After making waves across the UK it was time to bring our amazing #KidBoss to see our front line work in the field. Shakira wanted to get some hands-on experience on the ground and we hoped to explore what we could learn about our work from a child’s perspective.
The trip was both eye-opening and moving. We visited a feeding distribution programme, a medical unit, a school and ‘The Medina’, our renowned Orphan Home complex. For Shakira, this was the first time she had seen the reality of poverty in the developing world. She saw what it meant to have no electricity, no running water and no toys to play with.
“We’re so alike,” she said, as she skipped and danced with a group of young orphan girls she met on the trip. Shakira could see how these children had the same hopes and dreams as she did, but what they lacked were the opportunity and resources to turn those dreams into reality. “It’s just not fair,” she said, putting into context her first-world problems that seemed so tiny in comparison. Without any direction, she bonded with the children she met, playing games with them and sharing stories with each other.
Children, by their nature, are hopeful, idealistic and innocent, and we often forget that we were once all children with those same values! Somewhere along the way we lose those positive attributes and become sceptical and embittered by our experiences. Our amazing #KidBoss, however, is changing all of that. She’s brought the hopes of her generation to the charity and has reminded us old fogeys that one day it will be her generation in charge!
It’s been especially important for Penny Appeal to have a young person at the helm as it is often young people who are most impacted by poverty. Not only are we learning from Shakira’s experiences and insights, it’s also important that we support and nurture young people and provide role models for our children to aspire to.
On returning to the UK, Shakira has been sharing her stories and has even been featured across mainstream television channels where she has been inspiring millions across the nation with her incredible energy and stories.
Somebody pinch me! 10 years?! Time has certainly flown by! From humble beginnings a decade ago, through the generous support of our donors, the inspiring dedication of our staff and the bold vision of our board, Penny Appeal has become a household name and a global movement that has directly transformed more than 20 million lives.
Although we may have registered as a charity in 2009, the seeds for Penny Appeal were planted many years before that. When I was 8 years old my father unexpectedly passed away, leaving the entire responsibility of caring for our young family to my mother. Despite struggling for many years, my mum made sure our every need was attended to. We may not have had much materially, but our home was always overflowing with so much light and love, and this really became the inspiration for our programme of activities at Penny Appeal. We crafted appeals from the heart and built a humanitarian organisation that was doing more than just giving handouts – we gave people in need a hand up, restored their dignity and broke the vicious cycle of poverty.
Looking back over the years, we’ve come an incredibly long way and I wanted to take a trip down memory lane to share some of my fondest memories and achievements with you all.
Launching our UK Programmes Portfolio
Penny Appeal is a confidently Muslim-led, comfortably British, humanitarian charity. We began with an international focus, however in 2014 we launched our first suite of welfare projects here in the UK. Initially branded as “Love Thy Neighbour” and then later as “Penny Appeal at Home” we wanted to give a clear message to the faith-led charity sector that Britain is our home and we have a responsibility to serve vulnerable individuals and communities as best we can. Our award-winning work has made a real difference to so many lives here in the UK and has been regularly featured on national and international media – and even cited in Parliament!
Penny Appeal Twinning Programme
Building upon our work in the UK, we wanted to further cement our intention of serving those in need across the country – so we made an industry-first decision to launch a unique ‘twinning programme’. Since 2017, for every campaign and appeal we launch around the world, we now have a sister campaign here in the UK. OrphanKind, for example, is twinned with our domestic Fostering and Adoption work, Education First is twinned with our UK Educational Outfit, the Alif Institute – and so on and so forth. Comprehensively serving those right on our doorstep is not a marketing exercise for Penny Appeal, rather it’s putting our money where our mouth is and showing once again that charity really does begin at home.
