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Donors Rush to India

As skyrocketing COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to devastate India, a flurry of nonprofits and relief organizations are pumping millions in relief money to support the country’s crisis response.

As the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on Tuesday, the nonprofit Indiaspora raised over $1 million last week through its ChaloGive website. The funds will flow into the WISH Foundation’s popup care centers and hospitals, GiveIndia’s direct bank transfers for families, and the EdelGive Foundation’s relief for migrants and other underserved populations.

India-based donation platform GiveIndia, which has raised over $37 million for the country’s COVID relief, recently launched a new fund to address the second wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths. The organization, along with UNICEF, received $2.6 million in grants from Google last week. And billionaire Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of computing firm Sun Microsystems, added $10 million in matched funds to GiveIndia’s oxygen equipment fundraising program.

The Rockefeller Foundation also recently approved $3.5 million in grant funds to assist Indian organizations with testing and tracing, improving health infrastructure, and providing emergency medical relief.

A spokesperson for GoFundMe told NBC News this week that since April 17, Indian COVID relief funds have raised over $6.5 million from over 60,000 donors through the crowdfunding platform. Charity Navigator also lists over a dozen high-rated organizations raising funds for medical services, relief supplies, and local education/awareness.

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In the Christian world, a few organizations have stepped up to raise money or donate supplies to support India’s crisis response.

World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization based in Washington, announced last week that it plans to redouble its efforts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), surgical masks, and sanitization supplies to hospitals, health care centers, and communities. It’s also providing financial support for families via cash and vouchers.

World Vision’s international arm is raising funds to provide oxygen concentrators, cots, beds, and medical equipment to 93 hospitals and health care centers in India. Through the organization’s website, donors can make direct payments for multiple quantities of hospital beds, PPE and safety kits, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, sanitizers, and screening and monitoring devices.

The first phase of World Vision India’s COVID response began in March of last year. To date, it has supplied cooked food and dry rations to over 565,000 people and supported 559,000 households with cash vouchers. It also distributed over 810,000 masks, 131,406 hand-washing supplies, and thousands of gloves and PPE.

North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organization led by Franklin Graham, said last week it’s providing medical supplies to the intensive care unit of one of its partner hospitals, which nearly ran out of oxygen last month. The organization is also distributing food packages to over 1,000 families.

Another Christian nonprofit, MAP International, aims to raise $100,000 to provide PPE to hospitals and health care workers in India, according to its website. The organization says for every dollar contributed, it donates $105 for medicines and health supplies.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that MAP International received around $50,000 in cash gifts over the last few weeks. The organization’s executive director, Steve Stirling, told the publication that government barriers are causing delivery delays. A 40-foot cargo container full of surgical gowns, booties, masks, and other materials awaits clearance from India’s customs and health officials.

Infections have been on the rise in India since February. According to the Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking data, the country has now totaled over 20.6 million cases and more than 226,180 deaths as of Wednesday.

In recent weeks, supply shortages have faltered the country’s vaccine rollout. Roughly 9 percent of India’s population of 1.3 billion has received at least one vaccine dose; 2 percent have been fully immunized with both doses of Covaxin and Covishield, the country’s version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

As India continues battling its second wave, Christian giving towards relief efforts may be thwarted by the country’s increasingly tightened regulations on foreign funding.

Shannon Cuthrell

Shannon Cuthrell is a journalist with a background covering business, technology and economic development. She has written for Business North Carolina magazine, WRAL TechWire, Charlotte Inno and EE Power, among other publications.