The Indian diaspora in the US is roughly 1 percent of the US population. The opportunity from these Indian-American givers is tremendous and is expected to grow. In fact, one could argue that never before has this opportunity been so compelling. Consider these three factors:
- Young and growing population: Of the more than three million people of Indian origin who live in the US, approximately two-thirds are between 20 and 35 years old. While these young, tech-savvy millennials may not be able to give large amounts, research done on giving patterns of millennials shows that, in general, about 60 percent of them give to charitable organizations.
- High income levels: The Indian-American household has the highest income level of any immigrant group in the US, more than twice the income level of the general US population.
- Cultural and emotional ties: The diaspora in the US has strong ties with India. Many of them grew up in India, still have close family there and often turn to the country for their charitable giving.
These factors of age and population, disposable income and an emotional connect, arguably make the Indian diaspora uniquely predisposed to giving to Indian causes. People of Indian origin also work for big tech companies, many of which encourage a strong employee giving culture with generous matching programmes.
In 2018, charitable giving by individuals in the US totalled an estimated $292 billion. If we apply these giving trends to the 1 percent of Indian-American diaspora and assume that 40 percent of that giving is directed to India, that results in a giving of USD $1.2 billion or INR 7, 800 crore.
However, the 2018 Indiaspora-Dalberg study showed that while the diaspora are great at giving their time and volunteering, they lag behind in philanthropic giving even though they remain passionate about the cause. The primary reasons for this passion-donation gap can be categorized as follows:
- Lack of sufficient information that provides reliable insight and perspective on beneficiary organizations
- Skepticism towards recipient organizations that results in significant trust deficit in the donor community
- Cultural attitudes that favor “informal giving” to friends and families over charitable organizations
- Poor community self-perception of underperformance in philanthropic giving damages morale and creates a negative feedback cycle that impedes higher levels of giving
Indiaspora is launching its ChaloGive online giving campaign this year from Oct 2 to Oct 8 to encourage and facilitate giving by the Indian diaspora. The ChaloGive campaign is an effort to address the obstacles identified above and aims to make online giving simple and strategic. This is similar to Giving Tuesday in the US or Daan Utsav in India, but is focused on individual giving by the Indian diaspora to organizations in India and the US. The goal of the campaign is to engage this important demographic of potential micro donors, and create a new culture of giving by the diaspora.
Ashish Shah is the Community Relations Director at Indiaspora. He comes to Indiaspora with a background in non-profit management, consulting, and business development. Ashish is the founder of GivingRise, an online giving platform created to make giving to India from the U.S. simple, transparent and highly impactful. Ashish is focused on understanding giving habits and patterns of the Indian diaspora in the U.S. and empowering donors and philanthropists who wish to give and support causes in India. Before GivingRise, Ashish worked for over 10 years as a management consultant in the healthcare industry in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. Born and raised in Mumbai, Ashish graduated with a Bachelors in Engineering from Mumbai University and a Masters in Telecom Policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.