They say every crisis is also an opportunity. Whether it’s natural disasters or man-made warfare, in the face of emergencies Penny Appeal has been leading the way in responding to the call, channelling the generosity, care and concern of our donors. In recent years we’ve established an industry-leading emergency response programme which coordinates with our global offices and leverages our relationships with various partners on the ground. It fills me with so much honour to know that within hours of a disaster striking almost anywhere in the world, we can respond and help address both short-term and emerging long-term needs of communities who are experiencing humanitarian crises.
Gambia Orphan Complex
The Gambia has become a home from home for everyone at Penny Appeal. We’ve piloted some of our best programmes in orphan care and water-poverty solutions and we have dozens of staff working on the ground, coordinating various projects across the country. With support from the Amir Khan Foundation, after years of blood, sweat and tears, we were honoured last year to officially open “The Medina” – our state-of-the-art Gambian ‘Orphan Village’.
Comprising 10 orphan homes, each home cares for 10 orphan children, giving us a maximum capacity of 100 vulnerable children at any given time. The eco-friendly secure complex has been built to the highest possible standards, with solar panels used to light the facility and power the heating and cooling systems. The Medina also contains a Masjid, herb garden, medical clinic, outdoor play yard and an administration block which now serves as a hub for Penny Appeal’s extensive West Africa development portfolio.
Recruiting global leaders to be ambassadors for our work is more than just winning a quick celebrity endorsement, rather it’s a testament that the exceptional humanitarian work underway at Penny Appeal is being recognised and supported at the highest levels. In the past few years we’ve created winning collaborations with Olympic boxer, Amir Khan, globally renowned singer-songwriter Yusuf / Cat Stevens, business tycoon James Caan CBE and most recently, the entrepreneurial genius behind PureGym, Peter Roberts. This is in addition to a number of collaborations with supporters from across the world from Baroness Warsi to the Mayor of London!
Team Orange – Answering the Call – Grenfell Tower Fire Crisis
In the summer of 2017 we saw one of the UK’s most heart-wrenching tragedies unravel on our television screens. While most of us were left paralysed in horror by what we were seeing, within an hour Penny Appeal’s Team Orange Responders were on the ground helping those in need. In the days, weeks and months that followed, Penny Appeal worked with local communities to empower those impacted and support those working on the ground. While the fire was a terrible indictment on so many who were charged with our well-being and welfare, it was also an inspirational moment to see so many communities band together and cooperate. Team Orange members were recognised by HM The Queen and the Mayor of London, but more importantly than that, we were honoured and thanked by the survivors and those who had lost loved ones in the tragic fire.
Thornes Park HQ aka ‘The Medina’
Perhaps the boldest move for Penny Appeal yet has been the acquisition of our new premises in Thornes Park, Wakefield. Formerly the site of my old school, Wakefield College, the new building has been named ‘The Medina’ and represents the sum total of our collective hopes and dreams for the charity. The new site will be a landmark for British Muslims and bring together the best of our thinking. Plans are shaping up beautifully and I can’t wait to reveal more of what we have in store!
‘Charity Chair of the Year’ 2018
Over the past decade Penny Appeal has racked up an impressive array of awards, achievements and accolades. From trending number one on Twitter for our winter campaign to being recognised for our ground-breaking fundraising efforts and programmes. However, one award in particular stands out on our trophy shelf, being awarded Charity Chair of the Year at the annual Third Sector ‘Excellence Awards’ which highlight the incredible contributions and achievements made by almost 200,000 charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations registered across the UK.
We’ve set out to disrupt the charity sector, and this award recognises our efforts thus far, as well as the incredible dedication of our staff and supporters. Fending off stiff competition from the biggest and best charities in the UK, the award is a testament to the remarkable achievements of our organisation!
Leading a Cultural Shift
As a charity we have pioneered fundraising and community events that have invested in and led a cultural shift in our primary donor community; British Muslims. For example, the first ever Muslim pantomime, which received extensive national media coverage. We’ve also organised charity-themed matchmaking events for Muslim singletons and raised millions of pounds in our annual Super Muslim Comedy Tour.
