Fundraiser of the Week: Ayesha Malik of Islamic Relief UK

The fundraising operations manager at the humanitarian charity talks to Third Sector about digital giving, the fundraising levy and cakes

Ayesha Malik
Ayesha Malik

What is the best thing about your role?

Mobilising hundreds of volunteers up and down the country to raise funds for Islamic Relief UK, particularly during our Ramadan Cake Campaign, when volunteers deliver cakes for people’s iftar (the evening meal that breaks the Ramadan fast) and raise money for our work in Syria. It’s so inspiring to see young British Muslims who are fasting spend their weekends working together, supporting their communities and raising money for a good cause.

Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?

I have been working in fundraising for more than five years and there has definitely been a shift in the giving landscape, particularly from the community perspective. Just five years ago, donations were predominantly in cash. Now, digital giving is on the rise. In fact, we have seen a dramatic increase in online donation and through new, innovative methods.

For example, in 2016 we introduced PDQ machines to facilitate mobile card payments, and we’ve been using these for collections at mosques, fundraising events and at street stalls. Last year, we raised £180,000 through WhatsApp when our hgead of fundraising sent messages to major donors from the field, demonstrating how funds were being spent in Somalia. And this year, we are trialling contactless-giving devices, which allow donors to tap and go without any hassle.

What is your charity’s main income stream? What are the positive aspects of that and what are the challenges?

Our main income stream is online. The benefit of this is that anyone can give at any time. Most people have access to a laptop, a phone or a tablet. We have a huge supporter base of people who live busy lives and they like the ease of giving with a few clicks. One of the biggest challenges is that the average time someone spends on any one page or post is very short, so we have limited time to put our messages across.

What qualities do you believe are important in a good fundraiser?

Passion! As a fundraiser it is crucial for you to understand and believe in the work of your organisation, otherwise supporters will struggle to buy into it. This for me is "Fundraising 101": the more you know and the more confidently you can speak about your organisation’s work, the more likely it is that you will gain the support of potential donors.

What do you think of the fundraising levy?

I think the fundraising levy is essential for charities to show that they are following best practice. It allows us to work towards a standard that is recognised by a regulating body and holds us to account for any areas that are not up to scratch. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to be accountable for our supporters’ hard-earned donations.

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