The concept of crowdfunding is still nascent in India, but the crowdfunding industry is making its first tentative steps toward a more mainstream fundraising space. Space is being made for crowdfunding platforms in the social and development sectors, and a class of urban and middle-class Indian people, all heavy users of the internet and active on social media, are choosing oftener than ever before to crowdfund for medical treatment, creative projects, and to make social change.

And donations are coming in to crowdfunding campaigns of every description. Most frequently, it is a campaigner’s relative or friend who get the collection process initiated by making the earliest, and often the largest, contributions. Social media sharing exposes the fundraiser to more people – friends of friends – and at this stage the strongest campaigns draw funds even from strangers.

How you can lend support to a campaigner

There is a way of supporting your loved one’s crowdfunding project apart from making a donation or by sharing the fundraiser assiduously on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. A few prominent Indian crowdfunding platforms like Milaap and Impact Guru offer campaigners the option of running a support fundraiser parallely with the primary fundraiser. Usually, on Impact Guru, a campaigner’s friend or relative takes care of managing this support campaign. All donations to the support fundraiser is added into the primary fundraiser account, and goes directly to the beneficiary.

Support fundraisers in practice

A classic example of this is the Umeed India crowdfunding campaign run on the Impact Guru platform in partnership with EPIC Channel. Funds are being raised for seven Indian Olympic athletes who have appeared at international tournaments already (some have contested at the Rip 2016 Olympics) and are aspiring to put their best feet forward in Tokyo in 2020, or at the Winter Olympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang. Support campaigns have been set up for all of them, which are bringing in hefty donations, many of which are made directly to Impact Guru because the donors want to retain anonymity. Over a lakh has already been raised for the sportspersons, who do not receive sufficient sponsorship from local or central governments.

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With each support fundraiser (run by spouses, coaches, or another close aide), the athletes have the chance to make their personal stories of ambition, struggle, and the slow trudge to success and potential glory, reach a wide audience. When these stories are told to a national audience, they humanize the star athlete somehow, and create an aura of accessibility and frankness about them. Shiva Keshavan practiced on a makeshift luge (a flat plant with wheels to race down curving slopes, headfirst); para badminton player Sanjeev Kumar has an old and outdated wheelchair he trains with; Annu Rani, India’s brave woman javelin thrower from a hamlet in Uttar Pradesh, had begun her rigorous practice routines, back in the day, with a pole fashioned from bamboo!

These stories are of boys and girls next door, and every time a support fundraiser is shared, the likelihood of receiving a donation for the project is multiplied five times. Strangers too come forward with gifts, because these are upheavals they can relate to. Once an emotional connect has been forged, donations are made with heart and pure goodwill.

Consider running a support fundraiser for your sick friend or the vehemently passionate activist you know is running a crowdfunding campaign. Spread word, and harness the power of people to do good in the world.