How many times have you wanted to volunteer to support a cause, but have not been able to take time out to do so?
According to Doing Good Fellows (DGF), there are almost 72% of urban youth willing to help, support, mentor and volunteer but only 12% manage to accomplish it. The intent is there but people are unaware about the best way to go about it. Doing Good Fellows bridges the gap by asking interested individuals (Fellows) to share their expertise and their networks.
This year, the DGF team launched a new reinvented version of DGF platform based on a lot of feedback from Fellows and NGOs. The new platform will provide an end-to-end solution for non-profits to solve their challenges through skilled professionals and their network.
How it works for the Fellows and non-profits
The registered users or Fellows as they are called have to create their profile. Once they do that they can choose projects from social causes that interest them and bid for the projects on the basis of the hours they estimate to complete the project. They get selected by NGOs and work directly with them. Fellows can choose their own time commitment and DGF provides all the collaborative tools and manages their work to maximize their impact. Fellows can display their work to the world and get recognized by NGOs.
DGF allows them to track their social impact over time. The DGF community tracks its social impact using the dashboard, and can access this from multiple devices like phones and tablets etc.
The new reinvented DGF website allows its registered users or Fellows to do a bunch of cool things like bid, manage and complete projects online, follow their favourite NGO all over the country, make friends and follow their updates, post news and events relevant to the work they are doing.
“It’s a free service for non-profits and it takes only a few minutes for them to float a project on our site. The non-profit has to describe the work it needs and who they are looking for and then invite promising candidates, view proposals, and select their favorite Fellows. DGF manages their projects end-to-end,” says Palak Dalal, Co-founder.
“The DGF platform has collaborative tools using which non-profits can choose to set milestones. Additionally, DGF also gives them access to a network of highly skilled and trained professionals all across the globe,” adds Revathy Muralidharan, Co-founder and Managing Director.
NGOs and Fellows can aspire to attain three levels. At the first level, the NGO receives 60 hours and subsequent services from DGF to transfer and use for projects. Upon completion of a project, the hours are then transferred to the Fellow involved and will act as a rating for the work done. Fellows can move up to the third level.
So far, DGF has completed several projects that have benefitted NGOs immensely.
DGF business model
The current business model is a social impact model measured through ‘Social Return on Investment’, and not just pure profits. This comprises two components: first is the monetary value generated to NGOs. DGF measures the monetary value created by the market value of the hours donated for a specific field. Second component, which is hard to measure, is the social impact metric which includes employment generated, livelihoods created, and children educated, etc. “Unfortunately, this is not easily measurable. DGF is trying to figure out a framework that can be adopted by NGOs in order to measure this,” says Darshana Dave, Director Operations.
DGF’s focus right now is to deliver the best experience for Fellows and NGOs. “We are already seeing improvement in our NGOs through this service. Once we have the adoption and traction in both these groups, our next priority will be to investigate monetization while keeping this a free service for NGOs. We do have some innovative models for revenue generation that will make us sustainable and scalable. It is just a matter of time, and testing which model works out to be the best,” says Darshana Dave.
According to Sajid Shariff, Founder and President “We are ambitious in making this accessible to NGOs, but also don’t want to bite more than we can chew. In terms of numbers, we onboard NGOs in groups of 100, while making sure we have a good ratio of Fellows to NGOs. On Fellows, our service spreads best via social media and word of mouth. We haven’t spent a single dollar in marketing for both these groups. In terms of geography, we are running a pilot in Nairobi in August this year. If that works out well, we will plan to set up a chapter in Kenya. In terms of platform, we are currently only on desktop and web, and may decide to release an app if our metrics indicate an adoption in that direction.”
A business model that doesn’t involve monetizing through ads or charging NGOs is not an easy one to run. “I’m confident we’ll get there, but it requires a lot of test and learning before adopting it. Secondly, in order to scale this we need to create programs. For example, a group dedicated to housewives will make this easier to manage and scale, versus a blanket approach to all Fellows,” adds Darshana Dave.
Funding and sustainability
DGF is bootstrapped at present and monetization is not the priority. Darshana says, “Since this is new for NGOs, our aim is to ensure the best experience for Fellows and NGOs before exploring monetization. As we mentioned, we do have strategies in mind, which we will implement at the right time. Unfortunately, we cannot disclose the actual numbers here. But we can tell you we’ve limited our NGO enrollment to 100 NGOs, and have enough Fellows to bid and compete on projects to support these 100 NGOs in our 9 categories of work (eg. finance, tech, and design).
“DGF currently has Fellows participating from over 16 countries to help the NGOs,” explains Luigi Wewege, Director, International Development. “What differentiates DGF from its competition is by giving a Fellow a quality experience and by monitoring projects end-to-end we focus on retention and engagement metrics for both NGOs and Fellows.” According to Sajid Shariff, Founder and President, this will drive their long term success.