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Crowdfunding has soared during pandemic: Crowdera’s Chet Jainn


With COVID-19 dealing a severe blow to businesses across sectors, the crowdfunding industry has stayed largely unscathed. In fact, the industry has tried to step up and help people in distress during these tough times. In a chat with ET Digital, Chet Jainn, Founder & CEO, Crowdera talks about the initiatives the company has taken to support individuals during the pandemic and its support for small businesses. Edited excerpts:

ET Digital (ET): Tell us about Crowdera’s crowdfunding journey – from Silicon Valley to India?
Chet Jainn (CJ):
Crowdera was started in the Silicon Valley with a straightforward mission–making crowdfunding absolutely free, especially for charities and for the social innovators and individuals. I believe we were the first ones to have started in the space.

While our primary goal continues to be providing superior crowdfunding tools to the people and organisations absolutely free, we keep evolving as we continue to understand client issues and requirements. We entered India intending to bring to my home country all the good we had achieved in the American market, as the concept is global and can be applied anywhere.

It has been an interesting journey for Crowdera in India. Crowdera was one of the first crowdfunding platform to bring in concepts like peer-to-peer crowdfunding and reward-based crowdfunding in India. We were also the first and only one to bring in a 100% free fundraising and crowdfunding platform with zero donor dippings.

Our experiences have been phenomenal in terms of interacting with fundraisers and to see how crowdfunding has taken off in India, especially post COVID-19. Now we are seeing donors coming from all over and donations coming from unexpected quarters. The number of credit cards used for donations is also increasing. It’s been an incredible journey from Silicon Valley to India and going global.

ET: What is Crowdera’s Digital Transformation, UNSDG Awareness & Fundraising Literacy Program, and how many Indian NGOs have taken advantage of this?
CJ:
Without charities and NGOs, many would not have survived the pandemic and lockdowns. But they need to be re-skilled too for survival and sustenance. They need to learn to fundraise and we have taken on this mission. We are making them aware of sustainable development goals so they can reach global donors. Re-skilling Indian Charities is a flagship programme of our Digital Transformation initiative. It will cover digitally transforming charities or NGOs by giving them fundraising training via fundraising literacy programmes and helping them to align with sustainable development goals by creating sustainable developments & digital awareness. We have partnered with organisations like NSDG Chaupal, Nagrik Foundation for digital awareness in alliance with Niti Aayog and the United Nations.

We intend to transform one million charities by 2030, because of which we hope to impact at least 1 billion lives. Our goal for 2020 is to Re-Skill 10K Charities under this program. So far, we have supported 3500 charities from India.

ET: What are some successful fundraising campaigns on Crowdera, and in your view, what kind of campaigns get more attention from the crowd?
CJ:
Some of our successful campaigns include one for Dr. Sunitha Krishnan who rescued over 16000 trafficked girls. Just over 2 campaigns, she raised $2,60,100 with us. With the raised funds, she provided them a safe space by building Shelter Homes.

Riya Mukherjee worked for 23 years in radio, broadcasting, and music programming. She was a National Creative Head at a radio station but quit her job in 2014 to start her own company. She launched her own production house: Riya Mukherjee Word Pictures and could quickly raise Rs 22 lakh (~$31,900) from our platform.

For the factors that make a campaign successful, it is all about content. Campaigns should be visually compelling and emotionally appealing. The campaign headlines should be defined well, stating what you want to achieve and the impact you desire to achieve.

Find the kind of people who would identify with your cause and then work out the content these people need and what services they use. Define your donors’ persona. The first 15-30% primarily drive at least 20-30% of donations from your network. Then there are so many tools to reach more people. Facebook offers a custom audience. Google offers an affinity audience.

ET: COVID-19 has affected almost all businesses. How is it affecting the crowdfunding industry?
CJ:
Yes, I totally agree that COVID-19 has affected all industries, some badly, while some are taking this as an opportunity to grow. For example, the healthcare industry is definitely growing and so is the crowdfunding industry.

In a country like India, the awareness about crowdfunding and volume of crowdfunding business was quite low. With pandemic attack, the numbers have soared. People are in a helping mode; the awareness has gone up, and the volume has also substantially increased. Crowdfunding organisations are growing and this is an excellent opportunity for them to make an impact, and bring innovations in their business models.

ET: Crowdera has recently launched its new venture “Yellow Scooter“. What is it about? What are some benefits of this new venture?
CJ:
We have been supporting creative projects for a long time. But creative projects need different forms of support, all of which are not possible on our existing product. Fundraising for creative needs requires an exclusive platform. For example, think about how artists are subsisting with no work in the pandemic. But they have fans that would be happy to support them for exclusive content or some perk on a reward-based model where recurring donations help artists to survive.

“Yellow Scooter” is a platform that helps artists and creative souls to create recurring content for their fans. Film makers can raise funds for short films and documentaries. Yellow Scooter supports fundraising for impact driven stories. It will be an independent entity currently powered by Crowdera.

ET: Crowdera has already extended its support to companies like Rapido, Repos, BYJUs, and others to engage their employees and partners in fundraising for the COVID affected workforce. Please elaborate more on this.
CJ:
Crowdera is a Fintech company, and we have built many technologies in the last few years into the entire charitable and corporate giving ecosystems. It is time for corporates to use the power of their own networks comprising employees, customers, vendors, and users to crowdfund with them by creating a syndicated model to support who are affected.

For example, the drivers and delivery agents in the current economy were badly affected during the initial days of lockdown. We were happy to support organisations who supported them through their syndicated efforts. It was a good learning exercise for us as well. The syndication model worked well for large- to mid-size corporations. Now we are looking how to take this concept forward for creating customised matching programs to enhance the giving side of corporates.

ET: How is Crowdera supporting the Indian SMEs?
CJ:
All kinds of businesses are badly affected. We help businesses with crowdfunding, syndication products and by giving them private fundraising models. These models ensure that without breaking any rules & regulations, businesses can still raise money by sharing one of their products and using their rewards models. These private platforms that we offer can be used for raising support for investment support or revenue share support from their potential customers. We created this privacy fundraising model especially for the SMEs and startup sectors.

SMEs require a lot of strategic and consulting help, so we are now exploring this opportunity to see how we can help SMEs raise money for hiring consultants at subsidised prices, so that the experts can help SMEs refine their business strategies.





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