Around 50% of our staff at Penny Appeal are not Muslim, but the other 50% that are gives us the legitimacy to engage with some of the most dynamic and current conversations in the Muslim community. We do this from a place of genuine concern and care for all our communities.
Penny Appeal has always prided itself on being a youth-led and youth-filled charity. However, with our greying (and balding) heads, we thought it was long overdue to reinject some youthful optimism, energy and creativity into the charity, and hence we introduced our new #KidBoss CEO, Shakira Rahman.
Shakira has a real job that has a real impact, and she is already changing the way we do things at Penny Appeal. Her mission will be to raise awareness about the effect our world is having on our children, because whether it’s poverty, Islamophobia or domestic violence, children are often the worst affected.
Well, that’s our whistle-stop tour of the past 10 years!
I could honestly have listed a hundred more moments and achievements that we have accomplished in the past 10 years, from smashing Guinness World Records to expanding now into more than 50 countries worldwide! None of this would have been possible without the support of people like you, so I wanted to extend a sincere thank you to you all once again for being part of the journey and helping us in whatever way or form you can.
With a simple vision and sincere hopes, Penny Appeal has come a long way in our first decade, but the truth is, we’re just getting started! We have so much more in store for the coming years and decades and I for one can’t wait to get stuck in!
Last week we spent an evening with those nearest and dearest to us looking back and celebrating the incredible milestone of 10 Years of Amazing at Penny Appeal. I’m often asked, what’s the Penny Appeal secret? How has Penny Appeal accomplished so much in such little time?
Well, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s team work that makes the dream work, and here are just a small handful of the stories behind our success.
My Amazing Mum
My inspiration and my hero. When I was 8 years old my father unexpectedly passed away, leaving the entire responsibility of caring for our young family to my mum. Despite struggling for many years, she made sure our every need was attended to. We may not have had much materially, but our home was always overflowing with so much light and love and this really became the inspiration for our programme of activities at Penny Appeal. She believed in Penny Appeal when it was just an idea in my mind and gave me the love and encouragement to turn the dream into a reality.
2. Dr Hany El-Banna
If Penny Appeal has been able to achieve anything, it is because we have had the fortunate blessing to stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. Dr Hany is one of those giants. From day one he has been one of Penny Appeal’s strongest supporters, sharing wisdom from his decades of experience. He’s never been one to hold back on frank, constructive and specific feedback, helping us grow in untold ways. We are forever grateful for his continuous support and guidance.
3. Mary Creagh MP
Mary has been my Member of Parliament for almost 15 years and since the early days of Penny Appeal I’ve been fortunate to be able to call her a friend too. She has flown the Penny Appeal flag from her constituency in Wakefield all the way to the Houses of Parliament. Her ongoing commitment to Penny Appeal remains a central pillar that supports our work both at home and abroad.
4. Sir Rodney Walker
Sir Rodney is one of the most accomplished and inspirational people I’ve had the fortune and pleasure of knowing. With a lifetime of experience leading charities and large-scale organisations, Sir Rodney is a man of the city and has always been particularly moved by our investment into Wakefield. His guidance, mentorship and support have gone a long way to help transform Penny Appeal from a small-scale idea into a movement that transforms lives around the world.
5. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
Lady Warsi is one of the most senior British Muslim politicians and has been a personal and organisational inspiration and support. She is the embodiment of wisdom, talking the talk and walking the walk – in a stylish salwar kameez too! She has championed our work in the corridors of power and has collaborated with us on social mobility programmes for young people in our area. Her sharp, positive, can-do attitude have helped make Penny Appeal who we are today.
6. Small Change, Big Difference Awards
If it was up to me, I’d give every staff member, board member and volunteer a big shiny trophy. It was a real honour, nonetheless, to award a handful of especially remarkable individuals who have contributed to Penny Appeal in their own ways, shaping us into the charity we are today. Pictured here is one of our long-term supporters and friends, Ahmad Bostan. His energy and passion for the charity is infectious and he has been championing the charity from our very first appeal many, many years ago.
