The organization began during the pandemic and has scaled across 17 cities in India. Despite already having a team of volunteers who are either freshers or just out of college on board, the NGO found that they needed someone with experience and maturity to understand the task at hand.
“The requirement for the job was someone who could think along the same lines as us. We were looking to expand to other cities, but were still dominantly reliant on donations. We needed to find our own income stream that would make us more self-reliant and sustainable in the long run. An outsider’s perspective to form this strategy for us was what we believed our organization required. Hence, we posted this project”, Hitesh remarked when asked.
Before the initial call with the NGO, the volunteers met each other online to understand why they chose this project and get a feel of one another’s work process, Zorawar recalls. Both the volunteers then scheduled a meeting with the NGO to gain clarity on what the project entails along with the expectations of the NGO from them. This took 2- 3 calls to fully grasp what needed to get done and how to really go about the project.
For Chirag, the appeal of the project was that it was a clean slate. They were able to bounce ideas off of each other and see them materialize in real-time. The interaction the NGO offered was with different stakeholders, from diverse backgrounds of experience. This made it much easier to understand the job at hand. “This was a good way to let off some steam because of how different this work was from my office work.” He commented.
Everyone involved had full-time jobs, at senior positions in their companies, and this hustle was mostly taken care of during off-work hours. Yet, the volunteers recalled that if they ever needed to clarify or give input, the NGO was always accommodating because they understood this was new to them.
Hitesh, the project manager, mentioned that the team had a scheduled meeting once a week, either on a Saturday or Sunday, to get a quick update on the progress made that week. Weekly tasks were assigned to the volunteers by him on these calls and if there was any necessity, they would even meet online after work hours.
From the very first call, the group realized that they had a certain comfort level. This was a key factor moving forward as it facilitated a smooth communication channel. The communication wasn’t very formal and always took a friendly tone. No one on the team felt that this was their first collaboration. Even if one of the Volunteers couldn’t make it to the meetings, there was coordination among them to bring each other up to speed. A WhatsApp group was created to keep everyone informed of the progress being made.
At the end of the project, we were able to create ideas and strategies that have successfully helped the organization grow. The NGO was also very patient with the volunteers and flexible with their timelines, which was much appreciated by them
During the initial stages of the project, there was a gap between the expectations of the NGO and what the volunteers were delivering. In addition, they were unable to meet for 2 weeks. And their work tended to be ignored. “Once we realized that they are volunteers who are giving us their valuable time. I called them and explained what we really needed. Creative tasks always require people to be on the same page, and it is easy to get lost when you are throwing darts in the dark. I also brought in a joint MD of a US-based analytical company as an advisor to guide the volunteers. I did this to also keep the volunteers motivated and help them learn, as they came in from different backgrounds and our project was new turf for them. This smoothened the process a lot.” - Hitesh Joshi
From the volunteer’s side, there were no persistent hiccups. They had a wholesome experience with the NGO. They were always able to fine-tune our suggestions to implement them in the best possible way, rather than just disregarding our work, which was highly motivating. Since it was two of them working on the same project, they were able to motivate each other and didn’t pressurize one of them to deliver. Their bond along with experience and enthusiasm helped them pick up from where the other left off.