FIRE Impact Story: Indonesia Corruption Watch

Strengthening the support for democracy and financial resilience
ICW

Summary

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) is an organization in transition. Where it was once a group of committed activists doing the hard work of holding the government accountable, it is now evolving to a growing movement of active citizens. Not only are individuals creating a strong base of voices demanding change and challenging corruption, but they are also starting to make financial contributions to this work.

Through Spring’s Financial Innovation and Resilience (FIRE) Program, ICW leaders learned how a financial resilience strategy will allow them to activate their mission more profoundly. They are working to communicate and engage citizens towards building a growing individual donor base, increase their investment in reserves and deepen relationships with funders. 

ICW is part of a movement of strengthening democracy in Indonesia. Indonesia Corruption Watch made the connection resilient organizations need to make. By demonstrating that an individual supporter base can drive both program impact and financial sustainability, ICW shows how raising funds and advancing the mission can in fact be one and the same thing.

Learn more about their story by checking out the blog, video and infographic below. This Impact Story from Spring's Financial Innovation and Resilience (FIRE) program was created in July 2022.

The History and Mission of Indonesia Corruption Watch

Indonesia Corruption Watch is a national NGO that seeks to inform and educate citizens and bring issues of corruption into the mainstream conversation. Their mission is to fight for the realization of political, legal, economic and bureaucratic systems that are free from corruption and are based upon social justice and gender equality.

Indonesia Corruption Watch strengthens the bargaining power of people by holding the state accountable and by the promotion of public participation. ICW monitors and advances citizens’ rights, starting from basic rights to education, infrastructure, labour rights, as well as access to health services, government services, and required facilities as they live their lives as citizens. 

“Corruption is not something that we can fight just by shouting ‘Let's fight corruption!’. Society must have the ability to know what corruption is, how it works, and then how we fight it together.” – Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

Organizational History and Culture

Indonesia Corruption Watch started in 1998, one month after the regime change from former Indonesian President Suharto, during a period of democratic reforms in Indonesia. Many citizens wanted to see their new government address corruption and ICW was formed.

ICW shines a light on the business of government and how government contracts are awarded. The organization tracks how companies, government members and families are rewarded with financial or other privileges. They help citizens manage corruption by providing visibility to the government’s procurement of goods and services through a platform called opentender.net. This platform provides monitoring reports, datasets and other materials on many budgets, including school and community budgets, and government projects. 

ICW was purely a watchdog organization in its first five to ten years. Now the organization has built capacity to work directly with the public by supporting reform and anti-corruption efforts through mentoring and empowerment. ICW educates thousands of citizens through information technology and platforms that can be accessed free online and creates tools and education materials for engaged citizens and similar organizations in different parts of the country. 

More recently, the Covid-19 crisis emerged as a powerful rallying point and time of growth for the organization. ICW saw and met an opportunity to be a strong actor in public dialogue about holding the government accountable in their response to the pandemic: money allocated to it was very vulnerable to corruption and with imposed distancing, more difficult to monitor. ICW pivoted to digital communications: they were able to reach more individual citizens and provide a clearer message without increasing costs to the organization. 

“During this pandemic, ICW maximized our online learning channel which was designed for all people who want to learn about corruption free of charge. We have also learned how to reach out to other groups that were never reached by ICW. In many other areas that were previously difficult to meet face-to-face, now we can use online media to communicate and develop joint campaign strategies.” -  Sigit Wijaya (Jaya), Public Engagement Coordinator

What FIRE made possible: Four points of transformation

ICW has a goal of creating a movement of ‘citizen’ corruption watchers. Their leaders don’t want an organization where vigilance is managed only by them; rather they want to activate the citizens of Indonesia to be vigilant about corruption themselves. 

“We must empower the people. We must involve society so that more people are fighting against corruption and the anti-corruption movement is widespread everywhere.” - Siti Juliantari Rachman, Deputy Coordinator

To grow their reach, ICW knew that their funding model needed to change. They realized that they could be a more resilient organization that supported more engaged citizens if they reviewed their donor strategy and considered how to link their mission with the money they wanted to raise. They wanted to grow initiatives to attract money from supporters, not just donors.

