The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), which provides pro bono legal assistance to low-income residents in Greater Jakarta, is struggling to stay viable and ensure its services remain available to people in need as its recent online fundraising initiative appears to have not lured donors.
For the first time since it was established in 1970, the organization has begun fundraising to support its operation, but the initiative via the Indonesia-based crowdfunding platform kitabisa.com, under the banner “Bantuan hukum gratis dari anda” (free legal assistance from you), does not seem to be enticing donors.
The organization has campaigned on the platform for approximately a week now, yet the funds it has gathered has not exceeded 1 percent of its Rp 100 million (US$7,627) it seeks to gather within 160 days.
Compounding the disappointment, the total amount targeted in the campaign is just a small portion of the organization’s annual spending
“The Rp 100 million is actually a trial. Our annual expenditure is far larger than that amount,” LBH campaigner Khaerul Anwar told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
According to information from the organization’s fundraising page, the LBH Jakarta spent more than
Rp 7 billion to run its programs in 2015. The majority of spending was used on empowerment initiatives such as improving the training of their lawyers and conducting surveys within society to better inform the institute what programs were needed, Khaerul said.
“As for legal assistance [in court], we spend around Rp 5 million per case,” he added.
The LBH Jakarta has received funding from various sources: foreign and domestic donors — both organizations and individuals — as well as from selling books and merchandise, such as t-shirts, caps and pins. In the past, the institute was at ontime part of the city’s budget, but was removed due to the former’s critical stance on the Jakarta administration.
Khaerul said the majority of the institute’s funding came from organizations though it wanted to increase the amount of individual contributions to 10 percent, from the 5 percent currently, in the next 10 years.
The online fundraising initiative, Khaerul said was one way to increase the share of individual contributions to the institute. He said his team was currently thinking about setting up a payment system that would enable people to donate even without owning a credit card.
The organization, which was cofounded by former lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution “to provide easy access to justice for the poor”, have seen an increasing number of cases reported to them every year. Last year, for example, it received 1,322 cases, up from 1,221 cases received in the previous year.
Most recently, the institute provided advocacy for fishermen of the Jakarta Bay, who have been experiencing decreasing fishing hauls after several private companies began reclaiming land in the bay. The LBH Jakarta issued a lawsuit against the city administration over one of the reclamation project permits, which it recently won.
In June, the LBH Jakarta won another lawsuit at the Jakarta Administrative Court (PTTUN) over the dismissal of a principal of senior high school SMA 3 Jakarta in South Jakarta in April. The school principal, Retno Listyarti, was dismissed from her position after she left school during an exam for a day. The court ruling said Retno should have had been warned first rather than receiving an immediate dismissal.
“Thanks to the LBH Jakarta for helping me with the lawsuit,” Retno, who is also an education activist, said at the time after the court ruling.