7. Aamer Naeem OBE
What can I say about our Chief Exec, Aamer Naeem? His dedication, vision and sheer hard work is perhaps the primary reason why we are where we are today. He has led our growth, nurtured our teams and taken us far beyond our own imaginations with his brave and bold leadership. We are incredibly proud of him, not least given his recent OBE in the New Year’s Honours List. I’m proud to have him as our CEO and even prouder to call him my friend.
8. Sharing the Journey
Part of where you’re going is knowing where you’re coming from, and so as Penny Appeal has grown, it’s important that we remind our existing staff and supporters and inform our new ones about where and how we began. It was those humble beginnings, taking small change and making a big difference with it, that catapulted us to where we are now. We should never forget that. As our charity evolves to rise up to new challenges, it’s important that we always keep our feet firmly planted on the ground, and this is one of the messages I shared on the night.
9. Team Orange
There are so many people that deserve our thanks; too many to mention. All across the UK and even around the world we have people who support us, work for us, advise us, guide us, volunteer with us, donate to us and pray for us. It’s their hard work and their heart work that have both made the charity what it is today and what it will be in the coming years and decades. Old faces leave and new faces arrive all the time and each of them leave their mark in their own little way. So, to each and every one of you, a sincere thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.
10. Three Generations
I wanted to end with this picture here that really encapsulates the spirit of our 10 year celebration. Dr Hany El-Banna called me and our new amazing #KidBoss to the stage to celebrate three generations of humanitarian work. Just as we build on the work of the giants that came before us, so too must we build for the generation to come. Our Child CEO reminds us that all that we do will be passed on to the next generation. What we hold in our hands is a trust for them and it is they who will take our charity far beyond anyone’s imagination. I just hope I live long enough to see it!
Penny Appeal has always prided itself on being a youth-led charity. Having set it up when I was still in my 20s, we offered the faith-led charity sector a breath of fresh air. Dynamic, responsive and in tune with emerging trends within our communities, our youth-led strategy catapulted us to soaring heights.
However, it’s been a long time since then. This year we are celebrating ‘10 Amazing Years’ at Penny Appeal and have come to realise we’re not quite the young spirits we once were when we started all those moons ago! Conscious of our greying (and balding) heads, we wanted to re-inject some youthful, wide-eyed wisdom into the heart of Penny Appeal and so we’ve made a ground-breaking move to appoint the very first child-CEO of a charity!
Introducing Shakira Rahman, our 11-year old amazing Kid Boss! Shakira now enjoys unprecedented access to the length and breadth of the charity, from visiting our programmes across the UK and around the world, to spending time with our different teams, offering unique insights and wisdom that only a child’s mind can offer.
Research by the Charities Commission demonstrates a lack of representation of young people serving on the board of trustees for charities. In fact, 92% of trustees are between the ages of 55 and 64 years old.
At Penny Appeal we like to buck the trend and hence, we’ve broken from tradition to bring a young person into a position where they could have real impact within the charity and the world beyond!
Children are naturally curious, hopeful and matter of fact, their innate optimism and energy naturally inspire change. They are directly vested in the future as it is they who will inherit the world that we hand over to them. Appointing Shakira into a real job that has a real impact is already changing the way we do things at Penny Appeal. Her mission will be to raise awareness of the effect our world is having on children, because whether it’s poverty, Islamophobia or domestic violence, children are often the worst affected.
One of Shakira’s first assignments as our Kid Boss was to visit Penny Appeal’s state of the art orphan complex in The Gambia. There she got a real sense of the work we are doing and the big difference it is making to orphan children’s lives. Shakira went to school for the day in The Gambia and spent time playing and talking with the children. Seeing her interact with the children was eye-opening. She was able to connect on a much more personal and relatable way, exploring how surprisingly similar her life was with those of the orphan children, and how the small change of our generous donors made a big difference in their lives.
