Dubai residents must coordinate with local charities in order to raise funds for outside entities.
Fund raisers told of need for registration check
DUBAI // Residents of Dubai who wish to hold fund-raisers for a beneficiary group overseas must coordinate with a charity registered with the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD).
This ensures the money is transferred to the intended charity, because all financial activity of registered charities is monitored, the department said.
Documents needed by applicants include an acknowledgement letter from the charity receiving the donations, and proof of its registration in the country it operates in.
IACAD requires that none of the donated funds is used to cover expenses needed to organise the activity, and that those costs are paid by the organiser.
There is no fee to apply for a permit and the process typically takes 15 working days.
Activities that raise awareness and do not involve the collection of money or goods do not require a permit.
Choosing which charity to support can be a challenge for donors.
According to Charity Navigator, a US-based evaluator, key factors to look for are financial health, accountability and transparency, and its results.
The best charities, it said, are accountable to the public. For example, they should provide financial and audit information on their websites. This is a service rarely provided by UAE charities.
A spokesperson for IACAD said the next best thing was to check that the charity was registered.
Charity Navigator said an organisation should spend no more than 25 per cent of its total expenses on the combined costs of its administrative overheads and fund raising.
Private charities in the UAE that are registered with Iacad are only allowed to use between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of their total expenses on administrative costs, with 10 per cent being the maximum in “pressing situations”.
Public charities, it said, are supported by the Government.
Charities that operate outside Dubai are registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Residents with a commitment to help others but who are worried about how to handle money do have other options.
Gulf for Good, for example, is a UAE-based charity that organises adventure challenges for people who want to raise funds for children’s charities around the world.
The charity, which is licensed by International Humanitarian City, selects the projects to benefit.
Each trip includes between 10 and 25 challengers, and the average sponsorship target per participant per trip is between Dh12,000 and Dh19,000.
Typically, a third of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay the costs of the trip, and two thirds will go towards the charity’s cause.
Most challengers, however, cover the costs of the trip themselves, said Arpana Shetty D’souza, head of operations at Gulf For Good.
The charity does charge each challenger a separate Dh2,200 registration for each trip, to cover its administration costs.
The benefit of volunteering with it is the diligence taken to select where the money is invested, Ms D’souza said. “We partner with third-party organisations to ensure that the projects on the ground are happening,” she said.
“By doing so, we ensure that the money raised is going to that specific project and is not being misused.”
The following associations and charities accept donations and oversee fundraising:
• Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Foundation
• Al Maktoum Foundation
• Dar Al Ber Society
• Dubai Charity Association
• Beit Al Khair Society
• Noor Dubai Foundation
• Dubai Cares
• Red Crescent (Dubai)
• Dubai Foundation for Women and Children
For contact information and a list of charities that do not collect donations but distribute aid, visit www.iacad.gov.ae.