I have been volunteering with ConnectFor since last July. I wanted to work somewhere, where I could make a difference with my IT industry background and I wanted to work pro-bono. The choice was between a start-up and a non-profit organization, and with ConnectFor I found both!
ConnectFor works with NGOs and Volunteers, forming a bridge between them and hand holding them in the journey. They also measure the impact of this volunteering. When I joined them, they already had a successful tech platform and wonderful processes in place. A small but very dedicated team led at the helm by two young girls who infused it with their strong sense of commitment, leadership and work ethics.
I initially thought that I would help them with Business development but then while making presentations and applying for funding from trusts and participating in competitions, I figured out that a lot of the good work they did, was not getting documented or recorded in the way it should be. It was also because of the way the data was entered manually with human errors and also because some aspects of personalizing the volunteer calls were more dependent on the team member rather than the system-optimized opportunities. So I shifted my entire focus to Data: how it would be captured, at what level would impact be measured and how would the statistics emanating from this, feed back into the same to create further growth. What really helped at every stage of my volunteering is the total support from the leadership team and the long brainstorming sessions where we would argue back and forth between capturing too much and too little.
The Operations team too had a big role to play as we would keep on tweaking the data every month to see if the process of connecting the volunteer to the NGO could be better optimized and if we could narrow down the right fit for the volunteer.
We gathered a lot of insights from the data we had after one year of operations and held a small workshop for our NGO partners. Our aim was to share our findings with them and help them understand the world of volunteering better by providing our unique insights which were more formal and structured as we had the data to back it up instead of simple intuition and experience.
They really loved it and we realized that we could get better at this, more focused and learn lessons using the data we gathered and the experiences we had, connecting our 5000+ volunteer family to our 100+NGO partners and make ConnectFor even better at the work we do!
I volunteer full-time 3 days a week and whenever it is not possible for me to travel to work, the team has been quite flexible in letting me work from home. If there are any urgent team meetings, I dial in or attend via video calls. When you volunteer with an organization for a long period of time, there is an implicit trust and faith that you will deliver on what you have promised so there is no nitpicking or micromanaging.
It has been more than a year for me, volunteering for ConnectFor,and the takeaways I have from this long stint are
- Volunteering for an organization which is able to leverage your existing skill set is more satisfying than simply writing a cheque to the same NGO (but please..also write the cheque)
- There is level of personal satisfaction when you see the fruits of your labour almost immediately, instead of waiting for years. You fulfill a certain niche for which the organization may not be able to afford someone full-time and that has a ripple effect on the work which would not have been done if you were not there (self pat ha ha!)
- You meet altruistic and like-minded people when you volunteer
- You never fail to be amazed at how people are working at the grass-roots level to change the society and get rid of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and abuse! Suddenly your cynicism at the world around you ceases and you know that people are working towards uplifting the society and you are doing your bit, directly or indirectly.
Amisha is a full-time volunteer with ConnectFor, and arguably the most valuable member of our team! Talk about practicing about what you preach :)