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Giving is now going digital

Giving is now going digital
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First Published: Tue, May 15 2012. 08 59 PM IST

Be philanthropic:It’s all online and automated.
Be philanthropic:It’s all online and automated.
Updated: Tue, May 15 2012. 08 59 PM IST
Charitable giving in India has doubled in the last six years, and the Internet is one of the instruments driving this change. The Web is making it easier than ever to become a digital philanthropist, and this shows in the numbers.
Be philanthropic:It’s all online and automated.
According to “The India Philanthropy Report 2012” by Bain and Company’s Arpan Sheth and Madhur Singhal, released in March, private charity contributions in India in 2011 made up 0.3-0.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP)—up from about 0.2% in 2006.
While that sounds low, India is one of the leaders in charitable giving among developing nations; in developed countries such as the US, private giving accounted for 2.2% of the GDP in 2009.
The 2011 “World Wealth Report” by information technology (IT), consulting and outsourcing company Capgemini and financial services company Bank of America Merrill Lynch put India’s high networth individual (HNI) population at 12th largest in the world.
In an environment such as this, crowd-sourced charity, backed by technology, could play a crucial role in propelling charity in the country. Philanthropy is not “strong” in India—even offline. But a growing number of Indians are involved in “social investing”, suggests the Bain and Company report.
Today, philanthropy is not just for the rich. You can give small amounts online and make a difference. Technology makes it possible for you to pick your cause, and ensures you can follow up on how your money is used, right at your desk.
Are you waiting to give? We picked four sites that crowd-source “giving”. The sites provide an insight into how technology can be used to overcome hurdles to make the world a better place. But best of all, everything is online and automated, so practically 100% of what you give goes to the cause.
Right to Live
It’s not just money that makes a difference to those who need a heart operation or an artificial limb, or those fighting breast cancer. They need support, the poor often need volunteers to take their children to hospital and back (because if they take off from work—say, at a construction site —there may be no job left to return to), and they need time from great doctors with giant-sized hearts. Bringing all this together is Right to Live, a crowd-sourcing site launched by Raghurama Kote, who recently quit as the president of Ciber India, a Bangalore-based technology company.
The site brings together more than 5,000 doctors and volunteers who give of their time and expertise, the services of hospitals willing to spare patient-care facilities, pharmaceutical firms, medical institutions, HNIs and donors like you and me, to aid needy patients. You can pick the patient you wish to donate to (scrutinized and authenticated by Right to Live), learn the patient’s history, and keep track of how your funds are used.
“There are privacy issues,” says Kote, “as all patient reports cannot be shared, and we maintain a balance between the law and a patient’s needs. But because we are online, we have the potential to reach a very large group of needy patients and donors.” All donations are exempt from tax.
Don’t want to donate but want to help those who can do with your generosity? Lend. That way, you can have your cake and eat it too. Milaap enables you to lend to India’s working poor so they can get access to education, clean water, energy, sanitation, and a lot more—everything that goes into making a livelihood possible. As an example, the money you give goes into paying for power that lights up zari workshops, provides money to buy raw material for photo-frame makers, and helps farmers committed to sustainable farming prevent soil pollution and preserve the natural nutrients on their farms. It’s a different take on charity and micro-financing.
Milaap identifies the needy and brings the lenders together. It has raised over $200,000 (or Rs 1.07 crore), since it started in 2010. You can visit the Milaap site and decide who should get your loan (with a minimum commitment of Rs 1,000), whether the beneficiary should be male or female, and the loan repayment period. Then hit the “Give a Loan” button and get going. When the borrower repays the loan, you can decide who should get your money next. If you think about it, that’s an innovative way to recycle your charity corpus.
Samhita aims to support the social sector. Fundamentally, the organization ensures that your money goes to the right non-governmental organizations, or NGOs (Samhita has a credibility framework through which it filters NGOs). For example, you could support HIV-infected women in Salem, Tamil Nadu, through the Salem District People Service Society. You can pick projects dealing with education, sanitation, spirituality, health, culture, environment, social rights, peace…practically anything. When you donate, Samhita’s donation expertise kicks in and you are kept updated with the proof of impact of your contribution. When you donate online, you get instant receipt of your transaction and a tax-break certificate from the NGO.
Samhita is a philanthropic initiative of the Nadathur Trust, registered as a trust in Karnataka. The trust manages an investment portfolio of over $600 million from angel and venture funds to private equity, public equity and debt. It was founded in 2000 by N.S. Raghavan, a co-founder of Infosys Ltd. At the time of printing, financial disclosures had not been published, but the Samhita website says this will also happen shortly.
Ekjaa is a crowd-sourced funding venture for social entrepreneurs and NGOs that started in 2010. It verifies, monitors and measures projects in the areas of education, differently abled, health, environment and human trafficking, and manages the funding on your behalf. It was among the earliest sites to crowd-source funding and use it for a donate or lend model (you have the option of picking the model you want). Reports on the projects are available online biweekly. Ekjaa volunteers also visit their donation sites once a month, according to its website. Donations can be for as little as Rs 100, but tax-exemption certificates are given only for donations of Rs 5,000 or more.
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First Published: Tue, May 15 2012. 08 59 PM IST