Neev Education Foundation is a small startup and has been operational for two years now. They have launched and are running various flagship programmes for children but it took a huge hit during Covid times as everything shut down. Nitu ,the project coordinator states that “ We were clear from the beginning about the quality and impact we could bring through these flagship programmes but we wanted to properly measure the impact that these programmes were creating on the field and that is when the TATA initiative came across. We were lucky to find volunteers like Sanjay and Mayank who helped in implementing the ideas” .
The project took off a bit slow but it turned out to be a constructive one for the NGO. Explaining the reason behind the delay and how it gave Nitu a fresh perspective on how the volunteers can be tapped into she says “ When I was briefed about the project, I was very skeptical that how could i rely on a volunteer to evaluate us as it is an important project for the NGO which required high end skills and dedication. I was not very hopeful that this would turn out very concrete however with one detailed conversation with Deeksha, from Chezuba I was optimistic about this and wanted to see how this goes. To my surprise, it turned out to be very useful and better than what I expected.”
Being first timer in Proengage Mayank was relieved that he had a co-volunteer on the project who also happened to have more experience than him. Describing his meeting with the NGO , Mayank says “ In our first meeting, we tried to understand the project scope clearly and see what could be done in the limited time to create a major impact for the NGO. It took us 4-5 discussions to get a better hold of the challenges but once the trust was established , it was very easy”.
Adding on to Mayank’s points Sanjay continues “ Project objective was very clear. The NGO mainly had two tasks, one was to provide a shift in their ideology and the other one was impact assessment of their flagship programs.” The volunteers began by understanding the NGO at deeper levels by finding out how they operate on a day-to-day basis, how many people they work with , their vision and mission etc and then they drafted a project plan which they would follow . “The exact problems can only be understood once we interact with them ( NGOs) on a personal level instead of just going through the documents shared by them. When you speak to new people, the acceptance part comes after a few interactions and it takes time . This is what we did with the NGO so yes , it took time but it helped us in delivering the best to the NGO.”
Recalling one memorable moment from the project Mayank shares “ We needed Kavita ji who is the founder of Neev Foundation for one of the meetings and she was out of town to attend a wedding. But for us she attended the meetings and we could hear the bands in the background. I loved her dedication”. Both the volunteers and NGO never missed their meetings or cancelled them. Nitu recalls a time when the meeting was conducted at 8:30 pm at night and she was really impressed with the commitment of the volunteers on weekends. The volunteers came up with a structured process and taught a lot to Nitu as well. It was a learning experience for her.
The project went smoothly but there were some hiccups faced by both the NGO and the volunteers in the initial phase and that was breaking the ice and getting comfortable with each other. “ Since there was no face- to face interaction , it took us four weeks to actually open up and align with each other, ” says Sanjay. However this did not discourage them as the purpose of the volunteering kept them going. They were working with utmost patience and dedication with NGO by connecting with them regularly and setting right expectations for them.
Mayank mentions “There were challenges but they were exciting in their own way and none of them were that bad where we felt like dropping out of the project. Had this project been offline, it would have had a different impact and given us more time to help the NGO”.
Nitu from Neev Sheekshan had recently joined the NGO this year and in the early stages she was really skeptical about discussing such an important project with the volunteers and was unsure if they would actually complete or just leave it unfinished like the other volunteer so the challenges were different for her. “ I was really doubtful if the volunteers could complete this project and that was taking a toll on communicating and functioning of the project but the regular follow ups from Sanjay and Mayank really motivated me and the project turned out very constructive”.
There were problems with scheduling the meeting as well because both the NGO and volunteers were burnt out from regular work but they overcame it by creating a whatsapp group for smooth communication. In the end they were able to establish a smooth flow in the project.