Before I started working in the charity sector, I was wary of admin fees.
Lots of us are, right?
We’re taught to be suspicious of a charity that doesn’t offer a 100% donation policy. We not only question how that charity is using its funds, but we question that charity’s integrity too.
Now that I work for a charity, my viewpoint has changed quite drastically. I no longer hesitate to donate to charities that take an admin fee from my donation. I’ve come to understand that this admin or operational cost is usually fundamental to keeping charities alive and functioning.
But I still understand your concern, mostly because I remember my old concerns.
Right now, Qurbani season has begun, and we’ve been very honest about the fact that we add an admin and operational fee to all our Qurbani prices.
In response, a few people have asked: why?
The reality is that Charity Right has to charge admin fees because of the complexities that come with distributing your Qurbani meat. Performing and distributing Qurbani involves so much more than buying and delivering meat.
So let’s discuss.
What exactly do Qurbani admin and operational fees cover?
There are a whole host of people who need paying. For starters, the animals are slaughtered by local butchers, so we have to pay them for their work.
Another thing to consider is that some organisations will recover admin costs by allowing butchers to take away parts of the animal, such as the skin, hooves, or the tail. But according to Quran and Sunnah every part must be given to the poor, so we make sure our butchers don't take any of the meat and we pay to keep it all.
2. Delivery and distribution
When it comes to actually distributing your Qurbani we have support staff that go out and deliver your donation door to door. Admin fees help cover their salary.
Having this staff is crucial to Charity Right staying true to its aim of doing everything with excellence. We deliver with dignity so our families feel like they’re accepting a gift from a neighbour rather than a package from a charity. It helps them feel human and dignified, and it’s an important part of our Qurbani service.
Another reason we deliver door to door is because, in many areas, it’s too dangerous for individuals to travel to a distribution point, particularly for women and children.
Others live too far away and are unable to travel; for others still, the load is simply too heavy for them to carry.
In some cases, refugees aren't allowed to leave their designated area, so they rely on us to deliver donations to their home.
Without setting an admin fee, we wouldn’t be able to provide this door to door service.
3. The transportation of animals
We need to transport animals from the place of purchase to the refugee camp or village where we’ll be distributing the meat. This can often be time-consuming and costly. The drivers need paying and we also pay for fuel.
When access to camps are restricted, as they sometimes are in Cox’s Bazar, our distribution can be delayed by a number of hours, which means we have to pay the drivers and support staff for the additional time they’ve spent with us.
From an Islamic perspective, it’s a requirement that Qurbani animals are treated well. They shouldn’t be particularly tired or overworked before they’re sacrificed. So instead of making them walk from one city to another, we transport them so there is no hardship on them.
4. Accessing hard to reach areas
We intentionally work in areas that are hard to reach. The people living in these areas find themselves with little access to assistance. They’re often neglected because it’s so difficult for aid to reach them. Working in these remote areas incurs additional costs too. It takes longer to transport the animals to them, and to get their meat to them.
In Cox’s Bazar, where the Rohingya refugees have settled, the roadless camps make it very difficult to reach the refugees. It’s extremely muddy (especially when a monsoon or heavy rain has hit) so the trucks we use to transport the animals can get stuck.
One colleague told me of a time when he witnessed people creating a makeshift road using bricks. The truck full of food would inch forward as each brick was placed on the muddy ground.
5. Packaging for distribution
The packaging of the meat also requires funding. Often we deliver the meat in bags, and of course these bags cost money too.
6. Hiring cooks
In some countries, the people we serve don’t have a kitchen where they can cook their own food. In others, they can’t afford the wood or gas needed to make a fire, and they usually don’t have the necessary facilities to store meat either. Without a fridge or freezer (which also requires electricity that they don’t have) Qurbani meat would expire very quickly in the hot weather.
In Somalia, for example, we feed 2000 internally displaced people who live in a settlement camp. None of them have a kitchen so giving them raw Qurbani meat is unhelpful. For that reason, we cook your Qurbani donation for them and distribute it as a hot meal.
Where there is a need to hire cooks, admin fees help to cover these costs.
7. Evaluation and monitoring
We promise a Qurbani service that adheres to Quran and Sunnah. To make sure that happens, we have Charity Right employees and representatives in each country overseeing the whole process. The admin fees help make this happen.
Being on the ground in each country means we can hand-pick the animals, monitor the slaughter, and manage the distribution, so you can be sure your Qurbani has been performed to a high standard.
Without admin and operational fees, we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do. We rely on these fees to fund every carefully planned step that leads to us putting a plate of food in front of a schoolchild in Bangladesh, or a food pack in front of a hungry family in Sudan.
We can’t perform Qurbani without factoring in the costs of logistics like the slaughtering of animals and the distribution of meat. That’s why we’re comfortable that this is an Islamically- appropriate fee.
Actions that lead to good are also good. In the same way, actions that enable charity is also charity. That’s why you can feed a Quran student in Sudan and expect the reward for his memorisation, even though you didn’t actually provide him with a Quran, or fund his schooling. You enabled his learning by feeding him.
Similarly, admin and operational fees within charitable donations enable that charity to happen. By facilitating charity, it becomes charity.
I am not advocating that we trust all charities without question. Asking questions is a good thing - and we should be keen to know where our money is going. But I also hope we can move into an age where admin and operational fees aren’t viewed suspiciously or negatively. They’re the backbones of most small charities (and lots of big ones too).
From a religious standpoint, the Muslim community can feel comfortable expecting this support to be counted by Allah (SWT) as sadaqah too.
You can donate your qurbani today at charityright.org.uk