How a Fundraiser brought together an Islamic scholar and a development practitioner, who share five key lessons in crowd sourcing financial aid for a humanitarian cause.
Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani is an Islamic scholar and a global goodwill Ambassador of the Zahra Trust, a UK based charity which is in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. Shaista Hussain is a development practitioner working for a multilateral development bank, based in the Philippines. A fundraiser brought us together, and we wanted to share our thoughts which may be applied to any humanitarian cause.
This year Sayed Ammar raised a funds appeal, both offline and online, to support orphans and families in need around the world particularly in Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, India, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Tanzania. The campaign focused on providing the families with not just food aid but also giving them an opportunity to enjoy what we often take for granted – a quality meal in a nice restaurant, a football match for the children with matching kits of their favorite teams and other activities planned in giving aid with respect. In addition, the funds were also collected for an Orphans village in Iraq with decent housing facilities and a school, among other initiatives. With the generous donations we received, this project is nearing completion.
With the successful completion of raising required funds in onemonth, here are five lessons that we wanted to share with you.
1. Those who inspire trust must walk the talk. We cannot thank people enough for their unbelievable generosity and their trust, especially the way everyone responded to our appeal. Watching Sayed Ammar campaigning for the appeal from the ground, starting from the worn-torn Iraq, helped inspire the interest of donors from all walks of life. It all comes down to one basic principle – the people in leadership positions who are blessed to have a dedicated following, must lead by example and must lead from the front.
2. Appreciate those who serve, appreciate even more the ones being served. World Humanitarian Day on 19th of August every year is a reminder to value the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises. This is a day to honor the men and women who give their lives to humanitarian causes. While it is important to appreciate those who serve others, it is also very important to appreciate the ones being served. The Holy Quran reminds us to help the orphans and those in need, and to be kind to others regardless of their religious or ethnic associations. We should be grateful to people who have given us an opportunity to serve them. This itself is a huge blessing when you realize that we are indeed the lucky ones who are getting an opportunity to help others, not the other way around.
3. Charity has a global appeal. When the cause is genuine, people respond. Always. When the appeal was launched in the holy month of Ramadan, we expected Muslims to make more donations – which they certainly did – but we were touched by the response of the Non-Muslims from all over the world. Charity has a global appeal and it was no surprise that the people responding to the appeal came from different religious backgrounds and countries. The cause hit home with all, charity is indeed universal in its essence.
4. It is challenging to communicate the scale of the problem. In this visual age capturing moments is only one smart phoneclick away. However, given the scale of the problems everywhere, it is often very difficult to narrate the exact gravity of the situation. Not everyone appreciates or is able to see things as you are able to see them first hand yourself. When we are with the beneficiaries of our projects in the field whether it is leading a humanitarian cause or a development project, we are so moved by the plight we witness firsthand. While visuals such as videos help, at the end of the day, we think it really is the trust in the person or institution calling attention to the problem that really changes people’s minds. Social media also served as an enabler to amplify the message of our campaign, with most funding coming through after Sayed Ammar’s Facebook live sessions.
5. Crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds. By using the JustGiving platform, we were able to raise almost $200k online and experienced first-hand how crowdfunding helps bring everyone together. With the power of technology, giving and receiving donations has never been so easy – and that really helped speed up the process. We saw the power in numbers, and the strength in people rallying behind a common cause.
Behind any humanitarian effort is true empathy and sincerity that keeps it going. A project may start from a piece of paper, but it is the dedicated workforce that truly yields results. This Humanitarian Day – make a commitment to support the needy not just with your financial contribution but also your time, and energy. It is really (or only) when you give of yourself that you truly give.
Shaista Hussain is a development practitioner from Pakistan, based in the Philippines. Her interests include working on regional cooperation, project design and quality assurance of development projects as well as working with refugees and humanitarian response.
Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani is an Islamic scholar, author and an articulate historian. He is listed every year as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims since 2014. Dr. Nakshawani uses his influence to promote women’s rights, social development, human rights, religious tolerance and inter-faith harmony.