Tech & Innovation Trends

How Crowdfunding Makes History (Re: S377A)

Note: Article originally published on Poached Mag.

Before launching into the real purpose of this article, here’s a prospective promise on bringing you a “proper”, for lack of a better word, piece on the phenomena known as crowdfunding which is slowly but surely catching on in Asia.

For now, for those of you who are still unacquainted, we bid you to come out from the rock you’re chilling out under and come check out this community. Crowdfunding can be described as

the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.

In the true spirit of things, the Internet is a great thing in bringing together people in ways we have never before thought were possible.

We have been crowdsourcing even before we knew we were doing so, from entertainment to information and even ideas. Crowdsourcing for funds to fuel an idea just seems like a very natural extension of our intrinsic desire to be part of a community, an inner circle. Just to throw you some figures, the worldwide crowdfunding volume has reached a whopping US$2.7 billion from 1 million campaigns in 2012 alone. And our tiny but super connected island has raised over USD$134,000 in just the past 6 months – not too bad for a country where we people are commonly thought of as apathetic.

A most recent campaign actually has the potential to mark a new milestone in Singapore’s legal system.

Fundraising for S377A Constitutional Challenge.

The story: Gary and Kenneth, a Singaporean gay couple of 15 years, filed a constitutional challenge to have Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalises sex between mutually consenting adult men to be removed. This legislation states that any act of “gross indecency” with another male person is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years.

The High Court ruled against the couple on 9th April this year for fear of upsetting the more conservative crowd in Singapore, and the couple have decided to file for an appeal against this ruling. This campaign has been started by friend of the couple as a sign of support, to raise funds for the legal and court fees required for the course of this appeal.

In just 12 hours from their campaign launch on 19 April, these guys have raised over US$53,000, surpassing their initial target of US$50,000 with over 59 days to go. The lastest update is that they have raised close to US$88,000.

This campaign is truly a success in every way:

The “product”? Equal rights. The freedom to love.

The stars of the campaign? Authentic and totally likable. Watch the video and tell me you don’t wish to give them a boost.

The target community? Not just the LGBT community, obviously. If you have a gay friend you care for, believe in contributing towards building a more inclusive society, or really just because you don’t want to miss out on being part of a landmark event in Singapore. This may really be the one chance you have to be part of this “collective efforts of individuals” and have your voice heard.

Positive side effects? The immense success of this campaign has ensured that it makes its rounds on the Internet. This means more eyeballs and more awareness to the archaic Section 377A. This will also mean more attention will be paid by the public to the appeal procedure, which hopefully translates to a fairer trial.

There isn’t even a need for tangible rewards which almost every other campaign dishes out. Contributing and as a result being labeled anything from a “friend” to “best friend forever” to “savior” seems good enough for the 700 over funders who have given to this cause.

I had an acquaintance who, upon seeing that I’ve shared this campaign on my Facebook wall, left a comment to ask if my account has been hacked into. Sure, with every cause you’re fighting for, there is bound to be resistance, but this is one campaign which causes a reaction – good or bad. What that acquaintance probably didn’t think about was the fact that he contributed to the campaign in his own way too: by creating a higher level of interest and awareness.

Image Credits: Indiegogo, Under30CEO, Grow VC

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