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Amna Mirza, Zakat Foundation of America’s CMO, Explains Five Simple Ways You Can Change the World

by Sarah Marie

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Best known as an award-winning Marketing & Brand Strategist, Amna Mirza has a long list of experience and accomplishments spanning more than two decades. She has been at the helm of marketing departments for prestigious organizations, demonstrating nothing short of natural aptitude for everything marketing. As Chief Marketing Officer for Zakat Foundation of America, Amna heads up marketing and communications for one of the most philanthropic organizations on the planet. Zakat Foundation’s mission is to feed the hungry, provide water for the thirsty, and meet the needs of the infirm, wounded, displaced, persecuted, debt-ridden, abused, and voiceless around the world. If alignment between mission and vocation is what she was going for, Amna certainly hit the mark in her affiliation with Zakat Foundation of America.

Zakat Foundation’s name stems from the Islamic belief in providing for the destitute of all faiths globally. The organization’s mission is to channel the spirit of zakat into a global vision for giving, including their support of:

  • A clean water program

  • Full access to inclusive, equitable quality education for all

  • Meals for the hungry

  • Emergency relief for victims of disaster and violence

  • Orphan support through sponsorship and donations

  • Health and well-being for the needy

  • Refugee empowerment, meeting the needs of vulnerable families and children

  • Assistance and preparation for self-reliance through sustainable livelihoods

  • Seasonal Islamic giving

In a world that is often short on good news and good feelings, Mirza is like a breath of fresh air. When asked to share ways to implement change in the world, every word seemed to be wrapped in peace, love, hope, and confidence that small acts of kindness and generosity can and will make a big difference. Her list is insightful yet simple, and in so many ways interwoven with Zakat Foundation’s mission.

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No. 1: Give the gift of water.

For those of us with access to all we want and need, we sometimes fail to consider that water is essential for hydration, hygiene, cooking, and cleaning. First on her list, Amna says:

“It is shocking how many people worldwide don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. Each year, 200 million hours are spent collecting water. When you do the math, that equates to 8.5 million days. Predominantly females are shouldering this burden, which undoubtedly robs young females of hours when they should be in school. Also, as they make the same trek day after day, predictable and vulnerable, they are at risk of gender-based violence. For a mere $500, individuals and organizations can donate a water hand pump with a lifespan of 15 years. Having easy access to clean drinking water saves lives. Donors can dedicate their gift to a loved one or friend.”

No. 2: Read 1-2 books each year that are outside your comfort zone.

Books take us to places we have never been and introduce us to people we have never met. Wisely, Amna understands that when we read with an open mind, we have the chance to understand an author’s message even if we embrace different beliefs:

 “Exposing yourself to different perspectives will educate you and impact how you interact with others. You will learn something that changes you, and thus the world, in some small way. You are surrounded by so many algorithms on social media that you’re literally in an echo chamber, getting news, information, and posts that support your likes, only what you care about. You are missing out on different world views. Reading books with different points of view can be uncomfortable, but it can also be enlightening. Shake up the algorithm and expose yourself to some different perspectives.”

No. 3: Build human connections with others.

Amna recognizes society’s problem with disconnection and calls us back to a home base of human decency and caring:

“Look at every person as someone with a heart, mind, and soul, rather than as a label or category. Become an ally, not just a bystander, in the face of injustices happening around you like bullying, racism, or micro-aggression. Change the world by using your voice, standing up for others, defending justice. You can do a lot to de-escalate situations. Let people know you’re there and on their side.”

No. 4: Sponsor an orphan.

A motto in American education in recent years has been, “No child left behind.” Amna proposes that ALL of a child’s basic needs can and should be provided for. “Through Zakat Foundation, it takes $50 a month to provide food, hygiene, education, and shelter for a child. Fifty dollars can change the world! It’s as easy as one click. Even though many organizations do this type of work, Zakat Foundation would be honored to assist you in sponsoring an orphan.” 

No. 5:  Give a percentage of your wealth annually.

Sharing is caring, and Amna encourages us to demonstrate how much we care philanthropically: “Good acts done consistently are better than grand acts done rarely. An easy way to change the world is to give a percentage of your wealth to charity annually. Giving changes you from the inside out, becomes part of who you are, and it’s contagious. Good acts done consistently are essential, and annual giving can genuinely change the world!”

With so many people focusing on self-promotion while in the spotlight, it’s admirable that Amna Mirza is using her voice to promote making the world a better place. She was instrumental in making changes in Zakat Foundation’s presentation of children’s photos to potential sponsors. Now sponsors receive photos of the children they are sponsoring AFTER they have committed to sponsorship, allowing ALL children to have equal access to assistance, irrespective of gender, appearance, or other surface characteristics. She wants to make life safer, healthier, and more full of love and light for those who are less fortunate, and wants Zakat’s spirit of generosity and giving to inspire everyone to find ways to make the world a better place. Her five-ways list is a great place to start!