Penny Appeal has come a long way in 10 years but in reality, we’re just getting started. The charity has grown far beyond my hopes and dreams for it and with bright sparks like Shakira at the helm, I can’t wait to get stuck in the next 10 years, onwards and upwards!
They say your days in college are some of the best times of your life. I remember hearing that when I was younger, running between classes, cramming for my A-levels, trying to stay out of detention – surely this wasn’t what they were talking about? I was so eager to achieve more, to see the world and make my mark that I never stopped to appreciate what was right in front of me. Looking back at it all now, I’d do anything to go back to those golden days, and with Penny Appeal’s newest and most ambitious project to date, I will be.
The best of my formative years were spent in Wakefield College. It was there that my teachers, Tony and Ron, organised my first-ever work experience, giving me a chance to look beyond my own horizons and dream a little bigger. It’s no understatement to say the college has made me who I am today. That work experience became a job, that job inspired me to set up a business, and that business led to Penny Appeal; a twice-Guinness World Record holding, multi-award winning humanitarian agency, credited as one of the fastest growing and most impactful charities in its sector.
Enclosed within the grounds of Thornes Park, one of Wakefield’s most beautiful green spaces, the college has an incredible 150-year history of educating the students of Wakefield. Ever since graduating I’ve kept a close relationship with my teachers and the school’s board, and in 2011 I was honoured when they nominated me as an alumnus for a prestigious ‘Hall of Fame’ Association of Colleges award. That year, I was guest of honour at the college’s graduation ceremony, handing out certificates to the graduating class and addressing the students with some words of wisdom.
As the years have passed by, much of my old campus in Thornes Park has fallen into disrepair and Wakefield College has moved most of its operations closer to the city centre. When I heard that they had listed the site for sale, I pounced on the opportunity to return to the college that had given me so much.
Walking through the building on our first survey of the site brought back a flood of memories. These were the same corridors where I dreamed up ideas to move the world, and by the time I left the building I was convinced that these could be the same corridors where those dreams can continue to become a reality each and every day.
Fast forward a few months and I was honoured to sign the papers officially transferring ownership of Wakefield College’s Thornes Park Campus to Penny Appeal, where it will serve as our new international headquarters. The move represents the culmination of my dreams as an entrepreneur and humanitarian, and builds on the deep roots that we have laid down within this city.
Sam Wright, Wakefield College Principal, Adeem Younis and the President of the Association of Colleges, Lord Willis. Representing Wakefield College back in 2011. Won the prestigious national ‘Hall of Fame’ Association of Colleges Award.
As we approach our ten-year anniversary, the Penny Appeal story has come full circle. After consistently delivering on an international and national level, we are now redoubling our efforts in create a local footprint in Wakefield, resisting calls to move to major cities, and choosing instead to invest into the infrastructure and communities of Wakefield. I know the value and power of local investment. I am a product of it. Just as Wakefield College invested in me, Penny Appeal is investing back. Our commitment will ensure job creation across the region, as well as a sustained contribution to the economy of Wakefield and its surrounding areas.
The new site will be the platform to take our vision for humanitarianism to the next level. Just like Tony and Ron did for me, I hope that the work we do from this revived campus will expand the horizons of generations of young people, helping them dream a little more and helping to turn those dreams into realities too.
I can’t wait to share with you all that we have planned for the Thornes Park campus; the site will be a unique landmark unlike anything else in Yorkshire, a cultural hub with services for local communities that is set to inspire the world. Stay tuned for more updates and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
The dust has just settled on our fourth side-splitting Super Muslim Comedy Tour in aid of Penny Appeal’s transformative education programmes around the world.
The Super Muslim Comedy Tour began in 2015 as an effort to reframe our narrative by telling our own stories and championing the talent within our communities. It’s truly an honour to see the standard of comedy on stage improve year-on-year, with many of the acts we have worked with – and still work with today – now breaking into the mainstream and shaking things up in the entertainment industry.
