Set a Target Date and Amount

There are two aspects of a fundraising campaign that can do wonders to it: Its target date (or deadline) and its target amount. The deadline gives a sense of urgency to donors so that they don’t delay their donation too long. The target amount, on the other hand, can give a sense of achievement. You see, when (rather ‘if’) a campaign reaches a considerable milestone, for example half of its target, donors start feeling reassured that the campaign is going in the right direction. And once your campaign crosses a bigger milestone, say 80%, donors have an even bigger incentive to donate since it’s so close to the finishing line. All this to say that setting a target before a fundraising campaign, such as before Ramadan starts, is vital.

Marketing messages like ‘We only have 14% remaining to reach our target’ resonate very well with donors.

Donation meter showing 86% collectionIt’s worth mentioning that the target amount you set for a campaign should be based on the need of a particular project or a required payment to make. Don’t come up with a number out of the blue. And certainly don’t set the target amount based on wishful thinking. Keep in mind that if you meet your fundraising target earlier than the target date (or deadline), it’s okay to increase your target amount and continue asking for donations. But, it wouldn’t look good to reduce the target amount half way through a campaign just because you are not receiving enough donations.

Lastly, make sure your campaign’s target amount as well as the progress of your campaign are mentioned in all your communications with donors.

If you are a Masjid with regular attendees (such as for Jumuah or Taraweeh prayers), consider putting up a donation meter and have someone regularly update it to reflect recent donations. Some Masjids prefer to show their campaign donation meter on a TV screen placed in a high-traffic spot. Whether or not you have a physical space for your donation meter, you should always show it on your organization’s website. Also, take screenshots of the donation meter as the campaign progresses and post them on social media. By doing so you are keeping your donors updated and hopefully interested enough to see the campaign cross the finishing line.

Design Marketing Material

If you want to have a fruitful fundraising campaign, whether it be during Ramadan or during the fall or winter seasons, make sure you allocate some time and resources to the design of marketing material. Don’t leave it to the last minute and certainly do not treat it like an afterthought. Give yourself one to two months of preparation time ahead of the campaign. Having well-designed and well-articulated marketing material reflects better on your organization and attracts more attention.

A fundraising campaign should at least have three types of marketing material: a video (or multiple videos), a poster (and/or banner), and a flyer.

The video (or video series) is used online, such as on social media. The poster can be printed and placed at your Masjid. Alternatively or additionally, the banner would be used online, such as on your organization’s website and social media. The flyer, preferably with content on both its front and back sides, would be distributed when visiting other organizations for Jumuah or Taraweeh collections.

When brainstorming the marketing material’s content, make sure to include the following:

  • Campaign name (yes, come up with a name for the campaign!)
  • Your organization’s logo, website address, and contact info (at least email address)
  • Target amount
  • End date (or deadline)
  • Purpose of needed funds
  • Ways to donate
  • Pledge form (on the back side of the flyer)

Below you can find some examples of a poster, banner, and flyer for your reference.

Ecole Ibn Batouta poster
Poster for a campaign by Ecole Ibn Batouta
TLA Ramadan Banner
Banner for a Ramadan campaign by the Tarbiyah Learning Academy
ISK flyer - front
Flyer for a campaign by the Islamic Society of Kingston – Front
ISK flyer - back
Flyer for a campaign by the Islamic Society of Kingston – Reverse

Have a Storytelling Plan

It cannot be overstated how important storytelling is to fundraising in the non-profit sector and by extension to Muslim organizations. After all, through storytelling you can show the great work your organization is doing to the Muslim community. Now, if you want to generate considerable excitement about your Masjid or Islamic School project within your locality and perhaps even beyond it, broadcasting a series of stories during a fundraising campaign is just what you need.

Some fundraising campaigns last a number of weeks, such as Ramadan campaigns. They are a good opportunity to showcase the great work your organization is doing.

So, make sure to plan ahead of time a number of stories to broadcast during your fundraising campaign.

If you’re planning a Ramadan campaign, you can consider having a story to broadcast every few days or even better each day. For campaigns held in other times of the year, you can have multiple phases and choose a story to broadcast during each phase.

A storytelling plan should include different types of stories. For example, you can have a story that narrates how a Masjid project was started, perhaps from one or more of the Masjid’s founding members. Other types of stories can be narrated from the perspective of the Masjid’s volunteers that highlight what it means to them to volunteer for their neighbourhood’s Masjid.

But, the one type of story that must be featured during a fundraising campaign is the one that shows the impact your organization has on those who benefit from it.

For example, an Islamic school could feature the story of a Muslim family with both parents having day jobs who struggle to find the time to teach their children Quran, good manners, and the dua’as they should say in the morning and evening. But, when they enrolled their children into an Islamic school, their children received more structured Islamic education without compromising their academic studies.

