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$25,300 pledged of $78,000 goal
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By Jan Harzan
$25,300 pledged of $78,000 goal
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About this project

First things first. Some good news about taxes: MUFON is a 501(3)c non-profit. Your donation is tax deductible! 

Second important line of business: Existing members and donors! We have you covered. Please be assured that we recognize your support through the years! If you are an existing member of MUFON and select a reward that includes a 2-year Premium Explorer membership, 2 awesome things will happen:

1) Your existing membership will be upgraded to Explorer level. (scroll to the very bottom of the page for the fine print on this new premium membership.)
2) Your membership will be extended 2-years from the expiration date of your current membership. 

**And a special thanks to James Fox for the interview clips at the beginning of the video, as well as his endorsement of this project.**

Now to answer the big questions.

WHAT exactly are we trying to accomplish? 

WHAT are the rewards?

WHO is MUFON? And WHY are we qualified? 

WHEN will we launch our new system? 

WHY do we need 78k? 

Ok, let's dive in.

WHAT exactly are we trying to accomplish?

If you'd rather see it than read about it, check out our prototype. Remember, a prototype is just the visual mock-up of what we are trying to build.
If you'd rather see it than read about it, check out our prototype. Remember, a prototype is just the visual mock-up of what we are trying to build.

1) Improve the usability of the "Report a UFO" experience to gather MORE data and CLEANER data. With better design, we can ensure that fewer people abandon their report before finishing. We also need to revise which questions are asked, and how. Test out the first draft of our redesign.

The user interface of the existing Report a UFO experience, alongside the proposed redesign
The user interface of the existing Report a UFO experience, alongside the proposed redesign

2) Cleaner data will allow us to do more with that data. We want to provide a free, accessible and robust interface to filter, sort, search and visualize the data. This will help professional and armchair researchers find patterns and possibly even answers in the UFO data. 

Here are a few examples of the types of searches you will easily be able to do. 

  • "Show all black triangle sightings with more than 2 witnesses that occurred in the state of New York during the month of January from 1981-1992"
  • "Show only reports that have been reported by government officials that include official government documents, involving green lights"
  • "Show all sightings that happened near airports, in daylight, with more than 3 testimonials, including images"

3) Allow historical, heavily-researched cases to be searched alongside the thousands of incoming reports. Cases from antiquity, Project Blue Book, the COMETA report and other reputable sources will be tagged with metadata and will be searchable as a result. Access to books, articles, papers and other documentation will be integrated into the database. (In a nutshell, get Hangar 1 Case Files Online.)

4) Improve the speed and security of the database. Make sure it's snappy as well as protected from potential hacks.

5) Create a more valuable member experience. Our membership dues are what keep our lights on. With the new online system we will be able to offer more value to our generous members. With a better membership, we hope to significantly grow our member base and our operational budget in kind. Then we can engage in even more investigative journalism and activism and fund important research. It's a win-win. Members get more and MUFON can do more. Here are a few new things we want to offer our members:

  • A logged in state, with an online member profile (public or private)
  • Custom saved searches 
  • Optional alerts when new reports match a save search
  • Premium database features
  • Database CSV export ability
  • Bookmarked reports and articles
  • Enhanced commenting and community features
  • Integrated polling and voting on important UFO and MUFON issues
  • Automatic MUFON Store discounts
  • Better integrations with local chapter activity and events
  • Continued early access to the MUFON Journal (but, in the spirit of free information, back issues will be accessible to the public)
Draft of Member Profile page
Draft of Member Profile page

 6) Improve the general usability, visual design and scientific tone of the website. Create a better content organization that makes MUFON.com more useful and usable on desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices. (Learn more about responsive design.)

We want to ensure that MUFON.com looks and works amazing on any mobile device.
We want to ensure that MUFON.com looks and works amazing on any mobile device.

WHAT are the rewards?

Let's cut to the chase and break down how the rewards work. For the most part, all rewards levels are additive, meaning that each level builds on the ones below it. There are a few exceptions at the higher levels, but the graphics below should make it clear.

All rewards were designed exclusively for this campaign by MUFON members. They are all limited edition, limited production and will be produced in small batches. 

plus the limited edition awesome T-shirt!
plus the limited edition awesome T-shirt!

(Scroll to the bottom to see closeup of the t-shirt, and get details on the Premium Explorer membership.)

WHO is MUFON? Why are we qualified?

MUFON was founded in 1969. We are the oldest and largest civilian UFO research group in the world. But we know as well as anyone that being the oldest and the largest doesn't necessarily make you the best. Here is why we believe that we are the organization best qualified to tackle this important challenge.

