The very first Community Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, was established in 1914 by a banker named Frederick Goff in the US. Since then the concept of Community Foundations has been adopted by non-profit organizations worldwide. Today, there are many community foundations that have been founded by Muslims and are major contributors to their communities as well as the needs of the most vulnerable people worldwide.
A Community Foundation is a vehicle for individuals and businesses to administer their philanthropic and charitable objectives to serve the needs of their communities. The outstanding characteristic of community foundations is that it enables donors of all means and capabilities to make lasting contributions to their communities, for the present and the future. Community Foundations do this by providing donors with flexible, efficient and effective ways to ensure that their charitable giving achieves the greatest possible impact.
Sustainability and Perpetual Charity
The concept of community foundations is as ingenious as it is simple. In essence it is designed to ensure that donations, no matter how small, continues to grow over time, leading to bigger and bigger impacts in perpetuity.
Community foundations hold their donated assets as endowments. An endowment represents monetary or other financial donations to a charitable organization that is invested in order to grow the principal and generate income for the activities of the organization. Therefore, the principal donated amount remains with the organization to be re-invested, while the profits from the investment is utilized for activities. Thus, this enables small donations to make huge impacts and the impacts to become bigger over time, even after the lifetime of the donor. At the Maldivian Community Foundation, the Board of Directors will determine the ratio of funds that would be invested and directly disbursed that would make the greatest impact for the present and the future.
Community foundations do not directly implement programmatic activities. They instead act as custodians of the donations, investing it to generate a continuous source of funding for other civil society organizations who are dependent on external funding. The profits from the investments are disbursed as grants to NGOs who are doing work at the ground level in order to alleviate suffering, improve health and well-being and create awareness and education on social issues, and other important works. This has the added advantage of easing the fundraising burden on NGOs so that they may concentrate their efforts on executing their activities. Since the NGOs have the skills and technical capacity to implement activities in their fields of specialisation, this model ensures the best use of the funds.
Islam puts a great emphasis on charity; both financial and actions. Zakat (annual charity from savings and property that have been in possession for over 1 year) is obligatory and one of the five pillars of Islam. Giving charity beyond the obligatory Zakat is greatly encouraged in several places of the Quran as well as Hadith (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W).
The mechanism of community foundations falls perfectly in line with the teachings of Islam on how charity should be made.
- Community Foundations enable us to start making charitable donations immediately.
- Enables donors to start small according to the means of the donor
- Allows donors to remain anonymous
- It is a recurrent and sustainable form of charitable giving
- Grants are continuously evaluated and directed towards the most relevant beneficiaries
MCF would focus on and prioritize the following areas for grants and financial assistance. These areas were chosen as they would allow MCF to achieve a broad scope of tangible impacts.
- Assistance to orphans and widows
- People in need of financial assistance: for financing lifesaving treatment, scholarships for higher education and disaster preparedness/response/relief.
- Provision of food and water:
- Protection of the environment
- Creating public awareness and social cohesion, with a special focus on women empowerment, children’s rights, capacity building of youth, promoting justice and humanitarian values
- Propagation of the message of Islam.
- Building and development of mosques: They are important social centers in Islamic communities and venues for dialogue, education and bonding among community members.