#SeedTheRise: How India’s Biggest Digital Crowd-Funding Initiative To Help Indian Farmers Was Pulled Off Successfully

A celebration of our country's hardworking farmers, a beautiful blend of social and digital, an innovative crowd-funding campaign unlike any CSR initiative ever


The plight of farmers in India has taken epic proportions with the unfavourable weather and trying circumstances they work in. The government is helping with rebates but that hasn’t put an end to farmer suicides being reported in the major agricultural states of the country. With India experiencing its fourth consecutive drought year, the prospect of a negative growth in food grain production seems real for 2015-16, reports the Wire.

Yet, there is hope. The hope to help our farmers rise, to hold hands with them in their tough times and support them in making agricultural advancements.

In the last week of October, Mahindra & Mahindra initiated a massive digitally-driven crowd-funding campaign called #SeedTheRise to help improve the lives of our farmers, in partnership with digital agency Flying Cursor Interactive. Donations poured in for #SeedTheRise through digital amounting to INR 1 crore, which was matched by Mahindra with another INR 1 crore, to add up to INR 2 crore for our farmers.

This money will be used for farmer welfare through 5 carefully selected projects in collaboration with 4 NGOs. Projects have been designed to help improve the lives of farmers and their families in varied ways such as through providing alternative forms of livelihood, educating farmers’ daughters and helping them with agricultural advancements.

Interestingly, such a massive crowd-funding effort was not pulled off by highlighting our farmers’ plight and getting people to open up their purses out of pity for them. #SeedTheRise celebrated the hardworking and nurturing aspects of our farmers, driving people to empathise and donate. A farmer’s dignity formed the core of this campaign, right from the start of the initiative.

#SeedTheRise had many legs to it on digital that all blended together to form a memorable people-powered initiative to help our farmers. The month long campaign was kicked off with a fundraising appeal film featuring actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who is himself a farmer’s son and shares a close connection to this cause.

Nawaz begins by telling the stories and hardships of farmers. How they work hard all throughout the year and even if they might not have the riches, their heart is always big. He talks of times when everyone needs some help and today it is these farmers who need our help.

Read all about ‘The Making Of #SeedTheRise Digital Film.”

The appeal film directed potential donors to the campaign website (www.seedtherise.com) that not only gave a comprehensive overview of the campaign but also helped push donations by providing a clear summary of the 5 projects. All donations were processed by Milaap, India’s largest online fund raising platform for social causes.

The single page portal was simple, intuitive, informative and open – it featured a live donation counter. Adapting a device agnostic approach as many visitors were likely to visit the website through their mobiles, the website was made responsive and content was placed in a modular structure. It struck to its goal as the main call-to-action page for #SeedTheRise.

Read all about “The Making Of #SeedTheRise Website.”

The campaign also leveraged social media to mobilize people. It tied up with 16 food bloggers and chefs across India to help spread the word. They participated in #SeedTheRiseChallenge, a 4-day challenge where they were tasked with creating/cooking one dish in homage to the farmers and live-tweeting their preparation. The twist - the bloggers had to make dishes with certain hero ingredients (such as lemons, bananas, ginger and chillies) - selected because India happens to be one of the world’s leading producers of those ingredients!

Interesting recipes poured in from celebrity chefs like MasterChef Ajay Chopra, Chef Saransh Goila, Kalyan Karmakar, Archana Doshi and Rushina Ghildiyal.

A live Twitter chat was hosted with the 4 NGO partners to encourage potential donors, followers and the public to ask questions and to know more about the projects that are being supported.

A tie up was made with popular Twitter handles @WeAreMumbai and @SoDelhi to encourage netizens from these cities to pay homage to our farmers with the #KisaanTujheSalaam. Twitterati were asked to share images and to tell why they would like to say thank you to the farmers.

Celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Saina Nehwal, Gul Panag and Dia Mirza also helped in promoting #SeedTheRise on Twitter. Nawaz, the main protagonist shared the stronger message of all.

Inspiring. Innovative. People-driven

#SeedTheRise is beautiful blend of social and digital with engaging activities to mobilize digital India. The best part is the dignified tone throughout every leg of the campaign, be it in the appeal film starring Nawazuddin or the activities on social media. #SeedTheRise has been a celebration of our country’s hardworking farmers, a collective movement driven digitally to inspire, to help, to bring about empathy for our farmers and improve their lives with long term projects. To sum up, it’s an innovative crowd-funding campaign unlike any CSR initiative so far.

Partnering with various influential entities has helped spread the word on digital. Celebrities, food bloggers, comedians, city-specific curation Twitter handles, live chats with the NGOs involved, the various food challenges that celebrated our top farm produce, along with the intuitive donation website and appeal film has made for a memorable, informative, people-driven campaign by Mahindra Rise.