By Arvind Sridharan, Rang De Blogger
After immense preparation and a extremely long train delay on the way to Mumbai, the Rang De Mood Indigo team was discussing where to place standee banners, posters, and people in the IIT Bombay campus. While all this was happening on the ground, the #rangdemi09 twitter campaign was being launched online. The team was all set to go and get Rang De’s social investor count and experience user count ticking.
A view of the Rang De Mood Indigo 2009 stall. Thanks to ivolunteer who put up with all our noise and shared the stall with us.
Day 1 was an early start as the stall had to be set up for the first time. Volunteers and team members spread across the campus and campaigns started taking off. About 3 people made a social investment of Rs. 100 within the first 10 minutes of campaigning.
However, by early afternoon, we realised that our strategy wasn’t effective as 1) Very few people were motivated to make social investments even though we had many compeitions in place with good prizes and 2) We didn’t have mics and a lot of energy was being used to talk while battling the noise from the other stalls. Now we had to change strategy. It was time to open up one of our games and as there were already a lot of games going on in other stalls, we chose a unique one: golf. The game was simple: put the ball into a hole in three hits or less and you get a t-shirt. There were a few takers for it but there was no crowd.
We tried various activities over the next three days such as promoting our referral, poster design and t shirt design competitions and auctions but the only thing that took off was our trademark “knock out poverty punching bag contest”. People either had to pay a registration fee of Rs. 30 or make a social investment to participate in the contest. The person that punched the most in 30 seconds in a group of ten won a T-shirt. Most people paid up the registration fee even though we explained to them that they will get the Rs. 100 social investment back over a year. Once a round of the contest started, all it took was some talking using the mic-speaker system we hired to mark our presence in the stall area for the momentum to pick up. About 5 rounds of the knock-out contest took place on each day.
Rang De team members and Mumbai chapter members conclude the first day of campaigning after gathering stationery for the second day of the Mood Indigo 2009 campaign.
We also got people who were interested in volunteering from cities such as Jaipur, Pune and Mumbai itself. Hats off to Nishant, a research fellow at IIT Bombay who got straight to work after making his social investment by helping out with the stall. Some of our Mumbai Chapter members had also come down to help out on various days. Many thanks to them for their support.
Even though we didn’t get as many social investors as we desired in Mood Indigo 2009, we learnt lessons the tough way. Some of them were:
A mass-campaign of this sort is out of our current capacity in terms of finance and manpower
A student cultural festival isnt’t the right place for a Rang De campaign
Campaigning for a long stretch is not effective. Short campaigns that last a few hours are the best, otherwise the enthusiasm and energy go low exponentially over time.
However, our preparation efforts have not been wasted. We have prepared competitions that can be run individually anywhere. Some examples are:
- The Rang De Micro-business Plan Contest — the actual Rang De experience of raising loans and running a small business can be conducted at technical festivals in engineering college or in business schols.
- Design contests can be run in design schools or in technical festivals.
- A twitter campaign can be run anytime in parallel to our offline campaign to create online buzz.
- Our games can be used in carnivals or melas as a fundraiser, where the funds can be added to the Rang De’s corpus of funds.
- And Last but not least, we have discovered that our “knock out poverty punching bag contest” is a hit anywhere anytime.
Finally, we thank the participants of our #rangdemi09 twitter campaign and congrats to those that won T-shirts and to our mood indigo social investors welcome aboard RangDe.Org.
Rang De is transitioning from a charitable trust to a Non Banking Financial Company. Check out our brand new peer-to-peer lending platform rangde.in