By Rusen Kumar
NEW DELHI: This year in February Letzchange launched India’s grandest fundraising festival, the ‘Giving Premier League 2017’ (GPL), a 40 day online fundraising competition incentivizing participating non-profits across the country, to tap into a nationwide network of donors. It also provides an opportunity for donors and volunteers to leverage their social networks to raise funds for the causes they believe in.
This year, Rs. 2 crore in prize money is up for grabs for the winning team as a matching grant from LetzChange. (Previously in 2015 and 2016, Rs.1 crore each had been raised). This year, GPL 2017 will be grand, with 75 non-profits from 14 states across India participating in the event. (Some names include: Teach for India and the IDEA Foundation from Mumbai, Sevalaya and Bhumi from Tamil Nadu, Vrutti from Karnataka, Milaan from Uttar Pradesh, and Sita Gramodyog Vikas Sansthan from Bihar, to name a few.)
Rahul Chovva, CEO & Director of LetzChange shared idea on his innovation. He believes that increasing digitization in Indian economy, online giving has the potential to grow exponentially. Edited excerpts:
What is LetzChange trying to achieve?
LetzChange is an online social giving and crowdfunding platform that helps people leverage their social networks to raise funds for the social causes they believe in. We have partnered with non-profits working in diverse sectors across India to help them overcome geographical, financial and communication barriers in reaching prospective donor communities. Our goal is to make social giving a simple, credible experience for people, while leveraging the potential of online channels to maximize fundraising impact for the betterment of our country.
Our platform has proven to be particularly useful in raising funds for small and medium-scale non-profits located in remote areas as it helps them overcome physical and financial barriers to expand their donor base. Usually, smaller non-profits barely have the resources and budget to market their initiatives, thus eluding them from reaching out to a potentially large donor base. In such a scenario, word of mouth and network-giving becomes the most reliable tool for transcending geographical and financial constraints in marketing. This is where LetzChange fits the bill, by allowing participating NGOs to spread the word about the cause/non-profit they are espousing while, at the same time, empowering their donor base to support the charity of their choice and rope in further donations from their friends and relatives. Online giving platform that doesn’t charge any fee for transactions, implying that the entire donated amount reaches our partner NGOs.
Do you think the online giving space in India has the potential to grow?
We strongly feel that due to the increasing digitization of our economy, online giving has the potential to grow exponentially as well – particularly owing to the proliferation of mobile and internet access. Additionally, the future generation of donors has been raised in the digital age, so online platforms are increasingly going to become one a primary mode of giving.
The need of hour, therefore, is to help charities build their foundation for the future online, as well as build and engage communities online. We are guided by the desire to provide this growing online donor community with a trusted, user-friendly platform to give back to society.
What was the thought behind creating the Giving Premier League?
The Giving Premier League is an annual 40-day online fundraising competition hosted by LetzChange to help raise awareness and funds for various non-profits that are contributing towards the welfare of our country. This year’s League kicked off on February 15, 2017 and is on until March 25, 2017.
The League instills a sense of competition between teams representing different regions in India, comprised of NGOs working for the development of people living in those areas. Charities therefore are in the running to raise maximum funds, expand their donor network and work to grab the cumulative prize money of up to Rs. 2 crore, offered as matching grant from LetzChange. Apart from the fixed rewards, these non-profits also stand a chance to win huge prizes if they are part of the winning team in the League. Charities, therefore, have to also start working in cooperation within their regional teams to bring out the best in each other to win as a League.
The thought behind this concept was that over the years, we observed a trend of users donating to the region/state they belong to, primarily owing to a sense of connect with their roots. This desire to contribute to the development of one’s home state/region acted as key ‘giving’ trigger for many, so we decided to leverage it in the form of a regional competition that not only motivates smaller, regional NGOs to maximize their fundraising efforts, but also provide an opportunity for donors to contribute to the development of the region they hail from, by supporting the team that represents their roots. Additionally, the League also helps showcase the vast geographical spread of some of the most committed non-profits in India.
How do you reward NGOs that have participated in the Giving Premier League?
Every participating NGO is entitled to win a minimum of 15% matching grant from LetzChange, on the amount they raise during the campaign duration, while the League winners can win grants up to 30% on the amount that they have collected. In total, rewards worth more than Rs. 2 crore are on offer in the Giving Premier League 2017.
How is LetzChange different from other giving portals?
Being a portal strictly for NGOs, we are committed to serve well-intentioned grassroots organizations across the country through our exclusive marketing and fundraising tools that empower them in more ways than one. In addition, while most other portals charge commissions in the range of 9-16%, we do not deduct a single penny from the donations received, ensuring that 100% of the funds raised reaches our partner NGOs. This is unique to the LetzChange portal.
(Rusen Kumar is the editor at India CSR Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)