So why are we fundraising? Here's a quick breakdown of some upcoming MM initiatives :)
1. Google Ads – This isn't a project per se, but some of you indicated that you would prefer they were taken down. We are hoping to raise enough funds to take them off the site completely.
2. More Contests – That means more da‘wah, more reader interaction, and more prizes! We are giving out some nice cash prizes as a reward for our short story contest this year. Previously we sent out some Islamic books in another contest when MM first started. One of our goals is to involve our readers so we can produce quality articles & videos for Muslim and non-Muslim consumption.
3. Techie and Admin Stuff – Running a website isn't easy. There's lots of things that pop up, especially when we did the site redesign. Sometimes we need to get help from IT specialists. Also the hosting costs are increasing as our CPU usage on the server is getting higher. We are looking at less expensive or even free options, but not at the expense of uptime. Also, we will incur costs as we develop a tax-deductible status with the IRS. This entails increased operating costs with tax/legal issues that come up.
4. Conferences and Advertising – We hope to use some of the funding to establish our presence at major conferences around the country to promote MuslimMatters (such as Texas da‘wah, ISNA, ICNA). Another project on our plate is to start advertising MuslimMatters online, Google ads, Facebook, and print media (magazines like Al-Jumuah and Islamic Horizons). Wouldn't it be nice for a MuslimMatters.org link to pop up on one of the Islamophobic sites when the keyword “Muslim” or “Islam” is used?! That is our goal… to mainstream the practicing Muslim's voice.
5. More A/V – Another project idea we have is to get more unique audio/visual content from all of our on board specialists. Imagine a Jumu'ah where you can hear, for example, the khutbah given that very same Friday by Yasir Qadhi and Yaser Birjas. We hope to equip them with the tools not just to record, but record professionally in high quality. We'll also be bringing unique MM interviews with our on-board specialists, and we will be uploading more videos to YouTube as well inshā'Allāh.This will also help us beef up our podcast and reach even more people inshā'Allāh.
6. Reader Involved Scholarly Research – In order to take MM to the next level, we hope to improve upon some of our strengths. One of the primary reasons for people visiting MM is to see articles from Shuyūkh or field specialists on those issues. Remember the Doritos are Halal article or the Zakat-ul-Maal for Islamic organizations article? Wouldn't it be nice to have more of our burning questions answered in a scholarly fashion consistently, not once in a blue moon? Wouldn't it nice if we can cater these important, sometimes fundamental, questions to the needs and reality of Muslims in the West, instead of depending on general fatwa services that aren't intended to give full academic discussions of an issue? Inshā'Allāh, with funding, we're hoping to contract out research projects and present lots more unique, and top-notch content on the site. We're even considering letting you vote on the next scholarly article.
Our exact budget is dependent on fundraising. The more we raise, the more we can do. These are some of the ideas we want to implement over the coming few months, and inshā'Allāh make MuslimMatters one of the premier online websites for Muslims, a place where you can come and find interesting things to read, scholarly articles to learn from, and an online community to 'hang out' with :)