Conducting Impact evaluation of the organization

The goal of this project was to create an impact report of the NGO on their performance and provide suggestions on long-term sustainable changes
Mayank Agarwal
Senior Manager, Tata Motors
Pune, India

Mayank Agarwal is working in Tata Motors, as a Senior Manager. This project was his second into the world of volunteering. He had engaged with an NGO earlier but then it was not completed because Covid hit the country. His day-to-day responsibilities involve vehicle integration i,e taking customer requirements of the vehicle, designing it, integrating it and delivering it with finish. He always used to get proenage mailers but always ignored it as he did not have time until one night when his friends met him and convinced him to sign up for this program. Directly working with the NGOs really excited him about proengage and hence he applied for the projects at night before the deadline. He was very clear that he wanted to work for educational or mental awareness causes and that is when he came across Neev Foundation.

Sanjay Jeyaraj
Senior Manager, Tata Motors
Pune, India

Working in the capacity of a Senior Manager at Tata Motors, this was Sanjay’s first volunteering experience on a long term basis and with definite goals and impact. When it came to sorting out projects, education was his first priority as it forms the foundation of any society or community. That is when he came across Neev Shikshan who needed help with management areas and he loved working in the management team. He has years of experience in project management as he works for interior designing of passenger cars in TATA and his daily responsibilities include interacting with third parties and managing associates to get the designing done. His expertise in the area and his knack for working in the education sector made him the best fit for the project.

Neev Shikshan Foundation
Nitu Bahal, Project Coordinator
Vadodara, India

Founded in 2018, Neev Education Foundation aims to empower students to read and learn independently through their Elementary school years and later on as well. They have designed an in-service fellowship program for teachers which aims to improve foundational learning in the native language of the child. At its core, the module has a “child first” philosophy, which is brought into practice by training teachers in innovative teaching methods. Over the last two years of its inception NSS has been working with institutions towards enabling quality of learning in early grades. They have launched programmes like Unnati Fellowship, Early Literacy and Numeracy, Sikho Nirantar etc. Sikho Nirantar was a program which was started during the Covid times.


Project Execution

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. 

Challenges faced

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.

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According to Nitu, a fresh perspective was a learning experience for her. The goals of an individual and the organisation were aligned through a framework which volunteers provided. It allowed the NGo to look at their processes with a new lens. “We really enjoyed doing the brainstorming together and while closing the project we also ensured that we will stay in touch” she mentions cheerfully. 

Nitu believes that volunteering is not a task which people should take up to fill their idle time. It is equally indulging as a full time job . She adds in to her argument  saying “Volunteers is a community that can bring meaningful contributions to the NGOs. We struggle with  funding issues and we cannot pay to get a job done and we can really use some volunteers who take this up seriously”.

Being part of the Proengage 14 cycle and working with the new set of volunteers Nitu mentions “ I would 100% continue my engagements with Tata Proengage in future. I had an amazing experience in the last cycle and I am having a great experience in the current ongoing cycle.”

“ It was a very fulfilling experience,” says Mayank. “Generally when we are working in our routine jobs, we are trying to achieve something personal by putting in our efforts. This project taught me how putting in the effort can feel good even though you are not receiving anything in return”. He was so moved by working on this project that he has now decided to pursue masters in organizational management. 

For Sanjay this project was a different experience altogether. He says “ This project gave me confidence to take up projects from a different field and make it happen. We are used to automobile projects and this project was a change for us”. Sanjay was not sure if his contributions were really helping the NGO or not but when Nitu told him “ This is the first project in which we feel really involved and is a learning curve for me”  , it reassured him that he was in the right direction.