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Getting Started On Philanthropy: The Role Of Crowdfunding

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Giving in India is changing. The onus for putting in large amounts of money into charitable and philanthropic projects is shifting from corporates to individuals. High net worth persons as well as donors from the Indian middle-class are coming forward to support causes of their choice with monetary endowment.

Many younger Indians (the average age of our population is just over 30) are venturing into philanthropy. This is a noteworthy development. According to the Bain and Co. India Philanthropy report of 2017 in association with Dasra, the number of individual givers in India has doubled between 2009 and 2015. A large chunk of this body of givers have given in this period for the first time.

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Who is a striving seeker?

The Bain/Dasra report has a name for this category of philanthropic givers: striving seekers. The typical striving seeker does not have to be young – in fact seekers have a wide age range- but is in a place where they have made up their mind to begin participating in charitable endeavors. The prototype of the striving seeker has some disposable wealth, a bent for researching philanthropic giving trends and causes that have popular support, and is keen on understanding where donated funds can go to drive maximum impact, meet the greatest needs.

The striving seeker rarely donates on impulse, but prefers to operate with caution, meticulously researching the backgrounds of organizations they donate to, and even the work of bigger philanthropists, before making the first donation. The striving seeker is essentially a learner in the Indian giving ecosystem.

Challenges

The striving seeker is also up against the challenge of figuring out their own tacit and implicit motivations for giving, and they need to be wary of making assumptions about the issue they want to address when they give. They are responsible also for educating themselves about how their endowment can make change. Building and retaining trust for the organization they give to is possibly the biggest hurdle a seeker has to cross, which is not something that develops overnight, but through years of performing philanthropy together.

The first gift made by a striving seeker is best seen as an investment involving some, that may or may not pay off. This donation is significant because it breaks the inertia of never having given before, and is a milestone event, a rite of passage in the journey of a philanthropist.

What crowdfunding does

To ensure that the cause is genuine, this first act of giving is ideally done on a crowdfunding platform which has its due diligence process of verifying campaign authenticity. A donation to a crowdfunding campaign is made online (67% of Indian donors prefer to give online, as of Bain’s report from 2015) through secure payment gateways. Crowdfunding platforms like Impact Guru also have pages listing causes and organizations they support, so one visit to the website enables a striving seeker donor to select a cause that’s already been vetted, and make a donation on the spot.

This is the closest equivalent of offering direct aid to people know and trust, as well as those you may not know in this technological age. Platforms are happy to engage with donors and answer any queries you may have about the project. Donor-centricity and this focused engagement on the part of crowdfunding companies is finally giving rise to a culture of philanthropy in India, so striving seekers can join in the nation’s collective philanthropic endeavor like never before.

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