Traditionally, crowdfunding has been associated with raising money for startups and new businesses, often acting as an alternative to investor funding. In Sri Lanka, however, we have a unique departure from this type of crowdfunding in Charity Apple, which uses the model of crowdfunding to support charitable causes.
In a developing country like Sri Lanka, issues such as poverty and deprivation are still rampant. Added to that, we have our own share of man-made and natural disasters which leave a lot of people in abject penury and dependent on the charity and goodwill of others. There are many people who would wish to contribute in any way to alleviate those in difficulty but it’s not always that easy. Sometimes it’s a matter of the availability of time on hand and accessibility that hinders people from giving to those in need.
Charity Apple is a platform that bridges this problem. The Rotary Club of Colombo, along with partners Saberion and HNB, have started this crowdfunding initiative with the aim of providing people with a medium to help fund those in need. To date, Charity Apple has successfully worked on as many as 48 completed projects, ranging from providing relief to victims of the Koslanda landslide to installing electricity in a remote primary school, to helping out families suffering from personal tragedies, such as the loss of breadwinners. The stories, which can be found on their website, are plain heartbreaking: school-going children who face a different kind of a war for survival even after the end of the war, mothers without any means to an income trying to feed and educate their families, disenfranchised individuals attempting to start up businesses to support their families.
Project Manager, Steffan Johnson explained that initially they worked on causes identified by the Rotary Club but now they even receive proposals from outside parties who have identified the needs of others. “We research about the proposals we receive to prove if they are legitimate and take it from there,” he said. “The idea is to provide people who want to give charity an easy medium to do so. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. There is no minimum limit or a maximum limit of what people can give. Even rupees 10 towards a cause is immensely helpful.”
In Sri Lanka, the concept of crowdfunding is gaining slow momentum, slow because many still view the concept with a certain degree of scepticism and mistrust. In their project reports, however, Charity Apple has made it a point to provide the necessary invoices to ensure complete transparency. “The idea is catching up now,” Steffan elaborated. “Helping people out has become easier – it’s now only a matter of going through the causes on our website and funding the causes you would like to help out with.”
Currently, Charity Apple has around 15 ongoing causes, ranging from helping people with disabilities to helping people rebuild homes damaged by disasters, to providing fully equipped first aid boxes and stationery items for schools, to raising funds for people in need of kidney transplants. To find out more visit their website and lend a helping hand to those in need.