UAE Announces Fundraising Laws Ahead of Ramadan; $54,000 Fine for Violators

The UAE has clarified fundraising laws ahead of Ramadan and says violators will face fines of up to $54,000 for breaking rules.

The Ministry of Community Development revealed that the entities permitted to collect donations within the UAE are charitable associations authorised by relevant authorities in compliance with Federal Law No. 3 of 2021 regarding fundraising regulations.

The law aims to maintain and protect donors’ funds from exploitation and ensure that they reach the right beneficiaries.

UAE Ramadan charity fundraising rules

Coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan, the UAE will witness significant donation amounts in all forms, therefore, the Ministry calls all philanthropists and donors to ensure that the entities which receive these donations whether “cash, in-kind or digital” are authorised to collect the donations.

Mohammed Naqi, Director of Non-Benefit Public Associations Department at the Ministry of Community Development, said: “The Ministry is working diligently to raise the awareness of the Emirati community including the provisions and articles of the law aimed at protecting their funds and familiarising them with the endorsed regulations and requirements.

“The law that serves as a secure and stimulating framework for humanitarian and community giving rooted in the values and traditions of the UAE society has always been keen to provide support and assistance to the needy people worldwide, following the paths of becoming a sustainable hub for humanitarian and charitable deeds in the UAE”.

Naqi urged all the community members to adhere to the Fundraising Regulatory Law being essential to protect their funds from any exploitation or misuse that are unrelated to any charitable and humanitarian work.

The law aims to prevent donors from the risks of funding terrorism and financing illegal organisations, pointing out that donors must verify the licensed entities which collect and receive donations including charitable associations, federal and local authorities, as well as accredited NGO’s in the UAE.

Naqi pointed out that the fundraising regulatory law defined clear conditions and procedures for fundraising.

Authorised entities are required to obtain a permit for fundraising from the competent authority, while the process of collecting donations must be carried out through charitable organisations only.

A normal person is prohibited from establishing, organising, or engaging in any activity aimed at collecting or accepting donations from the public by any means of fundraising, in line with the announced guidelines set by the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.

He also explained that the Ministry and competent local authorities oversee, supervise and monitor the non-benefit public sector, by intensifying field visits, to ensure the commitment of the associations and their members with the provisions of the law to avoid accountability and legal violations.

All licensed and accredited authorities are allowed to collect and receive donations in all Emirates in accordance with the laws of the local authorities.

Naqi stated that the provisions and articles of the Fundraising Regulatory Law have specified the methods of collecting donations, whether “cash, in-kind, or digital,” through funds or paid vouchers, cash donations in exchange for receipts, SMS text messages, markets, exhibitions, auctions, charity events, in addition to monthly deductions from personal accounts, bank accounts dedicated to donation collection, various marketing and promotional offers accompanied by donation requests, ATMs of licensed banks in the UAE, as well as digital platforms adopted by the competent authority for donation collection, social media channels, and direct deposits into bank accounts.

In regards to Ramadan traditions, permissible and prohibited practices, the law allowed the provision of support and assistance between family members or within the neighbourhood to help those in need among relatives and friends, there are no restrictions on collecting these donations as long as they are within the permissible limit that does not reach the level of the licensed charities’ work.

It is emphasised that these authentic community traditions reflect our values and principles established in extending a helping hand to those who deserve it.

The law also allows the preparation and distribution of food, clothing and zakat; donating clothes and money to licensed charitable organisations, depositing donations in boxes available in public places, and distributing iftar meals in mosques, neighbourhoods and others.

One of the practices prohibited by law is the collection of donations by any person, and the outsourcing of restaurants and kitchens to distribute food, which are only allowed to receive donations to make meals, but are not authorised to distribute them, as these restaurants must coordinate with charitable associations in this regard.

Some unlawful actions include responding to unlicensed or unreliable campaigns to collect donations or interacting with these campaigns via social media, collecting donation funds from relatives, friends to deliver them to charitable organisations inside or outside the UAE, and using the donation funds in financial speculations or distributing any revenues therefrom to members and employees of licensed and authorised entities.

Violators of Fundraising Regulatory Law shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED200,000 ($54,400) and not more than AED500,000 ($136,000), or one of these two penalties, for anyone who collects or receives donations from outside the UAE, in violation of the enforced procedures and regulations, donation funds or engaging in financial speculations, committing any act that may harm public order, national security or public morals during the collection, acceptance or submission of donations; the penalty shall be doubled in case of repetition not exceeding AED100,000 ($27,200) for any entity that calls itself an association or institution “charitable or humanitarian”, or deals under this name in any way without obtaining a classification certificate from the competent authority.


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