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For a long time, I felt this need for an online network for change makers. Just for NGOs, Volunteers, Social Entrepreneurs and people of similar kind.

For a long time and on various circumstances, I felt this need for an online network for change makers. Just for NGOs, Volunteers, Social Entrepreneurs and people of similar kind.

Grassroots (https://thegrassroots.app/) might end up becoming one!

Almost a month back, just to check the pulse I posted my thoughts on this in Whatsapp.

My Whatsapp Status:

Dear Volunteers πŸ§™, NGO people 🧞, Activists 🦸, Social Entrepreneurs 🀸, Change makers of all sorts πŸ§˜πŸ»β€β™€οΈ and also those, who wants to contribute in someway, but yet to get started πŸ‘ΆπŸ½ I have a question for you, just to hear your thoughts and opinions ⁉️

There are dozens of Social networks out there.

  1. Facebook (1/6) – to share our personal space, achievements, interests, passion, etc., with our friends
  2. Twitter (2/6) – for trending news, heated debates, to follow famous personalities and their thoughts.
  3. LinkedIn (3/6) – to take care of professional space, for employees, employers, HRs looking for recruits, people looking for new job opportunities.
  4. Instagram (4/6) – to share our Creative space, Our awesome trip photos, home made chocolate photos and of course our pet photos.
  5. Quora (5/6) – for those high intellectuals to discuss deeep topics of all verticals, from Politics, to Photography to Aviation to Relationship failures.
  6. And then there is Reddit, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc., etc., for all user groups and interests.

Now my question is, Have you ever felt a need for a Social network for us, for the Volunteers, for the NGOs, A social network for change makers?

Responses and further discussion

Got interesting responses from 18 people. Most with a strong Yes and few with some Questions or posting their thoughts.

And to take the discussion further, I asked if they could brief on “why Yes” and possibly to elaborate more. And again got some interesting responses:

  1. We are using Facebook or Whatsapp to discuss or share thoughts. It will be really helpful if there is a special platform where only like minded people are present. In facebook, there are some random people who are always ready to degrade our work.
  2. This will help people who are looking to do something, and don’t know where to start. One such small network, helped me to start Volunteering. But a online global network will be very good.
  3. Facebook is good, but there is no separate space, pages only for NGOs. Each NGO has a separate group. But finding them is hard. So having a separate platform just to see the info of NGOs will solve many gaps. Also need to keep the information less and crisp and reliable.
  4. A separate platform is not needed. Every NGO can create whatsapp group, Facebook, slack group and communicate right, which is what they’re doing now.

India is the first country in the world to mandate spending on development activities through CSR, with a law.

– Trivia

My thoughts

As for me, It’s actually hard to grasp the fact that there is no such online network yet. We are living in an era of escalating Climate change issues, failing governments, inequality problems of all colors and scale. Moreover there are people involved in addressing all these problems in all scales. And yet there is no network for them. Few specific thoughts here:

A. It’s very hard to find genuine mature NGOs on the ground

  1. The top reason being the digital footprint of the NGOs is not on par with the actual work that they do on ground.
  2. As per Nasscom survey in 2017 (link), 45% of the MNCs couldn’t spend their 100% allotted CSR budget because of non-availability of NGOs/Suitable projects. This is super shocking to me, who is surrounded by all sorts of NGOs, working in all the 17 SDGs.
  3. I think this is a root problem, that results in many other branching problems.
  4. Such a platform will effectively reduce the intensity of this problem to a greater extent.
csr underspending chart

B. Genuine NGOs lagging in Legal compliances

  1. Oops! I am touching a sensitive area here.
  2. In the world of Volunteering, It’s actually easy to do the hard physical labor of digging 100 pits to plant 100 saplings, and even easier to arrange Rs. 25,000 to buy new dresses for an Orphanage kids for Pongal celebration.
  3. But it’s damn hard to write down the donation and expenses of the same activity in an Excel sheet or even a Notebook. And this escalates to the non-compliance problems at the end of the financial year.
  4. Those who are outside volunteering won’t understand this. Only insiders understand this situation.
  5. Simple digital tools, software systems, will help a lot in this regards and also to bring about more transparency.
  6. Just for clarity, when you hear a NGO didn’t file for IT for past 2-3 years or even 10 years, don’t immediately assume they are corrupt and evil. There are many genuine reasons for that, which is outside the scope of this post. But If you like that NGO for their activities and would like to volunteer, donate to them, you are 100% entitled to encourage/help the NGOs in doing that and be transparent about their financials. Please don’t just tag them `Bad`.

C. NGOs finding it difficult to find Donations, Volunteers

  1. This is a derived problem of Point 1.
  2. People are looking everywhere to Give, share, help, contribute (quora link). But all these online searches are captured by only a handful of NGOs in each city, because of their strong digital presence, marketing and Branding.
  3. Now these handful of NGOs are under utilising their volunteer base, because it’s too much.
  4. And 1000s of NGOs out there find it hard to get volunteers, donations.

These are my high level thoughts on why an online network for Change makers is needed. I might write more on this, detailing into specifics as I find time.

What do you think? Share in comments.

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