Here’s a good example of an impact story. It shows how the IslamInSpanish centre transformed the life of a person and his family to the better

Coordinate Collections from Large Gatherings

There is no doubt that one of the most effective fundraising techniques in the Muslim community is to bring them under one roof, soften their hearts with some hadiths, ayahs, and stories of their pious predecessors, and then ask them to donate. We see this happening at fundraising dinners very successfully, Alhamdulillah. So, why not utilize that same technique during times when the Muslim community is naturally gathering in large numbers, such as for Jumuah prayer, Taraweeh prayer, and Eid prayer?

As a Muslim organization planning an upcoming fundraising campaign, you want to maximize the number of times you get exposed to large gatherings of people from whom you can ask for donations.

We all know it is very common within the Muslim community that different organizations visit each other for Jumuah collections (and Taraweeh collections during Ramadan). Now, given that you have an upcoming fundraising campaign, you can start planning ahead of time and informing other Muslim organizations (most likely Masjids) of your upcoming fundraising campaign and requesting that they allow you to visit their community.

When people have been hearing about your campaign through social media, but didn’t get a chance to support it yet, then see you showing up at their Jumuah congregation asking for support, you are in a favourable position to receive their support.

If you start early enough and follow a good strategy, you can land a good number of collections within your campaign period.

Here’s a five-step strategy that you can get some ideas from when approaching an organization:

  1. Start by asking for a Jumuah/Taraweeh collection within your campaign period
  2. If they do not grant that request, then ask for a joint collection, i.e. one in which you split revenue (you can argue that people usually donate more when there is a visiting organization)
  3. If they do not grant that request, ask for a Jumuah collection any time, even if outside the campaign period
  4. If they do not grant that request, then ask to be given a few minutes after Isha prayer some evening during the campaign period to talk to their congregation about the campaign
  5. If they do not grant any of the above, ask them to at least inform their community through their mailing list about your upcoming campaign

Note: It is always best to approach an organization in person. If you are not able to, then call them. If that is not possible, then resort to email.

Form an Ambassador Team

One proven fundraising technique used often by Muslim organizations, such as Masjids and Islamic schools, is to get their local communities to reach out to their contacts wherever they are in the world and ask them to donate.

Not only does this approach result in generous donations, because the donors are coming in through a reference, it’s a very practical way of widening an organization’s donor base.

Moreover, each ‘ambassador’ to your organization has the ability to leverage his or her contacts in different ways, adding a pleasantly variable dimension to any fundraising campaign.

Just to make it clear, ambassadors are members of an organization’s local community who are, in one way or another, associated with that organization. For example, a Masjid’s ambassador team is usually comprised of regular musallees, active volunteers and Masjid committee members, board members, the imam, and Masjid employees. An Islamic school’s ambassador team is usually comprised of the school staff, school principal, parent support team, high school students, alumni students, and board members. Other types of organizations would have similar ambassadors.

As you prepare for an upcoming fundraising campaign, consider forming an ambassador team.

After all, the burden of raising funds for your organization should not be placed solely on your shoulders.

Share the ajr of building a house of Allah, teaching children good manners, providing relief to the needy, or of giving Dawah. Whatever your organization is involved in, you will certainly have many supporters within your local community whom, with a little bit of guidance, can help a fundraising campaign reach unprecedented levels.

You will certainly want to give your ambassador team some guidance and direction. So, organize an evening some time before a fundraising campaign and invite people from your local community to attend and join your ambassador team. Inform them of the preparations being made and even give them some guidance on what things they can do to help with the campaign.

Consider offering ANFIQ’s Ambassador Training workshop to your local community. At this workshop attendees get introduced to the fundamental principle of fundraising and learn practical ways of reaching out to their contacts using both direct and indirect methods (so there’s no need to feel uneasy about approaching people for donations). The workshop is 2-3 hours long and can easily be given on a weeknight or any time during the weekend.

5 fundraising practices your Masjid can do in the Last 10 days of Ramadan

The last 10 days of Ramadan have a very high significance in a Muslim’s life. Muslims revere these 10 days because the prophet Muhammad (SAAW) did so, and he did so because they contain the most significant night of the year, Laylatul Qadr – a deed done during this night has more reward than deeds done in a thousand months.

The significance of these 10 days is clearly reflected in donor turnout.

It is safe to say that most donations collected by a Masjid in Ramadan are collected during the last 10 days of that month.

Many Muslims delay their Ramadan giving just to benefit from this period’s great blessings. Knowing that, what are some practical steps a Masjid can do to make the most of this highly rewarding giving period?