Their experience with the FIRE program helped the team at ICW see new possibilities for the growth and financial resilience of their organization. These are their four key areas of learning:

#1:  FIRE’s Diagnostic Tool Makes Financial Health Visible 

The starting point for the FIRE program is the lenses of the program’s Diagnostic Tool. Before FIRE, ICW had never before benchmarked their financial health against other social justice organizations, nor did they have any internal financial health metrics. The Diagnostic Tool revealed three important elements of ICW’s financial health that led to immediate engagement and action. They learned they had:

  • A healthy level of capital reserves (LUNA) 
  • Underfunded communications, especially given their ambition for citizen outreach 
  • Over dependence on two funders: Ford Foundation and USAID

Before FIRE, few staff members understood the financial situation of their organization. At the time, ICW’s practice was to do financial reporting per project and funder only. The FIRE tools provided the team with a set of metrics and ways to show the health of the whole organization, as well as changes over time. Now they use the FIRE Dashboard to track their progress and review it as a team every six months. 

“If it’s red, what should you do? If it’s yellow, or green what should you do? These indicators helped us build new scenarios about how we can be more sustainable.” – Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

ICW’s culture supports change: team members learn together and make space for trying new things. Some in the team were surprised they could play a part in safeguarding the financial resilience of the organization:

“FIRE challenged me, because previously I thought funding efforts might only be a concern of the finance or management division, but now I realize that all divisions, all personnel, have the same responsibility in order to improve our own organization” - Siti Juliantari Rachman, Deputy Coordinator

When everyone sees and understands the financial picture and works on the same strategic budget, financial health becomes a shared conversation amongst all team members. As a result, program division leads now take on more responsibility for budgeting, taking some of the burden away from the finance team.

#2 Awakening the Courage to Invest 

The first time our LUNA was reported, we were quite amazed at how long ICW could survive with the remaining money.  Especially compared to other institutions - many have collapsed during the pandemic.” – Supitriyani (Pitri), Finance Coordinator

When ICW reviewed their finances through the lens of the FIRE Diagnostic tool, they learned they had close to five months of LUNA in reserves, exceeding the recommended three months. 

Their reserves included unrestricted funds, but the team had been very conservative about any investments and were fearful of losses. Their LUNA was collecting bank interest only. 

FIRE taught the ICW team that they have the power to grow their reserves through higher return investments. Since the program, the team has gone on to research opportunities for better returns and have purchased government bonds, bonds in an Indonesian bank, and in corporate-owned savings and loan companies. Now the reserve fund at ICW is able to cover operational expenses for eight months. In the next three years, their goal is double the size of the fund. 

With their new courage to invest, the team continues to seek the best opportunities to earn the best rates of interest: they are investigating investments in securities, gold, and more types of bonds. They will add funds from donor contributions, profits from consulting work and other sources.

“Talking about reserve funds means improving what we already have. We can’t stop at just ‘having’ a reserve fund. We have to use the existing reserve to increase the fund itself.” - Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

#3. Finding New Sources of Income

Spring FIRE inspired us. Previously we only thought about how much money we could get, even if we only had two or three donors in total. As long as our needs were fulfilled, we felt we were fine.” - Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

The FIRE program informed the ICW team that a truly resilient organization had to have diversified resources, and needed unrestricted sources to consistently fund indirect costs. The ICW team was motivated to lessen their dependence on their two major individual donors, as well as to look more proactively for funds with little or no restrictions. 

They set out to find more income from Indonesian resources, which are approximately 5% of their revenues today. ICW established a goal of 20% of the budget to come independently sourced Indonesian sources by 2025. 

Local fundraising - from donors and contributors who are advocates of their anti-corruption work - is a way for the organization to maintain financial independence while enhancing the sense of public ownership of corruption eradication work. For the organization, these independently sourced funds are a great opportunity for growth and resilience: they represent a reflection of the size and power of the citizen’s anti-corruption movement. 

Towards diversifying their income sources, ICW has a few strategies. They place a high priority on growing their individual donor base. They have created simpler, more digital opportunities for citizens to donate, even apps where they can make small donations from their phones.  ICW also has a business selling merchandise: this clothing generates funds and also serves to communicate ICW’s message.

