GIRIJA SHIVAKUMAR | 11 NOVEMBER, 2014
Redefining Fundraising For A Better World
Crowdfunding is a key tool for non-profit and non-governmental organizations
Over the past few years crowdfunding has grown to become an exciting new alternative to other forms of financing, and with the vast increase in participation, there is no indication that this interest will dwindle. Crowdfunding is growing a market for impact investing in social enterprises, marrying the worlds of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and leveraging an expansive base of investors to back companies for both profits and purpose.
Crowdfunding was initially used primarily by artistic and cultural organizations, in order to finance independent films, up-and-coming bands, and grass-root forums. However, in recent years, since civil society organizations have started using this tool, much more money has been raised for "social causes" than any other sector. Moreover, crowdfunding is a key tool for non-profit and non-governmental organizations, which want to remain independent of governmental funding and influence.
Quite often, Social organizations or NGOs face hurdles in outreach to supporters and in facilitating smooth donations for their initiatives. An enormous amount of money is being spent organising events or marketing fundraising campaigns. On the other hand, people who want to donate for social causes end up struggling with the logistics of actually transferring money via cheques or bank transfers. This is where organizations such as BitGiving step in as a centralised online platform which can facilitate crowdfunding towards organisations and NGOs in a simple, organised manner and which takes the campaigns straight to the user’s social network.
BitGiving was launched in December, 2013 with its first campaign in collaboration with Amnesty International India, ‘Support Jurrat – A fight for women rights’ which raised around one Lakh Rupees in less than 5 days. In the last 4 months, the platform has been quick to grab the interest in the social sector including causes relating to the environment, women rights, disability and education.
“Crowdfunding is the coming together of individuals to contribute small amounts towards a cause which adds up to substantial consolidated amount. The idea behind BitGiving is to take crowdfunding to the masses and build an ecosystem where both initiatives and funders can converge seamlessly,” said Fahad Moti Khan, Founder & CEO, BitGiving
Built keeping in mind the requirements of the two primary stakeholders – the campaigners and the contributors, BitGiving envisions being a technically evolved platform, which acts as a convergence platform where campaigners can present their initiatives and projects and the contributors can not only contribute but also engage and help the spread the word about campaigns they support. Closely integrated with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, BitGiving pushes the bar by re-engaging the contributors and encouraging them to become influencers in their networks by creating support events for campaigns and volunteering to become campaigners for a portion of the target. The platform also provides the campaigners with deep analytics with respect to the campaign in order to help them manage their campaign outreach better.
“The response to the platform from organizations has been encouraging. We have seen campaign submissions come in from cities like Barpeta (Assam) to Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh). Most fundraising specialists have been looking for a platform which not only allows them to reach out to supporters and tell their story and but also engage with their supporters and share their impacts,“ said Ishita Anand, Co-founder & COO, BitGiving
Aam Admi Party, the newest entrant on the political scene is also using BitGiving as their crowdfunding platform. In a political culture where the funding sources of mainstream parties remains largely unknown and dubious, AAP must definitely be credited as anybody can see the details of its contributors on their website. Further, the moment one makes a contribution the details become online and instantly available.
“We are official crowdfunding partner for AAP. Apart from raising funds for the party's Lok Sabha campaigning, individual candidates like Gul Panag and Yogendra Yadav have also started support events for their constituencies. Even though AAP has its own donation page as well, they chose to go ahead with us in order to encourage engagement from their supporters as well as let the individual candidates campaign through the platform for their campaign funds,” explains Ms. Anand
Crowdfunding websites are creating transparency and more open communication by enabling investors to engage with these companies over time to monitor their progress and continue to support their success as the company grows. This technology makes it possible for an entrepreneur in any part of the world to more easily engage investors and customers anywhere; whether that be locally, the diaspora, or with others anywhere in the world.
The crowdfunding market is in its infancy, especially in developing countries, but the potential market is signiﬁcant. The rate of growth of crowdfunding, and its emergence in developing and developed countries, suggests that this phenomenon can become a tool in the innovation ecosystems of most countries.
“ It is not just a payments’ gateway. It is much more than that. It is a complete platform that allows people to engage and track the money as well. This is a collaborative effort. The ultimate vision is to create a crowdfunding platform which not only technically evolved but is also constantly building a community of givers. Our vision is to back the platform with technology and develop an ecosystem so strong that people know where to go when they want to raise funds or when they want to give a part of their salary to a cause,” adds Ms. Anand
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