Let’s look past the testimonials from other scholar friends and the strategic plea for justice right before going heavy on donation requests, and search for some actual answers. Like many nonprofits, SeekersGuidance, Inc. a US-based 501(c)(3) entity, regularly raises funds to runs its operations. Unlike other nonprofits, SeekersGuidance has ZERO data as to its operating expenses, revenue, or basis for funds necessary to operate. SeekersGuidance, Inc. could not be any less transparent about its financial operations and how donors’ funds are spent. Faraz Rabbani also operates SeekersGuidance Canada, a non profit incorporated in Canada, which is a separate legal entity from US-based SeekersGuidance, Inc. It appears that SeekersGuidance Canada is meant to support its operations physically in Canada whereas the US-based entity serves as the “Global Online Seminary.” Again, this is a guess, because that’s all we can do.
Faraz also promotes a “scholars fund” under various names. Sometimes it is called the Canadian Islamic Scholars Fund:
The above facebook post implies that the money for the Canadian Islamic Scholars Fund is given to SeekersGuidance Canada. If you click on the link asking for “Canadian Islamic Scholars Fund” donations, it takes you to a mailchimp newsletter, which goes to a link to “pay zakat” which is for the purpose of donating to the “Scholars Fund” with no mention of it being “Canadian.” Faraz also includes a “ps” about SeekersGuidance Canada needing to raise $15,000 in monthly donations.
If you click on that link: https://seekersca.nationbuilder.com/2019_05_email_one_lapsed_ops_monthly_cc, it will take you to this page:
What’s strange is that the SeekersGuidance Canada is referring to itself as also establishing a “global Islamic seminary.” How is this different than the US-based entity? The same call for donating to the “Global Islamic Seminary” goes to the US-based page, seekersguidance.org/donate. This raises serious questions as to how SeekersGuidance, Inc and SeekersGuidance Canada differentiate and manage their donor money.
To add further confusion regarding the “scholars fund,” sometimes the scholars fund is simply called the “Islamic Scholars Fund.” This departs from Faraz’s previously calling it the “Canadian Islamic Scholars Fund” making donors believe it will be donated to SeekersGuidance Canada. However, the link and image of the facebook post below indicates that will be donated to SeekersGuidance, Inc. in the US as it states on the linked page in the facebook post below. When you visit seekersguidance.org/donate, the language states “SeekersGuidance is 501(c)(3) Registered donations are tax-deductible in the USA.” This makes it confusing as to which entity manages the scholars fund, where that money goes, and who decides how it is spent (ie, Canadian entity vs US entity) leaving donors to guess where their money is going.
One final note about the “scholars fund” is how quickly the goal amount went from $125,000 to $500,000. Both of these screenshots were taken on the same day, May 29, 2019.
This raises a very important question: how are these goals decided and where does all this money go? How much money is allocated to each scholar and why? What are the criterion that these students and scholars must meet to be eligible to this money?
Generally, if you look at the various appeals from Faraz Rabbani and his organizations, he is always asking for different amounts of money for many different causes all at the same time. Sometimes it’s $15,000 in monthly donations and $75,000 to establish their new center in Toronto, and sometimes it’s various amounts for the “scholars fund.” At one point, Faraz was asking for $250,000 for the Canadian center but that figure has since disappeared from his social media and website, but the language is still cached in a google search.
Another concerning part about this set up is that Faraz Rabbani serves as board member to both of these entities: See here for Canada’s registration and here for the current US (it should be noted that the corporate entity’s status is currently revoked due to not filing its required filings for 2 years. This also jeapordizes its 501(c)(3) status). The problem with Faraz serving on both boards and collecting money organizations means there is less room for accountability. As long as Faraz is a key decision maker in how funds are used in both organizations’ operations and given that the organizations have two very similar goals, it becomes a conflict of interest that he can dictate where money goes and potentially commingle funds. Based on the social media perception alone, there is the reasonable perception that Faraz has a major role in both organizations and possibly treats them as one. Yes, that’s really, really bad.. It is also noteworthy to take a look at the SeekersGuidance, Inc.’s IRS filling. The last one filed is for 2016.
Note the total expenses in the amount of $813,914.00. According to the same filing, SeekersGuidance, Inc revenue for 2016 was $962,334. Again, this is for the United States alone and does not include donations to the Canadian SeekersGuidance entity. This is a significant amount of money yet, NOWHERE on the SeekersGuidance website is ANY report for that matter, as to what the overhead is and how the donation money is being spent.
So how is Faraz able to garner so many donations and support without having to provide actual data regarding how funds are spent and how he determines the amounts needed to raise? Simple. He relies heavily on emotional appeal. He often cites the need for donations are “urgent” without giving much detail or evidence for said urgency. See here, here, here, here, and here. These are only examples and do not include the private emails that people receive asking for “urgent” donations. This also raises the question why SeekersGuidance (Canada or US) seem to constantly be in need of “urgent” donations and that those running it should reconsider their financial planning.
Another emotional tactic that Faraz uses is “donate by association.” But don’t fall for his pictures with beloved teachers or the fact that he’ll give some of that money to students of those beloved teachers. It’s all name-dropping, one of his favorite tactics, because the average good Muslim will not assume such an elaborate con. Don’t let Faraz keep telling you to “support inheritors” and make sad appeals about people leaving Islam without fulfilling his responsibility of having some transparency.
Lastly, donors should be extremely concerned about the fact that Faraz Rabbani serves as a director to SeekersGuidance Canada, Inc., President of SeekersGuidance, Inc (US), is an employee of both organizations, and from what I am told from inside sources, has direct access to both organizations’ bank accounts. This combination is ripe for self-dealing, commingling of funds, and conflicts of interest. This coupled with the fact that the above confusion regarding where donors donate, the lack of distinction and purposes between SeekersGuidance, Inc. and SeekersGuidance Canada, lack of clarity as to the “Scholars Fund” and no transparency as to how donor funds are being spent, donors should hold off on giving and should be asking some serious questions.
Everyone should really read this article to learn more about this topic.