Whether you belong to a group of young people or you are someone who supports them - it is very likely that you have already heard of "Oblakoder" magazine. On their Facebook page, they describe their work as "the values of traditional journalism with an innovative approach in the digital framework." However, that is not quite enough to present the texts that their audience has been enjoying for four years.
This online magazine first empowers young people and promotes their creativity, and the topics they deal with are dedicated to art, culture and social issues. "Oblakoder" often reveals young non-established artists and deals with youth issues, while at the same time shedding light on the problems of marginalized groups.
In 2022, the team behind this independent media decided to turn its annual publication into a printed issue - and in order to raise the necessary funds, they turned to the community in March and found great support through the Donacije.rs platform.
To present their experience with crowdfunding and learn the benefits of this form of funding from their point of view, we discussed the success of "Oblakoder's" campaign with longtime members of that team. In the first interview for the Donacije.rs platform, find out from the author and editor of the Lift section Snežana Pajkić and art director and designer Olga Đelošević how "Oblakoder" launched its second print edition through crowdfunding and how the community supported them more than they expected.
Let's start the interview with good news - on May 25, you celebrated "Oblakoder's" birthday! Congratulations! Why did you feel the need to launch a magazine four years ago that empowers young people and their creativity?
Snezana: First of all, thank you for the congratulations! We look forward to each new birthday because every May, more than usual, we become aware of how many things we have done in the year behind us, but also, we make plans for next year and look forward to everything new that comes our way. In a sense, it would be said that for us, a birthday is what the New Year is for other people. Then we draw the line, summarize the impressions, and since last year, the birthday has a special meaning for us, because then we promote the print edition.
The first issue of "Oblakoder" was created as a consequence of listening to the audience that follows "Oblakoder", but also as a consequence of our common desire, within the editorial office, to transfer texts from the virtual world into something real and tangible. While online texts are suitable for quick reading on the bus or while waiting in line at the supermarket checkout, magazine texts are like a kind of ritual - you need to take some time and dedicate yourself to them in a different way. In addition, it was very challenging and exciting to discover new possibilities, especially from the visual part. What will be the width of the text, where will the photo be, and how will the title be highlighted? There are really many possibilities, and now, with the new number, it seems to us that we have surpassed the first one, even though, after its launch, we thought it was impossible.
Why did you decide to start a campaign on Donacije.rs and what did it bring you?
Snezana: The idea to start a crowdfunding campaign came because we recognized it as a way to raise money to print the second issue of "Oblakoder" magazine because "Oblakoder" is an independent medium, founded by five enthusiasts, as much as it may sound like a cliché. As an independent medium, we do not have a stable source of income, and we are largely dependent on project financing. As a non-commercial medium, we recognized the crowdfunding campaign as a good fundraising choice because, if the campaign had failed, there would have been no print issue. Although we were aware of that risk, we believed in the community that showed that it was important for the second issue to come out.
We knew about the Donacije.rs platform from before, because the associations and initiatives whose work "Oblakoder" monitors and supports, such as the Jedi Movement and the Rock Camp for Girls, managed to raise funds for certain activities through the mentioned platform. As I mentioned, the campaign brought us a new issue, but it also helped us see how much community support we actually have, given that the donors who supported the campaign were mostly individuals, not large corporations.
I have to mention the process before the launch of the campaign, which took place together with Dea Džanković, because mapping the community and planning the budget was made much easier with her help. Thanks also to Bojana Latinović, who patiently answered to each of our questions and every e-mail.
How much was the community willing to support the printing of the second issue of your magazine?
Olga: Although we are aware of the large community we have, which is best reflected in the number of Instagram followers, we were still surprised by the support that came from them. In addition to the fact that a lot of people who follow us really supported the campaign with a certain amount of money, there were many who shared the news about the campaign on their profiles on social networks and thus helped and contributed to the visibility of the campaign. Another thing that surprised us was the number of young artists, literary creators and creatives who were ready to donate their works to us, for which people then bid at a silent auction. There were over 90 of them!
How did you motivate supporters to get involved in your topic?
Olga: It didn't take much motivation. Those people who follow "Oblakoder", know what our position is, are aware of how difficult it is to be self-sustainable and highly value what we do. On the other hand, those who got acquainted with "Oblakoder" only through the campaign through the Donacije.rs platform, quickly understood what we were doing and what our goal was, so there was no need to motivate them too much.
Apart from crowdfunding on Donacije.rs, did you use other fundraising methods during the campaign? If so, which ones?
Olga: Everyone in our newsroom loves to organize events, although Marija and I are in the lead. "Oblakoder" has so far organized an art exhibition, we prepared food together on a delicacy Monday in KC Grad, but we have never organized a silent auction before. This seemed very interesting to us because the visitors are not passive observers, but actively participate in the whole process until the very end, when it is announced which of them will take home the work for which he bid. The Silent auction came to our minds and we decided to organize it because it is not technically demanding, and so far we have not attended this type of event in Belgrade, so it seemed to us that other people might find it interesting because this type of event is not something. which is seen every day. Of course, there was also the Disco Flea Market, so that the auction would not be too dramatic (laughs).
