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Fundraising for solar lighting project in India’s villages: Third edition of Trade for a Cause is largest fundraiser by India employees

February 2014 │ India

Deutsche Bank, in partnership with the Chirag Rural Development Foundation (Project Chirag), is drawing on solar energy to help light up villages in rural India that are off the power grid. Since 2010, Deutsche Bank has supported Project Chirag, which began as a college initiative and is now a non-profit organisation active in 160 villages.

In early 2013, Deutsche Bank volunteers made a maiden trip to help install solar lights in the villages of the tribal belt around Wada near Mumbai. The houses are usually lit with rudimentary kerosene lamps that create soot, smoke and are a health hazard. The solar lights installed in each home help the children study, and allow the family to go about their daily chores after dusk. The solar system also has a mobile phone charger – a reminder that mobile telephony has penetrated the hinterlands faster than other basics. Despite the arid landscape and the vast distances between houses in the village, the trip struck a deep chord with the volunteers.

To increase engagement with this effort, Project Chirag was selected as the charity partner for Deutsche Bank’s Women in Asian Business 2013 conference as well as the Bank’s annual fundraiser, Trade for a Cause 2013, an in-house virtual trading game developed by DB Centre, the Bank’s Service Centre.
The premise of ‘Trade for a Cause’ is simple: by making a minimum donation, employees can support a worthy cause and as an added advantage, play the online trading game. Winners of the game stand to win prizes. ‘Trade for a Cause’ had already been active for two years, raising funds for various non-profits in India. The focus of the 2013 campaign for the annual fundraiser was a simple call to action – Light Up a Thousand Homes.

A national campaign was launched across 23 Deutsche Bank Group offices in India, targeting over 10,000 employees. The slogan drew attention to the glow on Mangla Balu Gavari’s face, one of the first beneficiaries of Deutsche Bank’s volunteering trip, whose image now features in the fundraising campaign. The campaign took this image to spread the word using every available communication tool: online, offline, and experiential, but with a clear partiality for eco-friendly digital media. The fundraiser itself – from the registration and donation process to the trading game – is entirely online. A flash mob in the cafeterias at lunch time brought an eye-catching element to the campaign launch. And to drive home the message, glow-in-the-dark stickers with a compelling message were put up in all the washrooms. The lights in the washroom were switched off, and the stickers grabbed the attention of every person as they reached for the light switch.

The campaign, rooted in reality and with a clearly-articulated target, spurred employees into participating in unprecedented numbers. In 2013, participation climbed by almost 30% and each participant contributed double the minimum donation required to join the game. 40% more funds were raised in 2013, as compared to the amount raised in 2011 and 2012 combined, making this the largest fundraiser by employees in India.

Trade for a Cause 2013 has engaged 714 employees in the trading game and raised over INR16,50,000 for Project Chirag.
Handing over the cheque to the Project Chirag team, Anirban Lahiri, Global Head of DB Centre, acknowledged the efforts that made the fundraiser a success.

Jyotirmoy Chatterji, the co-founder of Project Chirag, expressed his gratitude, saying, “Deutsche Bank was amongst one of the first corporates to have supported us and we will be ever indebted to your organisation for your belief in our vision when no one did. Thanks for standing by us and always encouraging us to create a larger impact.”

Deutsche Bank aims to meet the goal of lighting up a thousand homes by the end of 2014. Since February 2013, groups of volunteers will head to Barmer in Rajasthan and Wada in Maharashtra to begin installating solar lights there.

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Last Update: February 28, 2014
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