Challenge to summer Ramadan fundraising: tired, hot donors
By Michelle Boorstein
Ramadan falling during the summer has an interesting side consequence: It's harder for Muslim charities to raise money.
With Muslims commanded to focus during Ramadan on good works like charity, the monthlong holiday is typically the most important fundraising time of the year. Non profits and aid groups often make a huge percentage of their annual income by raising money at the mosque after the nightly prayers that mark the end of each day's fasting.
But it's not easy to raise money from people who have been fasting in the worst heat of summer and aren't able to eat until the sun goes down, which can be 8 or 9 p.m. during the summer.
Anwar Khan, vice president for Islamic Relief USA, one of the country's largest Muslim aid organizations, said his team is doing double the amount of solicitations to try and make the same amount of money.
"No one wants to talk while they're fasting, and they are tired by the end of the day," said Khan, whose group raises 40 percent of their annual revenue during Ramadan. He said the percentage is more like double that for most smaller Muslim organizations that don't have the staff - like Islamic Relief does - to fundraise all year long.
Many people are on vacation, out of the country - these are other drawbacks to fundraising season coming in late summer. Based on the lunar calendar, Ramadan moves about 11 or so days earlier each year.
Despite the recession and having to work twice as hard for the same results, Khan said donations to Islamic Relief are actually up since 2008.
Last year, he said, they raised $35 million cash and over $100 million in in-kind donations. Since 1993 donations have gone up each year.
Two causes for the jump in the past year from $25 million to $35 million, he said, are Gaza and Haiti.
Most of the aid group's money goes overseas, but he said about $1.5 million is spent to help the needy in the United States.
Michelle Boorstein| August 12, 2010; 4:30 PM ET | Category: God in Government , Under God Save & Share:
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