An important part of the mission of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative (MPI) is to further social good through research. The following research projects reflect some of the work being undertaken by the MPI research team.
Furthering social good through research
Past and ongoing projects
Funded by the Waraich Family Fund
The Community Collaboration Initiative (CCI) was a 3-year project galvanizing the enthusiasm and expertise of 22 Muslim American nonprofit organizations. CCI provides a platform for organizations to work together to solve common problems.
CCI focuses on organizational interactions and incremental goals that establish a basis of trust. By working together, organizations can reach their visions and missions with thoughtfulness, efficiency, and confidence.
- Collaboration through Trust Building in 2020
- Collaboration through Programming in 2021
- Collaboration through Sustainability in 2022
Funded by Islamic Relief USA
The Muslim American Giving report presents findings of Muslim philanthropy via the Muslim American Philanthropy Poll. This poll is a self-administered web survey conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The study is conducted annually and investigates the opinions of Muslims and the general population regarding faith customs, donation practices and attitudes, volunteer work, COVID-19, uncertainty intolerance, financial well-being, and discrimination. SSRS surveyed individuals between March 17 and April 7, 2021, and included 2,005 respondents: 1,003 Muslims and 1,002 individuals from the general population.
The 2020 survey included additional questions about how Muslims made donation decisions about donations. The first annual report was released in November 2021 with quick, public attention to the findings.
Funded by the Muslim Legal Fund of America
The Ihsan Standard is a legal and research project—dedicated to raising excellence among minority-led and Muslim American nonprofits with rigorous research and a supportive legal ecosystem.
The Ihsan Standard is guided by a national advisory council of legal scholars and Muslim American legal providers. Through pro bono legal audits and easy access to a network of legal resources, The Ihsan Standard aims to encourage organizations to better steward assets and mission, promote transparency, support ethical decision-making, meet government requirements, and foster community confidence.
The Ihsan Standard also builds capacity amongst legal providers and scholars through continuing legal education. The Ihsan Standard will also add to the emerging scholarship about organizational decision-making and leadership practices at Muslim American nonprofits through community participation and rigorous research.
Funded by the International Strategy and Policy Institute
In 2021, the Pluralism Project put together an extensive bibliography on three related pluralism themes: law, religious tolerance, and politics and culture.
The project organized a convening of scholars in 2022 to discuss the direction of Islam and pluralism studies and conducted a survey of Muslims and non-Muslims about their pluralistic values in charitable giving.
Funded by the Mirza Family Foundation
The Zakat Project arranged a series of interviews and questionnaires for spring 2022 with Muslim organizations in the U.S. that collect and distribute zakat (a form of almsgiving in the Muslim faith).
These interviews will be used to develop profiles of various institutional approaches to centralized zakat collection and distribution. Dr. Shariq Siddiqui and Dr. Micah Hughes will undertake the interviews and ethnographic data, from which they will organize a special issue of the Journal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society on Zakat in America and will produce a co-authored volume in 2022-2023.
Funded by the John Templeton Foundation
This project examines the relationship between spiritual values and Islamic discourses about social good in relation to nonprofit institutions and organizations in America. This project has five specific goals.
We organized a spirituality, faith, and Islamic values track for Muslim philanthropists (including institutions) from Muslim-majority and minority countries at the biannual World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) in 2022.
Second, we will convene a diverse group of community and academic scholars on Islam who can translate Muslim theological ideas into modern-day conceptions of the more complete Muslim human being. This group will also identify and define concepts that fall at the intersection of Islamic values and Muslim philanthropy.
These concepts will be vital in developing a survey instrument. We will also organize panels at other Muslim philanthropy convenings such as the Concordia Forum, a global network of cross-sector leaders from Muslim backgrounds with hundreds meeting annually at exclusive invitation-only retreats in Europe and North America to synergize their talents.
Third, we will conduct survey research on Muslim philanthropists (from Muslim majority and minority countries) who attend the WCMP and Concordia Forum to understand their perspectives on spirituality, faith, consciousness, and Islamic values and how these ideas connect to their philanthropy.
Fourth, we will establish a formal funders and scholars collaborative comprised of Muslim philanthropists explicitly motivated to support the development of Muslim thought and spirituality. This project will build on recent work of The Philanthropy Workshop and Synergos that was funded by the Templeton Foundation.
Finally, the dissemination of this research through scholarly and public channels, including a peer-reviewed journal published by Indiana University Press and a white paper and articles for The Conversation and Chronicle of Philanthropy. The research will also be presented at academic conferences. Further details about these goals are below.
Through this program we are partnering with World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists and Center on Muslim Philanthropy to launch an annual global “Muslim Philanthropy Week.” The first Muslim Philanthropy Week (MPW) took place September 13-20, 2022.
MPW has four components: first, it asked Muslim philanthropists, nonprofits, and volunteers to engage in social good activities in their communities and to share these activities on a global virtual portal so that the world can witness the diverse and amazing acts of good by Muslims across the world. It was our hope to see #MuslimPhilanthropy and #SmilingisSadaqah to trend on social media that week (September 13-20, 2022); second, a convening of Muslim nonprofit organizations took place in Washington DC and virtually called Nonprofit Innovation Summit (September 17-18, 2022) shared best practices related to social good activities; third, a social good innovation exhibition where nonprofits and philanthropists exhibited innovative social good projects or programs; fourth, the Global Donor Forum organized by the WCMP in Washington DC took place September 18-20, 2022.
We also worked with Pope Francis’ team to host a meeting of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish philanthropists at the Vatican in May 2022.
Funded by Intuitive Solutions
This project focuses on identifying and furthering best practices by Muslim American nonprofit organizations. This research project seeks to develop case studies of nonprofit organizations within the Intuitive Solutions ecosystem, in support of generalizable findings of successful nonprofit practices.
MPI has started a series of group discussions with Muslim women philanthropic leaders. Our first two cohorts were conducted in June and September 2021. They included high-net worth donors and managers of family foundations. The third cohort took place in October 2021. In the spring of 2022, we spoke with Muslim women nonprofit leaders and young Muslim women civic leaders (ages 18-29).
These focus groups will result in a white paper to guide future research, practice, and policy related to Muslim American women and philanthropy.
It is hard to understand the size, scope and impact of Muslim American nonprofits. The NTEE codes only provide a partial view of this sector. Using machine learning we are identifying Muslim-led nonprofits.