The exponential growth of e-commerce in India over the last five years has helped accelerate the online transition in giving in India. Although online giving accounts for less than 5% of all funds raised by the social sector today, it is forecasted to change rapidly. Respondents from a survey of India’s leading 30 nonprofits by Charities Aid Foundation India predicted that 20% of all giving in India will occur online within 2 years and 50% within 10 years.
Increased Trust in Digital Payments
Principally, the growth of e-commerce has created a psychological shift in the minds of the consumers by increasing trust in online platforms. Whereas online fraud, credit, and debit card misuse was a real concern in the past, online consumers are much more likely to trust online payment methods as they are already familiar with the process and security of digital payment methods. This comfort transcends to online giving as the donation process is similar to the checkout process on an e-commerce website. Much of this is thanks to online payments via credit cards, debit cards, net banking and increasingly wallets such as PayTM and FreeCharge after the demonetization move by the Indian govt. in November 2016.
Optional Donation at Checkout
Many online retailers include an optional donation at the checkout stage. An example of this is BookMyShow’s initiative BookASmile, which includes an optional Rs 1 donation to charity at the checkout stage. The ease of the choice and practicality to donate a negligible denomination means most donors don’t object to the additional charge, encouraging incremental donations whilst still creating a large impact on the development sector. If more e-commerce websites were to adopt this method, it can start to contribute a meaningful amount of funds to charities as millions of transactions take place online everyday.
Better targeting and marketing methods
E-commerce has directly influenced the social sector by showing the importance of more sophisticated marketing methods to bring shoppers to their online web portals. The use of targeted marketing methods by e-commerce websites has highlighted the effective influence these methods have had on site traffic and conversion rates to the social sector. Using advanced marketing methods such as customized mailers, Facebook audience targeting and retargeting, Google Adword campaigns (using longtail keywords), have now become best practices for the online donation industry. By embracing such practices, nonprofits and crowdfunding platforms have helped accelerate online giving in India. World Vision India is a clear leader in online giving in India with approximately 50% of its donations raised online due to the use of effective online marketing methods.
The importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
E-commerce has also highlighted the importance of content and storytelling on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). As the quality and the quantity of content has increased to drive more traffic to e-commerce websites, nonprofits have also followed suit to improve their rankings on Google search for important keywords by creating all types of keyword driven digital content including blogs, articles, listicles, and infographics. As a result of these efforts, traffic to nonprofit websites and crowdfunding platforms have increased, which has further helped increase the number of donations (conversions) on their websites.
The aggressive moves by some e-commerce websites like Myntra (Flipkart) to go “app-only” and discontinue their desktop sites for a brief period was a wake up call for many nonprofits to evaluate the importance of having smartphone friendly websites. As a sizable population in India only accesses the internet through smartphones, many nonprofits and crowdfunding platforms have redesigned their websites to be “mobile-first”. As a result of such efforts, online giving has increased tremendously with some website seeing 30-40% of donations coming through mobile devices. India is far ahead of its western peers in this respect. Research showed that last year only 14% of US online giving originated on a mobile device according to Blackbaud’s 2015 Charitable Giving Report.
Era of the marketplace and crowdfunding
The emergence of sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Shopclues in India have shown the importance of the online marketplaces as apathetic e-consumers embrace the convenience of not having to shop around on several different sites. This has encouraged a transition for the charity sector too with the introduction of crowdfunding sites such as Impact Guru, which is an Indian crowdfunding platform and charity marketplace. Crowdfunding platforms are growing exponentially as they allow nonprofits and social entrepreneurs to embrace the digital transition in giving and donors to browse through multiple causes on one site. Crowdfunding platforms help such customers create microsites or fundraisers, allowing them to accept all types of digital or offline payments (including cash and check pickups) which providing a great digital customer experience – be it on the desktop or the mobile.