From left: Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt, Omar Hamid, and Amany Killawi. Photo courtesy of LaunchGood.
Imagine being in the business of making dreams come true. This is everyday reality for LaunchGood, a global crowdfunding platform that supports an all-encompassing range of positive Muslim initiatives. From the creative, to the entrepreneurial, to the charitable, LaunchGood helps raise funds for them all.
Co-Founder Amany Killawi explains, “The idea behind it [LaunchGood] is to create an ecosystem both to support Muslims across the world and provide donors an opportunity to support projects they care about whether locally or globally.”
Launched in October 2013 and Co-Founded by Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt, Amany Killawi, and Omar Hamid, this organization has achieved great success in less than the two years they’ve been operating. Thus far, they’ve reached 19 countries, worked on 229 projects, have 12,000+ users, and a growing $2,626,991 pledged.
“We thought to ourselves, there’s 1.6 billion Muslims yet there’s no crowdfunding platform to support their ideas, to support their initiatives,” Killawi tells the Muslim Observer. This concern and untapped market helped inspire the birth of LaunchGood.
Killawi continues, “The gist and heart of what LaunchGood is, is that we believe our [Muslim] community has incredible value that we can share with the rest of the world. We spend a lot of time talking about who we are not that we stop talking about who we really are.
And so the idea is through LaunchGood, because crowdfunding is about publicity first and foremost before the funding, we’re able to tell so many different stories on the site about what we’re doing and what we’re capable of.
The way we like to say it is that LaunchGood is one big storybook and every project on the site has contributed a chapter to that storybook of who Muslims are and what they’re capable of doing.”
The first LaunchGood campaign raised funds for the Nadoona Extreme Fitness DVD, a workout series for Muslim women that focuses on fitness the Islamic way. The project was successfully funded at 122% on Oct 21, 2013. $18,264 of the $15,000 goal was raised.
Having a success story with LaunchGood isn’t a unique circumstance. Projects have a 54% successfully funded rate, which is notably higher than their competitors. Kickstarter has a 40% successfully funded rate and Indiegogo has a mere 5%.
LaunchGood also stands above its competitors in average pledge amount and average funds raised too. The average pledge amount at LaunchGood is $110. For Kickstarter it is $75 and for Indiegogo it is $40. The average funds raised at LaunchGood is $11,700, at Kickstarter it is $7,400, and for Indiegogo it is $4,400.
The largest amount LaunchGood has raised online is a growing $98,780 for the “#FreeAdnan – The Adnan Syed Trust” project that will close on July 18, 2015. It is a campaign raising funds for Adnan Syed, who supporters say was wrongfully convicted for murder in 1999. Money will go towards his defense and associated investigative efforts.
Offline, LaunchGood has created a special fundraising dinner model that converts fundraising campaigns into an online crowdfunding campaign. This is “…so you can solicit donations from both those at the dinner and beyond. Since it’s online, it’s fast, easy and secure for donors to donate straight from their phone, and our advanced back-end administrator system gives you the tools to track all the checks, cash and pledges you have coming in.”
The largest amount raised offline using the dinner model was $379,972. It was for a campaign by Zaman International on Dec 31, 2014 to purchase a Hope for Humanity Center, a 40,500 sq ft warehouse serving marginalized women and children.
Whether a campaign is online or offline, every LaunchGood project is given individualized support. Killawi says, “We really care about building these relationships and building the ecosystem…[therefore] Every single project has been touched by us in one way or form.”
The dedication and importance LaunchGood gives each initiative has been noticed. The company is growing well. “Last year around this time we were doing only about $10,000 in crowdfunding total volume,” Killawi shares. “This year, we’ve been doing roughly over $100,000 a month in terms of crowdfunding volume.”
LaunchGood has a 20% monthly user growth and 35% repeat donor rate. While Killawi states, “By the end of this year, we’re hoping to have helped collectively raised $4 million in funds [and] we’re hoping to have 15,000 registered donors on the site” they still want to ensure to maintain a 54% successful project rate and 35% or more repeat donor rate.
The biggest challenge facing LaunchGood right now is capacity. Killawi explains, “We’re still a small startup … the challenge is finding really great talent to join the team, to take that risk to join a startup. Many people don’t know this but there’s a very small team behind LaunchGood that’s running the whole show.”
The other challenge facing LaunchGood is the lack of understanding of crowdfunding and entrepreneurship by the Muslim community since these two concepts are still relatively new.
What’s not new to the Muslim community, however, is the practicing of giving. “Whether we realize it or not, we are still very much tied by the bonds of religion. Even for Muslims who aren’t practicing, culturally giving is a very, very big deal,” Killawi expresses.
To learn more about LaunchGood’s unique vision, community of donors and full-service model, visit www.launchgood.com, follow them on facebook.com/LaunchGood and Twitter @LaunchGood.