Small donations, big impact

With the academic year set to begin soon, crowdfunding platforms are busy with efforts to raise funds for education of underprivileged children

Published - May 28, 2022 07:43 pm IST

It is that time of the year when pleas for donations to fund education of underprivileged students start pouring in. There will invariably be stories of struggle that would leave you guilty for not writing a big cheque.

But then, one need not be a big-ticket donor to support a cause. Small donations can actually make a difference, a reason why many non-profits and crowdfunding platforms carry loud announcements on their website seeking just that kind of donations.

Agaram Foundation’s home page has a brand-new announcement. Next to a photograph of actor Surya, who is the founder, reads a note: “The joy of giving starts at ₹300 a month”.

It invites donations as little as ₹300; and it goes all the way up to ₹6000 to cover the education and training needs of students.

Team Everest has a note that says “there is no minimum donation amount, you can donate any amount of your choice”. But it also says that sponsoring a student’s education costs ₹42,000 per year.

Micro-donations, which range between ₹100 and ₹1000, are effective as they encourage everyday giving and make philanthropy more affordable and meaningful.

Crowdfunding efforts

Most donation platforms, notably GiveIndia, Milaap and Ketto, have campaigns started by beneficiary and non-profit groups.

Michael Raj is a fundraising volunteer for Karunayam Charitable Trust, a home for destitute children based in Ponmar.

On the crowdfunding platform,, Michael is running a campaign to support the education of these children and also help the home procure a bus for outdoor activities. As per the portal, Michael launched the campaign on May 25 and has so far collected ₹47,500.

Scroll down that section on the platform and at least half-a-dozen such volunteers are doing the same for the Trust.

Asha Kayina, managing trustee of the Trust, says they have many such well-wishers who have taken the lead after visiting the home to raise funds for them. “Many of them have set their own target and every micro donation makes for a macro,” says Asha.

“At Ketto, we have registered a 300 percent increase in the number of education fundraisers over the last one year,” says Varun Sheth, its founder and CEO.

Micro-donations empower people to contribute comfortably.

Micro-donations are a great way to “democratise” the process of donating on a grassroots level, in which everyone, despite age or socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to donate.

Chennai Pain and Palliative Care (CPPC) has close to 400 donation boxes kept at tea shops and lodges, which are an important source of funding since the volunteer group started in 2014.

From a minimum collection of ₹200 to a maximum of ₹4000 a month, these collections from the tea kadais mean a lot.

P Prakash, secretary, CPPC, says “these little drops of water make a might ocean. We have a collection box placed at a bunk shop on the highway at Red Hills and an old man crosses the busy stretch to drop ₹10 in the box every day,” says Prakash.

There is a bigger role that the collection boxes with contact numbers serve. “Awareness that there is an organisation that one can reach out to for help related to palliative care,” adds Prakash.

The challenges

Donor retention is a challenge in micro-donations. Karthee Vidya, founder, Team Everest, says crowdfunding initiatives help bring new donors but the retention rate is very low.

“You usually retain 30% of the donors in a crowd sourcing campaign whereas in the monthly donation scheme the probability is higher, sometimes even 90%,” says Karthee.

Varun Sheth of Ketto thinks otherwise. “Annually over 90 percent of the contributions we get are through micro-donations, which are less than ₹1000. Additionally, post-lockdown, we have added close to 70% of first-time donors,” says Sheth.

To close the gap, every donor, big or small, must be engaged. Says Karthee: “You need to communicate with the donor, show the impact the donation has made, and that is how trust is built to engage the person.”

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