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Online Donations: Keeping the Faith

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More and more Indians are getting in the charitable frame of mind, and they are taking the online route to make sure their donations reach the charity of their choice. 

GiveIndia, the fund-raising arm of GiveFoundation, reports a 65-70 per cent compounded annual growth in online donations

GiveFoundation founder N Venkat Krishnan says, "Pure, non-disaster online giving through us has grown from Rs16 lakh in 2002-03 to Rs 32 lakh in 2003-04 to Rs51 lakh in 2004-05, and we expect it to be roughly Rs1 crore in 2005-06." 

SS Ray Choudhury, director, Helpage India, says that last year voluntary organisation devoted to care of older persons collected Rs10 lakh online, 90 per cent of which came from salaried resident Indians, a significant gain from the Rs6 lakh the year before.

CRY India, another significant recipient of e-donations, collected Rs1.32 crore online in 2003-04, a 100 per cent rise in such receipts last year.

It may be nothing compared to global online collections in excess of $100 million. But given the extremely low Internet penetration in the country and the discomfort many Indians still feel using the net for money transactions, the growth in online donations is a testament to the success of Indian NGOs' ability to exploit the positive potential of the Internet. 

GiveIndia's Krishnan says that while the lack of 'touch/feel emotion' is a handicap, the net scores over physical donations for its 'convenience, ease of comparison and choice'. Another factor in favour of e-giving is the low cost of soliciting donations or servicing donors online (around 5 per cent goes to the payment gateway). 

Helpage India has regular payroll arrangements with companies like DSP Merryl Lynch, Bank of Baroda, Sundaram Fasteners, Madras Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd, TI Cycles. 

At present, it involves blue-collar employees who contribute as little as Rs15 a month, but Roy Choudhury plans to extend it to the white-collar sector too. CRY India also has tie-ups with banks whereby customers can make donations through the net-banking facility. 

Besides the usual tax-breaks, the recipients also send donors invitations to local events, along with annual reports, brochures and regular updates on how their donations are being used. The Siddhivinayak Trust has found an innovative way to keep donors happy and funds flowing - it sends prasad, vibhuti, and a small photo of Siddhivinayaka to them by post.

--Source - Gargi Gupta's article in Business Standard

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