Great question. How we approach this:
- Our Yemen program is not the same as our Zakat fundraising. We've been paying Yemeni families since August 2022 using non-zakat funds. Zakat funds are delivered according to the zakat policy. Non-zakat funds are handled the same as any other donations.
- We don't ask families about faith status and do not plan to start doing so. The reason we direct zakat funds to Yemen is that it's a non-issue – 99.99% of the country is Muslim. Our zakat advisors who certified the fund were happy with this arrangement.
- What's described above ("an otherwise eligible family informed you they were actually Christian, or some other non-Islamic faith") is an edge we have yet to see. If this did happen, we'd simply arrange for their transfer to come from our non-zakat funds (see point #1).
We do have a page in Arabic for non-English readers. However, an important part of building trust with zakat givers is transparency and directness (donor=>GiveDirectly=>Yemeni recipient). Rather than market/collect zakat through another organization as a pass-through, we opted to stick with the simplicity that has appealed to other donors. UNHCR is a secular organization with a successful zakat campaign marketed under their name, albeit a much more famous name than GiveDirectly.
Another way we plan to bridge the gap: working with Muslim groups and influencers to share the campaign.
- Our biggest program (large transfers) allows families to select a single head of household to receive the funds. Women often handle household spending so are slightly over-represented as the recipient in this program.
- We run a few specialty programs that are explicitly targeting women (e.g. this nutrition program or this cancer program)
Great idea! edited to encourage posting down here too, in addition to through the form.