On 25 and 26 May distinguished philanthropists, public & private sector leaders, social investors, executives from the financial sector and experts from across the world convened at the Global Donors Forum held in Istanbul, which was co-chaired by Datin Paduka Seri Rismah Mansor, First Lady of Malaysia, and HRH Dr Shaikha Aisha Bint Faleh Al-Thani Qatar, to offer pragmatic insight and constructive responses to pressing global and regional challenges.
Drs Daan Elffers, founder of the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI), was invited to discuss sustainable development goals and to exchange ideas and planning initiatives on how to engage in partnerships with others on working with ecosystems and issues such as youth employment and financial inclusion.
The session, moderated by Mr Marcos Neto, Director at UNDP, explored how various Islamic financial instruments such as waqf (Islamic endowment), zakat or sukuk bonds can be deployed effectively and efficiently to address these issues, in collaboration with others including the UN and governments.
Daan Elffers stressed the importance of reporting on Islamic principles and values in corporate social responsibility strategies within Islamic organizations. Indeed, the IRI understands CSR as broadly having four dimensions: economic, legislative, ethical and philanthropic. Subsequently, with an increase in CSR reporting, the ethical and philanthropic responsibilities of a business are attracting and encouraging a rethink of how we – as businesses, reporting bodies and societies – understand the contributions of philanthropy to CSR.
While CSR is often understood to relate to the economics of the day-to-day running of a business, be that the wellness of its employees, the ethics of its supply chain, or its consumption of non-renewable energy, a long-term philanthropic approach can also serve a dual purpose. A strategic act of philanthropy serves to support a community or environment, for example through education or conservation, which in turn, warrants, maintains and strengthens a business’s license to operate.
Participants in the Global Donors Forum first highlighted the need for increased burden-sharing to address humanitarian needs, and on the second day discussed expanding media capacity for Muslims to improve the image of Islam, focusing on Islamic philanthropy.
Philanthropy, understood as an altruistic endeavour to deliver social and environmental good, is inherent and integral to Islam. Furthermore, already practised for centuries, the notion of philanthropy is at the foreground of positive discussions surrounding its role and relationship to corporate social responsibility.