Charity law to help boost organised fundraising

Charity law to help boost organised fundraising

It is banned to collect donations or advertise fundraising campaigns without prior written approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.

By Ahmed Shaaban/senior Reporter

Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 12:57 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Dubai - With repeated illegal practices and manipulation present at different levels of society, even the act of charity has not been spared. Taking advantage of some soft-hearted philanthropists, many people have taken to cheating and scamming and extorting money in the name of charity and using it for their own personal benefits. Many people have even made begging their profession.

Keeping such malpractices in mind, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued a decree to streamline fundraising and charitable donation on April 20.

Pursuant to the Decree 9/2015, it is strictly banned to collect donations or advertise fundraising campaigns through all forms of media without prior written approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) in Dubai.

Exempted from this law are the campaigns launched by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa, Shaikh Mohammed and Their Highnesses, Members of the Supreme Council, the Crown Princes and the Deputy Rulers.

Also, donations collected by government entities in collaboration with the IACAD in Dubai are exempted.

The decree also prescribed the IACAD to encourage community members to donate, revise and approve fundraising requests, monitor fundraising activities in Dubai, audit raised funds and confiscate any funds raised in violation to the decree and its subsequent policies and procedures.

Any violation of the decree can invite two months to one year imprisonment and a fine of Dh5,000 to Dh100,000, or one of the defined penalties as the court may deem fit.

Employees of IACAD, named by a resolution issued by the Director General, reserve the right to act as judicial officers and may accordingly investigate and document any violations of this decree in coordination with any authorised entity, including the police.

Dr Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General of the IACAD, said contribution may only be accepted if meant for charitable and humanitarian work and goodness in general. “This spans all types of alms, zakat or charity.”

The IACAD is the only body concerned with fundraising or collecting donation, advertising or urging the public and institutions for the same.”

A written approval from the department needs to be furnished before initiating any fundraising, he underlined. “Staff officers, judicially empowered, shall then oversee, audit and investigate all the contributions collected and spent, and even enforce law in coordination with the police.”

 Nonetheless, whoever negatively affected by the decree may submit a petition to the director-general of the department for review, he said. “A decision shall be taken on the same within 30 days.”

 Khalfan Khalifa Al Mazrouie, Chairman of Dar Al Ber Society, told Khaleej Times that the decree is the right precautionary measure that protects philanthropists from falling prey to fraud and racketeering. “It also ensures that the charity collected is delivered to eligible beneficiaries.” The move is expected to have a positive impact on fundraising and charitable donations, he added. “The decree will boost charitable work in the emirate of Dubai while donors will be sure that their contributions are delivered to the right people,” Al Mazrouie said.

Abdullah Ali bin Zayed, Executive Director of the Dar Al Ber Society, said the UAE spares no effort to boost charitable and humanitarian work based on a set of transparent and precise procedures and benchmarks.

“The country has achieved a quantum leap in charity work and has become the first humanitarian capital worldwide with most foreign relief aid contributed in 2013 and 2014,” he said.

Emirates ID a must to receive charity

Also, the Emirates ID card is a must for charity to be given to any eligible beneficiary. The move took effect after the Emarat Al Khair or Emirates Charity web portal was linked with the Emirates Identity Authority whereby 20 charity associations and establishments in Dubai are connected under one umbrella.

Ali Khalfan Ahmad Al Mansoori, director of the Charitable Institutions department, told Khaleej Times that the 20-subsystem project, the first of its kind in the world, helps charitable entities work more proficiently by automating all interior and finance operations for the benefit of donators, donation channels, and beneficiaries.

“The project, worth over Dh13 million, is meant to put an end to duplication and manipulation of charity requests, and lets philanthropists know where exactly their money was given and if the beneficiaries are eligible or not.”

It also enables the IACAD to supervise charitable entities, facilitates licensing them, unifies their database, and provides them with recent technology and train them on it, he added.

Businessman Sherif Al Wakeel said the decree is very timely. “Now, one can be sure that the money he gives for donation goes to only eligible people.”

“I have come to know about some people who approach more than three charity societies at the same time for help, though already and sufficiently assisted by one,” said Wafaa Saqr, teacher.

Islamic researcher Dr Mohammed Ashmawy said the new law will help curb some of the negative phenomena reported recently. “I know some wealthy landlords who insist on begging for charity, and that has badly affected the unprivileged people who are really in need for help.”

“The decree will also help cut down a major source of finance for those terrorist organisations that also illegally collect money for their practices,” said Engineer Essam Mohammed.

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