Fundraising, NGOs, and Celebrities 

Going forward NGOs will have to look for creators along with good looking celebrities

During this never-ending lockdown, I have re-discovered Instagram and Vir Das has completely redefined content on digital platforms. I started following him on Instagram after watching his last Netflix comedy special.

This was the time when India was approaching the lockdown and getting used to staying indoors. Vir was early on to connect with his fans by going live as India started spending more time indoors. From doing live comedy shows to singing songs to joining TikTok to ranting his lockdown stories - Vir has milked the lockdown like no one. 

He recently posted this on Instagram.

Tonight is the final #VirDasAtHome show. I want to thank anyone who bought a ticket. We raised money for protective gear, daily wagers, migrant workers, children, the elderly, stray animals, and more. 12 charities supported, from your living rooms. Thank you so so so so so much! From the bottom of my heart and with every centimetre of my being...thank you. I’ll add more shows soon and I am proud of you @weirdasscomedy
April 26, 2020

This man performed live from his living room to support 12 charities. Isn’t that novel for a creator to not only keep his fans happy but also support a cause?

Reviews of #virdasathome get tix. Link in Bio 🙂
April 15, 2020

And some more #VirDasAtHome shows are going to be announced soon for audiences across the world. Also what a sweet timing to release Hasmukh by Netflix.

Thank you 🙏 #Hasmukh
April 19, 2020

Sona Mohapatra, the rusty singer performed live for her fans on Facebook. The one-hour musical show was done with the intention to raise funds for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In association with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Sona asked her fans to donate for meals. She even wrote on her Facebook - “Top 50 contributors will receive a personalised message & song video mailed to you or anyone you want to wish with me singing especially for you!”

Rupaiya for a Good Cause!
#LinkInBio on this page to donate any amount that you can to the @theakshayapatrafoundation which is doing some incredible #covid_19 relief work across many states & providing free meals & food ration boxes to families who are struggling to eat in the pandemic. Migrant workers, daily wage earners & both @ramsampathofficial & #me have been associated with this non-profit for many years & can vouch for their commitment & efficiency. The donate button in besides the video pinned on top of my official fb page : www.facebook.com/sonatheartiste
Full performance of the fundraiser & this song & others available there too. 👆🏾👆🏾
#Please contribute. Even 600 Rs will help feed a family for half a month. Upto 7.5 lacs is also welcome. Your RUPAIYAS will be put to the best use!! #Love #Life #Giving #India #Dreams #bellyfulloffood
Song composed by @ramsampathofficial & written by @swanandkirkire originally for #SatyamevJayate
April 27, 2020

She also initiated a fundraising campaign on Facebook. Bollywood celebrity Vidya Balan and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor have also initiated fundraising campaigns on Facebook. Along with these campaigns, these celebrities are creating videos requesting fans to donate money.

Can we be more creative? I have an idea.

How about Sanjeev Kapoor doing a paid workshop on cooking different cuisines. A five day one hour paid workshop and the money raised goes to the COVID-19. It will be an effort for everyone but wouldn’t it bring out the real concern for a cause. Similarly, can Vidya take up an acting class or share her learning’s from her five best movies of her career. 

Asking people for money for a cause is basically begging and trying to wake your conscience. Our consciousness is dead and all we ask is “What is there for me?” 

Just the other day I was discussing with an experienced lady from an international NGO on the ways and challenges to raise money from online for a cause. “When every NGO out there is showing babies crying, distressed women, unhealthy dogs on social media, and hoping hearts will melt at a time when financial security is a big question. Chances of heart-melting are going to be tough.”

One of my very close friends who stays in Norway was telling me how he has been constantly approached by NGOs to do a noble gesture by donating money during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am ready to give money but at a time when almost every NGO is trying to raise money. What is the guarantee that the family who needs supplies is getting and also not getting in surplus?

But this post is not about how relief materials are misused. This is about how do you raise funds during such times?

Continue begging and try harder, could be an easy option. It has worked for ages for the simple belief that giving donations makes us feel good and a better human being.

There is another way where we try to fulfill a need in a consumer’s life, take the human in confidence, and then do the chant for donations. NGOs should look at themselves as any other consumer brand.

The thinking from doing good has to evolve to solve a consumer problem. Once that is achieved, the consumer will have no other option but to consider you. And this is your eureka moment to express your love and stand by the side of your consumer. Obviously it will need patience and it won’t happen if we work on a campaign to campaign mode.

So what is the need of the consumer during the ongoing COVID-19 and extended lockdown? 

He is at home, trying to be the next Master Chef but by now he has realised that chefs also need to wash utensils, Netflix is a bore if they stream over-hyped movies like Extraction and all that family love and spending time gets on to you after 2-3 weeks.

The consumer is bored and as a brand/NGO/creator/startup can you entertain or engage or solve his problems during this lockdown.

This is why I think that Vir has just milked this moment. He is good at his craft, he is smart and he got into this when brands were just thinking about what we should do - should we shut up or should we keep on doing topical content. Finally, they have settled with the word ‘Empathy’ and we have got your back campaigns. 

The bright side of this long ass lockdown. #brightsidedas short version. #corona #covid
March 27, 2020

NGOs will have to look for Internet celebrities or creators

This leads to another important aspect of the business is celebrities and their endorsements with NGOs. By and large, an NGO approaches a particular celebrity because she must have been referred by an influential donor or the board or some reference. Some celebrities do believe in a cause but for the rest, it is all about the image just like how corporates carry out CSR. 

Like all other businesses, COVID-19 is changing the game for NGOs too. There is no going back, pandemics will be our new mates and if you thought COVID-19 was brutal then Climate Change is another blockbuster that is going to affect our lives. We are already into a recession, jobs are either going or are waiting to be gone, some sectors are hit so bad that they are past now.

In short, the consumer is clueless, has no intention to spend because he wants to save for the uncertain future. So in such times asking him to donate is the toughest thing?

From here on NGOs will have to look beyond celebrities who look good in selfies but can they do something to entertain the audience. We have witnessed those boring celebrity cricket matches and dance performances on Bollywood numbers. But what can they do on digital because that is where the consumer is and will be?

Digital also brings the challenge of attention span. If you are boring the user will just swipe up and move on. If he is nasty like me then there will be a comment on the page too.

NGOs will have to split their celebrity endorsement budgets. While it hires a Bollywood/Cricket sensation, at the same time it should get a few internet celebrities onboard. Influencers who have become famous on the Internet because of their craft. 

Today Vidya Balan is uploading a video asking for money. I might listen to her because I liked her in Mission Mangal. Will I donate? On the other side, I will pay to listen to Vir’s hilarious rants on how Arnab is being threatened by the opposition. And what more the money is already going to a cause without him even asking me.

Recently, Tanmay Bhat hosted Stay Home for India, a two-day live marathon event on his YouTube channel, which featured over 80 artistes. Organised by fellow comic Kaneez Surka, entertainment lawyer Amshula Prakash and hosted by Bhat, Stay Home for India raised over Rs 17 lakh.

Evolution is the name of the game and Indian NGOs don't have an option.