As protests have rocked Turkey over the past few days, three Turkish professionals in the U.S. decided that they had to take some action. Turning to their technology backgrounds, the trio launched a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to buy a full-page ad in the front section of the New York Times to their fellow Turkish citizens who’ve clashed with the government across dozens of cities.
The team behind the campaign aren’t activists or fundraisers, though–they’re self-described tech geeks who just felt compelled to act. Murat Aktihanoglu is known in the NY tech community as an entrepreneur and investor, the founder of Entrepreneurs Roundtable and its related startup accelerator. Oltac Unsal is an angel investor and adviser to the World Bank. The youngest of the campaign’s founders, Duygu Atacan, is a user experience and interface designer in New York.
The campaign received donations from 50 countries at a clip of over $2,500 per hour over its first day, crossing its $53,800 goal in about 21 hours, and it was at over $85,000 just 36 hours after launch. That makes it the fastest politics campaign to hit a goal of higher than $6,000 in the history of the crowd-funding platform. Just how fast did donors across the world get the campaign funded? Speedily enough that the campaign team got a phone call Monday from Indiegogo’s surprised cofounder and CEO, Slava Rubin. “He wanted to know who we were and how this happened as one of the fastest raises in Indiegogo history,” says Aktihanoglu. “And all we did was put out updates on our Twitter accounts.
The group has had one problem—the campaign continues to receive donations and is already over
$30,000 $50,000 over its funding goal. To solve that problem, the campaign has stuck to the crowd: Turning to a forum on Reddit to ask where the extra money should go, its founders now plan to also fund a film documentary about the protests. Online and over social media, volunteer film crews are already reaching out.
Why Am I Curious?
I am curious because time and again I have heard about the power of social media and technology when it comes to societal change but I have never actually experienced it until last week through my Facebook and Twitter feeds. At the expense of moving away from the realm of digital curiosities, I do wonder if these actions enabled by technology will be fruitful or will it fail because it lacks a centralized mobilizing force? It is easy to click a button and donate a few hundred dollars but what’s next and what is the true impact of this ad in the long-run are all things I wonder and often worry about.