly of representatives elected by Islamic Relief partner offices across five continents, creating a body that is truly globally representative.
Up to a third of the IGA Board will be independent members from outside the Islamic Relief family, helping to bring additional specialist skills and experience, as well as increased diversity and accountability.
The IGA, which met for the first time in August 2020, has established a new Membership Accreditation Committee (MAC), which oversees the operations of the Board of Trustees and strengthens accountability within the IGA. The MAC is responsible for making recommendations on the suitability of members (both entities and individuals) to the IGA. These recommendations can potentially include the initial nomination, membership levels, renewals and ending membership. MAC ensures adherence to the rules governing membership of the International General Assembly and the Board of Trustees.
As well as this, the IGA has created a new, dedicated Governance Committee, which helps to identify best practice for all Islamic Relief entities and ensure compliance with agreed standards, policies and systems. The governance committee consists of five members: Haroun Atallah, representing the IRW Board of Trustees; Dr Khaled Lamada, who represents the board of Islamic Relief USA; Ebad Ul-Rahman, who represents the board of Islamic Relief Canada; Dr Hossam Said, who represents the board of Islamic Relief Germany; and Sumayya Hassan, who represents the board of Islamic Relief Kenya.
The MAC is still new and in its initial phase of development, and therefore an interim MAC is currently operating. This is chaired by Dr Ihab Saad, who represents Islamic Relief USA on the IGA and is also the Chair of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Board of Trustees, having been elected to the Board by his fellow IGA members.
In the interim arrangement, the MAC board includes two other members, Khalid Sofi and Dr Jamshed Moneer, who are also both members of the Internal Audit Committee. Khalid Sofi comes from a distinguished legal background. He specialises in charity and public law, and first joined Islamic Relief’s Audit Committee in 2013. Dr Moneer works as a trusted advisor in digital business strategy and transformation. He joined Islamic Relief’s Audit Committee in 2010.
Alongside the IGA, our foremost global governance body, we also have a global executive branch called the Islamic Relief Family Council. This is a forum that brings together the chief executives of Islamic Relief Worldwide and all Islamic Relief partner organisations to enhance communication, strengthen relationships and provide strategic insight to help improve processes within the organisation.
This new governance model allows the Islamic Relief family to work more collaboratively in serving the interests of those who need our support, helping to build a stronger and more cohesive organisation overall. It also enhances shared ownership and joint decision-making, as well as helping to strengthen relationships and increase transparency.
This governance model enables the Islamic Relief family to build an increasingly consistent approach across our global family to a wide range of issues and challenges, including the further development and enforcement of our code of conduct for staff and trustees. The closer family bonds of mutual accountability that the new governance has created will make it easier for the entire family to act in unison and adopt more shared policies, processes and standards. For example, the global IRW board and partner organisations have all agreed to fully implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission, which completed its review of our governance in January 2021.
Other benefits of this new governance model include:
- The strengthening and development of Boards of Trustees of all Islamic Relief partners
- A chance for trustees across all partners to have a formal networking arena to share experiences and best practice
- A greater support mechanism for smaller and new partners
- Closer working on programmatic implementation between partners and Islamic Relief Worldwide
- Greater buy-in to the Islamic Relief Worldwide strategy post 2022, when a new five-year strategy will be adopted.
Partners are now able to play a more central role in shaping the future of Islamic Relief, making us stronger, more efficient and more united in our mission of lifting communities out of poverty across the world. This new structure in no way changes the independence of partner offices as affiliates within our global family but it does put partners in the driving seat, with a greater influence over ensuring that day-to-day operations run as efficiently and effectively as possible.