By Dr. Uzma Jafri
Not that I believe in it, but I’m a Libra. Blogger Prepscholar describes Libras
as “well-balanced.” I don’t know if I am well-balanced, but I do know how important it is to be so, and that we all don’t have to be Libras to sense the existence of an internal scale.
There must be a reason why Allah (S) mentioned our internal scales so often to us. Trust your gut. When it feels fluttery, we aren’t balanced. And, I believe many of us know there’s plenty of imbalance out there. The “deep inside of us” is acutely aware that we still don’t have adequate safe spaces for Muslim women in abusive relationships; we don’t have Muslim foster families for all our kids trapped in the system, or culturally competent resources to address Muslim mental health needs. Injustice, inadequacy and inefficiency tip our internal scale the wrong way, and we don’t like it.
We want to push it back in the opposite direction, but it’s SO MUCH. The biggest problems in our community overwhelm us, and too often we shrug them off because “one person can’t do anything,” or “what can we do anyway?” It’s uncomfortable to feel that scale drooping to one side, so we lie to ourselves and say we can’t fix it.
However, we CAN change things by tapping into the networks already doing the work. A lot of the issues sinking us into despair are addressed by charities on shoestring budgets that are understaffed but refuse to get overwhelmed, who let their internal scales remain unbalanced as they put their heads down and work. They do the right thing without worrying about what that internal scale looks like. They trust in Allah (S), whose job it is to balance the scales. Doing the hard work is ours.
Dr. Uzma Jafri; image source: Mommying While Muslim
As individuals, maybe we don’t have the strength and drive of these organizations and charities. But, we sure could give them a hand to tip the situation in the opposite direction in favor of their important work. We can help the helpers. Here’s how:
Imagine if 1,000 women each gave $1 to a nonprofit feeding Muslim foster kids in a group home during Ramadan. That’s $1000! Now imagine that 1000 women got together and contributed $400 each. That’s a lot of money! Can you imagine what it would mean if these 1,000 women with $400 each CHOSE the charities they were going to fund every year?
What you just pictured is a philanthropic “giving circle.” Exactly like it sounds, it’s a group of people who contribute equally to a pot of cash and then decide collectively who gets it. Think of those old-school “kitty parties,” but this is charity-driven. American Muslim Women’s Giving Circle
is a new group of women working with the American Muslim Community Foundation
to provide that large pool of money to three deserving charities. AMCF is a nonprofit that holds the funds, verifies each charity’s eligibility via background checks and financial records, offers its list of vetted charities to the Giving Circle, waits for the Giving Circle to vote on its chosen charities, and then distributes checks to those chosen by the Giving Circle.
One can contribute any amount individually to AMCF, which will be added to the pool of funds. But a donation of $420 or more provides a donor with one vote. This democratizes philanthropy by giving everyone a chance to contribute to a pool that is large and therefore more impactful, and then providing the opportunity to vote equally on who receives it.
Charitable giving is best and most beloved to Allah (S) when it’s hard for us to give it, but $420 is accessible enough, especially with an available payment plan option so that anyone from a college student to a retiree can participate in the Giving Circle. And at one vote each, every donor has equal say in where the money goes.
Sisterhood, democracy and impactful, informed, responsible giving are the tenets of any Giving Circle. It helps straighten that off kilter internal scale because we can do more with more. The world feels a little less daunting and we’ve done something really useful together by tipping the scale in the other direction. If you run a nonprofit that’s struggling, this is how you want to help fund it - at the grassroots level, with women committed to helping the helpers.
If you support nonprofits, this is one way you can get your favorite nonprofit more air time and opportunity to expand its fundraising. Give them a nudge to apply this summer for a piece of the pot. Recruit 20 of your favorite people to join the Giving Circle and have each of them recruit 20 of their favorite people by June 30th, when membership closes.
For more information, click here
or DM @mommyinwhilemuslimpodcast or @amuslimcf, and we can direct you to the right resources. Let’s tip the scale together until it feels right again.
Founded in 2016 the American Muslim Community Foundation is a grassroots, national nonprofit organization in the United States. Our focus is on creating Donor Advised Funds, Giving Circles, distributing grants, partnering on fiscal sponsorships and building endowments for the American Muslim community. AMCF has committed to basic needs, racial justice, and health equity initiatives by distributing more than $3,500,000 to 275 nonprofits. Dr. Uzma Jafri is originally from Texas, mom to 4 self directed learners, a volunteer in multiple organizations from dawah resources to refugee social support services, and runs her own private practice. She is an aspiring writer and co host of Mommying While Muslim podcast, tipping the scales towards that ever elusive balance as the podcast tackles issues second generation Americans have the voice and stomach to tackle.