Acts of charity for the ‘not so rich’ is very different compared to the ultra-rich. When you don’t have a huge amount set aside every year towards charity, the funds donated are more a factor of what is the need and what is the ‘free cash flow‘ like.  When the ‘ask’ for the funds is far more than what one is prepared to donate, a small ‘fundraiser’ is a good solution. This is a story of one such fundraiser.

Sankalp is a school for the underprivileged kids in Gurgaon/Gurugram. I have had a long association with the school. Starting with donating the proceeds from a used book sale, which my daughter and her friends did in their school fair in 2014, we have been donating to the school regularly. So I got interested when the school director shared the picture of a blanket donation event in the school early December.

Anatomy of a fundraiser 1
Instinctively, I wrote back to the director and said I would also like to do something similar for the kids. He suggested donating sweaters to all the kids. Without realising what it would actually cost, I committed to the idea of donating sweaters to all 210 kids in the school. School would take care of the procurement process, I just had to give the cheque.

While I had agreed on a whim, I was not looking at sponsoring the entire ₹50k for donation, I was planning for a fundraiser. Fundraisers, regardless of however wide is the network, are never easy. While you may be clear on the intent and need for the funds, others have their own cycle of thought and timing for charity. Having had some sour experiences in the past, I was aware of the challenges. But before I could delve further on the chances, I got a message from the director. “In case you find it appropriate I would also like to participate in this program and share 50% cost.”

I was touched by the director’s gesture. As the key administrator of the school, he was anyway dedicating a bulk of his time to the cause and had made many such donations in the past, there was no reason for him to contribute. But of course, it reduced the pressure on me for the overall fundraise. But I still told him that I will consider his request after seeing the result of the fundraiser.

A post on Facebook generated immediate response and a friend committed ₹2000. Similarly, a post on LinkedIn generated interest and one acquaintance committed to ₹5000. A WhatsApp message to a friend led to another ₹6000 from her friend. 

After the first round of messages had not evoked any response, my reminder messages evoked some more interest and a couple of friends in my college WhatsApp group committed to ₹500 and ₹3500. I was at the 30% of the campaign and had exhausted my channel of resources. 

Not wanting to delay the initiative, I decided to consider the director’s offer. I chipped in with another ₹20,000 and informed him that I could collect only Rs 37,000 and requested if he would be kind enough to fund the balance. To my surprise, the director responded back and informed that they had found some existing stock of sweaters from the previous campaign and hence ₹37,000 will be enough for the campaign. I was glad to have not had to need the director’s funds.

A few days after this, I got yet another message. A distant college friend who had seen my message on the group late, said she would like to contribute ₹10,000, further reducing my share of contribution.

The reason I share this story is that a campaign which I could have been overwhelmed by, requiring ₹50,000 from me, ultimately ended up being an easy one and with me having to contribute only ₹10,000.

Many times in life, we undermine what we can do. We tend to view ourselves as way too insignificant and do not take up a task. We use that as an excuse to not even try finding a solution. However, once we commit to a cause, even if half-heartedly, then the world conspires to help attain the goal or objective. Especially when we are doing an act of kindness, the help comes from the most unlikeliest of sources and when we least expect it. So keep yourself exposed to such opportunities and never give up till you have tried your best. 

Glimpses from the donation drive

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Hetal Sonpal

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