Journey of Crowd Funding
We are really thankful to everyone who has supported and shared the cause of our Kickstarter crowd funding campaign. Now that we have reached our target funding, we are in preparation for our road trip detail and collecting proposals for potential collaboration in our road trip - "Call for collaboration"
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What we've learned from the process
We are aware that not many people know exactly how crowd funding works. Kickstarter, the crowd funding platform that is known worldwide for its transparent and straight forward approach, is not widely known in Malaysia - yet we do see some of our fellow artists or organisations considering this route for fund raising. However, we also know that some have decided against it due to lack of understanding over this process or approach.
The following is a list of things we learned from the process which we hope will be helpful to others:
1. Go for 'All or None' Model: Kickstarter type of crowd funding is working on 'all or none' basis. It means even if we raised 99%, the project will not get funded at all. However, this model compared to the 'Indiegogo' model, it has more exposure and more quality projects.
2. Go for short but intensive campaign duration: Kickstarter allows its project creators to choose its campaign duration from 30, 60, 90 days. General impression is 'the more days you run your campaign, the more fund you are more likely to secure.' From our own experience and that of our friends, I would tell you the other way around. The less time you set your duration, actually helps you to better focus your social media strategy and garner your crowd's urgency in putting their pledges - which is why we set 30 days as our campaign duration.
3. Phase by phase: Let's face it, '100% fully funded' is not going to happen right away when it comes to a project outside the demand and supply consuming model. Apart from getting our initiative funded, another goal of this campaign is to build public awareness beyond the platform we are familiar with, such as our home page and facebook page. Building the crowd is a long and winding process - we have broken down our process into three goals/phases:
--30% Target/ 1st week--
This is a magical line that every successful kickstarter project will need to achieve in the early phase of the project. Once this magical line is crossed, the potential funders outside our usual networks 'extended network' will see this achievement as an 'Inner circle endorsement'. Acknowledging this, they are much willing to learn more about the project and support the cause.
--60% Target/ 2nd week –
In this phase, our communication focus shifted from inner circle towards the extended network. It is also during this phase, we reached out to the respective individuals and organisations to further levy their support in promoting the cause.
After the 2nd phase, our campaign garnered some attention in and beyond Borneo. We have people reaching out to us trying to help out. We also managed to get featured by the Singapore Straits Times and to be selected as one of the 'Projects We Love' by Kickstarter! Realising this was the best opportunity to promote Borneon affiliated organisations and individual artists, we started our testimonials series from our core members, friends and previously featured artists and organisations. Again, big thank you to these beautiful people.
4. Communicate to your supporter: Crowd funding is a wonderful way to extend your network to like-minded people. Those who supported you in your Kickstarter campaign, they must care about this cause for a reason, they want to see this project happen for a reason. Listen to them, I promise you that you will learn so much from it.
5. Sharing is Caring: Regardless of failure or success, document your process and share it. This is the only way, you could allow yourself and others to learn from it.
6. No Talking, just Doing: Talk is cheap, if your actions do not reflect your words, then you don't really mean it.
7. Keep Trying: Always remember that, you have nothing to lose, you will end up losing more if you never try.
8. Be Transparent: By being transparent, you expose more dialogues for improvement. Document your process properly, analyse them with facts and data, allow feedbacks and learn from it. :)
Why are we sharing this?
'Who will fund you? People in Malaysia at the moment do not care about this.'
‘Foreigners do not care about this.'
‘Young people do not care about heritage.’
‘Why put your project out there? People might steal your idea.'
' People are unlikely to go through all the hassle to fund this.'
' What is the profitability of this project?’
‘How are you going to convince other people this is a working model if there is no profit?'
These are just some of the reactions we received before we started. Now that we have more time after the crowd funding, we would like to address or myth-bust these impressions/reactions/questions in one go.
Art/cultural ventures tend to be the kind of process that involves risks. In today's world, platforms such as Kickstarter had significantly reduced the amount of personal risk and capital an aspiring artist needs to be willing to take in order to realise their vision. In other words, our artistic environment today is friendlier than it has ever been, hence artists should respond by being as courageous as they can be.
Therefore, one of Borneo Art Collective's missions is to promote this risk-taking and alternative-process environment which is friendly to artists / organizations, and in time, to be the evidence of this. We believe that only through this, we can then further develop our presence.
Spring of Positivity
Having said that, we are happy with all the positive responses we received during the campaign which helped dispel once and for all any doubts we may ever have had. In this process we were gratified to witness a global outpouring of support - from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and many other countries. And to be honest, we have always seen our cause as having widespread appeal as opposed to merely of local interest. A simple chart speaks a thousand words:
Pledger Demography Analysis
The above chart shows an even split between the number of support from Malaysian/Borneon and international pledgers. While the support from our fellow Malaysians and Borneons have been thoroughly heartwarming, the support from the international community evidences the global message to preserve culture and heritage and that we are not alone in this endeavor. Through Kickstarter, we have also managed to capture the support of Brunei crowd (further breakdown of Malaysian/Borneon pledgers below).
It is no surprise the majority of pledgers are within 31-40 age range, which is typically the beginning of financial stability and interest in global concerns. This is the age where people are most inspired to create change and with the majority of BAC members being in that age range, we fully appreciate the support. We have also received a lot of support from the young crowd- ages 21-30 - it is encouraging to know the youth also acknowledge the importance of our project.
Reasons for Pledge
As the Kickstarter campaign ended, we carried out a survey on our pledgers which sought the reasons for their contribution to our project. Based on the reasons given, the success of our Kickstarter project is mainly due to their "Love for Borneo island". It is heartwarming to see that this love comes not only from Borneons but also non-Borneons. We also cannot thank our pledgers enough for your acknowledgement and support of the team's passion.
As for the project ownership, we don't see ourselves owning this idea of traveling around Borneo. In fact, we encourage more people to do so. We came to the point realising that there is no other way we could know Borneo better.
We will not pretend to know the answer to whether or not this project will generate any profit. However, with the amount of time we have invested in Borneo Art Collective, not to mention the careers we have left behind to pursue a cause we strongly believe in, coupled with the funds received and the solid support of the Borneon network, we believe there is strong potential in the arts and culture industry in Borneo.
Thumbnail image copyright 2015 Future Alam Borneo (FAB) - Salad Dressing Landscape's 60+ feet Treetop Cinema installation next to the Rainforest Discovery Centre canopy walkway at Sepilok, Sandakan. Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival 2015.