MH370 crowdfunding efforts flop
A plan to raise millions of dollars as a reward for information in regards to the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not gone to plan, with less than two per cent of the target raised so far.
Family members of those who were on board the Beijing-bound flight, which went missing after departing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this month in hope of raising A$5 million (NZ$5.3m) within a month.
A A$3 million portion of that was to be used as a reward for whistleblowers and the other A$2 million was to be used to fund private investigators to follow up on any information provided.
"Reward MH370" was launched on June 8 on indiegogo.com and has raised A$80,000 so far, still well short of a revised target of A$100,000 by the July 8 "deadline".
The search for the plane itself and rumoured answers to what caused it to disappear has changed tack a number of times.
According to the website that has been set up for the campaign "the search for MH370 has been thwarted by misdirection, misinformation and untruths".
The site features a video with suspenseful-sounding music and footage of passengers' family members holding pieces of paper outlining unanswered questions, telling their stories and asking people to donate to the search for answers.
The website also links to further pages which allow people to submit possible information that could lead to answers in regard to the plane's whereabouts.
Cultural expert Jon Stratton from Curtin University said the group's main mistake was the angle it chose when it came to crowdfunding.
He said he believed people would have been more willing to contribute money towards the costs of a search rather than a reward for information.
"The way the media's reported it [MH370's disappearance], most people believe it's an accident," Stratton said.
"When you try to crowdfund A$5 million in a month, it's a huge amount of money. I'm not quite sure what they were thinking.
"I think if they were trying to crowdfund based on the idea of a conspiracy theory, it would be better to fundraise for a search because a conspiracy theory hasn't yet been publicly established."
The partner of one of the passengers on the missing plane told The Malaysian Insider the target for funding had now been "revised".
Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was on board the plane, said the new target would be increased incrementally once it was reached.
"The timeline to reach these smaller targets will also be subject to extension," Bajc told the Malaysian media outlet in an article published on Sunday (local time).
Bajc said although an initial survey of how people felt about such a campaign received lots of support, people did not follow through with action when the campaign started.
"I frankly do not understand it," she said..
"We still believe that the reward amount must be a 'life-changing' sum or genuine whistleblowers won't come forward and risk themselves. They will need enough money to disappear."
Bajc said with US$100,000, private investigators could be hired to follow leads.
"We hope to get something started, and be able to show concrete progress, even if it is just to eliminate theories that have been floating around for months. We hope this will motivate people to continue to contribute to our efforts," she said.
"Investigations take time, energy and money, but if done correctly, will yield results."
Initial reports were that the plane went down in the ocean between Vietnam and Malaysia but these were later dismissed.
Authorities then outlined two possible travel paths the plane may have gone, one towards the northern hemisphere, one towards the southern hemisphere.
It was established that the southern hemisphere path was more likely and a possible crash zone in the southern Indian ocean was identified, but "pings" were detected further north from that area. The search area was then moved to match these 'pings'.
After the area where the pings were identified was searched and found nothing, the search was moved further south to where the searchers had originally been heading.