Not all campaign organisers who approach Milaap, a leading crowd-funding platform for social and personal causes, are necessarily aware of how digital crowd-funding works.

“We do have a user engagement team that functions over 15 hours a day, seven days a week to address any queries around the same,” says Anoj Viswanathan, President and Co-founder.

A campaign manager is assigned to every fund-raiser set up on the platform, who hand-holds every campaign organiser, sending them e-mails, guiding them through calls as and when required, to help them with quick tips, based on tried and tested methods.

This is particularly helpful for first-time campaign organisers to optimise the reach of their fund-raiser, and take their needs to the right people, groups and communities, Viswanathan tells BusinessLine in an interview. Excepts:

In your experience, what is the conversion rate of visitors to the site to actual funders?

From what we have seen, the conversion rate is approximately three to four per cent at present. This means that about three to four per cent of people who visit Milaap actually make a contribution.

Do the themes of the campaigns determine the conversion rate?

In reality, every need clicks best in a circle/ group where it matters. Social media is a great tool to tap into the right community of people who resonate with a certain cause.

Overall, we have seen medical and healthcare-related causes attracting more donors. In fact, currently, over 80 per cent of the funds raised on Milaap are for such causes. This could be attributed to two primary reasons.

First, crowd-funding in India is still quite serious and utilitarian, unlike in other countries like the US. Second, the idea of contributing towards medical treatment that can save a life drives a lot of donors to contribute vis-a-vis other campaigns.

Do you have a rewards programme for the campaign? How do the funders benefit otherwise?

There is no rewards programme as such. We believe that given a chance and a credible avenue, people would come forward to help others in need. We keep donors posted on any progress owing to their contribution. Regular updates on the progress of a need, and on the utilisation of funds are posted on the fund-raiser page and sent to each donor for that fund-raiser, via email. We have seen this to be the biggest motivator for donors.

Could you tell us more about your platform infrastructure, payment processor/ gateway, etc?

Since the primary objective of Milaap is to connect people who can help individuals in need, we are constantly updating the platform with the latest technology to make the process of rendering and receiving financial aid much simpler.

Anybody in India can set up a fund-raiser with ease. In fact, we recently even introduced a chatbot to do away with the traditional system of forms and make it easier for people in need to share their story. There is no upfront fee charged for setting up the fund-raiser.

Once set up, the fund-raiser is verified by a dedicated team in 24-48 hours. People raise funds by sharing their fund-raiser through chat and messaging apps and social media platforms, in order to lobby as much support as they can.

We have partnered with over half-a-dozen trusted payment gateways to process donations from across the world. People may also make direct bank transfers or make a contribution through UPI or PayTM.

A live ticker on the fund-raiser page shows the funds collected, the number of donors and supporters and options to directly get in touch with the campaign organiser for any clarification.

People may withdraw funds as and when required. All withdrawals are processed against invoices and attested documents. There is a platform fee of five per cent charged on the funds raised at the time of withdrawal. Campaign organisers are required to post updates, informing donors of the utilisation of funds.

How long does it take for donations to reach the campaigner's bank account?

Once a withdrawal request is approved by the team, based on documents and invoices submitted, funds raised in Indian rupees take one to two working days, while US dollar transfers (for those eligible) take five to seven working days to reach the campaign organiser’s bank account.

Do you offer a Master Page to the campaigner with tangential pages for his supporters to invite their friends to donate?

Yes, we do. We have the concept of support campaigns, associated with a main campaign, wherein friends of campaigner can also fund-raise on his behalf.

People can, through the Raise Funds option on the main campaign, start ‘support fund-raisers’ to extend the cause into their own personal network. All funds raised get added to the main fund-raiser, and can be withdrawn only by the primary organiser. There is a disclaimer above all support fund-raisers stating the same.

What type of marketing/ networking help does Milaap offer to the campaigner?

Milaap offers three main promotional tools to all campaign organisers. A poster with the basic details and the PayTM QR code, customised for printing and sharing through instant messaging; a cover picture for their Facebook profiles and pages, that can direct people to their fund-raiser; and an embedding code that helps them add the ‘donate’ button on any website or blog where their story is shared.

As mentioned before, social media is the best route to optimise the reach of a fund-raiser. Milaap’s Facebook page reaches over 25 million people every month. Once we see campaign organisers exhaust their personal network and all secondary and tertiary networks, we help them by making a post on our page. We also try to help certain fund-raisers with media exposure, to take their cause to an offline audience, who could help too.

In a few cases, particularly when people have very less or no digital access and have an urgent requirement of funds for medical treatment, Milaap promotes their need with the help of third-party platforms, so that it reaches more people for support. These outreach efforts are done purely on cost-basis not exceeding 8.5 per cent of the amount raised. This is in order to compensate for the cost incurred by Milaap in paid outreach efforts.

How does Milaap earn its revenue? Does it earn a cut/commission on the funds raised?

Yes, Milaap charges five per cent on any funds raised through the platform. This is the source of revenue for us as a platform, and helps us sustain our payroll, operating costs, as well as investments made on the technology platform.