5 Things I Learned in India

I spent a recent trip to India largely in traffic jams in Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore. Which was sort of interesting, for example speculating on why when the rules of the road are there are no rules and everyone drives with an utter disregard for their own or anyone else’s safety, I didn’t see a single accident. Karma? Chaos Theory? Who knows..But that wasn’t really what I had come there for.

Between jams though I did manage to speak to quite a few interesting people and learned a lot about what’s happening in fundraising in India today. And this is what I found out

  1. Fundraising in India is thriving, particularly individual giving. We’ve all known for a long time that a country that has 300 million middle class people has the capacity to be an amazing fundraising market. But now it’s really starting to happen.
  2. There are now over 1,000 fundraising professionals in India, a miniscule number for a country of 1.2 billion people and compares with maybe 10,000 fundraisers in the UK, but it’s impressive nevertheless. And this is just the people with the office jobs in the NGOs, actual fundraisers, people asking for money day in and day out on the phone or face to face, are much more numerous. I was in one call centre in Bangalore that had 200 agents calling for World Vision India alone. Greenpeace apparently have over 300 in house face to face fundraisers in the same city.
  3. Regular giving is working in India. For years we’ve been told that you can’t get monthly giving to work here. In fact it will never work here. True the processes are cumbersome (you have to send guys with scooters to people’s houses to collect the forms) but it still works and is much more profitable than one off giving. Astonishingly. And the banking systems are changing to make electronic payments easier.
  4. Online giving is thriving too. Some charities are already making most of their money online. With so many IT professionals in this country, there is plenty of innovation and some great ideas. Watch this market really closely for ideas that will really take fundraising forward.
  5. That’s not to say fundraising is easy here. There are plenty of people who are prepared to give and have the capacity. But finding them isn’t simple. Fundraisers make many, many calls before they get to speak to a potential donor. There’s lots of completion and more people are arriving every day. This isn’t going to be a cakewalk for anyone.

But this market is really, really interesting. Watch this space…



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