This crowdfunding platform has helped transform millions of lives in India by redefining the culture of giving

Anoj Viswanathan of Milaap shared his journey at the first edition of Facebook Fuel For India, a two-day virtual event on December 15 and 16 that curated and showcased powerful stories of change, resilience, entrepreneurship, and hope from across the country

With the pandemic suddenly affecting millions of lives across the country, many entrepreneurs and businesses rose to the occasion to help people and communities navigate the new set of challenges. Among these is Milaap, one of India’s leading crowdfunding platforms. Milaap’s co-founder Anoj Viswanathan shared Milaap’s journey with Ajit Mohan, VP and MD, Facebook India, during the inaugural Facebook Fuel for India event that curated and showcased the most powerful stories of change, resilience, entrepreneurship, and hope from across the country.

Milaap: Redefining India’s crowdfunding space

Founded in 2010 by Mayukh Choudhury and Anoj Viswanathan, Milaap was born out of the necessity to fill the gap in funding across key sectors and provide access to essential services such as energy, education, sanitation and water.

“One of the things I learnt is how small amounts of money can have a profound impact on the lives of people… and it was still difficult for a lot of people to have access to that kind of money. We decided to bring these two sets of people - those in need with those who want to help - together. We coined it (the organisation) as Milaap, because Milaap in Hindi essentially means union, or connection for a good event,” says Anoj Viswanathan, Co-Founder of Milaap.

Leveraging the power of technology to redefine the culture of giving

It was in 2014 that Milaap opened its platform to carry out crowdfunding for individual causes, and was one of the first platforms in the country to leverage technology for crowdfunding. People have used Milaap to raise donations for a variety of causes, including those for personal causes, loved ones, pets and animals, charities and natural disasters.

Currently, donations for medical emergencies form an overwhelming majority. Milaap addresses the many challenges of giving such as difficulty in discovering the right causes, trust deficit, and overall donor apathy by enabling the natural spirit of giving in human beings.

As an online platform, digital has always been at the core of Milaap. But it was during the pandemic that Milaap was able to leverage the power of digital in an unprecedented manner to raise awareness and funds for some of the most pertinent COVID related causes.

Milaap has been using Facebook’s sharp targeting to reach the right set of donors in a frictionless manner and quickly raise the required funds. It has also been using Facebook and Instagram to build awareness for urgent causes and inspire millions of people around the country to do their bit. From raising funds for frontline workers to enabling support for vulnerable communities and even small businesses, Milaap has been instrumental in India’s fight against the pandemic.

“We managed to facilitate around Rs 120 crore of contributions, completely decentralised. It was not just one initiative that was raising money; there were almost 12,000+ hyper local causes and initiatives raising money providing food relief to providing cash benefits to frontline workers. I think it made us believe that contrary to conventional thinking, when one is in distress, people tend to look out more for others than for themselves.”

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