Why does Islamic Relief ask for donations?

Donations fund the work we do around the world, supporting vulnerable people in times of crisis and helping to lift them out of poverty. With your generous support we have reached over 120 million people since 1984, working in some of the world’s most dangerous and difficult places.

How much money do you raise from donors?

Most of our work is funded by individual donors. In 2019 Islamic Relief Worldwide raised £130 million that allowed us to support over 8 million people. £100 million of this came from the public and the rest came from various sources including income from our charity shops; funds from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC); institutional donors such as the European Commission and the UN; and charitable foundations and trusts.

What is my donation spent on?

For every £1 you donate, 87p is spent on helping people in need. 9p goes towards raising more funds and 4p is spent on admin costs. Admin and fundraising costs are sometimes bracketed together and described as ‘support costs.’ This is the breakdown but really all of your donation is used either directly or indirectly to help people in need because admin and fundraising are a necessary part of delivering aid.

Why do you have admin costs?

Admin allows us to deliver aid effectively as a professional charity running large-scale programmes across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It ensures the right aid gets to the right people at the right time. We aim to keep our admin costs to a minimum without cutting corners in the quality, efficiency and transparency of our work.

What do admin costs cover? 

The 4% we take from your donations for admin is used to invest in the equipment, infrastructure and processes we need to operate professionally and efficiently and keep people safe. Admin includes overhead expenses like rent for offices, equipment like computers and phones, admin staff salaries and volunteer expenses. It also covers expenses like safeguarding vulnerable people, providing first-class training to staff, auditing our accounts, ensuring cyber security and complying with all our legal obligations as a charity.

Why do you spend 9% on raising funds?

The 9% we spend on fundraising covers all the different ways we invest in generating an income. These include online appeals, fundraising events and activities, placing adverts, printing leaflets, coordinating volunteers, etc. We believe this is money well spent because for every £1 we spend on fundraising, we make £10 back so that we can support even more people in need. We also invest in communicating with our donors not just to ask for donations but to inform and engage them on the humanitarian issues they care about as well as report on the impact of the work they have funded. Islamic Relief is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, and strives for best practice in fundraising by adhering to the Code of Fundraising Practice.

Are people aware of Islamic Relief’s admin costs?

We believe in transparency and accountability, so we regard it as an important responsibility to make people aware that we have admin and fundraising costs and that they are necessary expenditure for a global charity committed to the highest international humanitarian standards. Information on our admin costs and annual financial accounts are published in our Annual Report, which is independently audited and lodged with the Charity Commission. Our Annual Report and Financial Statements are published on our website, distributed to key stakeholders, promoted on social media and available from the Charity Commission website.

Why does Islamic Relief not have a 100% donation policy?

Islamic Relief would not be able to operate on the scale it does without spending money on admin. It is very unlikely that any charity can operate a 100% donation policy – in other words, guaranteeing that 100% of donations go exclusively and directly to people in need. We believe in being open and clear about our admin costs, which are part and parcel of our seriousness about complying with all our legal obligations and our commitment to meeting high standards in effective aid delivery. The recognition we have received under the coveted Core Humanitarian Standard offers donors independent reassurance about the thoroughness and professionalism of our approach.

Some charities claim that their admin costs are covered in other ways, e.g. by institutional donations or profit from their charity shops. Islamic Relief could make a similar claim; we too have income from charity shops and institutional donors including Gift Aid from the UK government. However we choose not to make such claims because we prefer to be transparent about the fact that admin costs are a necessary part of what we do.

Who ensures that admin costs are not misused?

While admin costs are necessary, all charities have a responsibility to ensure money is not misspent. Islamic Relief, in line with our Islamic values of ihsan (excellence) and amanah (custodianship), is committed to ensuring donations are used in the most efficient and effective way. We are accountable to Allah, to our donors and to all those we have the honour to serve. It is a heavy responsibility to safeguard donations and especially those that fulfil a religious duty such as zakat and qurbani. We bear this responsibility willingly but not lightly.

We have stringent financial and governance processes that ensure donations are spent with transparency, accountability and in line with donors’ wishes. We have an internal audit function, which ensures that controls on expenditure are in place and procedures are followed. Our Board of Trustees have oversight of our accounts through an independent Audit Committee and take personal responsibility for the operations of the organisation. The Audit Committee is comprised of experienced specialists who give their time free of charge – as do our trustees.

In addition Islamic Relief presents its independently audited accounts annually to the Charity Commission, which registers and regulates charities in England and Wales to ensure that the public can support charities with confidence. If the Charity Commission has any concerns about the way a charity is operating or presenting its information, it can hold the charity to account.

Why can’t Islamic Relief use volunteers instead of paid staff?

We use both, believing sincerely that the best approach to being effective and also cost-effective is to have an appropriate balance between a core of paid staff and a large body of volunteers, working together in a coordinated way.

The complexity of the work we do around the world – and in some of the world’s most challenging contexts – requires expertise, specialist knowledge and long-term commitment. Our staff would not be able to make this commitment on a voluntary basis without a salary. Over 95% of our staff are local people who come from the communities they serve; by investing in them we are ensuring not only that Islamic Relief has the best possible workforce, attuned to the needs of their own communities, but also that they are able to support their families and the local economy.

The scope of our humanitarian interventions, international development and campaigning is vast, and so we use volunteers wherever possible to boost our reach and our impact at a very modest cost. In the UK alone we engage around 3,000 volunteers every year, asking them to give up their time to help with events, fundraising and other areas of work that are suited to volunteering. Their contribution is invaluable and highly appreciated.

How much do you pay your staff and CEO?

We have a structured salary scale in place to ensure we are able to attract professional staff and that they are paid a fair wage for their expertise, in line with the local cost of living. Our salary bill relative to others in the international charity sector is comparatively low, and this fact speaks volumes for the commitment and passion of the people who work for Islamic Relief. In fact, some of our staff regularly work beyond their contracted hours and spend long periods away from home, especially during an emergency crisis.

The CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide earns considerably less than £100k – as declared in our Annual Report – which is far less than the CEOs of other UK based charities of a similar scale. We consider this salary appropriate for the CEO of an international organisation that has an income in the UK of £130m, a worldwide network of almost 40 offices in some of the world’s most troubled countries and a global workforce approaching 4,000 people.

Do you spend money on anything else?

Yes, around 1% of our income is spent on campaigning on social justice issues like gender justice, support for refugees and tackling climate change. We believe it is important to raise awareness of issues that affect the most vulnerable people in the world. By campaigning, lobbying governments, going on marches, running petitions and putting pressure on decision-makers, we can help make the world a kinder, fairer place.