Consulting income comes from business unit consulting called VC Integritas Nusantara. Established in 2018, this consulting unit provides services to corporations, government institutions and government owned entities to promote integrity, educate on anti-bribery standards and address corruption in agencies and businesses. The unit’s tagline is: To support your company growing with integrity.

“If more and more Indonesian people donate to ICW, automatically the level of community legitimacy of ICW will get stronger. This can also be an instrument to strengthen the bargaining position of the anti-corruption movement.Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

#4 Powerful New Communication Strategies

ICW realized that they needed to invest in their communication strategy to attract individual donors. When the FIRE Dashboard revealed that ICW invested well below the suggested 10 to 15% contribution to Fundraising and Communication, it inspired a reset on their communications.

“To reach our donors, we must fix our organization communication strategies. We realize that there are still a lot of people and institutions who do not know the activities of ICW.” -  Sigit Wijaya (Jaya), Public Engagement Coordinator

ICW wants citizens to understand that fighting corruption is not just the fight of ICW, but also the fight of the people. Their communication strategy therefore needed to do more than ask for funds. It needed to motivate their audiences and show how individual citizens had the tools to be corruption watchers themselves.

Prior to the FIRE program, ICW would engage with individuals at events, using booths or information stalls. Now they are crowdfunding on their platform SahabatICW.com and have a special team working to engage with individual donors. Today their digital campaigns reach more people and are helping them understand what issues are most important for their audiences. Through trial and error, they have learned how to optimize social media to reach their supporters; Instagram and WhatsApp have been most successful in engaging their audience.

The team also updated the ICW website to be a powerful resource. The ICW website provides the latest results and observations of government policies and projects and is also an education resource for corruption monitoring tools. ICW also worked on the power of their message. They applied the Gut-Heart-Head framework to their communications to emotionally engage prospective donors and inspire them to act. 

To reach the youngest Indonesians, they are also communicating through the programs of the Anti-Corruption Academy and Anti-Corruption School for Youth program.  

“Why are youngsters important? Because their composition dominates Indonesia’s population. In the future, these youngsters will hold important positions that will determine many people’s lives.” - Sigit Wijaya (Jaya), Public Engagement Coordinator

Going Forward

ICW’s way forward is to be supported by the very people it serves – the citizens of Indonesia. Their main objective is to nurture active citizens who are new anti-corruption fighters. ICW aspires to become a known entity to individual donors and through its campaigns, continue building a significant funding contribution from a network of individual watchdogs.  

In the next five years, ICW aims to become a center of excellence for the anti-corruption movement in Indonesia. This means leading with education, information and processes towards becoming a model for organizations that also want to monitor corruption and hold their governments to account.  ICW’s FIRE journey and impact will influence and inspire other communities in other regions, and beyond Indonesia.

“ICW's way in developing this anti-corruption movement is by involving groups of community organizations at the local level. We understand that ICW cannot do it alone. We need other organizations, so we also actively involve community organizations at the regional level so that they can participate in voicing anti-corruption and empowering the community.” -Siti Juliantari Rachman, Deputy Coordinator

The ICW team is clear that the success of their mission and their continued influence depends on their financial resilience and health. In addition to securing 20% of their income from the people who make up the anti-corruption movement, ICW also aims to continue to attract funds and grow reserves. Ultimately, they aim to provide loan capital to smaller anti-corruption groups in the region, thus creating a wider anti-corruption network.

“We are only the triggers for the courage of the people to fight corruption. If the community has the ownership in eradicating corruption in their respective areas, the roles of ICW will have been successful.” Adnan Topan Husodo, Coordinator

The FIRE program (Financial Innovation and Resilience) was developed by Spring and is made possible by the Ford Foundation.

FIRE teaches the fundamentals of financial resilience and is an internationally renowned program: it includes the latest approaches in innovative financing models, transformative partnerships with funders, changing funding and investment landscape, resource development and diversification, strategic finance, external communications, and leadership practice.

This is one of several multi-media FIRE Impact Stories. The FIRE Impact Stories describe and illustrate key moments of transformation that took place during the FIRE program journeys of selected organizations.

Sahabat ICW_Pendidikan