Political crowdfunding sells faster than IPO

October 15, 2019 11:33
Demonstrators urge the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act during a rally in Central on Monday. Photo: Reuters

It may not be the best time to launch an initial public offering in Hong Kong these days, but it surely is for political donations in this financial hub.

Since June, when protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill started, the democracy movement has seen generous funding from members of the public who have never been more enthusiastic to open their mobile wallets for the cause.

This is especially true for not-for-profit online news websites, most notably Stand News, which, as a result of its crowdfunding campaign, has boosted its headcount by 40 percent to improve its coverage of the current unrest as its page views skyrocket.

Youth party Demosistō is also seeking to raise HK$3 million through crowdfunding. The group advocating self-determination will use the money for a global democracy campaign for Hong Kong.

Led by Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Agnes Chow Ting, the organization has been acting as an international arm of the pro-democracy movement by lobbying, for example, for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the US Congress, which it believes will restrain the government from cracking down on protesters and support the fight for democracy.

However, Demosistō says in a Facebook post, it will take a while before the bill is finally enacted and implemented. As such, the group wants to promote the bill to other countries around the world.

It plans to build local lobby groups not only in the United States but also in Britain, Taiwan, Japan and Germany so that these countries can initiate similar legislation in their respective jurisdictions.

There are also plans to put up ads in newspapers in Japan, Australia and other countries to mobilize support for the pro-democracy fight in Hong Kong. 

I find this interesting. While many are sounding the death knell for the newspaper industry around the world, our activists believe the newspaper remains an effective medium to communicate to the right people.

In June, for example, pro-democracy activists raised more than HK$5 million in just hours through crowdfunding. They used the money to place front-page ads in major international newspapers to pressure G20 leaders, who were to meet in Osaka, Japan, to speak out against the extradition bill.

One reason why people are more than willing to donate to Demosistō is that the youth group has been working hard to pursue the fight for democracy.

Since June, the group has given over 400 overseas interviews regarding the crisis in Hong Kong. And over the last three years, its representatives have travelled abroad 50 times to lobby for the protest movement in the city.

So it's not surprising to learn that the group was able to raise HK$150,000 in the first four hours of the fundraising campaign, with 30 more days to go.

All the best, young guns!

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EJ Insight writer