“As a teenager growing up in Mumbai, I had always spent a part of my vacations helping out at local NGOs. I participated in a variety of volunteering activities — teaching kids, conducting art classes, visiting old age homes to name a few.
In 2010, I graduated high school and moved to Singapore to study engineering. As an undergrad, I took a whole bunch of classes and developed skills across the board. I no longer felt the same sense of fulfillment doing ad-hoc volunteer activities. I thought a lot about the value of skills and the impact I could create if I actually put them to use. I searched for pro-bono consulting/ skill-based volunteering opportunities and found a couple of global platforms. The technology was state-of-the-art and the projects suited my skillset; however, the lack of a personal connection to the cause and organisation made my efforts rather half-hearted.
By the time I came across ConnectFor I was already working full-time in Singapore. I signed up on the website and was happy to see several familiar names in the NGO list. I was caught up with my own busy schedule when I received an email with the ideal volunteer opening: A remote development and research project for Aangan, a Mumbai-based NGO focussed on child protection. I responded to confirm my interest and was connected with Mahi, the Aangan representative, within a few hours itself. Shortly after that, I received the organisation brief, research templates and a project requirements list. As a working professional, I have limited time and was happy to see that the entire project was planned and kicked off in a detailed and professional manner.
Over the span of two weeks, I had regular calls with Mahi to discuss my progress and steer my research in the right direction. I focussed on reviewing corporate social responsibility reports for large Indian companies and identifying those that listed causes related to Aangan’s work. When I started out, I was convinced that I would be able to identify tons of suitable corporates. However, over the course of my research I realised that most organisations want to fund causes like education and healthcare; very few want to delve into the messy business of child protection and human trafficking. At the end of the project, I had developed a small but comprehensive database of eleven organisations with over fifteen different information fields. My project closure call with Mahi went well; she expressed her gratitude and explained how this research would be taken forward. She also offered opportunities for me to build a long-term volunteering relationship with Aangan. I also had a platform to share my honest feedback with the ConnectFor team.
All in all, I had a wonderful experience with ConnectFor. Despite having a busy schedule and living away from home, I was able to dedicate my time to helping a Mumbai-based initiative, utilize my skills and make true impact. I’m looking forward to the chance to volunteer with ConnectFor again.”
Sanjana Rajgarhia is a Singapore based Project Manager. She is one of ConnectFor’s remote volunteers.
To find the best way to make your own impact, visit www.connectfor.org and start immediately!