Last month when Friendcoes-SECA, a long time Delhi-based animal welfare NGO, which looks after more than 2000 distressed animals across its four facilities in and around the capital said it was being forced to shut down because of money problems, a sustained social media campaign was able to raise nearly Rs 35 lakh from donors within days to cover its unpaid bills. Nearly Rs 8 lakh of this came from Ketto, a three-year- old crowd-funding platform co-founded by Kunal Kapoor, the Bollywood actor who starred in movies like Rang De Basanti, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, Don 2 and Lamha, among others.
Kapoor’s desire to start Ketto came from the disconnect that he found between the charity organisations that he worked for, and the many donors who were looking to contribute money for meaningful causes. He wanted to create a platform to connect the two. “I believe our job at Ketto is to be a facilitator between people who need to raise funds and people who are willing to give funds,” says the son-in-law of Amitabh Bachchan’s elder brother Ajitabh. “For us, it’s not about one successful campaign or one great year when we raise a lot of money. Our long-term goal is for people to realise that charity doesn’t have to be complicated.”
Among Ketto’s growing list of successful campaigns are raising Rs 9.4 lakh to enable five-time Olympian Shiva Keshavan to buy a new sled to participate in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics; Rs 8.3 lakh for Team India to participate in the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam; Rs 9.4 lakh for Nepal’s earthquake relief; Rs 6.1 lakh for NGO Kranti to help build a home for daughters of sex workers; and Rs 6 lakh for NGO Suniye to build a school for hearing impaired children.
Ketto makes donating money as easy as booking a movie ticket. You can give as little as Rs 100. If you so desire, you can also start a fundraiser for any cause and get friends and family to pitch in. Besides using his own celebrity to popularise a cause, Kapoor also gets his Bollywood friends to lend a helping hand for Ketto. Abhishek Bachchan, Dia Mirza, Nargis Fakhri, Varun Dhawan, Hrithik Roshan, Nikhil Chinapa, Jacqueline Fernandez and many others have participated in several of Ketto’s fund raising efforts. “The good thing about being a celebrity is that people listen to what you have to say, the media covers what you do. I also have access to a lot of people. Like Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan sponsored two women shooters (Ayonika Paul and Pooja Ghatkar) on our platform for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,” says Kunal.
For an actor who is still not in the top rungs of Bollywood biggies, this was indeed a bold move, and some would even say a path breaking one. He says he followed his impulse and now chooses to focus on only one film a year, so that he has enough time for other things he wants to do. He stays involved with the website on a daily basis. “The more people get involved, the faster change will happen,” he says. “Crowdfunding is still nascent in India. But I’ve seen it change dramatically. Two years ago, everyone said that no one would ever participate in crowdfunding. There’s a misconception in our country that charity has to be a very serious business. The cause is obviously serious, but the way you go about raising money for it doesn’t have to be.”