18 month entrepreneurial journey of two Chartered Accountants who started a not-for-profit B2C crowdfunding platform ShareALittle
Chartered Accountants Trishla and Divya co-founded ShareALittle, a not-for-profit B2C crowdfunding platform that connects potential patrons to mid-sized NGOs.
- Chartered Accountants Divya Singhal and Trishla Pareek co-founded ShareALittle when COVID-19 kept the students from marginalised communities from getting an education.
- ShareALittle is a not-for-profit B2C crowdfunding platform that connects potential patrons to mid-sized NGOs to narrow the funding gap for their impactful projects.
- They streamlined the donation process to be quick, hassle-free, and transparent with an aim to make donating a recurring event.
- Crowdfunding allowed them to serve 2,800+ lives in 18 months and raised almost INR 720K.
Building ShareALittle for 18 months now
The last 18 months have been challenging and hectic, to say the least.
Building a brand, earning people’s trust and changing their mindsets is a slow process and requires persistence and patience.
Both Trishla and I worked in the finance industry for 5+ years before foraying into social entrepreneurship.
As co-founders, we have predominantly learned by doing and stepping outside our comfort zones to design the website, think of creative fundraising strategies, handle social media marketing, lead a 4-member internal team and collaborate with external teams particularly a payment gateway channel and marketing freelancers.
Marketing is a big part of what we do. Having sharp communication skills has helped us immensely with content curation. Everything today is about creating engaging and attention-grabbing copies.
We have had to learn graphic designing (the most time-consuming task for us) and understand social media algorithms.
Data analysis and data-driven marketing strategies have greatly paid off as we saw over 180K total visitors on our website in the first year of our operations.
Collaborations with animated filmmakers, video editors, social media influencers, bakers and podcast hosts helped us reach more audiences in a big way. So, we have had to identify the right collaboration partners, write cold emails and follow up relentlessly to get where we are today.
Happy to say that today 25%- of contributions come from repeat donors and we hope to build a bigger network so we can raise more funds and impact more lives in time to come!
Thus, overall, it has been a roller-coaster ride but we have been fortunate to meet many supportive people along the way.
Personally, we have learnt to think like business owners and really handle the steering wheel.
Entrepreneurship has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling journey so far, especially because we have been able to influence people’s lives in a meaningful way.
Challenges building a platform like ShareAlittle in India
The biggest challenge is really selling altruism as a service.
In our humble opinion, fundraising is hard in a developing country such as India (more so in a pandemic) because of the widespread poverty.
People want to help but there is a limit to how much they can do.
There was an added challenge of donation fatigue during the pandemic because each cause is more compelling than the other.
And of course, for a new platform, there is a 3-5 year window that is invested simply to earn people’s trust and prove ourselves to them before they want to channel their donations through us. Thus, this is the average normal time and process to scale-up.
So far, we have been able to overcome these hurdles by reaching out to more people personally and more extensively over social media platforms.
The problem is that we need to constantly tap new audiences because the same people (i.e. our friends and family) cannot donate every time. Thus, effective marketing and fundraising events such as Bake-A-Little masterclasses and game nights have helped us raise over INR 720K to date.
We have understood that the hesitance to donate money is going to stay in the foreseeable future. Hence, our focus going forward is on hosting more fundraising events where people are receiving a skill or product in return.
For example, in June 2021, we collaborated with a baker to organise a baking masterclass and more than 15 people signed up not only because all funds were going to charity but also because they were learning a new skill/recipes i.e. receiving a value-add in return.
A team of volunteers
We do not employ people because we are a bootstrapped, not-for-profit organization. We do not have the money to pay people. But we have worked with volunteers on a pro-bono basis.
As is usual, hiring is an extremely time-consuming and extensive process.
What really helped is having references from people who knew students or CA aspirants who had some free time on their hands and were looking to volunteer with NGOs.
Our volunteers have been extremely dedicated and sincere and have worked with us for 3 months at a time. This has given us enough time to acquaint ourselves with them, train them, and get really useful output from them.
We do not intend to get more co-founders or employees on board in the near future.
We prefer outsourcing the work that we cannot do ourselves such as website development, video production among others.
Our 18-month journey
Crowdfunding allowed us to serve 2,800+ lives in 18 months.
Since inception, we have partnered with 5 NGOs to raise INR 720K in charity funding through 90+ unique patrons, directly serving 2,800+ lives.
The fundraisers have improved access to education from home, sponsored vocational training courses, and helped with COVID-relief efforts.
Our work has been covered by leading Indian publications such as India today, Indian express, YourStory, and The Finance Story which enjoy a readership of 10mn+ each.
We received the ‘Promising Start-Up 2021’ award by the Indian Achievers’ Forum (an initiative to recognize Indian entrepreneurs) for an outstanding contribution to the social sector.
We also organise fundraising events such as baking masterclasses and game nights to maximize funds raised. Thus, we take the complete onus of the fundraising campaign and offer a personalized fundraising experience to NGOs.
On the other end of the spectrum lie our donors. We help them support compelling causes by way of their donations.
After every fundraiser, we design and issue impact reports to donors outlining their tangible impact to enable complete transparency and traceability of funds.
To give you an overview:
Date of incorporation.
Launch of our first campaign under the DigiKit campaign.
Second fundraiser under DigiKit launches.
March - April 2021
Media features from India Today, Indian Express, YourStory, The Finance Story
Expansion from empowerment-related campaigns to COVID 19 relief efforts with Every Infant Matters' (EIM) Million Meals campaign.
Our endeavour is to support vocational-training courses with the Catalysts for Social Action (CSA) fundraiser.
Most Promising Start-Up 2021' award by the Indian Achievers’ Forum for outstanding contribution to the social space.
Expansion to Animal Welfare related causes with the launch of our fundraiser with Karma Animal Foundation (KAF).
Expansion to community-development-related endeavours through EIM's blanket distribution drive in the winter.
A successful conclusion of 'Charity Art Fest', a fundraising event with artist Nina Das to help KAF.
Our future plans for ShareALittle
Besides supporting the causes that promote access to quality education, in the short-run, we aim to support Indian NGOs working towards bridging gender disparity, making healthcare accessible in rural India, and overcoming malnutrition by growing our domestic presence to reach a wider audience with our fundraisers.
The average donation per backer on our platform recently crossed INR 6,100, which is 30% higher than the global donation-based crowdfunding average of INR 4,900 per backer (USD 66).
With business processes already streamlined, ShareALittle has the potential to grow this figure even higher with the help of global tie-ups and foreign donations.
Through domestic and international corporate partnerships, we want to introduce ‘ShareALittle monthly’ (payroll-giving) and channel CSR funds as early as possible.
We will create opportunities for large-scale sharing through fundraising events, which currently account for 23% of the total funds raised at ShareALittle.
Increased inflow of donations through these endeavours will heavily boost the number of annual fundraisers that we take up, in turn helping us serve more people.
Creating a strong brand is one of our biggest challenges at present and all our energy goes into devising innovative marketing strategies to engage more people.
Overall, we are very excited about the prospects and potential of ShareALittle and cannot wait to update the readers about the progress in the years to come!
The Finance Story is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and get updates with latest stories of finance professionals.