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Indians open up hearts & wallets in pandemic | India News – Times of India





Mizga and Faiyaz Shaikh have been running a school in the slum area of Ambojwadi in Maharashtra for the last decade. When the pandemic hit, Mizga says phone calls from her students, who were in need of food, started pouring in. “We started contacting NGOs and they arranged for khichdi and then ration kits.”
But eventually, the couple ran out of NGO funds and started dipping into their own savings to provide for the 2,000-odd families that reside in the area. After a friend posted their story on social media, they got in touch with crowdfunding platform Ketto. “I didn’t expect this much, but we ended up raising Rs 38 lakh in three months. Now we feed 5,000 families,” she adds.
The spirit of giving in India is very much alive and well with donations to various causes growing during the pandemic, according to NGOs and crowdfunding platforms. GiveIndia president Ashok Kumar ER says the amount they have raised for Covid relief fund in the last two quarters – Rs 230 crore – is double the amount they raised in the past four years. Ketto has seen a 4x increase in donations after the pandemic, according to Varun Sheth, co-founder and CEO.
Medical crowdfunding platform ImpactGuru broke its crowdfunding records during the pandemic, and is now averaging at 2.5 donations per minute. And while NGOs have seen a boost, many are also giving informally to people they know, as messages about people in dire straits have flooded in on WhatsApp groups and social media.
What are the causes people are giving to? Ketto’s Sheth says that while food, travel and health supplies were the primary causes early in the pandemic, it has now shifted to treatment, as ICU costs for Covid patients are prohibitively expensive. “People would rather support an individual than a general NGO that educates 100 children, we found,” says Sheth. Piyush Jain, co-founder and CEO of ImpactGuru, says, “During the month of October 2020, ImpactGuru raised over Rs 50 lakh only to cover hospital expenses of several Covid-19 patients.” Memorial fundraisers, he adds, are another category receiving an outpouring of funds.
Akshaya Patra CMO Sundeep Talwar says they have been able to serve over 10 crore meals to the hungry in 18 states and two Union territories in the form of freshly cooked meals and food kits with essential groceries thanks to donations from corporate partners and individual donors.
The EdelGive-run India Philanthropy List 2020 also found that the number of individuals to donate more than Rs 100 crore has increased by 100% over the last two years.
“GiveIndia also conducted a survey, and the results were heart-warming,” says Kumar. “Almost 85% of respondents admitted that Covid has increased their appetite for philanthropy and they plan to give more in future.”
Ingrid Srinath, director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, says the surge has partly to do with being locked down. “People feel more helpless, so they find ways to help. Plus everyone was watching more TV, consuming more news, or doomscrolling as they call it.”
Another important piece of the giving puzzle is that more people are becoming comfortable donating online. Sheth says, “Till June, any website or app you went to would pitch to the customer on why they should donate or what is the right place to give. Practically overnight, over 100 million people were educated about the concept of online giving.” While crowdfunding platforms seem optimistic about an upward trajectory, many in the NGO sector worry that this is a short-term spurt.


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