Want to make a film? Cut an album? Organise an event? Give to charity? Whatever it is that your heart desires, here’s the latest on how to raise money — crowdfunding. Sudhish Kamath has the details

Want to make your film, stage your own production, record your album or organise an event to raise funds but never had the money to make your dream come true? Ask the crowd, it has all the answers. The crowdfunding model is picking up steam in a big way, that it might just redefine the way creative and social projects are funded, thanks to the early players.

All you need is to sign up with an online portal, create your project, spell out the rewards you will be offering to contributors willing to shell out money towards your dream, set a deadline to raise the total amount needed and gain publicity for your campaign through your Twitter and Facebook updates.

One of the earliest players, filmmaker Onir, raised Rs. 1 crore by asking people through social networks to make his National award-winning film I Am. Many filmmakers and musicians have followed the crowdfunding model ever since.

Wishberry, one of India’s first crowdfunding portals has raised over Rs. 2.5 crore through 6,500 people over 18 months. “We ran about 550 campaigns in all. Initially, we were in the social fundraising space for events with causes attached to them. So about 400 were all social fundraising and 150 were films, short films, documentaries, theatre productions, music albums and concerts,” says Priyanka Agarwal, founder and CEO of Wishberry (http://wishberry.in).

Filmmaker Srinivas Sunderrajan raised Rs. 5,26,000 from 79 supporters for the post-production of his film Greater Elephant. Student filmmakers Aniket Dasgupta and Swathy Sethumadhavan raised Rs. 1,01,000 from 49 supporters for the pre-production of their documentary The Other Way on the indie film movement in India while 21-year-old Vanshaj Kapur raised Rs. 1,15,000 from 32 contributors for completing his film through Wishberry. “My favourite campaign is Vasudha Sharma’s raising Rs. 5,65,000 from 119 supporters for her music album,” adds Priyanka.

The success stories are many. Aazin Printer raised over Rs. 3 lakh for his music album, theatre group Limbo raised Rs. 1 lakh for rehearsal space, a not-for-profit People’s Power Collective in Uttarakhand raised Rs. 8 lakh to start a rural community radio station and Project Khel raised over Rs. 2,75,000 for its life skills programme for underprivileged kids. Even recently, The Goa Project, after not finding adequate support from the corporate sector for its social experiment, turned to people and raised Rs. 1,89,000 for the unconference in less than two weeks!

“A couple of students BITS-Pilani were looking to start a portal called brainbought.com/ to teach the crowd on how to trade in the stock market, and investors started calling saying they wanted to put down big amounts for a stake in the venture. So, it is interesting how crowdfunding works,” adds Priyanka.

Creating awareness

Back in Chennai, the Nalanda Way uses its crowdfunding portal Orange Street (http://orangestreet.in) to raise funds specifically for projects involved with social change. “Over the last year, we have raised over Rs.62 lakh through 35 campaigns and 1,005 donors,” says Hema Priyadarshini, product manager of the Nalanda Way Foundation. Theatre groups, musicians and social workers from all around the country have been using the portal for their fundraisers and to create awareness about various causes.

“About 10 per cent of the funds raised through Orange Street are used for Nalanda Way’s core activities,” she adds. There are three kinds of campaigns you could create through Orange Street. “One, if there’s a central campaigner and a cause with a deadline. T.M. Krishna recently raised about Rs. 5 lakh for 20 special children by sending three emails to his fans. The second kind of campaign allows individuals to pick beneficiaries. You can choose how many ever children and fund their needs based on occasions — such as your birthday or the day you got your first salary, an anniversary or any special day in a year. The third kind of campaign is by organisations to raise funds for specific projects. Kamal Haasan’s fans who have formed the PTP Trust hosted their fundraising campaign through OrangeStreet,” explains Hema.

The latest entrant into the market is Catapooolt (spelt with three Os in http://www.catapooolt.com because ‘two’s company and three’s crowd’ as the founders put it!) that is launching projects this week.

For entertainment

Catapooolt will specialise in the entertainment sector — music, movies and performing arts. Started by Satish Kataria, managing director and Yogesh Karikurve, associate director, Catapooolt boasts of experts from the private funding sector. “Satish was vice-president with Religare Venture Capital fund and I have been with Reliance’s international distribution,” says Yogesh. “We are looking at taking it beyond just crowdfunding by also helping our projects find private funding. That’s our biggest differentiating factor.”

Catapooolt will also offer a three-tier reward system for contributors on its portal. “The project owners will be rewarding their supporters. Additionally, we will be giving them rewards and at the third level, we will be giving all contributors loyalty points that they can redeem for rewards with our brand partners.”

Catapooolt will soon start crowdfunding campaigns for filmmaker Sarthak Dasgupta’s film Cut Throat, the Jar Pictures’ production Khushlata, a documentary on the Indian Sporting Struggle and Ek Nayi Umeed, an album by Shankar Mahadevan along with seven children from different NGOs.