5 Enlightening Insights From India’s Top Crowdfunding Pioneers

India’s top crowdfunding pioneers are breaking through distrust, collaborating with companies, and proving the power of crowdfunding. Kavita Ann Mathew explains.


I’ll never forget the feeling of hosting India’s first-ever crowdfunding symposium. GlobalGiving and Impact Guru invited top platforms, organizations, funders, and thought leaders to discuss the emerging crowdfunding space in India in September 2017.

For me—someone devoted to the possibilities of crowdfunding in India—it was exhilarating to see my peers from the sector collaborate and come together for the first time to share insights and learning from their personal experiences of crowdfunding in India.

Here’s my take on the most important insights at the symposium from India’s top crowdfunding platforms:

    1. Building trust is an ongoing process.

    A donor’s trust is built over time. Indian organizations are battling a historic suspicion of the nonprofit sector. In response, regulations have tightened and vetting entities such as Guidestar India, Charities Aid Foundation India, and GlobalGiving have come into the space. Now, donors have more ways to judge an organization’s trustworthiness. Trust is built on the authenticity and transparency of a nonprofit’s campaign or project. Reporting back to your donors and completing due diligence can sometimes be taxing, but it is more than just a compliance process. It is a way to engage with your donor and show them that you and your organization are trustworthy.

    2. Crowdfunding is growing in popularity in India.

    Traditionally, Indian giving centered on religious giving, and fundraising was focused on grant funding. However, as trust in the sector increases and methods to give (online and offline) become easier, individuals are looking beyond their temples, mosques, and churches for places to give. High net worth individuals and CSR programs are also seeing potential in crowdfunding, and they crave innovation outside traditional matching funds and grants. This is an opportunity for nonprofits to engage with their new networks, expand their sphere of influence, and tap into a more diverse pool of novel funding sources.

    3. There’s still untapped potential in India’s CSR Mandate.

    Leading crowdfunding platforms in India have noticed that the majority of their nonprofit partners depend heavily on grants. However, in the last 3 to 4 years the sector as a whole has put in extra effort and time to get a share of the funding generated by the 2013 CSR Mandate, which requires companies to give 2% of their profits to charity.

    Financially sustainable and independent nonprofits know from experience that diverse sources of funding are important. Crowdfunding platforms work with the CSR departments of companies to bring in matching funding for their partners, and they’re searching for other ways to leverage corporate partnerships, including asking CSR leaders and family foundations to fund crowdfunding trainings and incentivize giving.

    At the crowdfunding symposium, Darshan Mundada from The Pravin Agarwal Fund talked about the power of his collaboration with crowdfunding platform Milaap—the partnership funded 32 successful liver transplants. It’s so inspiring to see the power of crowdfunding in action!

    4. Crowdfunding campaigns are being aligned with seasonal festivities.

    Crowdfunding platforms in India generally see a spike in donation volumes during Daan Utsav, Diwali, year-end festivities, and the end of the financial year in March. Combining offline events, such as open houses, film screenings, and lectures, with online fundraising campaigns on specific days during festivals is a great way to inspire donors to give to your cause and raise awareness of crowdfunding in India in a fun, yet impactful way.

    5. Storytelling is powerful.

    Give India’s new CEO, Atul Satija, said something at the symposium that is still resonating with me: “Giving is not loud enough for masses to take notice. It needs a lot more promotion. How do we do that together?” There is a deficit of positive stories, and the national/global readership is hungry for it, according to India’s leading crowdfunding experts. Donors want to see impact, and storytelling is one of the best ways to meet the demand. Crowdfunding campaigns that get coverage in a national or local daily newspaper, or a local radio station, tend to reach their fundraising goals much faster. (Download a GlobalGiving template for your media outreach.)

Thank you to the Indian crowdfunding platforms who attended the first-ever crowdfunding symposium in India and contributed to this conversation, including LetzChange, BitGiving, Ketto, Small Change, and Donate Kart; foundations like Nilekani Philanthropies, The Pravin Agarwal Fund, Ford Philanthropy, The Tata Trusts; and other intermediaries like Give India, Charities Aid Foundation India, United Way of Mumbai, India Cares, GuideStar India, Resource Alliance, and India Development Review. Together, I know we can make fundraising easier, safer, and more sustainable for nonprofits in India.

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