The people of the remote Napu village in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara Province lack reliable access to clean water for drinking, sanitation, and cooking.

Men, women, and children typically collect water from springs, and walk several kilometres carrying heavy jerry cans of water back to their village. To finance long-term solutions for the water challenges, UNDP in Indonesia took a risk and started a social finance experiment.

In 2016, in partnership with KOPPESDA, an NGO partner based in East Sumba, and Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding platform based in Jakarta, UNDP Indonesia launched its first ever crowdfunding campaign: ‘Bring Water for Life’.

It achieved its funding target of IDR 350,000,000 (USD$26,000) from the public, and the money was used to provide clean water access to Napu village’s 500 inhabitants by building a solar-powered water pump system. UNDP Indonesia is now exploring the scale-up of this successful campaign into a bigger SDG platform that supports multiple initiatives.

This crowdfunding experiment has been vital to understanding the challenges in building awareness around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As SDGs are still an unfamiliar concept for most Indonesians, UNDP Indonesia wanted to find a way for the public to easily get involved.

We used various media to get the message to a wider audience such as a video production pre- and post-campaign, social media content, student volunteering, offline events. We also enlisted socialites and public figures to engage new groups in society as our ‘SDGs Movers’. Reza Rahadian – an Indonesian actor and heart-throb (pictured above) – played an important role in building ‘SDGs’ excitement among youth.

As the result, UNDP Indonesia received donations from 396 donors: individual citizens, the private sector, foundations and philanthropists. This experiment’s achievement was to raise sufficient funds in just two months in early 2016 soon after the SDGs were launched. Raising awareness and engagement on the SDGs were critical at that time.

One challenge that arose was a complaint we received from one of our donors related to the delayed construction for solar water pump. We responded by accelerating implementation and started provided monthly updates to donors via email and the crowdfunding platform. Accessibility of information to donors had supported UNDP’s transparency and credibility.

Crowdfunding is the first step for broader initiatives on channel funding towards the SDGs. As UNDP Indonesia is exploring a bigger SDG platform, we encourage innovators to come up with new ideas on how to contribute to the SDGs which we will facilitate through a SDGs platform. We are also establishing a larger social impact fund to provide capital for investment-ready initiatives that contribute to the SDGs.

This article is part of a series that GovInsider is running on the best government innovations in APAC.