Al-Mizan Charitable Trust is a Muslim grant-funder which supports disadvantaged people and deprived communities across the UK, regardless of their faith or cultural background.

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FAQs Relating to the Trust

1. How do you define 'need' and 'poverty'?

Al-Mizan Charitable Trust recognises that need is relative, based on the individual circumstances of a person. The 'need' of a disabled person is very different to the need of foster-child. Although we have a tendency to think of 'poverty' in terms of a lack of subsistence, for example food and shelter, a person's 'need' is based on their ability to maintain a dignified existence above the poverty-line with the capacity to actively engage in society. This definition recognises that people need more than food and shelter to survive. They 'need' the means to access facilities, services and opportunities, including education and employment, which allow them to break free from the perpetuating cycle of 'poverty', which characterises their lives.

2. What experience do your staff have in processing grant applications?

Our Trustees and Staff include wide-ranging professionals from across the voluntary sector who have experience in applying and assessing grant applications. New staff have also undertaken training with the Association of Charitable Foundations. Our assessment process has been developed and tested over the last year, with support from many existing grant-funders, including LionHeart, Family Action and Independent Age. We have benchmarked all our policies and internal procedures against existing quality control models from the sector.

3. Do you help people with practical support in the community?

Al-Mizan Charitable Trust provides and administers financial grants and interest-free loans to members of the public. However, we do not deliver social services directly in the community. Our defined remit is to empower individuals and families with the financial capability to better their own condition, whether that means purchasing specialist products and services or accessing training and employment schemes.

4. How do you process applications?

We have developed a seven stage application process that includes an assessment of the need of the applicant based on individual social circumstances, telephone interviews and/or home-visits, analysis of the income and expenditure of applicants in relation to recognised models as well as reference and security checks. For the purpose of fairness, applications are scored and verified by at least two members of the Management Committee.

5. How do you 'measure' whether someone is poor or deprived?

Measuring poverty is a crude process, and throughout our assessment of an application, our Grants Officers try to empathise with the specific challenges faced by an individual or a family. However, like all organisations, we use a model which assesses the income and expenditure of the applicant using statistical data from a wide-range of sources including the Department of Work and Pensions, the Minimum Income and the Living Wage Campaign. Our model also allows our Grants Officer to apply discretion in consideration of our ethos and values as a grant-funder and the individual need of the applicant. To avoid fraudulent activity, it is the policy of Al-Mizan Charitable Trust not to disclose further details of our assessment model.

6. Why are the names of individual Grant Officers not available on your website?

The Trust maintains a strong ethic of fairness and accountability in relation to applications for funding. Whilst our Grants Officers are recruited through an open and transparent process, we prefer to maintain the anonymity of Grants Officers so as to ensure there is no conflict of interest or attempt to influence the decisions made by the Grants Panel.

7. Why do you need to give people money, when they can access benefits from the state?

Although the UK has a complex welfare and benefits system, it is far from perfect. By its very nature, it cannot deal with the complexities of individual family circumstances and the differing needs of disadvantaged people. Whilst benefit payments may suffice for one single-mother, it may be far less than what is needed for another single-mother, with a very different story. The reality is that for most, benefits pay for only food and shelter; they don't pay for the opportunities which will break the dependency on benefits. All of this does not consider the many people who are ineligible for benefits, simply because of their circumstances, their age, their health or the structure of their family. And it doesn't account for when benefit payments are delayed for months, leaving individuals and families without anything to live on. Benevolent societies and grant-making trusts have traditionally been the safety-net for many such people.

8. How do you know that your beneficiaries will not become dependent on grants?

Whilst some grant-making organisations provide regular grants to their beneficiaries, the Trustees have indicated that this is not the policy of Al-Mizan Charitable Trust. Additionally, if we feel that an applicant will have some means to repay the funding, we will only issue an interest-free loan. Although some of our grants are for the purpose of subsistence, that is to say, day to day living costs, the vast majority of our grants and loans are for one-off purchases that will improve an individual or family's quality of life or developmental opportunities, such as accessing training opportunities. Generally, we are only willing to provide one grant every financial year, and in the case of subsistence costs, one in every three years. If a beneficiary has received a grant every year for the last three years, it is unlikely that we will fund a further application, unless two years have elapsed.

9. How is the Trust different from other grant-making bodies?

Al-Mizan Charitable Trust is a new grant-funder, and the only Muslim grant-funder to individuals in the UK, regardless of their faith, culture or background. We pride ourselves in being a young, ambitious charity, run entirely by a committed team of volunteers. We are a pioneering charity, entrepreneurial in our approach and continually developing our processes and systems. We stay abreast of the different challenges facing disadvantaged communities across the UK and this is reflected in our grant-making policy. We consider our responsibility to our donors as important as our duty of care to our beneficiaries. We are visionary, forward thinking and take a long-term view in our growth and development.

10. How do you know that your beneficiaries use grants/loans as they were intended?

When a grant or loan is approved, the Grants Panel decide on how the money is to be paid. Wherever possible we prefer to pay the supplier directly, if it is for the purchase of a product, a service or a training course. Sometimes, this is not possible and we will make payment directly to the beneficiary's bank account. Depending on the application, payment may be staggered over a period of time. Prior to accepting a grant or loan, the beneficiary is required to sign the terms and conditions of payment as well as provide various ID for security checks. Once we are satisfied with the proceedings, payment is released. The Trust maintains contact with the beneficiary until the end of the grant or loan period, when a full audit is conducted. We reserve the right to undertake a home-visit during the grant or loan period. Our pro-bono legal team deal with any disputes or where we are concerned about a particular case.

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