How are revolutions funded? It’s a question rarely asked or answered. But it’s a popular problematic raised by the system to bring down the spirit any people’s movement to the rude question of – who paid you money to protest against us? The 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare was blamed for this exact reason by those who wanted to divert public attention. Blamed for being funded by corporates, builders (those who wanted more negotiating power with the government) and even the US, the movement was perceived as everything but what it really was, a people’s movement.
Activists often find themselves in this dilemma – is it wrong to accept funds from an entity? What happens to their movement if funds don’t come in? This is exactly why, they will find the rise of social crowdfunding in India exciting.
People’s movement funded by the people
Crowdfunding finds its strength in numbers. No one can blame you for having a bias towards a single entity or individual, because you won’t be accepting an inordinately large sum from anyone; everyone gives a little and reaps equal benefits from the movement. It also brings in involvement. People who would pay for your cause, most obviously support your fight and thus you know you have their support even if they can’t come out on the streets with you.
The anti-corruption movement which evolved into the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) briefly toiled with this idea. Their early election campaigns were all funded by the public; small donations by a large population. This truly made them the common man’s party (reflecting its name), as the common man felt represented in politics, if not with his participation, with his contribution. He felt involved.
Involvement is another boon crowdfunding adds to the movement. When people contribute they feel personally involved in the movement. Though AAP still has an active donation page on its website it hasn’t been very transparent about their fundraising methodology.
Finally, the greatest advantage of fundraising from the crowd is transparency. Most active crowdfunding sites in India are completely transparent in their function. Who donated how much, how much was raised and how was it utilized. This puts people’s faith in the movement and clears off all allegations of bias. The question of funding has a straight answer – it came from the crowd; the people who stand by the cause. And that makes the movement stronger; not just financially but also morally.