15 December 2021 by Stephen Delahunty
Policymakers are being urged “to cut back on red tape” because complicated policy barriers are negatively affecting the ability of UK-based Muslim charities to offer international support grants.
A new study by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Bayes Business School found that the demanding nature of policy and compliance processes are a key obstacle in attempts to support under-served communities across the world.
International Grant-making Policy Within Philanthropy in the UK Muslim Context draws on data published in annual reports and accounts and in-depth interviews among grant-makers working within Muslim philanthropy.
The report’s authors argue that as policymaking is having to respond to shifts in expectations from new donors, charities must also grapple with a stricter regulatory environment and increased scrutiny of their practices.
It highlights how there has been little impact assessment of the challenges faced in adapting to new customs, capacity and compliance in other countries, and costs placed on the resources of organisations which operate internationally.
The report points out that while Muslim charities account for just 1.1 per cent of those on the charity register, 25 per cent of regulatory inquiries since 2013/14 involved this group of organisations.
At the same time, “faith is explicitly acknowledged as central to philanthropic giving in general by several, although not all, grant-making organisations”, researchers found.
The study concludes that sharing experiences and having increased dialogue about challenges could lead to more effective, co-ordinated and simplified policy-making processes.
Additionally, international grant-making charities working in Muslim and other contexts need greater opportunities to bring their experience to the table, share knowledge and be fully involved in consultation and change, to maximise their own funding effectiveness.
Cathy Pharoah, co-director of CGAP, said the need to cut back on red tape was even more urgent because of the accelerating need for philanthropic aid across the globe.
“If charities are to reach out further to support remote, poor or under-served communities, they must be able to do so without having one hand tied behind their back,” she said.
“While developing countries are wrestling with environmental crises, as well as the widening wealth gap and cuts to the UK government’s international aid budget, they are being slowed down or hamstrung by demanding protocols that prevent organisations from being more innovative and sustainable in their practices.
“Now is the time for policymaking to better provide for philanthropists, and for government and financial agencies to review how they could ease and encourage the processes for cross-border giving.”
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