This social enterprise connects citizens with NGOs to promote social development

Founded in 2001, iVolunteer promotes volunteering in 12 social development areas - education, poverty alleviation, environment, health, HIV-AIDS, gender equality, human rights, disability, youth welfare, elderly welfare, child welfare, and active citizenship.
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“As a management graduate from the Institute of Rural Management, I understood the nuances of using management expertise in mission-driven organisations for rural and social development. Also, I graduated at the time of the internet revolution in the country. Plugging in the IT boom into the rural development sector, the idea to start iVolunteer was born,” says Shalabh Sahai, Founder, iVolunteer.

Shalabh Sahai began his journey co-founding iVolunteer in 2001 and continues to lead it today as the largest social enterprise for formal volunteering in India counting marquee corporate names as its partners. He is also credited with creating iVolunteer Awards, India’s only awards aimed at inspiring and establishing new benchmarks on volunteering.

Elaborating on iVolunteer’s mission, Shalabh says, “Social development work undertaken by non-profits do not have civil participation. Common citizens hardly have any idea on how to participate in activities for the greater good. With iVolunteer, we have established a platform where common citizens can connect with social development organisations to work for the country's progress.”

Helping non-profits find skilled people

“Non-profits face difficulties in finding the right talent that can work for their organisation. Moreover, with budget constraints, they cannot afford to pay for quality skills. So, we created a platform where we identify what skill set is required in these non-profits that can be provided by volunteers. These volunteers offer their skills to be used by these organisations without any monetary remuneration,” explains Shalabh.

“For example, an NGO working with artisans might need a designer to work with. We help the NGO find a volunteer who on a weekend can help them with their requirements. The youth of the country wants to contribute to the greater good of the country. We simply help them connect with the right people,” he adds.

iVolunteer aimed to be the naukri.com of the volunteering world. Initially, it was completely online but moved on the ground gradually. Currently, the company has multiple city presence pan India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, and Hyderabad. The platform also provides an automatic system where citizens can find opportunities to volunteer and NGOs receive those applications and communicate with the volunteers.

“For us, the biggest challenge in this journey has been to convince the NGOs as well as aspiring volunteers to get on board and use technology as a service,” says Shalabh.

“We recently connected an engineering student from Rajasthan to an educational organisation in Maharashtra. The task was to make an app where books will be available for children to access during the COVID lockdown. The student developed the app which is now live on Google Play Store,” he adds.

iVolunteer for India

Explaining why iVolunteer opted for a .in domain, Shalabh says, “Our organisation is called iVolunteer where ‘I’ stands for two different things, one implies that I as an individual raise my hand to volunteer but ‘I’ also stands for India. Hence having .in as a domain name made perfect sense for us.”

The National Internet Exchange for India (NIXI) is helping many businesses across the country to get a .in or .Bharat domain. Enterprises irrespective of their scale and size can avail a .in domain with the help of NIXI. It is affordable and can be availed in more than 22 languages for businesses coming from all regions of the country.

Sharing his vision for iVolunteer, Shalabh shares, “We are a country of a billion people and nothing short of 100 million volunteers are needed to make a lasting contribution. Our goal is to reach these numbers to be able to create a positive impact."

The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.


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