Islamic Relief Worldwide: Building a Reputational Risk Management Strategy in the face of Islamophobia-motivated attacks

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondor

Facing Islamophobia-motivated attacks, Islamic Relief Worldwide, an independent humanitarian and development organisation, developed a strategy to manage reputational risks.

Read the summary and find the full case study at the bottom of the page.

Actions taken by the organisation

What was the trigger? Designation as terrorist organisation in Israel and the UAE (2014).
What was the internal response? Reputational Risk Management Strategy, backed by new infrastructure and resources.
What measures were taken at the national level? Country offices received training and support to develop their own strategies.

Response carried out in practice

What was the trigger? Amendment proposed by US congressman to cut US funding to IRW (2017).
What was the response? Collective action taken by IRW, InterAction and the Together Project, including advocacy, political engagement and solidarity action.
What were the outcomes? The amendment was dropped, and their funding was left in tact. Learning has been applied to other contexts.

Learnings collected by the organisation

Outcomes Islamic Relief Worldwide is more prepared and resilient, and they have grown as an organisation since – and in spite of – the designations.
Challenges Costs – legal and lobbyist fees are expensive; staff time is hard to commit to this additional effort on top of day-to-day work.
Lessons Engage with influencers over opponents; make friends while the sun shines and identify your key stakeholders; invest in saying who you are are rather than saying who you are not; fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Get the case study

Background to our Pilot Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

This case study is one of six that reviews best practices, challenges, and lessons learned for both ICSO internal mechanisms and coalition responses to scrutiny and attacks. They show positive outcomes and new practices that were initially triggered by an undue threat or attack.

Written by Sarah Pugh and Deborah Doane, these case studies first appeared in an In-house study called “Solidarity in Times of Scrutiny” presented at the International Civic Forum in Addis Ababa in October 2019.

Thanks go to our case study partners for making their learnings available to a larger readership.

The presented case studies reflect the status of when they were first written up in October 2019. Naturally, the political situation as well as the organisations’ and coalitions’ learnings have since evolved and are constantly evolving.


Eva Gondor

Senior Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva leads on the Centre's civic space work - the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) aimed at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors, and the International Civic Forum (ICF), our annual civic space platform to network and identify opportunities for collaboration. Prior to joining the Centre she worked at the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Foundation) in Stuttgart where she managed the foundation’s projects focusing on civil society and governance in Turkey, the Western Balkans, and North Africa.