Pixels together form a beautiful picture; parts make the whole. When there is a need for a good amount of money to solve a problem, it is difficult for a single individual to contribute the entire fund. Imagine if there were a large number of socially conscious individuals willing to fund the cause.
In February 2015, an organisation collected a small amount of Rs 300 per donor from just 161 young contributors and made a difference to women from extremely impoverished and difficult background through an organisation called ‘Snehalaya’. With just Rs 48,300, they were able to provide four sewing machines to Snehalaya which, in turn, is conducting free tailoring classes for these women thereby impacting over 100+ lives thus far. This was their first impact.
On December 2017, with the help of 734 donors, the NGO donated Rs 2,81,580 to ‘Shree Gurudev Bahuuddeshiya Samajik Sanstha’ (SGBSS) which works with blind and mentally challenged children. The same organisation channelized the donation received for the month of December 2017 towards equipping Divya Vidyalaya with 3 e-learning digital classroom systems and a full-fledged audio system consisting of amplifiers, microphones which will be used for teaching, school functions and music classes. This is their 35th impact.
Imagine an organisation doing it regularly across India. Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing to happen to thousands of people in this country? Youth Volunteers Organisation (YVO) is one such organisation.
YVO, based in Mumbai, saw the light of the day in Feb 2015 with 161 donors in the first month. The organisation encourages individuals, in particular, youth, to donate a minimum of Rs 300 monthly and the collective pool of funds are used to support NGOs which are working on sustainable life-changing causes which make the beneficiary stand on their own feet. The NGOs are selected through a rigorous scrutinising and vetting process. Every month a different NGO is chosen.
Also, YVO is very transparent. One can check out all the NGOs that YVO has supported on their website.
While studying in the USA, Siddharth Ladsariya, observed that the youth in the country have a great sense of nation-building which is missing in the youth in India. Here, only people who have reached a certain position in life, think about giving back to the society. This triggered Siddharth to involve the youth in India through YVO.
Sidharth says, “On a casual outing with my friends when he raised concerns that were making him restless was the day when the idea of ‘Youth Volunteers Organisation’, a platform with the philosophy “SMALL ACT, BIG IMPACT” was born.”
The initial support for YVO was from like-minded friends who completely synced with the idea and helped in designing the whole concept. These were youngsters coming from different professional backgrounds.
YVO would have been impossible without the support of Mr Rameshbhai Kacholia from Caring Friends who has dedicated decades of his life vetting NGOs and doing social service. “He has been mentoring us and guiding us on how to scrutinize NGOs,” said Siddharth.
Mobilising the youth to be willing to make a change is the core challenge they are tackling with. Even after being convinced with the concept of YVO, it takes some encouragement and initial push to start contributing. The challenge gets amplified when they need to convince people to make a monthly fixed contribution. Money is one aspect of the challenge.
YVO wants people to start uniting the youth of India to start thinking about the country. The idea is that people shouldn’t stop at Rs 300. They have examples, where people have started donating more money, more efforts and more time towards nation building. To get so many youngsters to join them will take time, patience and perseverance as the word spreads slowly and steadily in social initiatives.
“We identified 4 major bottlenecks that stopped youth from giving,” explained Siddharth.
- TIME – Youngsters have different priorities and do not have time to spare for social causes.
- MONEY – Youngsters do not have large amounts of disposable money to give away.
- TRUST – The trust was missing because there was no transparency, a lot of NGOs were getting famous for the wrong reasons.
- DUE DILIGENCE FOR SUSTAINABLE CAUSES – Youngsters hesitate in giving money to beggars, thinking indirectly they are encouraging begging.
At YVO, they have ensured that the donor does not need to give any time at all if they don’t want to. Even volunteers only have to spare 4 hours in a month. They realized that Rs 10 a day is a relatively insignificant amount for which most urban youth wouldn’t think twice before giving. Thus they solved the problem of time and money.
YVO solved the problem of trust by creating a completely transparent platform with zero admin cost (Rs 6 unavoidable payment gateway charge in addition to Rs 300). The organisation shares proofs of donation such as quotations, purchase invoices, bank balance, etc. on their website. A monthly WhatsApp and an email is sent to all donors giving them complete answers of how their money was used. They also take complete care that they only donate to highly scrutinized and vetted organisations where they measure impact both before and after the donation. This gives a lot of comfort to their donors as rarely anyone does due diligence after the donation is made.
YVO believes in the ideology that says, ‘If you want to feed a man for a day, give him fish. If you want to feed him for life, teach him fishing’. They only take up causes that directly or indirectly help the beneficiaries stand on their own feet. Causes that they have supported include vocational training of unemployed tribal youth, training deaf people to work as chefs or waiters, empowering women from sex worker’s background by teaching them stitching and sewing, setting up digital classrooms in remote villages and other similar causes.
In the past 35 months, they have connected with 35 different NGOs and in turn, supported 35 different causes. With the support of a growing number of donors, they have in totality donated almost Rs 50 lakh in an accountable way and made sure the money reaches the right hands in the right ways.
“We measure the number of beneficiaries which are impacted by our initiatives and till date have directly or indirectly made a positive difference to the lives of more the thousands of people,” said Siddharth.
“One of the best initiatives we have supported that we often talk about is DEEDs. We wished to take up the cause of doing something for the deaf people in the month of August 2015. We connected with DEEDs who offer a one-year certificate course in cookery and commercial food production to the deaf, free of cost, which makes them eligible for jobs in the hospitality industry. Deeds has also a Tailoring Institute in LTMG (Deaf School) at Wadala (Mumbai) to provide basic training in tailoring skills to the Deaf students enabling them to take it up as a subject in the SSC Board exams. The students are taught basic skills in stitching, embroidery, cutting & drafting. YVO supported DEEDs with 25 full sets of pots and pans for the deaf students and a refrigerator which will enable them to take up more baking courses and also equipped their Tailoring Institute with 7-foot pedal sewing machines to impart vocational training.The beneficiaries of these training courses will learn to stand on their own feet and will not a donation ever again in their life. They will become financially independent and the handicap will not be a hurdle for them anymore,” he continued.
Measuring and reporting on the effectiveness of programs
Pre-donation due-Diligence and post-donation audit are very crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of their initiatives. These follow-ups are backed up by visits and surprise checks. They have a very passionate NGO team that works relentlessly towards doing continuous follow-ups with each NGO that they connect with. They make all NGOs answerable by sharing all proofs of productive use of donor money.
Working with peers
Drop by drop fills the ocean. This is the basis of their mission – Small Act, Big Impact. They have had 3 different peers who got inspired by their work. They are here to make a possible difference and they want to leave the world a little better than what they found it to be. They want to be the change we want to see in this country, in this world. Thus, they do not see them as competitors. They gave all their support to all the three organisations in helping them in whatever way they could.
For more details visit Youth Volunteer Organisation.
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