UK Muslims Projected to Donate £4bn in Charitable Causes by 2050

Currently, UK Muslims donate approximately £1bn annually.

Currently, UK Muslims donate approximately £1bn annually.

A research report published by the London-based think tank, the Ayaan Institute, reports that UK Muslim humanitarian charities raised £708M for causes in 2020. It also estimates that this amount, combined with Muslim giving to UK charitable causes (including 2752 mosques and prayer venues), means UK Muslims generously give at least £1Bn a year to charity, projected to reach £4Bn by 2050.

The report, “Aiding the Ummah: Analysing the Muslim Humanitarian Charity Sector in the UK”, highlights how seriously the Muslim community takes the payment and distribution of religious dues, Zakat and Sadaqah, to the poor and needy.

The research found there were 1026 Muslim charities with humanitarian objects, run by 4108 trustees, 4509 employees and 10127 volunteers.

There has been a 91% growth in the number of such Muslim charities in the last 20 years. In 2020, this sector raised £708M and spent £611M, a £192 million or 37% growth in income since 2017. However, the top 20 charities accounted for 76% of that income.

The charities operated across 90 countries but were focused on 10 countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Somalia, Gaza, Iraq and Gambia. In total, 2074 projects out of 3171 were carried out in the ten countries (65% of the total). 809 projects were delivered in Pakistan, 529 in Bangladesh, 186 in India, 291 in Arab Countries, 138 for Palestinians and 65 in Somalia.

The report recommends ways for charities to become more strategic and effective. It suggests charities should diversify their projects but also be engaged in campaigning, advocacy and anti-Islamophobia work to help advance the lives of their beneficiaries, such as global refugees and displaced people. It also calls on the media to cover more positive stories about Muslims such as their charitable and community work, to counter negative stories and rising Islamophobia.

Jahangir Mohammed Director of the Ayaan Institute said:

The Muslim charitable sector makes a valuable contribution to UK society, economy, the Muslim community and it helps countries around the world through aid and assistance. This work is driven by the Islamic faith and deserves more recognition”.

The research was focused on Muslim charities in the UK whose main objective was international humanitarian work.

Key Findings

The report found that as of the year 2020, there were 1026 such charities. The number of humanitarian charities has grown from just two in 1960 to 1026 in 2020. Much of this growth (91%) has occurred in the last 20 years, coinciding with the Global War on Terror and increasing poverty in Muslim countries. This is unsurprising, given the chaos and destruction caused by wars and conflict in the Muslim world.

These 1026 charities are managed by 4108 trustees, 4509 employees, and 10127 volunteers. Although the report could not accurately quantify this, it is apparent through name checks and the report compiler’s knowledge that trustees are primarily male. There may be more females among employees and volunteers, but the report could not verify this.

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From 2017 to 2020, there has been a £192 million or 37% growth in the income of Muslim charities in the humanitarian sector. The report estimates that based on a conservative income growth rate of 20% every four years, the sector could raise £4.39bn by 2051.

The combined annual income of these charities for 2020 was £708 million, of which 73% was from general donations. Expenditure for the same period was £611 million, of which 82% was spent on charitable activities. Governance and fundraising together comprise 16% of the total annual spend, or around £96 million. This is in line with averages for similar non-Muslim charities in the sector.

The amount collected and disbursed within the year shows a remarkable level of commitment and energy in a sector managed largely by voluntary effort. This growth occurred during a period when Muslim charities and their work were subject to greater scrutiny by security services and regulatory agencies around the world. This highlights the resilience of the sector in times of adversity.

Despite there being 1026 charities, the top 20 by income accounted for 76% of all income, and the top 10 accounted for 62%. Beyond these 20 charities, there are another 20 charities that have an annual income of between one to six million pounds. Whilst the top 10 charities by income are mostly long-established, there is a younger group of charities that have emerged since the war in Syria, which began in 2011, who are doing well.

If the report were to include all income from Muslim charities working in the UK, including from some around 2752 mosques/prayer venues, community charities, and all the individuals disbursing Zakat themselves, then we can estimate with some certainty that Muslim giving in the UK would easily exceed a billion pounds a year (£1bn) in 2020. Therefore, in terms of income, employment, and skills development of volunteers, the Muslim charity sector significantly contributes to the UK economy and civil society.

Between 2019 and 2021, the Muslim humanitarian charity sector carried out around 3171 projects in 90 different countries worldwide. These countries are also broadly in line with either the ethnic origins of the Muslim population in the UK or areas where there is war, conflict, or natural disaster. In total, 2074 projects out of 3171 were carried out in ten countries (65% of the total). These ten countries were Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Somalia, Gaza, Iraq, and Gambia.

There were 809 projects carried out in Pakistan, 529 in Bangladesh, 186 in India, 291 in Arab countries, 138 for Palestinians, and 65 in Somalia. This reflects the ethnic composition of the UK Muslim population and key conflict zones.

The top 11 broad programme categories within which projects fell were food distribution, education, medical aid, water security, orphans, emergency relief, refugees, winterization, development, women, and children. Food distribution accounted for 27% of the 2074 projects. Whilst food aid benefits everyone, there seems to be a lack of projects specifically catering for the needs of women (2.5%), children (1%), and refugees (5%). Given that wars, conflicts, and displacement most impact these three categories, this is somewhat surprising.

Click here for the full report.