WASHINGTON, D.C.— Indiaspora’s second annual philanthropy summit on Oct. 2, kicked off with the official launch of its inaugural ChaloGive online initiative to galvanize the Indian diaspora around giving at a much higher level than the Indian American community has been hitherto engaged in.
The non-profit’s founder and chairman M.R. Rangaswami told India Abroad that “ChaloGive will inspire the community to give more by breaking down barriers, one of which is the ‘trust deficit’ that potential donors have with Indian NGOs (Non-governmental organizations).”
“I believe when individuals see credible people involved with an NGO combined with proper vetting they will loosen their purse strings,” he predicted.
The initiative, according to Rangaswami was an attempt “to double diaspora giving over the next five years,” and acknowledged that rolling it out on Oct. 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary “was an effort to reach out to the three million strong Indian American community to inspire a higher level of giving and joy.”
Ashish Shah, the new Community Relations Director at Indiaspora, who comes to Indiaspora with a background in non-profit management, consulting, and business development, and is the founder of GivingRise -- an online giving platform created to make giving to India from the U.S. simple, transparent and highly impactful—told India Abroad, “The goal of the ChaloGive platform is to make online giving frictionless and connect the diaspora to organizations and causes that they care about.”
He said, “We have 21 beneficiary organizations as part of ChaloGive this year. We have a good mix of small, medium-size and large organizations represented within our three cause areas of education, health and poverty alleviation. The giving process is very easy on the ChaloGive platform and it takes less than one minute to make a contribution and can be done easily on the phone or any mobile device.”
Shah, whose primary focus in his new avatar is on understanding giving habits and patterns of the Indian diaspora in the U.S. and empowering donors and philanthropists who wish to give and support causes in India and was responsible for developing ChaloGive, said, “The initial response has been great and very encouraging. We crossed $5,000 during the first hour of the ChaloGive launch, and two days into the campaign on Oct 4, we are already close to $40,000.”
“Our hope is that a lot of people find out about ChaloGive, give as much as they are comfortable giving, and have a very positive experience about giving so that they can encourage others to get involved,” he added.
Before GivingRise, Shah, born and raised in Mumbai, worked for over 10 years as a management consultant in the healthcare industry in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Mumbai University and a Masters in telecom policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In a recent blog Shah argued that “the opportunity from these Indian-American givers is tremendous and is expected to grow. In fact, one could argue that never before has this opportunity been so compelling.”
To support his contention, he said three key factors had been born out by his research, beginning with the fact that “of the more than three million people of Indian origin who live in the U.S., approximately two-thirds are between 20 and 35 years old. While these young, tech-savvy millennials may not be able to give large amounts, research done on giving patterns of millennials shows that, in general, about 60 percent of them give to charitable organizations.”
Meanwhile, Shah noted that “the Indian-American household has the highest income level of any immigrant group in the U.S., more than twice the income level of the general U.S. population,” and then there were the cultural and emotional ties.
“The diaspora in the U.S. has strong ties with India,” and particularly those who “grew up in India, still have close family there and often turn to the country for their charitable giving.”
Shah said, “These factors of age and population, disposable income and an emotional connect, arguably make the Indian diaspora uniquely predisposed to giving to Indian causes. People of Indian origin also work for big tech companies, many of which encourage a strong employee giving culture with generous matching programs.”
However, he acknowledged that the 2018 Indiaspora-Dalberg study had shown that “while the diaspora are great at giving their time and volunteering, they lag behind in philanthropic giving even though they remain passionate about the cause.”
Shah said the primary reasons for this passion-donation gap are due to “a lack of sufficient information that provides reliable insight and perspective on beneficiary organizations, skepticism towards recipient organizations that results in significant trust deficit in the donor community, and cultural attitudes that favor ‘informal giving’ to friends and families over charitable organizations.”
Compounding these factors, he added are, “Poor community self-perception of underperformance in philanthropic giving that damages morale and creates a negative feedback cycle that impedes higher levels of giving.”