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How this tech startup is striving to spread a culture of giving among Indians

Amoolya Rajappa
7th Mar 2018
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Regarded as India’s largest giving platform for donors, GiveIndia is using latest technology to revolutionise charitable giving.

According to the recently released India Philanthropy Report 2017, the past few years have marked an upswing for philanthropy in India. Though there has been a thriving philanthropic ecosystem in the country, the report indicates there is a long way to go, given India’s developmental concerns.

Furthering this momentum around philanthropy and social giving in India is GiveIndia, a non-profit established in 2000. Recognised as one of the oldest and largest giving platforms in India, it has enabled contributions of over Rs 300 crore made to over 200 vetted and trusted nonprofits across the country. Founded with a vision to have every Indian donate two percent of their income to charity, the giving community of this NGO has over one million donors who have impacted millions of lives across 23 states in India.

Be it gifting financial independence to needy women in Madhya Pradesh, or enabling counselling help for victims of domestic abuse in Mumbai, GiveIndia aids social giving for various causes and concerns.

The scenario of giving in India

Culturally, India might be considered a very giving country. “But, most of it is religious in nature and a large portion of it not intended for change,” opines Arjun Ravi Kolady, who heads the online giving business at GiveIndia. However, as the 38-year-old explains,

There’s a sweeping millennial change, which is marked by more people wanting to contribute to a measurable social change.

The lack of evolved donors wanting to stay invested in a cause for long is still an upcoming trend, and platforms, like GiveIndia, that have a large repository of trusted NGOs built up over time, are concentrating on creating a bigger pool of these seasoned donors. Currently, GiveIndia supports various causes in nine areas namely Children, Differently Abled, Education, Women, Healthcare, Environment, Elderly, Employment, and Youth.

Arjun Ravi Kolady, Head of GiveIndia Marketing and Online Giving.

Then there is the tectonic shift in the way consumers have started using technology. Arjun says, “The Indian online consumer has changed over the years with many of them preferring to indulge in seamless, mobile-first experiences”. Though GiveIndia has been in the giving ecosystem for long now, it’s this shift that promoted their team to re-build the brand to cater to today’s well-aware social audience.

Reinventing social giving

Arjun, and his core team based out of Bengaluru, launched GiveIndia 2.0, building upon their strongly established brand identity. This intuitive, personal, easy-to-operate platform comes with enhanced features and functions mostly with the same rigour that present-day startups do. "We would like to differentiate ourselves as a tech startup doing non-profit than a non-profit using tech for its interventions", quips Arjun.

He goes on to explain what their platform brought about.

Through our Online Giving platform, we bring both convenience and choice together for donors in a safe and high-trust environment. Our Online Giving platform alone has contributed more than Rs 100 crore so far to 500+ donation options across our nonprofits, he adds.

GiveIndia’s widely spread due diligence team thoroughly vets all the NGOs before they are on-boarded and registered on the platform. Through various programmes like payroll giving, crowdsourcing, monthly giving etc., GiveIndia ensures that these NGO, which are often unable to market the kind of good work they do, get directly benefited through donations.

“We don’t contribute to individual causes and only involve reliable NGOs. A small retention fee is charged for the donations that happen through the platform,” Arjun says, adding that that’s their only revenue model.

Technology enhancing choice and convenience for donors

Often, donors have multiple reasons as to why they should donate to a particular cause and how. Through technology we are able to bring in a wide variety of choice (through different causes) and convenience (in terms of ease of transactions) to these donors. They can also measure the kind of change they are enabling through our impact calculator, explains Arjun.

GiveIndia has an elaborate system in place to keep their regular donors informed of where and how their donations are being utilised. Hoping to catalyse the creation of a "philanthropy marketplace" in India, GiveIndia recently launched a monthly giving programme wherein donors can select the causes they care about and support them through various monthly subscription-based giving options. “These monthly subscriptions go a long way in devising a larger societal change through involved donors who do not indulge in impulsive giving,” says Arjun.

Mission 10 Million Meals is the latest of such initiatives where GiveIndia has partnered with NGOs like Anamrita, The Akshaya Patra Foundation and the Isha Foundation serving mid-day meals to children studying in government and government-aided schools.

Mostly launched as a data-driven decision last month, the programme aims to enable 10 million meals every year. Currently, the mission has 33 monthly supporters who are donating Rs 1,000 per month to connect millions of lives by sponsoring a hot meal.

Challenges ahead 

Though the giving platform has mostly registered a flat growth in recent years, it is keen on applying various tech filters to campaign causes that deserve high visibility (e.g., issues like cataract) and in turn contribute to creating a larger impact.

However, Online Giving is growing rapidly and “aims to create the right intent for giving with a larger base of rational donors who indulge in choice based giving,” says Arjun.

He is also positive and hopeful about the kind of role technology plays in bringing about trust, transparency and impact measurement for donors. On plans to scale up, Arjun says,

Though we would like to register 10-15x growth in the coming years, we are keen on concentrating more on the impact that we create along with such progress.
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