  • We already have the data. We've been logging and capturing UFO data for over 40 years. 
  • As a non-profit organization, we have no motive other than our mission.
  • As a civilian organization, we have not ties or pressure from the agenda of the US government.
  • We have a vast trove of historical documents and evidence that is now locked down in our Hangar1 archives. We want to make the documents accessible to the public, not just through a show but also through our database.
  • Our new Executive Director, Jan Harzan, has 37 years of experience in information technology as an executive at IBM. He also has a BS in Nuclear Engineering.
  • MUFON has already invested countless hours and over $30,000 of it's own dollars in the pursuit of this initiative. We are enthusiastic, dedicated, and have the expertise to pull it off.
  • MUFON has partnered with ReWired UX Studio to tackle the design and usability of the system. Sophia Voychehovski, the founder and lead designer for the agency, is a long-time member and volunteer for MUFON. ReWired is providing MUFON with volunteer and discounted services - without discounted quality. Sophia's past work includes: CNN.com, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, ADP, the Australian Tax Office and several technology start-ups.

WHEN will we launch the new system?

As long as this campaign is successful, we plan to finalize our developer hiring by the beginning of January. We've started the interviewing and estimation process but we want to make sure we find the right people and scope-out the work based on how much money we raise. We hope to kick-off development by mid-January and launch the first iteration of the new site by May/June 2015.  That said, we will likely continue to launch features and fixes after the first release. 

WHY do we need 78k?

Sure, using Wordpress you can launch a website in an afternoon. But what we are trying to accomplish is a BIT more complicated. It's not rocket surgery, but it will take months of skilled development. 

Have you ever been to a site that loads painfully slow? That breaks when you try to use it? That seems to be missing important functionality? This is what we want to avoid. We've come to terms with the fact that you get what you pay for. And we cannot accomplish this using only volunteers. We need to bring in the pros to do this right.

We've done a ton...but we have a ways to go
We've done a ton...but we have a ways to go
We need to tighten up the design and then actually build it
We need to tighten up the design and then actually build it
The majority of the money will go toward paying talented developers and programmers
The majority of the money will go toward paying talented developers and programmers

We need a new multi-device front-end interface, a new content management system, a really smart middleware for our database and more detailed design work. We also need to pay our campaign fees to Kickstarter and Amazon, as well as fulfill all the quality perks we are promising. 

In all honestly, 78k is the lowest number we could possibly ask for to make this work. This will be a tight budget and we will still need to lean on our generous volunteers to help out. But we've done the math, made the estimates, talked to the experts and with 78k, we can bring this vision to reality.

THE "OBLIGATORY" AWESOME KICKSTARTER ONLY TEE

Every Kickstarter worth its salt offers up an awesome T-shirt. And you will want this one! It's going to be a high-quality black shirt, with color design on the front and back. 

The front is a simple graphic of the new "Report a UFO" button, our symbol for a better system of collecting UFO data.
The front is a simple graphic of the new "Report a UFO" button, our symbol for a better system of collecting UFO data.
 
The back is a visual representation of the database we are trying to create. 9 famous UFO cases are described through metadata on the back of the shirt.
The back is a visual representation of the database we are trying to create. 9 famous UFO cases are described through metadata on the back of the shirt.

FINE PRINT: THE NEW MUFON PREMIUM EXPLORER MEMBERSHIP

We are re-inventing what it means to be a member of MUFON. Today, our members are actually more like "subscribers" of our monthly Journal. But in the future, we want membership to be like a community. We want it to be more valuable and with a new digital system, we can make that happen.

Explorer Membership Perks Pre-Launch:
1) Receive monthly MUFON eJournal
2) Invitation to annual Executive Director's conference call

Explorer Membership Perks POST-Launch:
1) Receive monthly MUFON eJournal2) Invitation to annual Executive Director's conference call
3) All the digital perks that we hope to offer:

  • A logged in state, with an online member profile (public or private)
  • Custom saved searches 
  • Optional alerts when new reports match a save search
  • Premium database features
  • Database CSV export ability
  • Bookmarked reports and articles
  • Enhanced commenting and community features
  • Integrated polling and voting on important UFO and MUFON issues
  • Automatic MUFON Store discounts
  • Better integrations with local chapter activity and events
  • Continued early access to the MUFON Journal (but, in the spirit of free information, back issues will be accessible to the public)
  • New members:

    As soon as the campaign is successful, you will be sent a card with a MUFON membership activation code. You may choose to activate it immediately and begin reaping the pre-launch awards right away. Or you may wait until we launch our new system to activate.

