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Encouraging giving in the midst of an economic crisis14 Jun 2020

Sasha Samuel Fundraising Co-ordinator

Do people choose to donate only when they have excess to dispose of or can the collective conscious be triggered even when there is a looming economic crisis?

As COVID-19 grips the world, it has put to test, our collective resilience to the global pandemic and one cannot turn a blind eye to this changing world order which has not only brought about drastic economic damage but also, attuned us to how we work and adjust to our day-to-day lives.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the forecast for India’s growth rate due to COVID-19 will be at 1.9% reduced from a whopping 5.8% predicted earlier in the year*. Apart from widely affecting the overall growth and development of the country, it will also have a deep-rooted impact on how we function. The Civil Society Organisations will not be completely immune to these changes, as it functions only through the generosity and commitment of donors - be it institutions or individuals. The core functionality of an NGO is largely dependent upon the loyalty and support of donors.

India’s Giving Report of 2019, shows that 72% of the people who took part in the survey either donated to a charity or gave to a religious organization or sponsored someone. However, will a dwindling economy affect individual giving or does this ‘good deed’ take a back seat?

Currently, we do not have any concrete evidence to suggest that giving to charity has changed, but it is plausible that the giving pattern of people will change if the economic slowdown continues. There is no one-stop solution that will work like a magic potion. However, moving forward tactically can fetch some positive results in the long run for NGOs.

1. Go Social: Although being social may not be the accepted norm anymore, this social means, leveraging the power of social media. Keeping your current donors as well as prospective donors abreast with information daily is imperative. Of course, using social media is also a means of fundraising, but do not always make it about donation. Tell them stories, a new blog post with a different perspective and outlook, a video highlighting the plight of the people your cause supports, the exciting work that your organisation is doing, etc, can add trust.

2. Thank Your Donors: Like someone, very poignantly said, “it is important to have an attitude of gratitude”. Donors have given from the little they have despite facing an uncertain future. And this relationship goes beyond a mere acknowledgement. Think of a clear strategy to engage with donors, that goes beyond the generic emails. Use survey tools to identify the persona of your donor, and engage with them through a tailor-made process.

3. Buffering: Raising resources during emergencies is always a challenge. While shout-outs or a call for support in such situations encourage people to rally together for a cause, the ability to transcend such solidarity from a single thought to collective action is a daunting task. Civil Society Organizations should consciously work towards creating an ‘earmarked fund’ for emergency situations. This takes time but it is important to make a start. It will not only help in crisis situations but will also help tide through times when donations dwindle.

An economic downturn can sometimes create havoc for the social sector, even though the silver linings may not be immediately visible, the true answer lies in preparedness and being strategic.