Samriddhi Foundation, a Kathmandu based think tank, ran a crowdfunding campaign from April 30 to May 30, 2013, on Indiegogo to support a research and advocacy campaign that would conduct a study on Kirana Pasals – small mom and pop shops selling groceries and fast moving consumer goods, which are typical to Nepal and few other South Asian nations. Atlas Network agreed to match all donations dollar-for-dollar. Watch the video that Samriddhi created for this campaign here.
People who have lived in Nepal long enough have often noticed that these small enterprises, Kirana Pasals, rarely grow to become medium or large operations, like department stores or supermarkets. The study was designed to find out what prevented the growth of these independent businesses, which are run by entrepreneurial and hardworking people, and to conduct advocacy focused on recommendations formulated on the basis of this research.
By the end of May 30, 2013, the campaign had become successful and we were able to raise the target amount of $7,500 (matched with an additional $7,500 from Atlas Network). And during the month-long period, we learned a lot about this great tool that enabled us to take another step in promoting entrepreneurship and economic development in Nepal.
The great thing about a crowdfunding campaign is the easy interaction between the supporters and the organization which allows greater transparency for the supporters to see where their money is going and who will it benefit directly. The communication process is simple and flexible and promises more accountability. However, crowdfunding is not necessarily as easy as it seems. Some of the lessons we recall from the experience are:
It is mostly the people in your close network…
Crowd funding relies heavily on new media, particularly social media, which means the people you go for support are the ones who are already connected to you. Those you have been able to engage in the past and have grown to be a part of your close network are the ones who make contributions. Finding new people who would simply look into your project and decide to make a contribution based on what you have presented is rare.
It requires a lot of thought and constant communication…
A crowdfunding campaign requires you to think a lot about your target group and understand what motivates them to support the kind of work you are proposing. Even people who know about your work need consistent communication from your side and a lot of follow-up, as is true with other fundraising methods.
During our crowdfunding campaign, we saw contributions pick up through small and medium size contributions the first few days. However, after a certain time, it tends to stagnate. In way, that is good because it pushes the team to put on extra effort to meet the target.
There is definitely no perfect strategy for a successful fundraising campaign, but in our experience, the key lies in being able to tell the story and we believe we were able to do that with the video and many case stories we posted.
Robin Sitoula is Executive Director of Samriddhi.