If you have been moved by a viral social media post like 'Baba Ka Dhaba' and want to help/donate, here are some questions you need to ask first.
Kanta Prasad (80), the owner of ‘Baba ka Dhaba’ in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, became an overnight social media hero when a video of his empty dhaba went viral.
Several media houses covered the story extensively; people opened up their hearts and wallets and donated generously to help Kanta Prasad and his wife. All this happened at the beginning of October. But now, with a few days more left to the month, the dhaba is back to wearing a rather desolate look.
The number of visitors has dwindled, and the media attention is gone. “There are more people who come to take videos and selfies than to eat the food we make,” he says to this publication.
Sadly, this is common. No attention can last forever.
So it is essential that the help one arranges for, or gives, during such ‘viral’ moments is carefully considered, with proper thought given to long-term action.
While social media is filled with stories of people seeking immediate help, one must ensure that proper due diligence is carried out before one transfers money, however big or small, and considers other ways to help.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Check and double-check the source
Once you have seen a video or image or text post, ensure that you check on the source. A quick Google search will show you what other posts the same source has made.
If you find that the post you have seen is just a one-off thing, be careful of making any online payments or donations to them directly. While their intentions may be good, they may find it difficult to be accountable should things turn in any direction.
Ask for the beneficiaries account details
Often the organisation or the individuals who break the story mention their own account details for the ease of collection of funds. While this makes the process streamlined, you must try and deposit money directly into beneficiary accounts.
This will eliminate the chance of any kind of fraud that might take place.
A common fraud is multiple people asking donations for the same person. Now one, or even two of them, could be legitimate. But many times, unrelated people ask for funds, knowing people are more likely to donate for a ‘trending’ topic and then do very little follow up.
Check if you can help in any other manner
One of the easiest ways in which you can help a beneficiary is by transferring money. However, do take some time and check if the beneficiary could do with any other sort of help. Whether it is in the form of a supply of groceries, other essentials, the payment of rent, medical care etc., these often have a more lasting impact, and there is very little chance of any misappropriation.
If the beneficiary happens to be in the same city as you, then a quick physical check would also be great. This way, you not just ascertain that the money being collected is going to the right source but can also check up on what other help the beneficiary might require.
You could also consider making a video with the beneficiary speaking about what other help is needed.
Do not follow the herd
Even if friends and family of yours have supported a cause or donated money towards the rehabilitation of a beneficiary, always do your own due diligence before donating.
Ascertain for yourself the veracity of the video, bank details, and beneficiary before you take the plunge. It might delay the process and the person getting the money might have to wait a bit longer, but the process will ensure that only genuine cases get the help.
If you have your own methods of verifying before donating online, do let us know so we can incorporate those pointers as well.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)
Cover image: Facebook/Bollywood News