Tell us a bit more about your silent auction in Cetinjska Street in Belgrade - would you recommend this type of community engagement to organizations interested in fundraising?
Olga: The silent auction was organized in Sprat, and we chose that location because Sprat is known as a place where social events of various types are often held, from book promotions to workshops. It was important to us that the space can accommodate a lot of people and that everyone who comes leaves with a nice experience. We tried to find an interesting activity for everyone, so visitors could, in addition to bidding for works they liked, chat, dance to music or find out what tarot cards have to say to them.
Snežana: Nama je na silent aukciji, pre svega, bilo zabavno, i bilo nam je jako drago što je događaj bio izuzetno posećen, ali smo se baš obradovale kada smo prebrojale iznos koji su posetioci donirali. Međutim, to ne znači da je ovaj tip događaja pogodan za svaki vid fandrejzinga. Da li je silent aukcija dobar izbor ili ne, zavisi od dosta faktora – podrške zajednice, ličnih afiniteta i realnih uslova za održavanje – cene prostora i slično. U našem slučaju, ovaj događaj bio je i više nego uspešan!
Snezana: We had fun at the silent auction, first of all, and we were very glad that the event was extremely well attended, but we were very happy when we counted the amount that the visitors donated. However, this does not mean that this type of event is suitable for every type of fundraising. Whether a silent auction is a good choice or not depends on many factors - community support, personal affinities and realistic conditions for maintenance - space prices and such. In our case, this event was more than successful!
What were the encouraging and aggravating circumstances during the campaign? What did you learn from that?
Olga: The aggravating circumstance was clear to us even before we launched the campaign, and it is reflected in the fact that the audience of "Oblakoder" is young and, just like us, insufficiently financially stable. Many of them are still in school, going to college or not having a job, and as we assumed that the greatest support would come from them, we were afraid that the support of companies would not be lacking, which, in the end, happened. Well, still, the campaign showed us that a lot of united people can really do a lot, which we felt somewhere, but the successful completion of the campaign gave us confirmation of that.
From your point of view, what are the benefits of crowdfunding?
Snežana: Crowdfunding is of special importance to us, especially due to the fact that we are a medium. I think that we are all aware of the media image in Serbia and how much the media is adapting in order to survive, while violating both the ethical and the Code of Journalists. Crowdfunding is therefore good because it allows us to create content that is not cluttered with ads, and on the other hand, we do not have to "account" to financiers, although we have had a good experience with all of them so far.
Do you think crowdfunding is a good way to connect with the community?
Olga: Yes, precisely because the community feels that they got something in return, which in our case is a printed edition and they understand that it is not "wasted money" (although we all have a tendency to "throw money" at some unnecessary things). I think that, after the campaign, the community now has a better insight into the process of creating a magazine, because it is not something that just happens, but requires a lot of effort, investment, money and a lot of people. I'm not saying that the community is not fully aware of that, but this campaign, because of its transparency, has contributed to people knowing exactly how long it takes for some things to happen, as well as how much it all costs.
Apart from the financial incentive, did the campaign on Donacije.rs bring any other value for your work? If so, which one?
Olga: It certainly contributed to us having more self-confidence, so we will be more open in the future to experiment with organizing different events, but it also gave us the wind beneath our wings for some other things.
Snezana: And also, we are mapping the community much better now! (laughter)
Were you satisfied with the success of the campaign?
Olga: More than satisfied. The campaign was even exceeded by 2%, and we were afraid if we would even manage to collect 80%. This excess of 2% brought us printing of a larger circulation than originally planned, so everything turned out great!
What advice do you have for organizations that have yet to launch campaigns on the Donacije.rs platform?
Olga: I would tell them not to take the preparations lightly because a lot of the work is ahead of them. I would also tell them not to allow themselves to be discouraged, because at the beginning of the campaign, progress is slower. If they are able to organize an event, I would definitely recommend it to them, because from our experience, the event proved to be an important factor for fundraising, without it the amount would be significantly lower.
Snezana: And I would say to send emails. As many emails as possible! Social media presence is also important, although you will think that at one point you overdid it - believe me, you didn't.
Will you implement fundraising in your future work? Maybe to finance the third issue of the print edition or some other project?
Olga: If that happens, we will certainly have Donacije.rs in mind. Now it is still too early for us to plan. However, one thing is for sure - there will be events as soon as something new beautiful and creative comes to our mind (and it will certainly happen, because we do something new every year)!
If your nonprofit organization or independent media wants to launch its campaign on Donacije.rs and gain the support of the community, find out how the platform works, and then fill out a form with details about your work and the idea you want to implement.