The COVID-19 pandemic placed immense strain on India’s  national health infrastructure. As the number of positive cases continued to increase, the country needed an adequate supply of critical equipment such as PPE kits, oxygen concentrators and essential medication to fight the pandemic. The global nature of the pandemic triggered an equally global response. At the peak of the second wave of the pandemic, the Government of India’s think tank, NITI Aayog, launched a COvAID portal that would make it easy to accept international donations.

To improve the ease with which donations could be made on the portal, NITI Aayog leveraged Freshworks, with AWS as the technology backbone. The new COvAID portal was a change from an email-based process that was previously used by NITI to track donations. The COVID Task Force at NITI and Freshdesk collaborated closely to launch the new tracking mechanism within just 4 days. This portal proved to be invaluable in India’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Simplifying donations with a streamlined experience

Before COvAID, NITI received calls and emails about donations. But with the huge anticipated volume of donations, it needed a more streamlined process that would improve the ease of making donations and tracking them. This led to the decision to switch from an email-based process to a system-based donations tracking mechanism (for both private and government donations).

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Through the portal, independent donors, NGOs, and private organizations can view the status of their donation and get an update when it has reached the final beneficiaries. Freshdesk was chosen as the helpdesk solution and AWS as the technology backbone to facilitate these donations. With millions of donations pouring in from across the world, the solution needed to be easy for officials to use and enterprise-ready. The turnaround of the system was completed in the minimum possible time in coordination with the DMA vertical at NITI and a COVID Taskforce (CTF) at NITI. Historical transaction data was transferred to the portal manually by the CTF team. The portal was ready to be used for the donations tracking from receipt of material to the dispatch to the primary location.

“NITI has always been at the forefront of tech innovation in India and our latest COvAID portal has made a huge impact in our country’s fight against the coronavirus.”

Amitabh Kant


NITI Aayog

Supporting the entire journey of a donation

NITI Aayog designated two teams to work predominantly on donation requests coming in from national and international donors. This task force would work out of Freshdesk to validate and facilitate incoming donations. Freshdesk supported each stage of the donation:

  • Submitting a donation: On the portal, donors need to fill out a form that captures necessary details such as  their email, country and what products they are donating. Once the form is submitted, these details are converted into a ticket on Freshdesk and gets assigned to a task force official who needs to verify it. Using this system, only the first input from a donor would be manual and the subsequent steps would be menu-based. 
  • Notifying concerned stakeholders: Freshdesk has helped officials at NITI circumvent emails when coordinating with external departments. International donations need clearance from multiple government bodies. For example, while there is a blanket approval on all donations, donations from specific countries need approval from ICMR. Similarly, depending on whether the donation is to be transported through rail, air, or sea, approvals need to be procured from bodies such as the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Road Transport, Ministry of Civil Aviation, etc. With Freshdesk, officials do not need to type out a mail for every request. At the click of a button, an email will go to the respective government bodies and based on their feedback, the donation will be processed further. This has led to a huge improvement in terms of productivity and streamlining donations. 
  • Validating documents: After the donation is cleared for import, the task force will use the Freshdesk portal to send the necessary forms to be filled by the donors. Once the filled forms are received, an official will validate them and pass them on to the airport authorities, Customs Department, Excise Department, and any other authorities that need to be involved for the import. 
  • Fulfilling last-mile logistics: The final step happens with The Red Cross team who liaises with two on-ground logistics providers to ensure fair distribution of aid across the country. With visibility into the status of the Freshdesk ticket, Red Cross can see which partner is handling delivery and when. Once the delivery is complete, the status is  updated on the ticket and the donor will receive a status update. 

Within just 12 weeks, NITI Aayog received donations from India & also across the globe, including multiple oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, medicines etc,  through the COvAID portal. These resources were integral in supporting healthcare workers and helping patients get proper treatment for COVID-19.

Carrying forward the fight against COVID

Freshdesk’s support portal powered by AWS will continue to support the rapid response team at NITI Aayog as it fights against COVID-19. The ease-of-use and quick configuration have undoubtedly supported the task force as it battled through the peak of the pandemic.

“Freshworks helped us create a delightful experience for our employees and donors without sacrificing the backend automations and integrations required to make the platform successful.”

Amitabh Kant


NITI Aayog