Here are 5 best-practices:

  1. Offer automated daily donations – The exact night of Laylatul Qadr may not be known, but one way to make sure its reward is not missed, is to donate every day/night during the last 10 days. LaylaTul-Qadr-Daily-Automatic-DonationsThis idea was tested out by an Ottawa Masjid in Ramadan 2018 and received a great turnout and then later emulated by many others. Any Masjid can do the same. Just make sure you have a tool that allows for donors to sign up to have a certain amount deducted from their bank account/credit card automatically every day (preferable every night) during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Also, make sure to announce that initiative ahead of the last 10 days to get people excited and mentally prepared to commit.

  2. Email donors before odd nights – Your Masjid has probably accumulated many donors over the years, some of whom may have already donated to your Masjid in Ramadan. But a fair number may have not donated yet. Plan to send them personal emails before the odd nights of the last 10 days. We’re not talking about sending an email to your newsletter; what is meant here is to actually send a personal email from your Masjid’s imam or president to each and every one in your donor database informing them of your Masjid’s Ramadan campaign and asking them to donate during the upcoming odd night. This may be a bit labour intensive (unless you use an email tool that can automate email sending, such as mail merge), but it is well worth it and has shown to be very rewarding.

    Remember that building hype and momentum play a big role in peoples’ psyche and comfort level when considering to donate. So, if you spread your emails across a number of odd nights, you can have some sort of a momentum built by the night of the 27th (or 29th), which would certainly be in your favour. Keep in mind that momentum is only evident if your donation page shows a donation meter and gives an indication of how recent donations came in.

  3. Hold a mini fundraiser after the last Jumuah prayer – There is no doubt that one of the most effective fundraising techniques in the Muslim community is to bring them under one roof, soften their hearts with some hadiths, ayahs, and stories of their pious predecessors, and then ask them to donate. We see this happening at fundraising dinners very successfully, Alhamdulillah. So, why not utilize that same technique at the Jumuah prayer gathering?

    Of course, one should be extra sensitive to the community’s tolerance levels. We don’t want to be discouraging people from their Jumuah prayer obligation because we take a lot of their time asking for donations. So, a mini fundraiser should be short (just a few minutes), not too pushy, and the Khutbah before it should be shorter than usual. Moreover, having a fundraiser after Jumuah prayer should be limited to just once or maybe twice during Ramadan, one in the beginning and one toward the end of the month. However, there is an exception to this guideline; there are some Jumuah prayer locations that see new faces in large numbers almost every week. So, capitalizing on this fact and making more frequent fundraisers after the Jumuah prayer may be very rewarding.

  4. Designate a special online giving day or period – Giving special significance to one or more days in the year is a very common fundraising technique in the non-profit sector. For example, some non-profits have a one-day fundraising campaign on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  Others have fundraising campaigns on the International Women’s Day. And in recent years, many non-profits have been putting in a lot of effort in Giving Tuesday fundraising campaigns (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States).

    For Muslims, Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power) has a very special significance because its rewards are more than those of a thousand months. And because there are some narrations that point to the night of the 27th of Ramadan being the Night of Power, many Muslims give that night extra significance. Hence, we find many Masjids holding fundraisers during that night (during Taraweeh prayers). But, what can we learn from the giving days held in the non-profit sector that can make fundraising on the 27th of Ramadan even more rewarding?

    The answer is simple: turn the 27th day/night into a giving day (or period) and market it that way. As a matter of fact, this idea was tried out by an Ottawa Masjid in Ramadan 2018 and proved to be very successful. 48 Hours of PowerWhat this Masjid did was organize a special giving period between sunset of the 26th of Ramadan and sunset of the 28th of Ramadan. They even dubbed that period ’48 Hours of Power’ in all their marketing material. The promise was that any online donations made during that period would be matched by a number of local businesses and individuals. Of course the Masjid had to coordinate with businesses (e.g. Halal restaurants) and individuals ahead of the online event. This idea resonated very well with people and, Alhamdulillah, that reflected in donor turnout.

  5. Make the most of the last few days of Ramadan – Having a deadline coming up can do wonders to a fundraising campaign. When there are only a few days remaining in Ramadan, simply reminding donors that the opportunity for donating in this blessed month is almost coming to an end is in effect indirectly asking them to donate before it’s too late. So, don’t let that opportunity slip. Here are some last-minute fundraising initiatives you can do as Ramadan comes to an end:
  • Post on social media an update on the progress of the campaign and mention how close you are to reaching your target goal (best to show a screenshot of your donation meter).
  • If you are like many Masjids and aim to have the whole Quran recited during Taraweeh prayers, give special significance to the Khatm Al-Quran night so that people turn out in large numbers. Take that event as an opportunity to update your community on the progress of your Ramadan campaign, thereby encouraging them to help achieve its target.
  • Send a personal email to those who had donated at the beginning of Ramadan updating them on the campaign and asking them to consider topping up their donation before the end of the blessed month.