During the pandemic, people “opened up their wallets” and supported causes, significantly more than non-Covid times, says Varun Sheth, Co-founder and Chief Executive of crowd-funding platform Ketto.org. And this, he adds, was despite people not having a job or having a reduced salary.

Ketto wants to make this habit of giving a regular one and is taking it to a younger age-group of 21 to 26 years , who are just out of college and are on their first jobs, says Sheth, explaining their relatively recent, monthly giving initiative - SIP (Social Impact Plan).

“We saw more people who actually came forward and said that even though I lost my job, I can still give ₹10, ₹20 or more, because there is somebody who is much worse off than I am,” Sheth told BusinessLine, countering the view that funds had in fact dried-up for social causes during the peak of the pandemic. The SIP initiative was piloted less than a year ago, and focusses, for starters, on funding healthcare needs of children, a company official said.

Tenth anniversary

An early-bird in the crowd-funding space, Ketto is in its tenth year and is looking to scale-up the SIP initiative, Sheth said. “We have broken that barrier where we made it comfortable for people to donate online,” he said.

Since SIP involves a person’s steady payment towards looking after another’s health, Sheth says, the plan ahead is to have a rewards programme to look after the health of the payer, as well. Since “every month you are taking care of someone else’s health, so we want to take care of your health,”he says, outlining linked-benefits like a free teleconsultation every month, a body check-up or pharmacy discount via 1mg.

Health-related funds account for about half the total ₹2,000 crore raised by the site for reasons ranging from health and medical emergencies to natural calamities, animal welfare, education, women and child development. “Medical fundraising has been a feather in our cap. Ketto has collaborated with over 280 chains of hospitals, hosted over 2 lakh medical fundraisers, and raised over ₹1,200 crore,” according to data from Ketto.

Memorial funds

Funds raised during Covid-19 varied from support for migrants during the early lockdown days, to hospitalisation and medical-linked expenses during the second wave. The fund-raiser has also seen a surge in memorial funds, they said, where funds were collected to support families who had lost possibly a bread-winner to Covid-19.

Ketto hosted about 12,500-plus Covid fundraisers and raised over ₹300 crore during the pandemic. Pointing to the “unprecedented surge” in memorial fundraisers, it said, “Historically, the company has hosted over 2,200 memorial fundraisers so far and raised over ₹144 crore, but ever since the pandemic started, Ketto has hosted over 600 fundraisers and raised around ₹31 crore during the pandemic.”