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Ruling on Paying Bonuses to a Charity`s Employees from Donations

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
We are a charitable organization that houses, feeds, and educates orphans. Our resources rely on donations, funds provided by the Ministry of Social Development based on an agreement to that end, and the revenues of two buildings owned by the charity itself. The latter are spent in favor of the services provided by the organization, such as financial assistance for poor households, covering tuitions, and the like. Our employees, who take care of the orphans, receive salaries from the charity`s administration. However, since it is Eid season {Islamic holiday}, we would like to give a bonus to the latter. What is the ruling on this?

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Charities act as agents for donors. The donations are deposited in banks according to donors` terms. The charities aren`t allowed to take from the Sadaqat funds to be spent in a channel other than that defined by the donors.

If the donors didn`t define one or more recipients for the donations, then-similar to a custodian of orphans and Waqf administrator-the Sadaqat funds are managed with care and according to needs and benefits. Imam Al-Shirbin(May Allah have mercy on him) said, "The administrator has no right to dispose of the funds except for a need; he must be cautious because he is in charge of the well-being of others-he is thus similar to a custodian of orphans."{Moghni Al-Mohataj, 3/553}.

Accordingly, it is impermissible for the manager to pay bonuses or else to employees from the charity`s funds, because the money is donated to charity.

If the charity`s administration decided to pay bonuses to employees from the donations, then it must inform the donors about that. It must also secure the permission of the authorities in charge for charity organizations. However, it is permissible that the employees receive determined salaries in accordance with the regulations of charity organizations from funds other than those of Sadaqat (Donations).

The organization`s administrators must act for the common benefit and in the best interest of the donors, the poor and the needy. They must be mindful of Allah, as they will be asked about these donations and how they will be spent. Allah the Almighty says: "And stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned."{37:24}. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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