    Existing members:

    Your membership will automatically be upgraded to Explorer level. (If you are a Benefactor or Inner Circle donor, you will NOT be downgraded!)

    At the end of your existing membership, another 2-years of Explorer level membership will be "tacked on."

    Please message us through Kickstarter if you have any questions. We are sure there are things that we have not yet considered, so we will actively update the FAQs. 

    THANK YOU!

    Risks and challenges

    Our biggest concern will be with fulfillment of the Holiday perks within the first week of December. As we are providing holiday cards, gift wrap and ornaments, we want to begin shipment the minute the project ends. We have a plan in place to get the holiday perks to you as early in December as humanly possible. As soon as we know our campaign is going to be successful, we will begin production of the holiday rewards. But if we get funded at the 11th hour, this will force us into some rush orders. We will do our absolute best to get holiday perks to you well before Dec 15th. But, for international shipping, it will be difficult to guarantee this if we get funded on the last days.

    And, of course, the actual development of the new system will be a challenge. We will run into technical constraints and unforeseen costs. Some things will be easier than expected, others will be more difficult. But we have expertise on board that is experienced in dealing with these challenges and designing workarounds.

    There is no way to anticipate all of the future bumps on the road - but rest assured that we understand this undertaking will be no walk in the park. It will be tough. And we are prepared. And so unbelievably excited.

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    Support this project

    1. Select this reward

      Pledge $5 or more About $5

      GRASSROOTS rewards!
      Your name or organization on our new website. Optional in case you wish to remain anonymous and avoid potential Men In Black visits.

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    2. Select this reward

      Pledge $20 or more About $20

      TREETOP rewards! Your name or organization on our new website (optional, of course) PLUS a Report a UFO sticker and a thank you post card signed by MUFON Executive Director Jan Harzan.

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    3. Select this reward

      Pledge $35 or more About $35

      SKYSCRAPER rewards!
      Everything from lower level rewards, PLUS a limited edition, Kickstarter-only, Report a UFO T-shirt.

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      45 backers
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    4. Select this reward

      Pledge $70 or more About $70

      MOUNTAIN TOP rewards!
      Everything from lower level rewards, PLUS a 2-year Premium Explorer Membership to the Mutual UFO Network (regularly $500/yr)

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      51 backers
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    5. Select this reward

      Pledge $80 or more About $80

      NEW REWARD! BECOME A FIELD INVESTIGATOR!

      Receive the 2-year premium Explorer membership, plus the e-manual, test and certification to become a bonafide MUFON field investigator. (Usually $149 for just the 1 year membership.)

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      Limited 36 backers
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    6. Select this reward

      Pledge $100 or more About $100

      CLOUD LAYER rewards!
      Everything from lower level rewards, PLUS
      12 custom, limited-edition UFO holiday cards. Art conceptualized and hand-drawn for this campaign only, by MUFON members.
      Also receive 3 sheets of UFO holiday wrapping paper (11x17 sheets, great for smaller gift boxes).

      NOTE: we CANNOT guarantee that international orders will arrive in December!

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    7. Select this reward

      Pledge $175 or more About $175

      TROPOSPHERE rewards! EVERYTHING from lower level rewards, PLUS additional holiday goodies. 3 gift cards for a two-year premium Explorer level memberships. A 4-pack of custom, limited edition tree ornaments, designed by MUFON members AND a sheet of custom art UFO stickers designed by a MUFON member.

      NOTE: we CANNOT guarantee that international orders will arrive in December!

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    8. Select this reward

      Pledge $325 or more About $325

      STRATOSPHERE rewards! EVERYTHING from the Cloud Layer rewards, PLUS, admission to next year's annual Symposium with VIP invite to cocktail hour with all the speakers and MUFON board.

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    9. Select this reward

      Pledge $500 or more About $500

      MESOSPHERE rewards = Cloud Layer rewards + Stratosphere Mega holiday pack + Stratosphere VIP symposium admission. Basically, everything we have to offer.
      NOTE: we cannot guarantee that international orders will arrive in December!

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    10. Reward no longer available

      Pledge $800 or more About $800

      THERMOSPHERE rewards = MESOSPHERE rewards (everything we have to offer) + become an honorary board member in 2015. Set up a 1-hour calls with executive director Jan Harzan to discuss your questions, concerns, and idea about the UFO phenomenon. Receive reserve seating for two in the director's section at the Annual Symposium's Banquet. You will meet all the speakers, board members, and other leaders in the UFO community.

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      Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Funding period

    - (19 days)