It’s no secret that British Muslims are among the most discriminated communities in the UK, and with the rise of Islamophobia our community is one that often feels marginalised and under threat. Conscious of this context, and as a charity committed to innovation and sustainability, we shape our fundraising efforts in ways that enable us to give something back to our donor communities. The medium of comedy is the perfect choice: it encourages a unique kind of healing while also recognising the privilege we have to be able laugh together in a safe space while so many around the world, and here in the UK, are not so fortunate.
The sold-out 10-city tour brought together a range of diverse comics who teased us with reflections on the quirky particulars of the Muslim experience. Growing up in the media and on TV, I was never able to fully identify with the characters and storylines that were presented to me. When Muslim characters and stories did make their way on-screen, it was almost always a negative portrayal.
There is of course more to Muslims than taxi drivers and terrorists, and our brilliant comics dazzled us with hilarious stories and musings on everything from Biriyani to Brexit. At the same time, we were able to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for our Education First campaign, helping to open new schools so more children can learn to build brighter futures.
Supporting the creative arts has become a hallmark for Penny Appeal, and our teams are already hard at work for our next tour, The Great Muslim Panto, back by popular demand with 20 incredible performances lined up across the country. We can’t wait!
Did you catch any of the performances while we were on tour? Who was your best act? Share your reflections in the comment section and God Willing we will see you on our next tour!
The annual Third Sector ‘Excellence Awards’ highlight the incredible contributions and achievements made by almost 200,000 charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations registered across the UK.
Over the years, Penny Appeal has been nominated for dozens of awards, highlighting everything from our unique corporate partnerships to our innovative fundraising campaigns. Last week, with stiff competition from some of the UK’s most prolific charities, Penny Appeal was awarded the prestigious “Charity Chair of the Year Award”, a testament to the remarkable achievements of our organisation.
The past year has seen our charity grow in so many different directions, and that has only been possible thanks to the outstanding commitment made by our board, staff, donors – and crucially – our volunteers. It might say my name on the trophy, but I stand on the shoulders of giants: including individual who has worked with us since our inception.
This year we’ve established and evolved meaningful partnerships with leading organisations, including the Amir Khan Foundation, the Department for Education and the Jo Cox Foundation. We have also collaborated with veteran investor James Caan and forged a very special relationship with JustGiving.com
We’ve set out to disrupt the charity sector, and this award recognises our efforts thus far, as well as the incredible dedication of our staff and supporters. The truth is, we’re just getting started! With our ten-year anniversary around the corner, we have so much more in store for the sector and society as a whole!
So, if you’re a charity or run a business or you’re looking for a career change, get in touch! There’s an incredible amount bubbling underway at Penny Appeal and we’re always actively pursuing new relationships and partnerships. It’s our teamwork that makes the dream work! Who knows, you could bring the small change that helps us go out and make an even bigger difference to those most in need across the UK and around the world.
Growing up, I doubt I could have located The Gambia on a map, let alone imagine that one day I would call this small strip of West African coast a home from home. As Penny Appeal’s work in Pakistan began to take off, we understood that there was so much more to do around the world. Although poverty looks different in different places, its root causes are remarkably similar and with our growing team of development experts we set about developing Penny Appeal’s global strategy, with our hearts set firmly on West Africa.
Our relief efforts have always been two-pronged, to work in the short to medium term in immediately offering welfare and aid but also to strategically work in the medium to long term, creating sustainable solutions that help bring communities out of poverty once and for all.
Through past experiences and connections, we knew The Gambia to be one of Africa’s poorest nations, ranking 172 out of 186 countries on Earth, the poverty is widespread with approximately three quarters of the rural population classified as poor or extremely poor. Thus, The Gambia soon became home to a number of Penny Appeal’s poverty-cycle-busting interventions, many of which were pioneered in Pakistan.
As our work was growing, so too was our reach to communities in the UK and this is when we connected with boxing champion, Amir Khan. Having one foot in the ring and the other firmly planted in his career as a humanitarian, the Olympic-medallist took a keen interest in our work around the world and in particular sought to invest in longer term solutions to serving those in need.
