The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

India: ISKCON Pune Gets Tech-Savvy in Receiving Donations

By: for expressindia.com on Aug. 29, 2009

Pune - Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are giving up the old fashioned way of raising money for charity from the corporate sector that has of late been facing turbulence.

They are going hi-tech to reach out to the masses instead. For starters, they've begun using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and mobile-based applications to receive donations over cellphones. The latest organization to adopt this technology is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) — a charitable group that reaches out to more than 1,000 schools in Maharashtra, including many in Pune, with their mid-day meal programme.

ISKCON joins hands with Atom Technologies to introduce fully automated IVR technology as an additional payment option. "We were searching for new avenues for raising funds since there is a crunch in corporate donations. We figured out that our best audience will be tech-savvy youngsters. So, after some research, we adopted IVR technology as the first step. Soon, we will launch a campaign to popularise it," said Radha Krishna Dasa, managing director, ISKCON Food Relief Foundation.

ISKCON will soon launch the system across India. They are also looking at introducing SMS-based applications. “We are providing mid-day meals to around two lakhs [200,000] of students in Maharashtra and over 6.5 lakhs [650,000] in the country. We collected around Rs 8 crore [US$1.5 million] last year and this year we are trying to improve the figures. We are planning to reach out to the masses via SMS, e-mail, radio and events. As people will come to know more about it, we are confident of getting a good response,” Dasa said.

Speaking on the advantages of the mobile application, Dewang Neralla, director, Atom Technologies, said it was convenient and secure for the user. "By implementing Atom’s technology, NGOs can solicit funds and donations over telephones through IVR system, which would be direct, quick and secure, using credit cards. Technology will make fund-raising easier. It is being observed that donating over the phone has the ability to match, or even outperform, online donations," he said.

Regarding the tie-up with other NGOs, he said GiveIndia would adopt Atom’s IVR-based payment option and CPAA would go in for mobile-based payment where people can donate via text messages. "Today, there are over 300 million mobile subscribers in the country. This sector is growing phenomenally. There has been a very strong push from the regulators to move away from the cash economy to an e-payment regime. With the strong impetus from the RBI through e-payment guidelines, we could see people increasingly adopting newer payment channels. There is huge promise in mobile payments, which will be seen as it unfolds in the next 3-5 years," said Dasa.

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