Every penny counts

While doing his MBA (Finance and Strategy) from Simon School of Business, Rochester, USA in 2008 Siddharth Ladsariya observed that nearly everyone he spoke to in that country — the youth and older people — thought of nation-building and contributing to society. On his return to Mumbai in 2010, he realised that while youngsters here too have the desire to give back to society, there are several hurdles they need to cross; the major one being the lack of time. Then there was the lack of trust and transparency. “With so many NGOs claiming to be making a difference, there is always a fear of whether the money is reaching the right hands,” says Mr. Ladsariya.

In January 2015, while discussing this with friends, he thought of starting the Young Volunteer’s Organisation (YVO). However, mobilising the youth and leading them to implement their desire to bring about change was the biggest challenge. “Even after they are convinced by the concept, it takes some encouragement and initial push for them to start contributing,” says Mr. Ladsariya, who, incidentally, is an angel investor.

How it works

YVO encourages people to donate a minimum of ₹306 every month, or ₹10 a day for a lifetime, and the amount is automatically debited from their bank accounts. The money goes towards funding NGOs that work to change lives. “We realised that youngsters do not have large amounts of disposable money to give away. The minimum amount we ask for is relatively insignificant, which most urban youth would not think twice before giving,” says Mr. Ladsariya.

NGOs are shortlisted through a stringent selection process: they have to be registered Indian NGOs with at least three years of experience, have a strong reference from either YVO volunteers or other NGOs that have worked with them. Their administration cost should be less than 15%, and they should be working with people in the low-income group. Once the NGOs are shortlisted, the YVO team conducts a thorough online research about their work and visits their office and work area. “We talk to their core team and study their past as well as their ongoing work,” says Ankita Sheth, a volunteer since 2015.

Every penny counts

Preference is given to NGOs that directly or indirectly help people stand on their feet. Their work should benefit multiple lives, says Mr. Ladsariya. “The causes we generally support are vocational training, skill development, education and the likes that help someone march towards financial independence,” he adds.

On accountability, Anand Chheda, another volunteer, says, “Once the donation amount — through a cheque — is given to an NGO, they are asked to share proof of productive use of the money from time to time. Our post-donation follow-ups play a big role in ensuring effectiveness of the causes we support.”

The NGOs have to show the list of expenses, estimated number of beneficiaries, photographs of items purchased; purchase invoices and receipts, testimonials, details of beneficiaries etc. These are then shared on the YVO’s website. “Additionally, a monthly WhatsApp message and an email are sent to all donors telling them how their money is used. We maintain 100% transparency,” says Mr. Chheda.

Big impact

In the past 35 months, YVO has connected with 35 different NGOs from different parts of the country and in turn has supported 35 causes. There are over 800 donors who have donated over Rs. 53 lakh so far. YVO, which started with 15 volunteers, now has 50, most of whom are professionals in the 25-to-40-year age group.

Nilesh Jain, a businessman based in Prabhadevi, was looking for ways to give back to society. “I wanted to ensure that every penny goes into the right hands but could not find a platform,” he says. He has been associated with YVO for the past two years, and says their work is “commendable” and “transparent”. Mr. Jain has even motivated his friends and family to become part of the YVO donors’ team.

Every penny counts

With the help of YVO, DEEDS Public Charitable Trust (Development Education Empowerment of the Disadvantaged in Society) received ₹1,12,500 in 2015. “The financial support helped us in our skill training programme for youths with hearing impairment,” says Pratibha K Rao, COO. YVO also equipped their catering institute with 25 sets of pots and pans and a refrigerator and seven sewing machines for vocational training.

The effort may appear small, but has the potential to impact lives deeply, says Mr. Ladsariya. The donation of ₹306 may look small on paper, but when multiplied by thousands of donors, metamorphoses into an amount that can solve everyday problems, he says. “The day our donors understand how small acts can have a big impact, is when they will become our brand ambassadors and make YVO a revolution.”

Young Volunteer’s Organisation

Founder: Siddharth Ladsariya

Funding: Donations

Founded: 2015

Employees: 50 volunteers


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Printable version | May 26, 2020 2:48:34 PM |

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