Who Controls?

By Nasir Rafiq

I work with Boards and the CEOs of many large charities and NGOs and I often come across this dilemma between Trustees and CEOs. I was once asked in Board meeting of a large NGO by a Trustee that sometimes, the Board is too controlling and sometimes it is the CEO – how can we find a balance?

I feel this is a wrong question and therefore any answer to this question will be a wrong one.

At Board and Executive level, the issue of “Control” should be third in line and should be discussed in the context of two greater issues: Objectives and Risks.

Charities are charities and Trustees become trustees because of the stated “Objectives” of the charity / NGO they belong to – the CEO is appointed to help the Trustees achieve these corporate objectives.

The utmost priority has to be to achieve the “Objectives” – any activity that harms this, should be considered a “Risk” to the charity. Once the “Objectives” and the “Risks” are clear, it should THEN be about “Control” – for example how are the risks controlled.

If the “Controls” requires CEO to take the lead, then be it and if it requires the Trustees to take a lead then be it. As long as the “Controls” reduce the “risks” and helps to achieve the “Objectives”.

Outside the above context, the issue of “Control” between Trustees and CEOs becomes an issue of mistrust or ego and therefore will never result in a compromise and positive outcome.

So how do we find the balance?

In the above battle and contrary to what many think, I often find the CEOs on the wrong side. The Trustees were involved in setting up, many of the large charities and work voluntarily. Naturally they have “control”. The CEOs often complain that Trustees do not give them control –

The question that is often ignored by the CEOs is “What will the CEO give in return to the Trustees for that control?” The solution to all issues in my experience hides in how “effective, compelling and professional” the answer is.


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Working Together: Christian-Muslim Humanitarian Partnership Workshop

Joint Statement from: Working Together: Christian-Muslim Humanitarian Partnership Workshop

5-8 October 2013, Amman, Jordan

The workshop Working Together: Christian-Muslim Humanitarian Partnerships, co-hosted and jointly planned by The Humanitarian Forum and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for World Service, took place in Amman, Jordan, from 5 to 8 October 2013. The purpose of this workshop was to discuss operational issues around interfaith humanitarian partnerships. It complements the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Dialogue on Faith and Protection, held in December 2012, and the follow-up statement “Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders.”

“Partnership becomes a compelling duty on all of us, no one organization can work alone,” noted Dr Hany El Banna, President of The Humanitarian Forum. “We shouldn’t be afraid of building partnerships; fear is a mirage not a reality.”

The 25 workshop participants included representatives from the UN, Islamic and Christian non-governmental organizations and international platforms; UNHCR; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); The Humanitarian Forum (Headquarters and local forums in Egypt and Indonesia); Human Appeal International; IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation; Islamic Relief Worldwide (Headquarters and Jordan Office); Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO); Muslim Aid (Jordan Office); LWF (Headquarters and offices in Jerusalem, Jordan, Kenya and Myanmar); Center for Disaster Risk Management and Community Development Studies (CDRM & CDS), Nommensen University, Indonesia; Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) Bangladesh; ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together); and Muslim Charities Forum.

Participants committed themselves to practical cooperation in assistance to refugees, displaced populations and their host communities in Jordan, Kenya, Somalia and Myanmar.

“This workshop confirmed that we all have much in common and want to work together,” concluded Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, director of the LWF Department for World Service. “We strongly believe that closer cooperation at local and global levels can be of mutual benefit and, most importantly, can contribute to improving our humanitarian services for people affected by disasters.”

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“Think” Before the “Tank”

Washington DC. Today, we had an interesting conversation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the most influential Think Tanks in the US and possibly the world. Its vision of Think Tank is that of a group of experts who generate ideas for the government and public. Think Tanks are not to be confused with lobby groups who generally have clear agendas and aim to push for specific policies.CSIS Photo

It made me think about how much as Muslim charities we do contribute to generate ideas that in return can influence policy makers. Answer: too little. Sometimes, because we are so focused on our relief and development activities and are apolitical, we believe that influencing policy should not be a priority for us. And yet it is. If policy makers look at the non profit sector and at aid in a favourable way, it is because we have made them understand how important it is to assist people who are in need in desperate times.

