From mobilising resources for a campaign or a film to pooling money for a gift, the concept of online crowdfunding has caught on. And there are quite a few firms and websites to organise it

The term could be new but the practice is not. Didn't we all pool money to get a colleague a gift? The crowdfunding idea went digital with Wrapp and Gifties and turned into an avalanche when Facebook bought Karma to give its users a social gifts platform. Here you could gift individually or “add value” to someone else's gift initiative. BonaYou, Treater, Giftly, iwishfor and Amazon's Program tweaked the story with their own versions. India launched Social Calendar (gobbled by Amazon) and Badhai.in which asks you to “Contribute with friends and gift bigger.” Soon Socialgift.com, eGifter and Amazon's Birthdaygift joined the others.

Crowdfunding movies was a logical step. Shyam Benegal collected Rs. 2 each from 5 lakh farmers of the Gujarat Milk Co-operative in 1976 to make Manthan. Onir revived it when he reached out to his personal network and the broader indie community on Facebook in 2009 to fund I Am. Anurag Kashyap opted for crowdfunding for his film Peddlers. Pawan Srivastava's Naya Pata drew contributions from those interested in Bhojpuri movies. A Mumbai musical event went for the “of/for/by people” concept. “It's like giving some 'donation' for your society's annual function — in return you get a packet of chips, juice and a dance floor!” said bassist-turned-filmmaker Srinivas Sunderrajan. Ankur Tewari got his Facebook “friends” to cough up contributions to make a video of his popular song Jaanu. Suchi will crowdfund her documentary Guttersnipes. Neverland could be the first crowd-sourced project start to finish.

Firms make a foray

Inevitably, online firms sprang up to organise individual crowdfunding efforts. On crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, RocketHub and Indiegogo, an individual or group posts an idea or cause. It is marketed heavily, and reaches people searching for cool, interesting initiatives to support. Firms such as SeekFundz are open to all creative and innovative ventures, big or small, in areas such as film, theatre, photography, dance, social enterprise, gaming, festivals and fashion. “We are working very hard to make the crowdfunding platform credible,” said Springboard Ventures.

Website too

“A crowdfunding website makes it easy to raise funds, is scalable, transparent, automated, and interspersed with social media pluggins that make it easier for indie artists to reach out to the crowd and interact with them,” said Giselle Mendes, Wishberry.in, a super-successful crowdfunding platform. In 2011, with a team of four members, Wishberry moved into the social fund-raising space by mobilising close to Rs. 4 lakh for Teach-for-India at the 2011 Mumbai Marathon, a figure that grew to Rs. 40 lakh for several NGOs in 2012. “The fact that 6,000+ contributors have put down over Rs. 2.5 crore for projects on Wishberry.in is testimony to the success of crowdfunding and Wishberry in India!” she said.

Aazin was the first music artist to crowdfund his project on Wishberry, said Giselle. Vasuda Sharma raised enough for her album Stay Attuned. Symbiosis students Vanshaj, Aniket and Swathy were surprised to get more than their target amounts for The Big Film and The Other Way. “The Big Film reached its target in five days flat!” Srinivas has got the largest contribution in the indie movie space so far, for his Greater Elephant. BITS-Pilani students' Brainbought was the first start-up for Wishberry. Clustalz Theatre Repertoire raised cash for Limbo, KHEL for a workshop, STEP for a Kashmir peace project, Saritha Thomas for a community radio station and organisers for Kashsish-2013. Watch fashion venture Prasino, comic strip Menstrupedia, a smokeless chulha project by IIT-Delhi, Ruupa Raman's album Krishnarupa taking off on our platform, said Giselle.

She tells you how: Do your homework on the process, choose the timeline and target amount. The Wishberry team will review the project, and give you the go-ahead. Follow instructions, read their blogs on optimum use of social media. With a market plan, the campaign is set up (with rewards, pitching video) and contributions will (hopefully) pour in “online via credit/debit card, net-banking and offline via cash/cheque pick-up, powered by our partner payment providers. Campaigners can use the platform's communication system to update funders with the project's progress. Wishberry charges a fee per campaign and deducts 10 per cent of all funds raised through the platform, of which about 3 per cent goes towards the payment gateway cost.”

Each campaign is a new learning, said Giselle, but success is sweet. People come forward with bridge amounts when niche projects are crowdfunded successfully. “The fund-raising campaign for acid victim Sonali Mukherjee was driven entirely by Wishberry. We became campaigners and every contribution brought a whole different high to the team.”

Crowdsourcing: Umbrella term. Sourcing anything from the Crowd (surveys, content, ideas or funds) — usually through digital networking.

Crowdfunding: Creators (film companies/individual creators) ask people for donations to fund their project. Funders receive some return — like tickets, cameos in the film, VIP passes, DVDs, credit, music lessons, and autographed merchandise.Crowdfunding is not investing. There is no equity/profit-sharing/loan pay-back/interest. Crowdfunding gives creator independence, and control over content/distribution/revenue.