By Molly Grimm, B.A. student
Meet Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, one of the newest faculty members at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Dr. Siddiqui serves as the director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative and assistant professor of philanthropic studies. He also currently sits on the boards at the Center on Muslim Philanthropy, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, and the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding.
What was your first philanthropic act that you can remember?
My first experience with philanthropy was during middle school. I wanted to raise money for disaster relief for Bangladesh after a large storm had hit the region. The biggest challenge of this project were the restrictions of the Pakistani government on giving money to a country outside of Pakistan, where I was living at the time. In the end, I felt satisfied to help others even if the project did not go as planned.
What is your educational background?
I was not a traditional student. After graduating from high school, I decided to go back to England, where I was born, to work. After working for a while, I decided I wanted to go into law and possibly become a barrister.
I attended the University of Indianapolis where I pursued a degree in history and minored in theater. I continued my education at IUPUI, where I received my Master’s in Philanthropic Studies and a J.D from the McKinney School of Law. I also have a Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies.
What is your favorite thing about the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy?
Being an alumnus of both the master’s and doctorate programs, the faculty, staff, and students have shaped me into the person I am. I love the fact that we are innovative and taking a unique approach to the world’s problems. I believe that if the world’s problems could be fixed on a spreadsheet, they all would already be fixed, and the school is taking the approach to solve the world’s problems in a different way.
I have always had a passion to change the world and help others, and philanthropy is just the place to do that. I also saw the opportunity to make the field more diverse. One third of the world’s population is Muslim, but only one percent of America is. Muslim people are underrepresented in many fields. I thought that I could bring more diverse research and a different perspective to philanthropy. To change the world, everyone must bring their individualized perspective to the table.
What is your favorite class you have ever taught?
Civil Society in Comparative Perspective at the graduate level and Introduction to Philanthropy at the undergraduate level.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the philanthropic sector?
I think one of the biggest challenges facing the sector is that 80 percent of the boards are made of business professionals, while the other half is made up of people from the government sector. This becomes a problem when these individuals come together and think because the conversation is not based around a philanthropic framework, as it should be. The measurement tools do not come from the sector and this is forcing the sector to become more business- and government-like.
Another problem with the philanthropic sector is how Westernized the sector is. This creates issues in non-Western countries, especially in understanding religion and philanthropy. It is hard for philanthropy to be compared because of the large differences.
What is something people may not know about you?
I wanted to be a goat farmer and make goat cheese. It is one of my favorite foods, so I could save money by raising my own goats. I am very passionate about my kids and family as well.