New Delhi – Charity arm of India’s largest online entertainment destination – BookMyShow has been able to sensitise over 71% percent of the customers that buy tickets online, on its platform, to voluntarily contribute towards a corpus, Farzana Cama Balpande, head at BookASmile told India CSR.
The money collected through a voluntary one-rupee contribution per ticket is being used to help people from underprivileged sections of the society, to pursue their interests in art & culture and sports, Balpande said.
“We have capped it at five rupees per transaction. We don’t want to inconvenience the customer only because he is so charitable and willing to pay,” she added.
The donations are used to fund education in cinema, music, theatre, arts and sports, she said adding that education was not just academics, but much beyond the four-walls of the schools.
While corporates have been keen on spending on various CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives including health and education as part of their CSR obligations mandated under the law, art & culture was still not a priority area for the CSR spending, Balpande said.
In 2017-18 (Apr-Mar), only Rs 212 crore were spent by a total of 172 companies which was down from Rs 304 crore spent in the year ago period.
BookMyShow’s strong foothold in country’s entertainment landscape served well for its charity arm, which capitalised on the opportunity to work in the area, she said. In 2014, BookASmile launched the ‘Power of One’ initiative and in five years, the initiative has been able to impact over 200,000 lives, she added.
Balpande, however clarified that BookMyShow was not mandated for a CSR and all its initiatives were part of its endeavour to “give back to the society”.
BookASmile is working with over 200 not-for-profit organisations across India to support what Balpande calls “alternative education”.
While she refrained from disclosing the corpus collected through customer contributions, Balpande said that BookMyShow’s presence in 650 cities in the country has helped scale-up and diversify its initiatives. The company aims to double its reach in the next few years, she added.
While most of the money that BookASmile receives through voluntary donations is spent on supporting art & culture and sports, some part of it is also used to support armed forces, victims of natural calamities and animal rescue programs.
Art & Culture
A film-making project is underway where the BookASmile team will be travelling to small villages and tribal areas in all nooks and corners of the country to conduct film-making workshops. Two short films have already been shot and will likely be shown in a film festival to be organised by the charity organisation, Balpande said.
The organisation is also supporting aspirants to take-up various art, music and dance forms professionally. BookMyShow’s charity front has also been screening movies for the underprivileged people in villages in the Palghar district to let them have access to entertainment opportunities.
BookASmile has supported Monika Kumari, a 16-year-old budding female footballer from the state of Jharkhand. “Passionate about the game, Kumari has been braving multiple odds to fulfil her dreams. She is also coaching younger kids in the community to take up the game,” Balpande said. Kumari recently returned from an all-female mountaineering expedition – Girls on Ice Cascades – in Washington, Balpande said.
The organisation also sent six female footballers to the Street Football World Cup 2019 in France, where 240 disadvantaged young people from around the world participated.
It also supported 16 children of a Mumbai-based NGO – Slum Soccer – to participate in the Homeless World Cup tournament, held in Cardiff between 27 Jul and to 3 Aug. More than 500 players from 50 countries attended the week-long tournament.
Among other initiatives, BookASmile has been supporting potential champions in various sporting streams. “We are now supporting sporting talents in wrestling, boxing and archery. Many of them are training for Asian Games and Olympics,” she said.
The biggest take away from BookASmile’s alternative education programmes has been reduction of school dropouts, Balpande said adding that the initiatives have acted as a hook to keep the children in schools.
In 2015, over 6.5 crore children between 3 and 18 years were out of the formal education system according to government figures .
One of the reasons for large drop-outs from the school is lack of interest and entertainment avenues for the children, Balpande pointed.