Historically, giving in India has mostly taken place informally, and anonymously, and informal giving still remains in practice across the diverse cultures of India. However, the advent of formal philanthropy and digital giving in India has shifted giving to be more conscious and structured. All forms of individual and retail giving, especially in the digital giving space, demonstrated potential for higher giving rates in the future. To develop a better understanding of these shifts, this study identified and examined the relationship between demographic factors and the drivers of online giving, and the new and emerging giving methods in the digital space in India. The philanthropic paradigm in India constitutes practices and traditions from the origins of early Indian society, while generational differences and shifts of today are shaping giving behavior. Indian Millennials and Gen Z are the largest population groups in the entire world, which undoubtedly holds great significance for both modern philanthropy and the digital age—even more so in India where both generations are driving the evolution of India’s economic and digital revolution. Hence, the research study was designed to understand emerging trends in the Indian philanthropic space, with special attention to the relationship between demographic factors and the drivers of online giving.

Access the Digital for Good: India report.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on philanthropy in India was visible through the decreasing number of donations at the time, as the pandemic stifled people’s ability to earn disposable income.

Giving saw a decline across all generations[1] since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Forty-seven percent of respondents either reduced their giving or stopped donations altogether. However, more than half of survey respondents who donated (51.2 percent) added donations for Covid-19 related relief and need, on top of their regular giving to diverse social concerns, when the pandemic struck.

Since the onset of the pandemic, giving modes also shifted from predominant cash donations to digitalized payment channels. Cash transactions slowly returned as lockdown restrictions eased and vaccine availability increased, but the sudden and massive introduction to the convenience of online transactions have expedited the adoption of online giving. This presents an opportunity to engage more donors to give via online methods.

[1] Our study defined the age groups according to the year individuals were born. Baby Boomers spanned 1955 – 1964; Gen X were 1965 – 1980; Millennials fall under 1981 – 1996; and Gen Z were 1997 – 2012.

Giving within and across different generational groups saw fluctuations

Millennials led the way when it came to donating to Covid-19 related needs and relief, but Baby Boomers were the most regular donors overall (30 percent) out of all age groups. We also found that Millennials use mobile wallets (31 percent) more than Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Gen Z. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers who are expected to be less tech-savvy, are using lesser cash (47 percent) in comparison to Gen X (58 percent), Millennials (60 percent), and Gen Z (54 percent). Baby Boomers are also increasingly utilizing internet banking (42 percent) than their younger counterparts, with Millennials (37 percent), Gen Z (33 percent), and Gen X (29 percent) following behind.

Among people who give, 70 percent agreed that a monthly or periodic giving plan is beneficial. Millennials, closely followed by Baby Boomers, led this thought. This presents an opportunity to engage these donors into long-term strategic givers and understanding their motivations to make giving a regular practice. Overall, this study suggests that Baby Boomers are open to using digital mediums and are relatively more influenced by online advertisements. Thus, it presents an opportunity for Baby Boomer donors to be enlisted and involved as champions for a cause.

Online advertisements emerged as a new way to induce donations in India

Survey results suggested that online advertisements displayed on various websites and pages were effective in converting notice to transaction, as approximately 70 percent of donors shared that they have donated at least once (seldom, sometimes, frequently, always) after seeing the ads related to charities or charitable donations, while approximately 50 percent have donated more than once (sometimes, frequently, always) upon seeing the related ads.

However, they influence age groups differently. Baby Boomers are the most likely to give as 18 percent gave regularly based on online advertisements. Our study found that 38 percent of Gen Z respondents never donated after seeing online ads or were not influenced by online advertisements.