Crowdsourcing has been a tool for companies since the 18th century to involve their customers in creating greater value. Whether it has been in creating a logo, or designing a product or developing a business plan, firms across the world have used the crowdsourcing phenomena to their advantage. But it’s not just the firms; it’s in politics as well.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) directly translating to the Party of the Common Man that is currently contesting in the current ongoing elections in India is the world’s first completely crowd sourced political movement. AAP was initially never a political party but was the lead of a social movement to end corruption in India in 2011. The group has come a long way since then, winning the Delhi Elections and now contesting in National elections. What made this party different from the others is their connection to the youth of the country, their aversion to any fancy titles and most importantly their constant media presence. The party utilized social media platforms like no other party has in the country before with a strong email and telephone campaign that created a huge acceleration in their number of supporters since the inception of the movement.
For the elections Rs 300 crore (65 Million $) had to be raised by the party and they succeeded achieving this by crowdsourcing almost their entire financial target. The party launched a service that allowed potential donors to contribute using their mobile phones. They involved India’s largest telecom service, Airtel to help them roll out their plan. The way it worked is that the money loaded on to the mobile phone could not just make bill payments, but be used to contribute towards funds through the application. The party aimed at least 250 million of the mobile users out of the 750 million to contribute a small donation as that would be sufficient to achieve their target. This allowed Non Residing Indians (NRI’s), i.e. Indians who live outside the country who cannot vote to be able to have a voice. There are many theories on how this underdog party became such a game changer. Is it their social movement ideas centered around anti corruption, is it their connection with the youth or is it the diversity of the members of the party unlike their competitors? In my opinion, the party managed to involve people of India like never before. Although the country is the largest democracy in the world, the connect between the ruling party and the people has been weak enough for most citizens to not care. For once, they genuinely care and believe they can make a difference, Initiatives like the mobile donation app involve Indians across the world and create a sense of belonging that’s is unprecedented.
The party followed the same strategy Obama’s campaign used in the US, to involve many people across the country instead of just a few big players for fundraising. Over the last few months, they were successful obviously, now being referred to as the world’s first crowd sourced political movement. It is no surprise that political parties use crowd sourcing in their campaigns, but they way AAP has done so is a first in electoral funding. Whether or not they will win this election or not is another question entirely, but what they have achieved in relation to their fundraising is truly a success story.