One lakh people and over Rs 150 Cr: how ImpactGuru is empowering people through crowdfunding

ImpactGuru, a crowdfunding platform based in Mumbai, has helped over one lakh people raise funds for their healthcare, social and personal needs.

In December 2018, Sai Srikanth suffered a cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma. Later, he underwent a surgery in which a small tube was inserted into his right coronary artery to restore the flow of blood. However, things did not improve and he remained unconscious. The hospital bills ran into huge amounts and soon his wife Sankirthana ran out of money.

Sai Srikanth, his wife Sankirthana along with their one-year-old baby (left) and Sai Srikanth hospitalised after suffering from a cardiac arrest (right)

“I had spent almost 60 lakh on medical procedures and I needed another 40 lakh. Coming from a middle class background and my husband being the sole breadwinner in the family, I had absolutely no money left. Just when I thought I had lost all hope, ImpactGuru came to my rescue and I got to raise Rs 23,18,700 through their platform in a span of one week,” says Sankirthana.

ImpactGuru is a crowdfunding platform, which empowers individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social enterprises by helping them raise funds for healthcare, social, and personal needs from family, friends as well as strangers.

Founded by husband-wife Piyush and Khushboo Jain, ImpactGuru, has since its inception in 2014, helped over one lakh people, mobilising funds to the tune of Rs 150 crore.

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Making a world of difference

ImpactGuru does not only set the stage to raise money for those suffering from serious diseases and medical emergencies, but also provides crowdfunding opportunities for non-profit organisations and individuals working towards a good cause. The 17000 ft Foundation was one such organization, which set up a campaign on ImpactGuru to garner funds to build playgrounds across remote schools in Ladakh.

Children undergoing a physical training session after the construction of a playground at one of the schools in Ladakh

Ladakh, situated in the midst of one of the most rugged and harsh Himalayan mountains, is mostly secluded and inaccessible. The schools in the region, do not have functional playgrounds because of which children do not get to experience the bliss of running around and playing games like hop-scotch or kho-kho. The 17,000 ft Foundation decided to change this. “We set up a fundraiser campaign for Rs. 3,15,000 on ImpactGuru. To our surprise we received more than the amount we requested for. The team of ImpactGuru supported us throughout and helped us with the social media promotion. They made our dream come true,” says Sujata Sahu, Founder and Director, 17000 ft Foundation.

The residents of Sarjapur in Bengaluru were distressed when the government earmarked the area for road widening. The banyan and peepal trees in the locality were more than fifty years old and the residents were keen on saving them. They decided that re-planting the trees would be the only way out.

Residents of Sarjapur in Bengaluru posing for a click after successfully re-planting trees in their locality

“The biggest stumbling block was the lack of funds to re-locate the trees using cranes and re-planting them. We put up a fundraising pitch for Rs 3 lakh on ImpactGuru. When we received 93 percent of the amount, our joy knew no bounds. ImpactGuru made it possible for us to save all the trees in the area. All credit goes to their seamless app usage and supportive environment,” says Joy VR, Founder of Sarjapur Resident Welfare Association.

People with developmental disabilities are generally distanced from the mainstream and do not get the opportunities they deserve to lead a fulfilling life. Yash Charitable Trust wanted to do their bit in this regard. They came up with a plan to open a café to provide employment for the differently-abled.

People with developmental disabilities have found job opportunities at Cafe Arpan in Mumbai

“We created a fundraiser on ImpactGuru and were able to gather Rs 7,50,646 in just 16 days. Once a dream, Café Arpan at Juhu in Mumbai is now a reality. We wouldn’t have been able to create this world of inclusivity without ImpactGuru,” says Ashaita Mahajan, Trustee, Yash Charitable Trust.

The genesis of ImpactGuru

It all started when Piyush Jain was working with SoFi, a fintech company in the Silicon Valley during his graduate studies at Harvard University. “I was exploring different avenues to finance social initiatives as part of publishing a research paper. That was when I found that crowdfunding in India was an untapped market with a huge potential. While I was thinking on the same lines, I came up with the idea of a crowdsourcing platform for healthcare, personal and social needs, and then ImpactGuru happened,” recalls Piyush Jain, Co-founder, ImpactGuru.

Husband-wife Piyush Jain and Khushboo Jain founded ImpactGuru in 2014

The initial idea behind ImpactGuru was to help NGOs run campaigns to collect donations. This later expanded to ensure accessibility of funds for people facing medical emergencies and students pitching for funds to pay their fees.

From starting ImpactGuru in 2014 with minimal resources, to scaling it up to become one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in India, the journey for Piyush and Khushboo has not been easy. “Until we could afford to have a full-fledged team, everything from preparation to research was driven by my wife Khushboo and myself,” Piyush says.

How does ImpactGuru work?

ImpactGuru can be accessed both on the web as well as through its Android app. It is powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) based story-builder with a standardised template for fundraisers to design their own campaigns. This feature allows them to create a donor appeal within five minutes by answering a few questions and attaching the necessary proof including the hospital bill estimation letter as well as bank details. The proof, which can be in the form of medical reports and enterprise proposals are thoroughly verified. As soon as the background check is complete, the fundraiser pitch will become eligible to be shared and promoted across desired social media platforms.

The web interface of ImpactGuru where basic details like name and contact details is asked for

“Donations for the cause can be garnered from across the globe through multiple payment options. We also offers tax benefits to donors from India, UK and US. The fundraisers on our platform have received donations from over 125 countries thus far,” says Piyush.

ImpactGuru charges the fundraiser based on the kind of services opted for. If the campaign is solely self-driven, five percent of the total amount of donation garnered is charged. However, if additional content support is requested for, the amount to be paid stands at eight percent and in case both content support as well as marketing is needed, it stands at twelve percent. Apart from this, a standard payment gateway fee of three percent is deducted.

The specifics of the fundraiser is to be entered in order to build a campaign on ImpactGuru

Domestic funds usually take three to five days to get transferred, whereas international ones take seven to ten days. The donations get credited to the fundraiser’s bank account directly or to ImpactGuru’s official account to be later disbursed to the hospital or the non-profit's account periodically. This depends on the nature of emergency and purpose of the campaign. All donations can be tracked real time on the ImpactGuru platform.

Similar to ImpactGuru, many other crowdfunding platforms operate in India. Prominent names include Milaap, Rang De, FuelADream and Ketto that help raise funds for the the underprivileged and rural folk. However, ImpactGuru has carved a niche for itself by being the only healthcare crowdfunding platform, which has integrated AI in its story-building feature and by partnering with institutions like Apollo Hospitals and GlobalGiving.

Crowdfunding is the next big thing

Crowdfunding in India is currently at a nascent stage. This holds good even within the healthcare ecosystem. 

“Every year, India spends a $100 billion on healthcare, sixty percent of which is out-of-pocket expenses. The level of awareness about medical crowdfunding among patients, hospital management and even doctors was fairly low in the country, but it seems to be picking up now. We at ImpactGuru, are aiming to be a catalyst in this process,” notes Piyush.

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