Indonesia’s key to digital success: Crowdfunding

One domestic platform has taken the donations market by storm. Can it be a blueprint for start-ups just entering the industry?

Indonesia’s key to digital success: Crowdfunding Photo: Unsplash

Indonesia has seen significant growth in digital social innovation products in the last few years. Among them is the collection of public donations online, known as crowdfunding. This type of platform is not the future – it is the now.

One of the most prominent digital crowdfunding platforms in Indonesia is kitabisa.com. In 2014, one year after kitabisa.com was founded, the platform was able to collect Rp 892 million ($62,000) in donations. By 2017, it rose to more than $13 million, accounting for 92 percent of the total amount of funds collected through Indonesia’s donation-based crowdfunding industry. Not surprisingly, the donations continued to increase in 2018. Between 2014 and 2018, the total amount of money collected through kitabisa.com multiplied by 267, for a total of $16.4 million. 

It’s staggering and raised obvious questions. How has this phenomenon occurred? What has kitabisa.com done to make it so successful? What has made Indonesians more willing to donate through this platform compared to more conventional ones? This essay seeks to answer these questions, specifically by examining the strategies that kitabisa.com has emphasized in building and developing its platform. 

Social innovation as a tool 

In this essay, we try to strictly define social innovation as a new approach to address social needs through engaging and mobilizing beneficiaries, and help to transform social relations by improving beneficiaries’ access to power and resources.

The study of social innovation has developed broadly and is correlated with a wider area of studies, including the role and behavior of individuals. The study of social innovation also includes the measurement of organizational outputs and the social outcomes of social innovations, which helps us understand its many impacts.

If given the right platform, Indonesians will do their best to provide financial assistance to those in need.

Regarding crowdfunding in Indonesia, studies were conducted to examine the role of organizations (and agencies) in its success. Indonesians are generally generous, to the point where collectively, society understands the value and virtue of voluntarily giving to others in need. If given the right platform, Indonesians will do their best to provide financial assistance to those in need.

Social innovation and kitabisa.com

Social innovation technologies carried out by kitabisa.com to contribute to overcoming societal problems are defined by three factors: the speed of giving, inclusiveness and story/impact that can arise from a donation.
Various innovative services such as providing a variety of payment methods, easy donations starting from 70 cents and the “Galang Dana” (or fundraising) page can be accessed anytime, creating convenience and speed for their users and for stakeholders.

This speed and simplicity encourages people to donate quickly. Delays and difficulties in donating can create a longer timeframe for donors, who could then possibly change their minds. For example, in the fourth week of March, the amount of funds collected by kitabisa.com for the Covid-19 pandemic reached about $962,000, compared to only $82,000 raised from conventional sources. 

The inclusive approach taken by kitabisa.com has successfully increased public participation among various groups such as soccer fans and millennials. The public can also be actively involved, either as a fundraising initiator or as a recipient of aid. An easy donation service and the minimum amount of only 70 cents for a donation makes the platform accessible, and it can reach virtually everyone.

Another factor that makes kitabisa.com successful is the inclusion of a story about the particular crowdfunding drive. Every drive must include a story or narrative and the people who are involved in it. For example, crowdfunding for the production of the R-80 regional passenger aircraft by Indonesia’s PT Regio Aviasi Industri, which successfully attracted 27,601 benefactors and collected around $660,000, included a compelling narrative about the importance of aircraft production for Indonesia’s future, with an addition of key figures behind the initiative such as BJ Habibie, a former Indonesian president and pioneer of the country’s aviation industry.

In addition to developing publicity strategies and personal approaches toward potential benefactors, the platform also developed strategies for displaying impacts for account makers and donors. Every donor can see firsthand the development of those being helped.

A blueprint for the future

Due to kitabisa.com’s success, the three pillars of its service   speed, inclusiveness and narrative   can be used as a blueprint for similar businesses evolving in the crowdfunding industry. However, such services will also need to consider the digital divide that Indonesia faces. Being ranked 57 out of 100 countries on The Economist’s Inclusive Internet Index, Indonesia has a long way to go in making platforms such as kitabisa.com to truly benefit society as a whole. The availability, affordability, relevance and readiness of internet in Indonesia needs to be improved to reduce the digital divide so that Indonesia can truly benefit from digital platforms for social innovation.



Anna Anila Widyatantri Pratisara, Alamsyah Dja’far, Dian Kartika, Ufi Ulfiah, Javan Dwiasputra, and Marcella Zalianty are post-graduate students pursuing master's degrees at the School of Government and Public Policy Indonesia.

You need to login to write a comment!