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Indian portal encourages to donate goods

Dec 20, 2011

An online Indian portal e-daan seeks to mobilise donated goods by finding someone who needs exactly what you no longer need.

Chennai: People always try to explain why they will not be generous, just as they have reasons for being magnanimous to those in need. One webpage (e-daan's Facebook page) even has a list of excuses — starting from, “If I give away my old clothes, I will lose the motivation to lose weight,” to “I have now placed hidden cameras to check whether the toys I have kept unused for 15 years come to life when no one is around.”


But even this slew of reasons points to the fact that social media activism, whatever be its implications on other fields, has given internet activities a massive boost. A good example is the campaign, ‘what is your excuse to not donate today,' launched by the donation portal e-daan.

“We are trying to ‘push' the idea across so that it automatically ‘pulls' the audience,” says Kosal Malladi, a professional who co-founded e-daan, together with friends Deeksha Kotwalwala and Mayank Jain. Launched eight months ago, e-daan seeks to address an important question: ‘How do you find someone who needs exactly what you no longer need?'

“It started with building a database of registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in major cities across the country, and then motivating users to donate everything, from furniture and books to dry ration and clothes. Every time we get a request from a new location (based on the pincode), we identify an NGO in that location that needs the things that are being donated and then facilitate the transaction,” says Kotwalwala. “We accept everything but money, because there are already many NGOs doing it.”

Marketing of the idea is important, as is the consistency of service. “We wanted to keep the website simple and straightforward and ensure that the process flow is smooth, and the website loads quickly.

Regular campaigns and alerts are also part of the strategy.” “Also, we had to make sure the NGO is registered and located close to the donor's residence so the donor can personally check the NGO before donating. The idea is to associate you with the nearest possible NGO so that it furthers future exchanges too.”

While corporate donations, charity drives in housing colonies, and a steep rise in contributions during the ‘Joy of Giving' week are significant, individual donation throughout the year is the key, the trio note. “When people hear of this idea, they express interest immediately. But when I ask them to fill up a form so that they are registered, they get a little complacent,” says Kotwalwala.

“In this process, we realised that while the bigger NGOs often have enough funds, the smaller ones find it difficult to sustain themselves. It becomes easier to connect with them once we interact with them,” she adds. Basic and easy questions that include quick ones such as whether the clothes are torn or whether the old computers are in working condition are part of the form after which a request is accessed within three days.

Internet consultant N. Balakrishnan says more than the reach and the intentions, it is the scope of transactions taking place every day that would decide the future of such initiatives. “The campaign intends to take note of the cognitive dissonance of consumers to make them feel guilty, embarrassed, or even inspired. It has been successful in many an endeavour.” 

As of now, the project is completely self-financed. “Our only real investment has been setting up of the website and phone calls to NGOs/donors. So it is easily manageable. However, in order to expand, we will need to pump in finances,” Kotwalwala adds.

Source : The Hindu
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