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Why Transparency Around Zakat Matters

Muslim charities that use your zakat correctly should have no problem being transparent and accountable. Here’s a checklist of what to look out for before donating.

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Muslim charities that use your zakat correctly should have no problem being transparent and accountable. Here’s a checklist of what to look out for before donating.

One of the main pillars of Islam, Zakat is a charity God obligates Muslims to pay yearly on their money and property. Its payment is made to the poor, vulnerable, and deserving as their divinely established right

Zakat is an amanah (trust) that many organizations take seriously and will distribute zakat carefully and correctly, but how do you really know? The only way is to choose an organization that is transparent and accountable. 

When you give Zakat, you first should find an organization that is trustworthy and well-respected to help you implement this important pillar of faith. The poor and indigent make up the top priorities of Zakat, and you want to make sure that your Zakat is reaching them effectively and with transparency. 

Check Your Organization’s Credentials with Third Parties

As Muslims, we are encouraged to be informed and take precautions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in God.” When we give our Zakat, we can’t just place blind trust. We need to research the organizations we place our zakat with. Independent charity ratings can help you give with confidence. 

Look at the organization’s Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator ratings. This will help you make a guided choice on who to give with. 

Zakat Foundation of America is a 4-star charity organization with Charity Navigator and is a Better Business Bureau Great Nonprofit. Zakat Foundation is also a member of InterAction and GuideStar. 

What Does Transparency in Zakat Look Like?

Financial Transparency

Transparency is when an organization that handles zakat publishes and shares critical data and financial records. Does the organization have a 100% donation policy when it comes to distributing zakat funds? A reputable humanitarian organization that handles zakat should be able to share how funds are being used. 

At Zakat Foundation of America, an entire section of the website is dedicated to sharing legal and financial information on how all funds are used in audited financial reports, memberships, credentials, and more

Leadership Transparency

Moreover, the organization should be transparent about who is running the organization. Senior staff and board members should be listed on the site and easily accessible. Zakat Foundation of America strives for complete transparency with donors about this. We even share who is on our team and board of directors

Donor Privacy

Do you know its privacy policy when you entrust your zakat with an organization? Does the organization take your name, address, or other basic information and then sell the information? Does your organization even share the privacy policy with you? Zakat Foundation of America takes donor privacy seriously. We respect your privacy and do not rent, sell, or exchange our mailing lists. We do not disclose any personal information to third parties.

Look at the organization’s website to learn more about the donor privacy policy. 

What Does Accountability in Zakat Look Like?

Accountability is when an organization is willing to explain its actions, programs, and more to donors. This looks like updated programmatic work being done in the field. There should be regular reporting on the impact of your zakat. Does the organization share an annual report? See if they share this information via mail or their website. 

Zakat Foundation of America shares a digital version of an annual report but also allows donors to download a printable version of the annual report. 

No matter what organization you choose, we hope you choose with excellence so that your charity weighs heavily on your scale of good deeds!

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