Number Theory | Donation trends - A look at how India gives
A report by the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University has prepared estimates of donations by Indian households.
Who is the biggest beneficiary of donations by Indian households? What is the factor that motivates households to make such donations? What is the total amount of donations which Indians make? What about average donations per household? Did the pandemic change how households make donations in India? A report by the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University has prepared estimates of donations by Indian households. It is based on telephonic and face-to-face surveys conducted in April 2021 (first phase) and October 2021 (phase two) and has a sample of approximately 81,000 households. Here are five charts which explain this.
How much do Indian households give?
The report estimates total donations in India by households – this does not include corporate philanthropy – between October 2020 and September 2021 to be around ₹23,700 crore. If one was to compare this with India’s GDP (in current prices for the relevant quarters) it comes to 0.11%. As a share of private final consumption expenditure, this share is around 0.18%.
What about average donations by Indian households? The report estimates this number to be ₹524 between October 2020 to March 2021, and ₹507 between April 2021 and September 2021. To be sure, the value of these donations varies across various beneficiaries, with extended family, friends and staff receiving the biggest average donations.
Who is most likely to receive donations?
Religious organisations are the biggest beneficiaries of donations by Indian households, both in terms of frequency of donations, and the share in total donations. While donations to beggars are a close second in terms of frequency of donations, their share in total donations is significantly smaller, which suggests that the average ticket size of donations to religious organisations is much larger than what households give to beggars. Put together, donations to religious organisations and beggars account for 80% of the total value of donations in India.
Overall, 29% of the households who donated to non-religious organisations also disclosed the names of the organisations. Stemming from these responses, it was found that for every 10 such donations, five were received by NGOs, trusts, foundations, and schools; and two by PM CARES/CM CARES/Unicef.
What motivates an average Indian to donate?
As far as the two biggest recipients of household donations are concerned, religious belief is the biggest motivation, which is closely followed by adherence to family tradition. When it comes to donations to household staff and extended family, and the friends and staff category of beneficiaries – the average donation is significantly higher here than in the case of religious organisations and beggars – the intent to support someone in financial distress is the primary motivation for donations. What is remarkable is that tax-saving is almost a negligible factor behind Indian households making donations. Of the 17% households who did not report making donations in the survey (in phase two), 31% said nobody approached them, while another 37% did not have the resources to make any donations.
How is the donation provided?
During the study period, giving in cash was preferred in both urban and rural areas, with more than 90% of households contributing in cash. The incidence of in-kind donations was higher in rural households (50%) as compared to urban households (30%). Volunteering emerged to be the least popular form of altruism in India. Only 2% of the respondents reported having “volunteered” their services in urban areas as opposed to just 1% in rural areas.
The survey also provided deeper insights to how the channels of information influence the form of donations. For this, responses from households were sought for two categories of recipients - religious and non-religious organisations. For both groups, “in-person outreach by volunteers or agents” and “face-to-face interaction from the beneficiary”, emerged as critical in influencing household giving donations. Specific for non-religious organisations, television also emerged as a significant medium for soliciting donations.
How were giving patterns affected during Covid-19?
The second phase of the survey referred to the period from April 2021 to September 2021. This coincided precisely with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that had devastated the nation. During this time, the share of donations motivated by Covid-19 relief measures also increased markedly. This increase was majorly reported towards non-religious organisations. In contrast, the first phase of the survey, which overlapped with the period right after the first lockdown, saw more donations made towards known people such as household staff or extended family members.