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Alternative source of funding from a crowd

  • Andreas D. Arditya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, December 1, 2013 | 10:57 am
Alternative source of funding from a crowd Atambua 39° Celsius depicts refugees and their lives, showcasing that Indonesia is not just a big country but also a center of complexity. (Courtesy of MILES Films)

Atambua 39° Celsius depicts refugees and their lives, showcasing that Indonesia is not just a big country but also a center of complexity. (Courtesy of MILES Films)

University of Indonesia (UI) student Muhamad Anggraito started a crowdfunding project in July to help an informal school located near a mosque in the Depok bus terminal compound build a new schoolhouse.

Money collected in the project is being used to finance the reconstruction of the school, called Sekolah Master.

The school made headlines when the Depok administration announced plans to expand the terminal and evict the school, which provides education to street kids and those from destitute families. Some of the students hail from as far as away as West Java.

Anggraito teamed up with the public to fight the school'€™s eviction by launching the project at KitaBisa.com.

'€œWe wanted to show the administration that people power is behind the school. We also set up a petition at change.org,'€ Anggraito said.

The eviction was later canceled and Anggraito aimed at collecting Rp 150 million (US$12,539) from the crowdfunding to help the school build a kindergarten and a mosque. A total of Rp 137 million was collected over four months and has been disbursed to the school.

From his experience, Anggraito said it was really hard to retain public attention to the project.

'€œAs news about the issue receded in the media, so did the flow of donations. Toward the end of the project deadline, less and less money was pledged,'€ he said.

Despite the difficulty, Anggraito said he would resort to crowdfunding for other social causes in the future.

'€œPeople find it easy to contribute as long as the project has a wide impact and the creators are able to maintain the momentum of the issue at hand,'€ he said.

Among the most prominent Indonesian crowdfunding projects are those related to environmental and social issues.

Other widely supported art-related crowdfunding projects have been indie pop band Efek Rumah Kaca'€™s Pandai Besi and producer-director Mira Lesmana and Riri Riza'€™s Atambua 39° Celsius.

In Pandai Besi, Efek Rumah Kaca (ERK) teamed up with other indie musicians to reprise their old songs and record them at the legendary Lokananta Studio in Surakarta, Central Java.

ERK, known for its outspoken socially and politically conscious messages, collected money by accepting pre-orders and offering exclusive merchandise on its website. The August project was an overall success, with some 600 people participating in the crowdfunding campaign.

Mira Lesmana and Riri Riza resorted to crowdfunding to shoot and screen Atambua 39° Celsius, which was a feature film about the lives and ordeals of refugees in Atambua after the separation of East Timor from Indonesia in 1999.

The film premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival late last year and was screened at theaters and numerous festivals around the world. The film also won numerous awards.

The front page of wujudkan.com, a crowdfunding portal. The front page of wujudkan.com, a crowdfunding portal.
Enrico Halim, coordinator of Patungan.net, said that despite more and more projects being funded through crowdfunding, the movement was progressing at a slow pace.

'€œI think we still need to campaign more about the exact mechanism of crowdfunding to the people,'€ Enrico said.

Among the largest projects mediated through Patungan.net was craft house Pondok Bersama in Bandung, West Java.

Pondok Bersama was a workshop venue planned by Circa, a group of people that wanted to share handcrafting skills. They already had trainers, curriculum and the land but needed Rp 50 million to construct the building. The project was completed in May last year, after collecting a little over Rp 54 million.

Enrico said that crowdfunding could be a success if it was for a quality project and the creator intensively promoted it and could interest people in supporting it.

'€œA quality project means one that is esthetically valuable and functions well. We do not cater solely to social projects, but we encourage sustainable projects that contribute to society,'€ he said.

Amanda '€œMandy'€ Marahimin, founder and CEO of Wujudkan.com, said that just like the term'€™s juxtaposition: The '€œcrowd'€ had to come before the '€œfunding'€.

'€œEveryone considering using crowdfunding must first be sure that they have a crowd, and that they know how to reach this crowd through the campaign,'€ said Mandy, who is also an entrepreneur, filmmaker, producer and writer.

Since its launch in 2011, Wujudkan.com has received 416 proposals. Out of those, 130 projects were approved and launched and 15 of them successfully funded projects with 6,051 active donors. The largest project it has helped so far was Atambua 39° Celsius, for which Rp 300 million was raised.

According to Mandy, for a success crowdfunding, a project creator should be able to communicate the reason behind the project and why it is important to them as well as come up with a set of interesting rewards for their donors.

'€œFund-raising is hard. It is not something you launch and then just sit back and wait for people to take notice. You have to relentlessly promote it several times a day through all your social media channels,'€ she said.

'€œAll the successful funded projects had creators who did everything they could to campaign, which they did every day.'€

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