With new ideas, opinions change and institutions evolve.  These ideas, however, are rare and generally governments are not good at generating new ideas, hence why they look to Think Tanks and Civil Society, a primary and unique source for innovation and independent thinking.

We should not underestimate the power that we have in influencing policy makers.

By Abdurahman Sharif

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Will you marry me?

So ok … the title of this blog is probably not the first thing you think of when thinking about proposals within the charity sector. But if you give it some thought, a proposal for funding is in many ways similar to a marriage proposal.

  • Finding the right partner/funding body
  • Timing
  • Seek help

Finding the right partner

This is invariably the first step in any relationship you hope to cultivate or develop. In life, finding the right partner is the foundation through which you build a life together. To do this you need to attract a partner. When it comes to funding this can be akin to building the right profile through different networks and knowing who to approach for funding.


Getting the timing right is key when asking your potential spouse to marry you. If you leave your partner hanging and waiting for that proposal, they will most likely leave you. It is similar when applying for funding. Many proposals are time limited, meaning you need to get your proposal in by a certain deadline. Make sure you meet that deadline or even better submit it in plenty of time.

Seek help

You have seen those videos on the internet where a man utilises the help of his friends to concoct the most elaborate and outlandish proposals so that his partCinemaner is unable to say no (see above). There is nothing wrong with asking someone who has completed a proposal before for help. They can be daunting and difficult to complete and extra pair of hands and eyes as well as another brain can be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful proposal.

I hope you have had some food for thought while reading this as well as interesting tips on how to propose to your partner, if that is what you are looking to do.

(Let us know if any of them work in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!)

By Mohammad Shakir

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Press Release: Muslim Charities Forum encourages vigilance from donors and charities alike

Friday 22nd February 2013

The Muslim Charities Forum would like to commend the work of West Midlands Police for their work in the convictions of individuals that used the name of Muslim Aid to collect funds illegally for their intended criminal activities.

It goes without saying that Muslim Aid and other such charities are registered with and adhere to Charity Commission guidelines. We would like to encourage all donors and supporters to ensure that they have full awareness of who they are donating to, especially during street collections.

Moving forward we look to working with donors, community organisations and community leaders to ensure that any fraudulent or illegal activity will ever take place again. We hope that together as a community, we can ensure that the sector remains trusted, accountable and works for the good of humanity.


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Letter to FCO and DFID regarding Gaza

The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AA

Monday 19 November 2012

Dear Foreign Secretary,

RE: Statement of concern regarding escalating conflict in Gaza

We are writing to you regarding the recent upsurge in violence and military activity in Gaza.

As Muslim-led humanitarian agencies, we are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of the people of Gaza following the renewed intensification of conflict and violence within the region. Gaza is still in the process of reconstruction following the previous war that ended in January 2009, where 1,400 people were killed, 5,000 injured and 40,000 forced out of their homes. Based upon our experience of supporting those affected by conflict and disasters, we fear that the recent escalation in military action threatens to cause further untold damage and human suffering to the civilian population of Gaza.

Our paramount concern is to ensure that the people affected by this conflict are protected from direct and indirect consequences of the violence, and that those in need
have unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and medical services. We therefore urge the British Government to emphasise to all parties involved in the conflict that they comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law with respect to safeguarding the lives and dignity of the civilian population. In addition, we stress the need for affected civilian populations in Gaza to have unrestricted access to humanitarian aid as necessary, and to ensure that all humanitarian workers, medical staff and hospitals are protected.

Humanitarian agencies are committed to providing aid and relief to the most vulnerable communities regardless of the operating conditions, striving to prevent and alleviate human suffering and ensure that basic needs are met. The British Government also has a duty to ensure that those affected by conflict are not directly targeted by parties involved and are protected from the impact of fighting.

We hope the British Government can assist humanitarian organisations in providing relief to the civilian population in Gaza caught in the conflict.

