For those who wish to help the less fortunate, but don't know where to start, a new non-profit organisation, Hope Monkey, is offering a solution. Launched on October 2, the initiative connects NGOs with the casual philanthropist, via an easily navigable website.
Each cause goes through a preliminary vetting process before it is added to the menu, and is then explained through a video that tells its story, said founder Tithiya Sharma, 31, a former journalist.
A donor can choose from a variety of active causes on the website such as donating money to fund the construction of a village school, or to help sponsor cooking classes for blind girls. After paying online, a series of follow-up emails update the donor on the progress of the cause.
Among the causes that Hope Monkey is supporting is the Campus Bicycle Project, which funds cycles for schoolchildren in rural Maharashtra, and Special Olympics Bharat, an NGO that works to promote differently-abled athletes.
"These athletes do not get the encouragement they deserve. The crowd funding that Hope Monkey is doing for us will appeal to the internet savvy public in a larger way," says Raman Rekhi, communications manager at Special Olympics Bharat.
Sharma, who began working on the concept in September 2012 after returning from a 26-month journey of 46 countries where she profiled 100 local heroes, believes she is on the right track. "What I learnt from my journey around the world is that people are inherently good. They just have to be given the right avenue and opportunity to help others," she said. "I have refrained from projecting an image of pity for the disadvantaged. Instead, I appeal to the donor's inner sense of sharing and caring."
Ten days after the launch of Hope Monkey, Sharma said she has already logged 250 donations through the website.
Entrepreneur Anand Jain, 27, one of the donors, contributed Rs 500 towards providing mid-day meals to Mumbai's street children via NGO Hamara Foundation. He said he now plans to donate every month. "Unlike putting money in a donation box, where you have no idea how it is going to be used, at Hope Monkey I get the immediate high of having made a difference to a pressing issue," he said.