How HCI Revolutionized Charitable Giving Through Social Media Influencers

How HCI Revolutionized Charitable Giving Through Social Media Influencers

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, Canadian charitable organizations have long sought to galvanize donors for important causes. While traditional on-the-ground and digital media methods have paved the way for several decades, Human Concern International (HCI) has spearheaded a new approach. As Canada’s oldest and first Muslim relief charity, HCI has not only adapted to the times but also pioneered an approach that resonates deeply with today’s internet-savvy generation.

Traditional Fundraising

For decades, HCI has demonstrated unwavering commitment to supporting vulnerable populations globally. HCI has provided humanitarian aid and development support to tens of millions individuals and families around the world as per its mission to save lives and move people from crises to sustainability.

HCI has spent over $200 million carrying out relief projects. It has responded to numerous famines and humanitarian crises, including the East Africa Famine (1985), Bosnian war (1993), Pakistan floods (2010), Syrian refugee crisis (2015), Rohingya refugees (2018), Yemen crisis (2019), and Gaza (2021).
For over 25 years HCI has developed a committed donor base through local events, galas, and traditional fundraising appeals and channels, which are effective and continue to play an important role in our fundraising strategy.

However, in recent years, HCI has prioritized the importance of connecting with young, social media savvy donors. 

Social Media Influencer Fundraisers

Social media influencers are like any traditional fundraiser raising awareness and inspiring donors to donate to humanitarian causes. Whether in a fundraising dinner or on Instagram, efforts of fundraisers or social media influencers to connect donors’ hearts to the needs of beneficiaries is a vital channel of raising funds for those in need. 

Rather than simply leveraging influencers as a means to reach the masses, HCI focuses on forging genuine connections between influencers’ passions and the real-world needs of beneficiaries. The resulting heartfelt storytelling bridges the gap between online engagement and authentic charitable causes. Instead of merely partnering with a well-known figure to promote an organization, HCI identifies meaningful connections between the influencers’ specific talents and the needs of beneficiaries.

The Chef’s Culinary Expedition: An Tik Tok-famous chef, Baraa Bolat,  journeyed with HCI to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. There, she whipped up meals for thousands grappling with food scarcity. The influencer’s vast following witnessed this act, and the result? 72 million views and a surge in funds raised for the cause.

A Heartfelt Read: An esteemed children’s book  publisher, Ruqayas Bookshelf, shared her powerful stories with orphans in the field. As she read to them, followers back home saw more than just tales; they witnessed the profound impact of HCI’s work. Again, the emotional resonance sparked generous donations.

Elegance Amidst Adversity: A renowned fashion  model, Maryam Malik, took her talents to a Syrian refugee camp and Palestinians, where she personally delivered clothing to families in need. Beyond the tangible warmth of the garments, she brought hope and a sense of dignity to those who had lost so much. Her transformative journey, once showcased to her substantial following, not only brought awareness to the plight of the refugees but also culminated in over $250,000 raised in support of HCI’s continued efforts in the region.

@baraa.bolat I had the honor to cook for the families in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. This was one of the most beautiful moments in my life and I’ll never ever forget the smiling faces of these children and the happy parents ❤️🥺 Thank you @hcicanada for this huge opportunity and for making my dream come true! ❤️🙏🏼 #baraahypnotizefood #cooking #giveback ♬ Rahmatun Lil'Alameen - Maher Zain

Family Bonding Across Borders: Adding a familial touch to HCI’s endeavors, two notable social media families – the Noors and the Salehs – embarked on a journey to Palestine. As parents with young children themselves, their voyage served as a poignant mirror, reflecting the lives of families in crisis-stricken regions to those of their followers. By sharing their experiences of meeting families much like their own but facing vastly different challenges, they struck a chord with their vast audience. Their touching interactions and stories highlighted the undeniable similarities – love, hope, dreams – that exist amidst the disparities. Through this, they inspired countless families to empathize and act, connecting the universal bond of familyhood with those who urgently need support.

How Are Funds Collected By Social Media Influencers

To ensure transparency and accountability in our fundraising activities, all funds raised for HCI programming by social media influencers are collected through an approved platform such as Launch Good. This platform serves as a secure and transparent medium for donations, allowing donors to contribute directly to HCI’s projects.

The funds are directly deposited into HCI’s bank account and we disburse funds for HCI’s project implementation as committed to donors. The social media influencer does not play any role in the administration or distribution of the donated funds. Their involvement is limited to raising awareness and encouraging support for our initiatives.

This process mirrors the dynamics of a fundraising gala, where a guest speaker may inspire the audience to donate, but the actual collection and management of donations at the event are handled directly by HCI, with the guest speaker playing no part in the financial transactions.

Compensating Fundraisers

For many years, Muslim charities have organized gala events, inviting imams, scholars, renowned fundraisers, and celebrities to motivate attendees, uplift their Islamic spirit, and encourage donations. Often, guest speakers and fundraisers receive compensation for their contributions, including coverage of their travel expenses. This method of compensating those who help raise funds is a standard practice, not exclusive to HCI, but adopted by most charities to support the ongoing success and sustainability of their missions.

Our approach to compensating fundraisers is rooted in the understanding that the efforts involved in raising awareness and funds for humanitarian causes often equate to an honorarium, part-time or full-time employment depending on the commitment. In fact, Islamically, it is our responsibility to support and compensate speakers and fundraisers for the time and skill.

While HCI remains dedicated to equitable treatment for all its fundraisers, we have found that some social media influencers opt to forgo their compensation for the sake of Allah SWT, and many others generously contribute to the causes they advocate for.

The reality is that traditional fundraising methods, such as organizing galas or events, incur significant expenses related to venue rentals, catering, and guest speakers. However, our experience has shown that leveraging social media influencers for fundraising is simply an alternative cost-model and sometimes more cost-effective.

Maximizing Your Donation and Ethical Compensation

HCI is committed to ensure that compensation of fundraisers aligns with Islamic principles and ethical standards we uphold. In fact, Islamically even the individual who is employed to collect zakat should be compensated an amount proportional to their efforts and contributions.

We strive to maximize the amount of your donation that reaches the beneficiary by balancing our fundraising cost and the need to fairly compensate those who dedicate their time and skills to charitable causes.