Sitting down with the dedicated team at the Amir Khan Foundation and our Penny Appeal staff, we went about designing a larger-scale, sustainable solution to tackling poverty in the Gambia. Finally, this week, after 3 years of blood, sweat and tears, we were honoured to attend the official completion of “The Medina” – Gambia’s state of the art ‘Orphan Village’
The project represents a 7-figure sum investment into serving generations of impoverished children in West Africa and creating jobs for dozens of local staff. “The Medina” is the first of many Penny Appeal complexes that seek to build communities from the ground up, offering the high impact interventions that very genuinely and holistically transform lives for the better.
The Medina Orphan Village contains 10 Orphan Homes, with each home able to cater for 10 orphan children, thus reaching a maximum capacity of 100 vulnerable children at any given time. Each Oprhan Home will also have a dedicated foster mother who is trained to care for the children as if they were her own. The eco-friendly secure complex has been built to the highest possible standards, with solar panels used to light the facility and power the heating and cooling systems. The Medina also contains a Masjid, herb garden, medical clinic, outdoor play yard and an admin block which now serves as a hub for Penny Appeal’s extensive West Africa development portfolio.
It has been one of the highlights of my life as a humanitarian to see this Orphan Complex become a reality and it stands a testament to the incredible generosity of the donors and supporters of both Penny Appeal and the Amir Khan Foundation. Of course, it would not have been possible without our incredible team on the ground led by the inimitable Atabou Aidara, the CEO of Penny Appeal West Africa, who has dedicated his life to serving those in need across his home country and beyond.
Finally, I would like to give a very special thanks to our patron and friend, Amir Khan. His career as a boxer and much-loved British celebrity has only been surpassed by his passion and dedication to humanitarian work. It would be easy for him to simply sign a cheque to a charity and then revel in the great work that he has enabled, but that’s not the way of the champ! Just days after his last knock-out win, Amir was on tour with Penny Appeal UK and the Amir Khan Foundation, raising crucial funds for another important campaign. He has dedicated so much of his personal time to raise funds and awareness, as well as taking an active role in overseeing how the funds are spent, rolling his sleeves up and not being shy to get his hands dirty with hard work!
In true humanitarian spirit, Amir is already talking to us about our next ‘Medina’ Orphan Complex, so watch this space! Be sure to check out our videos from our recent trip and get in touch if you’d like to be involved in this or in future projects and trips!
Founder of the UK’s largest Muslim website SingleMuslim.com and chairman of Britain’s fastest-growing Muslim-led charity Penny Appeal, award-winning entrepreneur and humanitarian making a difference around the world.
With Ramadan just around the corner, I’m reminded of a deeply profound saying of our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, who said: “He whose two days are equal, is a loser.”
It’s a pretty bold reminder. Every day should build on the last. Staying the same is effectively going backwards. Every day must improve on the last in some way or form, not least in our spiritual endeavours. Likewise, week on week, month on month and year on year, we should be taking stock of what we’ve accomplished and seeking to advance ourselves and the work we do.
In the charity sector, Ramadan is our busiest time of the year and it can be tempting to simply rehash tried and tested events, programmes and campaigns. But staying the same is going backwards and what has made Penny Appeal unique is our eagerness to embrace new challenges and shift paradigms in our sector and beyond.
In that spirit, I’m especially honoured to present to you a project close to my heart and something we’ve been working doubly hard to launch ahead of Ramadan – introducing SalaamGiving – the ultimate Muslim crowdfunding platform.
Colleagues from across the charity world will have noted how the giving patterns of donors is changing, with crowdfunding now one of the fastest growing forms of online donation. Over the past year we have been fortunate to spend some time bouncing ideas with the team at industry-leading tech-giant JustGiving.com. Their story is incredible, having amassed a community of over 22 million donors who have collectively raised over $4.5 billion for charities across the world.
