The power of crowdfunding

Few days back our maid servant was not in a good mood. Her husband had left the job of driving auto rickshaw and was now sitting at home doing nothing. She remembered the striking difference between her husband and son. Her son is very studious. He scored a decent rank in the engineering entrance exam couple of years back and secured an engineering seat. That time she was so elated that she didn’t eat food properly for few days as she couldn’t digest that good news. However it was later that she became worried about paying the fees and other expenses.

That time too her husband’s earning was not so good. All the daily chores and expenses were singlehandedly managed by her. She had taken up multiple jobs like cooking, dish washing, house cleaning, washing clothes etc. in various households. From morning till evening she keeps herself busy just to ensure that all her family needs are met. Occasional borrowing from one or other households for emergent additional expenditure was also part of her home management agenda.

But she always ensured that her son’s educational needs were met as she wished to see her son as an engineer or a doctor. She never felt the burden of his education as she was drawing benefits from government schemes meant for poor and reserved class people. But the engineering fee structure was a bit different. The college where her son got the seat too was semi-private. They provided her with the fee structure which was quite less compared to other colleges but considerably more as far as her earnings were concerned.

I remember when she came with the admission letter there was a sense of helplessness in her body language. She had tried for the bank loan but couldn’t get through. Finally she had withdrawn money from all possible sources of savings and she was still Rs. 30K short of the requisite amount. I obliged with Rs. 10K and with additional borrowing from other household, she could manage the fees for the first year of engineering. The day she submitted the fees, she appeared to be probably the happiest person on earth.

Days passed and then the second year started. Again there was monetary panic. This time she tried for the bank loan again. Since it was second year of studies, the otherwise smart bank passed the loan for her.  But the amount was not even enough for the second year fee. Whatever was less, she again borrowed and could manage to pay the fee.

This time it was the third year. All the gates for borrowing the money were closed. No bank loan, no savings, no cash. She was so helpless that she started foreseeing the discontinuation of studies of her son. The amount to be arranged was of the order of Rs. 90K. Though facing financial crunch, I offered Rs. 10K but that was no way near to the targeted amount.

It was then my wife gave the idea of crowd funding. She asked me to put up her case in my office and ask for contributions of any caliber. I took the fee card to my office and circulated it with an informal covering letter asking for help. I also assured that the donors shall get a call from the candidate acknowledging the amount with thanks. This way the donors can be sure that their donation has successfully reached the needy.

I didn’t anticipate but to my great surprise, people responded positively. Though there were few who questioned the cause but most of the colleagues and subordinates contributed generously. Within two days the amount was sufficient enough to pay the fees. I gave the money to my maid and asked her to call each and every individual and thank for their help. She was perplexed seeing the amount. She thanked everyone and happily paid the fees.

Next day she stood courteously in front of me with gratitude. I told her that I did nothing; it was the power of crowd funding. No one was burdened and the objective was met. I also realized that, if the intentions are genuine and the people are considerate such small steps can bring happiness to the life of needy people.  Even I was not burdened but the happiness on the face of both the mother and the son was inexpressible.

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