Ramadan is one of my favorite months of the year. In Kuwait, people go the extra mile to give to charity and do good deeds. But sadly there are always those who try to take advantage of the holy month to exploit and cheat people.

From fake charities to scam talent shows to millionaire beggars on the streets, we are barraged by conmen trying to make an easy profit from our desire to do good deeds. Charities that claim to be helping war victims or impoverished rural villagers may be utilized to line the pockets of the unscrupulous. In the media, we see a constant stream of such scams and the reports on the details usually come after tens or hundreds of people have handed over massive sums of money.

Whenever I ask people about the problem of fake charities, they usually respond the same way: “My intention to give is what counts. If they are doing wrong and stealing the money, then the blame will fall to them.” This may be true. But it leaves a huge problem for those in need.

Many people donate money as a percentage of their income. If that money ends up with a fake charity, or diverted for another reason or to grow someone’s pockets, the blame does not lie with me. But still the victims of war will be without help because now that I’ve given, I don’t have any more to donate.

So if, for instance, I thought I was donating money to help buy food, shelter and textbooks for refugees, I won’t worry about giving again that month. But the money may never end up buying any of these things and the refugee children will continue to suffer.

The problem is that it’s not always easy or possible to check on the credentials of charities. There are licensed charities in Kuwait but also many that may collect donations ‘informally’ - though this is now illegal. People typically don’t have time to investigate to see if a charity is licensed or how their donations will be used.

There are some websites, like Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), Give Well (givewell.org) and Charity Watch (charitywatch. org) that rate charities on their transparency and effectiveness. Most good charities are transparent about their budgets and spending. A good rule of thumb is that 75 percent of a charity’s income should go directly to benefit those in need. Of course these resources are largely focused on US charities (though there are some international ones that do support regional needs.)

If you are planning to give to charity this Ramadan, please take the time to ensure that your donation will end up helping someone in need. Ask more questions about the charity, where it operates and what organizations it works with. You can also check for the list of charities licensed by the Kuwait government though there are many other legitimate groups here that do good work. It does require a bit more effort on our part but in the end, the benefit for those in need will be worth it.

Licensed Charities in Kuwait

 Social Reform Society

Tele: 2251-4180 / 2256-0523

[email protected]


Kuwait Red Crescent Society

Tele: 2481-8084 / 2483-9114

[email protected]


General Secretariat of the charitable work

Tele: 1888-808 / 2267-5781


International Islamic Charitable Organization

Tele: 1808-300 / 2227-4003

[email protected]


Shaik Abdullah al-Noory Charitable Society

Tele: 9666-6698 / 2254-0260

[email protected]

Islam Presentation Committee

Tele: 9760-0074 / 2240-0057


Patients Helping Fund Society

Tele: 2256-0061 / 2257-1741


Direct Aid

Tele: 1866-888 / 2265-0145


Al Najat Charitable Society

Tele: 9727-7745 / 2252-4520



By Jamie Etheridge