Muscat: Charitable organisations and religious leaders have called for more donations during the holy month of Ramadan as this year looks set to be a lean one for good causes.
An analysis by donate.om, a portal designed for organised charity, revealed that in 2015, OMR525,852 in donations were made and in 2016, despite the year of austerity, the figure rose to OMR564,276.
But in 2017 so far, as of yesterday, charitable donations stood at OMR147,382.19 at the end of May, reflecting a marked drop from the previous year.
That drop in cash is linked to a drop in donations with 6,485 donations having been made so far, compared with last year’s 19,972, which means that 2017’s giving is on track to fall short by 8,000 donations during the first six months of this year.
Dr Shamsa Al Harthy, Dar Al Ata’a director, said: “We have seen a larger increase in families coming in for help, more than any other year. However, we’ve noticed that companies have not donated as much as they used to. This may be due to economic circumstances, but we also noticed that companies have been organising their own charity drives with the help of employees.”
“This is a good initiative, and shows enthusiasm, but may be random in nature. They may be giving towards cases that have not been studied or properly vetted.”
“All of our cases have files, and studies on the conditions of families. When we have emergency cases, we immediately conduct a study to speed up procedures towards giving assistance.”
“I think companies may have great initiatives in mind, but should rely on charity organisations that have identified needy cases, because judging by appearances, like the way a house or family looks may not be an accurate depiction of need.”
“I hope that companies go back to collaborating and joining hands with charity organisations, that work very hard to not only identify charity cases, but also identify specific needs that individuals and families require.”
“We have diverse criteria for assistance—from maintenance, to providing electrical appliances, monetary contributions, and other means of support. In this way, charity can go beyond just Ramadan assistance, and support families directly for long term needs.”
Oman Charitable Organisation, the Al Rahma Charity and Dar Al Atta’a remain the top charities in Oman in terms of the amount and preference for donation.
Sabah Al Bahlani from the Association for Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs said, “It is still difficult for NGOs that are offering services, such as our NGO. We have a fixed amount that we have to spend every year and it is very difficult to collect funds as before because of the economic situation, and because we provide services, we have to pay salaries and many companies don’t want to pay salaries, but prefer to pay for projects. So for NGOs that are providing services, the situation is much more challenging, than if you are just doing projects for generating awareness.”
However, Al Bahlani said she hoped for more funds to pour in during Ramadan, “Usually, during Ramadan we see more people donating so we are hoping that during Ramadan, we will get more people to support us.”
Sheikh Hilal Al Rashdi, advisor at the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs (MERA) said there is a greater trend of people giving directly to needy ones, instead of donating through institutes.
“People increasingly prefer to donate directly to the poor, not through charity organisations anymore, it’s because of the good feeling you get when you give someone and you see the direct results in front of you.”
“Islam urges us to give the poor directly—to perform Zakat as you need to make sure you are giving it to needy people. If there is a mediator, you need to be 100 per cent sure that they will give out to the poor. Islam urges everyone to donate, whatever you have is something to other people. So give Sadaqah, the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said to get a way to get away from hellfire is giving Sadaqah or charity. Even if you are poor, you can still give, even giving away half a date can save you from hellfire.”
Badriya Al Ajmi from Al Rahma Charity, which covers ‘Maternity and Child Care,’ said although it’s been a good year so far, the association has witnessed more families coming to seek help. “So far so good; we are not that much in trouble, of course we have more expenses than before as a large number of families are coming in for help, but in general everything is going okay so far.”
“This year private donors have increased, which is a good indication. We hope more people will donate during Ramadan, as it is the usual trend.”