The first of July saw the birth of a new website that offers both budding and established artists the chance to raise funds for their artistic endeavours. Aflamnah.com, [literal meaning of aflamnah is matchmaker], intends to be a platform where projects that would normally have difficulties seeing the light of day can find financing through the garnering of public support.
Crowd funding is not a new concept, but it is just starting out in the Middle East and the founders have high hopes they can make a difference to the kind of projects that will come out of the region. The website is home to two different groups of people; you are either the one with an idea, or you are someone who is interested in seeing that idea become a reality.
For those with a plan, this is how it works. First, you have to clearly define your idea and create a catchy and audience friendly way to explain what your plan is and what it is you need the funds for. Once you submit this to the website, the owners of Aflamnah will make sure the project meets the strict but simple guidelines the site has set. When you have the go-ahead, your pitch is ready to go public.
Here there is a small catch, in order for your project to be included on the site you will have to pay $100 that is non-refundable. A general request for money does not work, you will need to formulate exactly how much money you need and then you have 28 days to reach this target. Figures have to be realistic – asking for too much will make you look unprofessional. No matter if you reach your target or not though, or even if you go over it, whatever money is raised for your project will be coming your way.
The site offers ample advice on how you can ensure people will like your idea and proceed to give you some financial support. Aflamnah advocates you offer a reward to your supporters, signed copies of finished projects, tickets to premiers, dinner with the stars or even a walk-on part are all possible ways to entice possible supporters to get our their credit cards.
As a prospective patron of the arts you register on the site, make a money transfer and then decide where you want to spend your money. You can allocate whichever amount you want to whichever idea you like.
Overall, it sounds like a great idea, but we cannot help but notice a few small problems.
The fee for registering your project is paid no matter if you raise funds or not and only allows you to campaign for 28 days. If you do not reach your target you are assured you can start another campaign, but of course you would have to pay the fee of $100 yet again. The site encourages you to use your contacts and network to drum up support and donations, something you could possibly do just as well by posting your campaign on platforms like Youtube or Facebook. Granted, you would miss out on those visitors to the site that are not in your contact lists, but that advantage will come once the site gets a following and becomes known.
However much is pledged to your idea will be transferred to you four weeks after your campaign has expired. Keep into account though that the site deducts 6% of all funds collected and that the bank charges can reach up to 4%, so only 90% will land in your bank account.
The downside for those who contributed money towards an idea is that it is possible that only a small sum of the initial target is met. The project will not go ahead at that time, yet your money will be sent to the artist and you will have no idea what will happen with it.
Aflamnah is an interesting platform to promote arts and the funding of new ideas. The financial side is deceptively simple but squarely puts the risks on the side of the artists and the supporters.
Having said that though, it is nice to see this new initiative in the region.