In India, online crowd-funding has emerged as an effective mechanism for many NGOs to raise funds. The proliferation of crowd-funding platforms has created new avenues for small-scale and regional NGOs to increase their visibility, and establish a trustworthy relationship with their donors.

Online crowd-funding platforms also enable donors to express their views on a crowd-funding campaign. Platforms also allow creators to post campaign updates in the form of videos, pictures, and messages to inform their donors about their progress. Even after the campaign has ended, campaigners tend to post updates and success videos to increase the trust factor with the donors.

A serious challenge that many non-profits face is donor retention. It hurts non-profits’ revenues, affects their ability to keep their programmes funded, and leads to wasteful spending in finding new donors.

Part of the reason for low retention rates is the poor quality of service and poor relationship between NGOs and donors. Many small/regional NGOs don’t compartmentalise their donors based on their interests and other parameters like age, nationality, location, or language. They also fail to leverage the power of data analytics due to a lack of resources. It often leads to donor disenchantment.

Helping donor retention

Crowd-funding platforms can help in donor retention. With their dynamic and interactive user-campaign interface, online crowd-funding platforms allow non-profits to improve donor relations. Platforms provide expert toolkits to help NGOs better connect with and understand their existing and potential donors. Crowd-funding platforms offer donors the ability to browse for a non-profit cause that best matches their interests. They collect a lot of data to study user behaviour on their website and understand which campaigns tend to do well.

This, in turn, helps the platforms better match campaigns with potential donors. Big data reveals patterns, trends, and associations that platforms can use to help non-profits identify and connect with groups of people who share the organisation’s interests.

To help NGOs create better campaigns, most crowd-funding platforms have dedicated videographers, editors, photographers, and content writers. In most cases, crowd-funding platforms provide everything from registration and ticketing solutions to webinar decks, third party integration tools, UTM codes to track donations, video tutorials, and other management tools. Access to the platform’s expertise, resources, donor network, PR support, and campaign tools can significantly boost a non-profit’s reach.

While in the past, NGOs used to mobilise their volunteers to organise face-to-face fund-raising drives, today, volunteers are encouraged to use online crowd-funding platforms. Consider the case of U&I, an Indian non-profit working in the education space. The organisation teaches 2,000 children every week through their after-school Learning Centres and ‘In School’ programmes across 20 cities. The NGO started a centralised online crowd-funding drive by creating a microsite on the crowd-funding platform Ketto, asking thousands of volunteers to create their campaigns and raise funds. The volunteers used the hashtag #HeroUp for their campaigns and tapped into their social networks to raise funds. The online peer-to-peer fund-raising drive was a phenomenal success as 2,700 volunteers started their crowd-funding campaigns, raising ₹1.9 crore with the help of over 24,000 donors.

Unlike the time consuming door-to-door fund-raising, online crowd-funding allows volunteers to set in place an automatic fund-raising mechanism through which they can share their campaign with their target audience without having to frequent physical locations.

Furthermore, volunteers can overcome geographical constraints through peer-to-peer fund-raising, allowing regional NGOs to seek funds at a national and international level. From micro-events to yearlong fund-raising drives, crowd-funding helps non-profits address funding problems and human resource allocation. It saves time, is scalable, and helps non-profits connect better with their donors. For many small to medium NGOs, online crowd-funding has become a default choice for revenue generation.

The writer is Co-Founder of