Key to that success has been the vision and leadership of co-founder Anne-Marie Huby. She set up JustGiving around the same time I set up SingleMuslim.com and her ‘tech-for-good’ model mirrors our experience of driving sustainable philanthropy through entrepreneurship. What was incredible about our exchanges was how willing Anne-Marie and her team were to explore new ideas and push through frontiers that they hadn’t considered before – it’s no surprise they have led this industry for as long as they have.
Together we began by exploring some of the data that the JustGiving team was able to extrapolate from tens of millions of donations made on their platform. As we expected, and much to their surprise, the JustGiving found their Muslim donors gave significantly more to charitable causes and campaigns than their non-Muslim counterparts.
Penny Appeal alone raises millions of pounds. When you consider all the other Muslim charities in the UK (and beyond) we learned that JustGiving has a massive sub-community of Muslim donors, but no mechanism to communicate with them effectively and direct them to campaigns and causes that may be of interest. When you consider the hundreds of millions of pounds that Muslims donate year in and year out, it seemed like a massively untapped opportunity. So, alongside friends across the charity spectrum, we sat with Anne-Marie and her team to design an all-new crowdfunding platform tailored for Muslim communities and powered by JustGiving – and together we are proud to present: SalaamGiving.com
Our mission at SalaamGiving is to make donating as easy and as meaningful as spreading the peaceful greeting of ‘Salaam’. We’re drawing upon the expertise of the entire Muslim charity sector to launch life-saving campaigns to a dedicated community of donors, offering the most competitive rates and the best possible platform to help nurture, grow and inspire an ecosystem of Muslim giving.
There really is nothing like SalaamGiving out there at present and my sincere hope and prayer is that this new initiative will serve as a platform for a whole range of different charities and campaigns. And doubly-excited that this Ramadan we have an astounding £20,000 up for grabs (you heard it here first folks)! Every day of Ramadan there are cash prizes to be won for the best campaigns on SalaamGiving – raise the most that day and you win cash for your charity of choice! There are even special bonuses each weekend and a top prize of £10,000 for the page that raises the most by the 27th of Ramadan – so if you’re planning to support a charity, either by donating or fundraising, there’s no better place than SalaamGiving!
No two days are the same in our offices and we take that as a positive sign and a blessing. Our hope this Ramadan is not just to grow ourselves, but to be a springboard for others to grow too, and as we’re taught in our tradition, the best way to grow, is to give. Bismillah. Can’t wait for the blessed month to start!
(PS Visit SalaamGiving.com to learn more – if you’re interested in partnering up with us get in touch)!
Founder of the UK’s largest Muslim website SingleMuslim.com and chairman of Britain’s fastest-growing Muslim-led charity Penny Appeal, award-winning entrepreneur and humanitarian making a difference around the world.
We’ve had a phenomenal response to our #AsBritishAs A Cup of Tea campaign. So much so that we were trending as number 2 on Twitter on Christmas eve! With so much negativity purported around our faith, we wanted to showcase the incredible contributions British Muslims make to wider society, day in and day out.
I’ve scoured through twitter and plucked out these top 10 tweets – enjoy!
This picture just exudes class! Great to have Apprentices’ Bushra Shaikh back our campaign with strawberries and cream!
3. Creative Director, Bilal Hassam
#AsBritishAs Nigel Farage getting a kebab from his Muslim owned takeaway, then relying on his Muslim taxi driver to take him home after a night out (that's if he hasn't ended up in A&E getting treated by a Muslim doctor) then waking up saying Muslims do nothing for this country!!
Last but not least, our local Police Commander, Mabs Hussain gives us a special shout out. There’s no doubt he wouldn’t be where he is today without the Sherlock Holmes in him!
Hope you enjoyed those tweets. Don’t forget to share our ad on your social media channels and let us know what you thought!
Founder of the UK’s largest Muslim website SingleMuslim.com and chairman of Britain’s fastest growing Muslim-led charity Penny Appeal, award-winning entrepreneur and humanitarian making a difference around the world.