Those in Need acts as a matchmaker between NGOs and volunteersShinjini Chowdhury
This not-for-profit organisation has created a digital display of NGOs and events so that volunteers can get opportunities that match their skill sets. On the other hand, NGOs, too, scout for volunteers through the platform.
In 2014, during his first corporate job right out of college, Abhishek Saini was a young, energetic man in his 20s. Looking for NGOs to work with in his free time, he found that there is a cost that many aspiring volunteers have to pay to connect to NGOs and causes of their choice. He then conducted an online survey of 500 students and professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 to understand what difficulties they face in looking for NGOs.
More than 70 percent of the people who participated in the survey said they searched online, 18 percent preferred offline sources, and the rest opted for word-of-mouth references. Eighty percent of professionals said they wanted part-time volunteer work they could engage in over weekends, or at irregular intervals. On the other hand, various NGOs were of the opinion that most people are only aware of the organisations that have the means to publicise themselves, making finding volunteers with appropriate skills a difficult and expensive task.
To bridge this gap between dreaming and doing, Abhishek and his friend Shreya Bhatia conceptualised Those in Need in New Delhi in September 2014.
Lending a hand
Lending Hands is the parent organisation, of which Those in Need is a part. The other initiative is Humans of Society, through which the team brings to light stories of changemakers. These changemakers are connected to Those in Need’s volunteer base. “Our team is over 6,000 strong,” says Abhishek of Those in Need’s staff and volunteers.
Those in Need unites non-profit organisations, volunteers, and corporates. It reduces the volunteer-scouting cost for NGOs, helps NGOs reach a skilled volunteer base and in their marketing and promotional efforts. In addition, the platform helps volunteers reach causes they are passionate about and channelise corporate funds to their chosen causes. The team of four is soon to launch a unique points system to incentivise volunteering to drive higher participation. Volunteers will be given points based on their work and their engagement in various causes.
The organisation is presently financially bootstrapped. It depends largely on corporate and volunteer donations.
For the society, by the youth
Despite one non-profit organisation for 400 people, India faces chronic socio-economic inequalities. Seventy-five percent of NGOs have inadequate funds to raise awareness about causes they support. Sixty-eight percent fail to attract skilled volunteers, says Abhishek.
Those in Need aims to revolutionise the Indian social sector through the use of technology.
Through partnerships with Life Vest Inside (New York), Bubble Parade (Singapore), Goodwill Tribe (Dubai), and SCRUFF (a dating app for gay men), the team has addressed issues like gender inequality, injustices against the LGBTQ community, youth mental health, and others. It has created more than 1,000 social media impressions and provided opportunities to more than 1,500 volunteers.
Those in Need works to use technology as the driving force, leveraging digital marketing to expand organisations’ outreach by showcasing their trustworthiness to a larger audience. With an analytical engine that is currently under development, it plans to drive volunteering based on skills, interest, and location. With a new impact-management tool that will be provided to each NGO, its reach, numbers of volunteers, funds raised, and impact created can be tracked. The motto is to have quantifiable results of social impact.