Yours faithfully,

The Undersigned

Dr. Hany El-Banna OBE, Chairman, Muslim Charities Forum
Abdul Ahad Miah, UK Country Director, Al-Imdaad Foundation UK
Imam Qasim Ahmed, Chairman, Al Khair Foundation
Khalid Al-Fawaz, Chairman, Al Muntada Al Islami
Abdul Razzaq Sajid, Chairman, Al Mustafa Welfare Trust
Anjum Layla Tahirkheli, CEO, Basic Human Rights
Othman Moqbel, Chief Executive, Human Appeal International
Masood Alam Khan, Chairman, Islamic Help
Jehangir Malik OBE, Director, Islamic Relief UK
Saif Ahmad, CEO, MADE in Europe
Syed Sharfuddin, CEO, Muslim Aid
Sabooh Uddin, CEO, Muslim Charity
Syed Lakthe Hassanain, Chairman, Muslim Hands
Tufail Hussain, CEO, Orphans in Need
Tahir Begg, Chairman, Read Foundation UK
Zahid Parvez, President, UK Islamic Mission
Mohammed Athar, Secretary of Trustees, Ummah Welfare Trust

cc. Rt. Hon. Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International Development

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Letter to the Prime Minister regarding the Rohingya Muslims in Burma

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
SW1A 2AA                                                                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday 14 August 2012

End the plight of the Rohingya in Burma and Bangladesh

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you regarding the ongoing plight and impending humanitarian catastrophe unfolding for the Rohingya population in Burma and Bangladesh.

The plight of the Burmese Rohingya has taken a significant turn for the worse following violent clashes with the Rakhan community in western Burma. Government restrictions on humanitarian access to the Rohingyan community have left many of the over 100,000 displaced people in desperate need of food, shelter and medical aid. Malnutrition rates in the northern Arakan state where some 800,000 Rohingya live are far above the global indicator for a health crisis and are likely to further deteriorate as international NGOs have been forced to leave the area.

Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of Rohingya that have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the brutal attacks have ended up as unregistered refugees with little access to aid or assistance. The Bangladesh authorities have refused to help the refugees and have ordered several international charities to cease essential humanitarian aid operations. Conditions in campsites where Rohingya are stationed are atrocious, with disease rampant and standard of living extremely poor.

Our conviction as humanitarian agencies is that all people affected by conflict have a right to receive protection and assistance under International Humanitarian Law.

We understand that the British Government has made contact with Burmese authorities over these issues and we appreciate your willingness to help put an end to the senseless violence and mistreatment of the Rohingya population. We also understand that our Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Andrew Mitchell has encouraged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for allowing humanitarian assistance to continue uninterrupted to the Rohingyas.

While a positive outcome of these official approaches is only to be hoped for, the humanitarian situation has reached a critical juncture. We therefore urge the British Government to take a stronger public stance on this matter and bring pressure from the international media and public opinion circles to bear upon the governments of Burma and Bangladesh to prevent further human rights abuses and ensure that British NGOs active in the area have free access to assist the suffering Rohingya population.

The British Government has an opportunity to demonstrate to the international community that it will not stand aside while gross human rights violations are committed unabated and without opposition. This is a matter of basic human rights for the Rohingya population and one that we must not ignore.

We hope that the British Government will also do whatever it can to assist us in providing relief and aid to the displaced Rohingya of the region.

Yours faithfully,
The Undersigned

Imam Qasim Ahmed, Chairman, Al Khair Foundation
Khalid Al-Fawaz, Chairman, Al Muntada Al Islami
Abdul Razzaq Sajid, Chairman, Al Mustafa Welfare Trust
Dr. Husna Ahmad OBE, Group CEO, Faith Regen Foundation
Othman Moqbel, Chief Executive, Human Appeal International
Dr. Nabeel Al Ramadhani, President, Human Relief Foundation
Masood Alam Khan, Chairman, Islamic Help
Jehangir Malik OBE, Director, Islamic Relief UK
Saif Ahmad, CEO, MADE in Europe
Dr. Manazir Ahsan MBE, Chairman, Muslim Aid
Dr. Hany El-Banna OBE, Chairman, Muslim Charities Forum
Syed Lakthe Hassanain, Chairman, Muslim Hands
Mr Jahangeer Akhtar, Director, Read Foundation UK
Tahir Begg, Chairman, Read Foundation UK
Zahid Parvez, President, UK Islamic Mission
Iqbal Rawat, Project Director, Ummah Welfare Trust
Dr. Asghali G. K. Moledina, President, The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Muslim Communities

cc.       William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development

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