The first in our #SceneKheir series, Muslim crowdfunding site LaunchGood challenges you to support a charity a day this Ramadan.
It's officially time to stop spending everyday of Ramadan day-dreaming about kunafa. We're a couple of weeks into the holy month, we've adjusted to the fast; it's time to start thinking about what you are doing for zakat. That's why we're launching our first Ramadan charity series, #SceneKheir, where we're highlighting charities, causes, and organisations we think you'd like to know more about.
It's still the first #SceneKheir, so we're not going to suggest you run out and spend the night volunteering – at least not just yet. Let's start with some charity work from the comfort of home by making donations to international charities online. How are you going to support charities online? Simple; LaunchGood. This company has created a platform to support Muslim charities worldwide and year round. To date, LaunchGood has raised almost $9 million for 860 projects in 56 different countries. Those numbers mean they have seriously been changing lives. We had the opportunity to chat with the founding trio about their initiative and learn about the ins and outs of the work they're doing. Or, really, the work they're doing with the help of 47,000 members.
Founded in 2013 by Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt, Amany Kilawi, and Omar E. Hamid, the company's most well-known success stories include raising funds for The Tempest (formally Coming of Faith) – a media site of diverse millennial women, Muslim Anti-Racism Commission – an NGO to educate people about racial issues and justice, and the creation of Nadoona Islamic Fitness DVD.
"It's clear that the hearts of the Muslims around the globe are still connected. LaunchGood helps inspire a generation to revive that legacy of innovation. The mentality should not be 'by Muslims for Muslims', it should be 'by Muslims, for everyone'. We need to be a positive force for good for everyone in the world, and that starts with working on ourselves first. LaunchGood is a great way to be part of many incredible stories around the world and make a real difference, right from your pocket," Hamid (also known as the runner up on Stars of Science) tells us, adding that "it's exciting to be part of LaunchGood; you're at the cutting edge of all the neat things the Muslim community is doing."
"We started LaunchGood because we believe Muslims have so much to contribute to the world, we just need to believe in ourselves. Seeing is believing, and when someone visits LaunchGood today they can see - and believe - that Muslims can be a force for good," Blauvelt says. The team first thought about how to connect the ummah for good when Blauvelt was trying fund his friend's film, 'Bilal's Stand' (which has since gone onto win at Sundance). He enjoyed seeing Muslims work together to help other members of their community accomplish their goals. It was clear that people worldwide wanted to help launch projects that afforded others the opportunity to do good in the world, but donation jars and fundraising benefit dinners are not feasible on a global scale. This sparked the idea of a Muslim crowdfunding platform. But what is Muslim crowdfunding?LaunchGood's crowdfunding allows funding for a project by having a large group donate small amounts of money, similar to Bassita or Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The biggest difference is that LaunchGood is specifically for Muslim organisations. LaunchGood verifies that every organisation is legitimate, and pairs them with an expert coach to aid each campaign in marketing and achieving their financial goals. This might include planning for local-offline donations or help planning a fundraising dinner. Organisations can join the LaunchGood website and create a project. Then the campaign launches online and the organisations promote it on their social media networks. When they reach their goal, LaunchGood charges the donors credit cards or PayPal accounts. Some organisations even send their donors small gifts in exchange for the donations.
The most famous project they are currently helping get funding is #FreeAdnan for the Adnan Syed Trust. The trust's goal is to help cover the legal fees of the defense team highlighted in the popular podcast Serial. Some of the other on-going projects include: supporting refugees to receive their iftar, helping widows and orphans become financially independent, and empowering visually impaired students in Gaza with educational materials. You can discover all the current projects and select some to give your zakaat to, or you can up the ante and join the Ramadan Challenge.The Ramadan Challenge is LaunchGood's way to inspire you to give back every single day of the holy month. When you join, you'll receive a daily email of a charity project chosen by the LaunchGood team. You donate an amount of your choosing and share your support on social media. There's still time to join this year's Ramadan Challenge and help Muslim charities world-wide throughout the duration of Ramadan.