Islam­ic Aid: fundrais­ing strategy

Exhibited by
Mahmood Hassan
October 26, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, online, posters
Target Audience
Individuals, planned gift, single gift
Type of Charity
International relief/development, poverty/social justice
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Islamic Aid is an impressive charity that has grown dramatically in the space of just eight years, with an income now approaching £12 million. More importantly, it has built a donor file of more than 52,000 active donors and this number continues to grow. Islamic Aid’s continuing success has only been possible because the charity has followed a detailed, clear strategy for growing its fundraising. Without this, it would not be able to fulfil its important mission.

Summary / objectives

Islamic Aid is a relief and development charity that seeks to make immediate and lasting improvements to the lives of people affected by poverty, war and disaster.

Islamic Aid exists solely to fundraise and then use those funds to support aid programmes in many of the poorest areas of the world, including countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Somalia and Sri Lanka.

In 2000, the organisation set out to do this work on a zero budget and in the space of less than eight years it has managed to raise £ 12 million and recruited over 52,000 donors.


Since its inception in 2000, the charity has recorded increases of up to 25-35 per cent in year-on-year fundraising income and has a current annual turnover of £2.85 million, all of it raised from individual donors.

So how did Islamic Aid get here?

The effectiveness of this fundraising lies in having a strong strategy with clearly defined goals, backed by sophisticated profiling and targeting of the charity’s key audience and extensive and ongoing analysis of results. Volunteers and temporary staff are recruited to handle the administration of specific campaigns. The charity has tight coding and administrative controls, which mean that over 92 per cent of donations can be traced to the source campaign, appeal, or specific fundraising activity.

The fundraising strategy has been to use direct mail, leaflets, brochures and a website to communicate with Islamic Aid’s audience. The charity has access to a database of over one million Muslims living in the UK, and also communicates to a wider public.

Part of the strategy has been to focus on tax-efficient giving, which has proved very successful, with 66 per cent of income being Gift Aided. By the end of 2009 Islamic Aid hopes to take this to 70 per cent.

Finally, the charity is always careful to thank donors immediately by personal letter every time they send a gift. Donors are always addressed personally and their past generosity is always recognised.

Special characteristics

Donors are able to sponsor their own project (e.g. the building of a well) and to sponsor a child, right up until adulthood. Some ideas are specific to the Islamic religion, i.e. giving poor families goats or cattle to rear for a year prior to Qurbani*, providing food and income to a family and a valued service to the wider community.

Influence / impact

An increasing number of organisations operating in the same countries as Islamic Aid are recognising the success of the charity’s fundraising activities. Many have copied elements in Islamic Aid’s fundraising campaigns for their own purposes e.g. sponsoring digging a well in the donor’s name, giving goats to a family prior to Qurbani, etc.


Islamic Aid is committed to testing and reviewing all fundraising methods. The charity uses spreadsheets and records to create a detailed analysis and to break down all fundraising activity and results. This provides vital management information for further targeting of campaigns, as well as focusing content on topics with the widest appeal.


At the time of writing (2009), yearly governance costs are £61,300, with a further £153,640 spent on fundraising.


From a standing start in 2000, the charity has raised over £12 million and has a current annual turnover of £2.85 million. Growth has not only been consistent, but shows a year-on-year increase in fundraising of up to 20-30 per cent. The charity has built up a large database of 52,000 donors. Particularly pleasing has been achieving the high level of gift aided income.

For every £1 donated by individual donors, Islamic Aid has been able to allocate £1.18 on its charitable work.


This is the story of how a charity has managed to raise millions, beyond its expectations, through the careful targeting of its audience, by keeping good records of all its donors and ensuring that every donation is maximised through Gift Aid.

Other relevant information

*Qurbani is performed on the blessed day of Eid-ul Adha. It is a day of celebration and remembrance of Allah.