By Luqman Patino –
Chris Blauvelt, the founder of LaunchGood, introduced his company to a crowd of young Muslims at a recent event in Tempe and talked about the challenges of turning ideas into reality even when funds are low.
Blauvelt has taken the concept of crowdfunding – or acquiring a large amount of funding in smaller amounts from a large group of people – and created a new platform exclusively for Muslims or projects that are related to Islamic causes. His talk was hosted by the Muslim Student Association of Arizona State University.
Crowdfunding itself is not an entirely new concept, but it’s the focus and approach of LaunchGood that sets it apart from other sites like it. LaunchGood (https://www.launchgood.com/) focuses heavily on fostering the Muslim community spirit, and not simply on collecting enough individuals to fund ideas.
“Usually we talk about crowdfunding like there’s this random crowd out there that’s going to fund you. The reality is that doesn’t happen. There aren’t strangers out there that [are] going to give money but with LaunchGood because it’s such a tight-knit community that effect does exist,” said Blauvelt, a University of Michigan graduate who now lives in Dearborn, Michigan.
Blauvelt sounded very eager for his idea to work. The results on his webpage suggest that he’s onto something. A worldwide community is forming at LaunchGood. There are about 10,515 users, who have donated about $2.2 million. Projects range from helping launch a documentary about two pilots who died in a plane crash while trying to raise money for schools in Pakistan to a community garden and educational programs for local masjids.
Creating a project on LaunchGood.com only takes a few steps. The site provides descriptions and guides to simplify the process. Not only that, every project gets individual support at no extra cost. LaunchGood’s service fee is 5% of the money raised on the site and a third-party service used for credit card transactions takes another 3%. This is comparable to similar crowdfunding sites.
Blauvelt himself represents something unique. His talk was an opportunity for people to not only see what one young Muslim could accomplish, but to learn about a platform that allowed for Muslims from anywhere to work together to make positive projects possible.
A website like LaunchGood couldn’t have a better target audience. As Blauvelt explained, “Muslims really care about charity, we actually love charity. We love to support projects and I think we have been so deprived of these types of ideas and platforms like this and now that it exists people get very excited.”
In a time when fundraising and after Friday prayer announcements seem to be the primary way for the Muslim community to get funding to move forward on projects, finish construction on masjids and establish community services, LaunchGood seems a welcome and fresh opportunity to gain support, funding and a sense of global community.