Raising Financial Support for Organisation Sustainability

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1

Beyond Fund-raising: Support-raising ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….2

.Professional Fund–raising …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..5

Strength in numbers …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….7

“LET THERE BE A COMMUNITY AMONG YOU WHO CALL TO THE GOOD, AND ENJOIN THE RIGHT, AND FORBID THE WRONG. They are the ones who have success.” (Qur’an 3:104)

WE MADE YOU TO BE A COMMUNITY OF THE MIDDLE WAY, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Qur’an, 2:143)

“O you who believe!  Remain steadfast for Allah, bearing witness to justice.  DO NOT ALLOW YOUR HATRED FOR OTHERS MAKE YOU SWERVE TO WRONGDOING AND TURN YOU AWAY FROM JUSTICE.  Be just; that is closer to true piety.”  (Qur’an 5:8)

“… Believe in Allah and His Messenger and STRIVE IN THE WAY OF ALLAH WITH YOUR WEALTH AND YOUR SELVES. That is better for you if you only knew”.  (Qur’an 61:11)

This paper focuses on some important ideas and principles that are critical when trying to raise support and funds to sustain da’wah work in general, and those forms of da’wah that are directed towards preventing violent extremism (PVE) in particular.

Da’wah, very simply means any effort made to communicate to other people the true message of surrender to Allah, whether through words or by example. The Qur’an makes it clear how this effort should be pursued: ‘’Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation and reason with them in ways that are best and most gracious…..’’ (Q. 16:125) This has become even more important in the context of religious extremism where many Muslims (and others) are confused about Islamic teachings and have not understood Islam adequately enough to be resilient to the ideologies of violent extremists. In view of the high collateral damage caused to Islam, Muslims and world peace by the activities of violent extremists, it has become necessary for Muslim organizations to find ways to support and sustain da’wah and other activities that help prevent and build resilience against violent extremism.

Of all resources required for the achievement of any goal, whether physical, financial or human, by far the most important is the human resource. There are many things human relations and networking can go more easily and faster than money. There are some things that money cannot get done.

What is therefore more comprehensive and by far more important than raising funds is raising support. Funds are just one form of support. Sometimes, it is easier to raise support for what the funds will be used for than to raise the funds or cash.

This presentation is however merely emphasizing the importance of and approaches to improving fund-raising. And as a rule, no one method is the best. The context, type of project and those concerned are often the best to decide. Usually, the best method is often a combination of approaches.

While one emphasizes various approaches in raising physical funds to support da’wah work and BRAVE, it should also be borne in mind that as da’wah is in Allah’s cause (fi sabilillah), the Muslim must continue to earnestly pray for Allah’s support and blessing, and accept whatever comes from one’s best intensions and action as Allah’s will with which he or she should be contented.

Importance of funds to da’wah work

The need to financially support da’wah work done fi sabilillah is not new, and has its basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

‘’Behold, (O believers), it is you who are being called upon to spend freely in God’s cause: but (even) among you are such as turn out to be niggardly towards his own self…..’’ (Qur’an 47 : 38); 2:3 etc.

In a more and more monetary economy where nearly everything needs to be paid for, the importance of financial support for da’wah efforts cannot be overlooked.

Different forms of da’wah require different skills and resources which may be costly. Having da’wah offices in strategic locations or presenting Islam on particular media outlets can also be very costly.

Unfortunately, many da’wah organizations do not have awqaf (endowments) or any stable or predictable sources of funding and face financial difficulties in the short and long term and so have to beg for financial support.

The absence of a solid financial base often makes long term planning difficult. Purpose of this session is to present and discuss 4 major approaches that have and can contribute to greater financial sustainability of da’wah work.

 

Fund–raising (FR)

This is the easiest and most common way of raising funds for da’wah work. It also is the means that rewards with probably the greatest return on investment (ROI) or return on energy. In other words, what you get out of fund-raising, compared to what you put into it is usually may times more than what of any other means of raising funds. It is for example, very possible for an investment of N100,000 to yield N5,000,000 or much more within a week or less, depending the project, persons involved, strategy, etc.

Fund–raising can however be very daunting task with its ups and downs, disappointments and humiliations.  A person interested in FR for da’wah work should be person of high resolve, sincere about their purpose (ikhlas an-niyyah), exercise patience and perseverance (sabr), and be thankful and they are in a jihad (struggle) assisting both the donor and the rest of the Ummah in Allah’s cause (fi sabillah).

What helps here is that Muslims are already encouraged by Islam to contribute to charitable causes through gift and various forms of charity – sadaqa, zakaat and awqaf (endowments).

 

Professional Fund – raising

For FR to be more effective, it should be done professionally. The readiness of donors to contribute to your particular cause should not be taken for granted. Others may probably be competing for the same fund and effort must be exerted to have a competitive or comparative advantage. You must be able to convince your prospective donor that you are at least worthy of their support. Ideally, the donor should be happier with the result of donating to you compare to others.

Effective FR therefore has to be handled as a professional business. This means: giving value for money, planning well in advance, mastering the required skill and techniques, and developing a reputation (brand) for integrity and delivery of results.

While some da’wah organizations may view recruiting professionals as being extravagant, the truth is that many donors would rather donate more for quality than less for poor performance. Remember many donors and donor organizations just want the work done well and reported well. The costs are often secondary.

Da’wah organizations need to build their capacity to become more effective at FR and not take the skills and strategies required for granted. They can seek courses, study literature on FR, and get consultants to train them on specific areas. Courses, audio books and literature on salesmanship, customer service, project management, etc. should be sought after.

Like most people, donors have preferences and particular interests and things they would rather support. It is therefore important to find out what a particular donor prefers to support. Simply ask them, or give them a list to tick or add to. Donors are more likely to support those projects they are passionate about. It may be necessary to educate donors as to why they should consider your project favourably.

The welfare of “the goose that lays the golden eggs” should be a priority. Donors also have their needs and interests that are often not financial. However, think carefully about being led by donor preferences into areas that are not in line with your organization’s visions or priorities, or which you are not familiar with managing.

For FR to be more effective, it should be done professionally. The readiness of donors to contribute to your particular cause should not be taken for granted. Others may probably be competing for the same fund and effort must be exerted to have a competitive or comparative advantage. You must be able to convince your prospective donor that you are at least worthy of their support. Ideally, the donor should be happier with the result of donating to you compare to others.

Effective FR therefore has to be handled as a professional business. This means: giving value for money, planning well in advance, mastering the required skill and techniques, and developing a reputation (brand) for integrity and delivery of results.

While some da’wah organizations may view recruiting professionals as being extravagant, the truth is that many donors would rather donate more for quality than less for poor performance. Remember many donors and donor organizations just want the work done well and reported well. The costs are often secondary.

Da’wah organizations need to build their capacity to become more effective at FR and not take the skills and strategies required for granted. They can seek courses, study literature on FR, and get consultants to train them on specific areas. Courses, audio books and literature on salesmanship, customer service, project management, etc. should be sought after.

Like most people, donors have preferences and particular interests and things they would rather support. It is therefore important to find out what a particular donor prefers to support. Simply ask them, or give them a list to tick or add to. Donors are more likely to support those projects they are passionate about. It may be necessary to educate donors as to why they should consider your project favourably.

The welfare of “the goose that lays the golden eggs” should be a priority. Donors also have their needs and interests that are often not financial. However, think carefully about being led by donor preferences into areas that are not in line with your organization’s visions or priorities, or which you are not familiar with managing. If you do not how to keep old donors, you will eventually lose your new ones as well. A donor maintenance culture is of the utmost importance. It is important that it often requires highly skilled full or part-time staff dedicated to just the needs of donors. This is also one of the critical success/ failure factors of many Islamic organizations and development NGOs.

New Donors

While it is most important to keep old donors, it is also important to get more financial supporters. Word-of-mouth recommendation is one the most powerful sources of new donors. Feel free to ask a satisfied donor to recommend you to other individuals or donor organizations. The more organizations you have worked with, the more credible you are, and the more comfortable new donors are with you.

FR Teams & delegations

Sometimes, what is needed in FR from particular donors or organizations is a diverse high-powered FR team or delegation to meet and request the donor for support. This delegation of 5 to 7 people so should include a trusted community or opinion leaders and people the donor has a lot of respect for. This needs good planning and preparation.

Quality FR material

Ensure your material (brochures, prospectus, proposals, etc) are neat and well designed. “First impressions last!” Money spent on quality material (colour, paper, graphics, pictures, etc.) should be viewed as a worthwhile investment. It is worth getting a professional or experienced person to advice on your “first impression” material.

Awqaf and the Leaking Bucket

High administrative costs are like a leaking bucket, and reduce the amount of funds that go to the actual project. This can discourage many donors. What is very helpful is the establishment of awqaf or endowment funds such as investments can cover administrative or running costs, or at least bring them to a minimum. Even with awqaf support efforts should continue to be geared towards greater efficiency in the use of resources.

Some forms of low-risk awqaf investments that are currently relatively lucrative in the medium and long term include commercial real estate (e.g. shops and office space, warehouses and storage space, school buildings, etc.); purchase of farmland outside major cities that are minimally developed (used for agriculture or orchards) and sold or used after 5 to 10 or more years; and investing in halal funds within the country, but also in countries with more stable currencies and governments;  etc.

It is often advisable to break the cost of a major project into smaller “bite-size” units that are easier to fund. For example, break down the cost of a conference into days (i.e. cost of each day). Or into sessions, or into conventional units of feeding (breakfast, lunch, etc, rice, oil, meat, etc) venue, communication, transportations, etc. some donors or donor organizations prefer to sponsor a whole session on a subject they are passionate about.

Strength in numbers

Some da’wah organizations have many branches with large memberships that can easily collectively contribute large amounts to their organizations. For instance, an organization with branches in 20 locations (schools, towns, campuses, offices, etc.) with about 100 members in each locations, with each member contributing N1, 000 every term, could generate between N600,000 to N6,000,00 each year.

Connectors and Sales people

Two groups of people at least are very important volunteers in FR efforts. First are people who know many people or “connectors”. These are individual who can connect you to donors or to others who can connects you to donors. Second are those who can be very convincing and persuasive. These “sales people” are often leaders in one capacity or another, and are often the best to speak to the donor concerned. Of those often overlooked, some of the best “connectors” and “sales people” are women.

Appreciating Volunteers

The assistance given by volunteers in FR is often free and some do not mind spending some money on a worthwhile cause. Some however would like to but due to financial constraints incur some costs which should not be overlooked such as transportation, feeding, etc. many volunteers are however content with sincere acknowledgments and appreciation. This could be done in private, in the presence of others, by important community leaders and respected individuals, in writing, and all of the above and more. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said; “whoever those not show appreciation to people, has not shown appreciation to Allah.”

In conclusion, Muslims raising funds or support for any worthy cause should persistently persevere and strive to improve their knowledge, the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts, and they should continuously seek Allah support through prayers and commitment to sincere service.