Student startup to tap into volunteering

The platform has 45 NGOs and 150 registered volunteers

January 21, 2018 12:17 am | Updated 12:17 am IST - Bengaluru

If you want to spend your spare time volunteering, an app set up by two students, with the help of funds raised from their parents, has an answer.

Their startup Donate My Time’s app will help you get in touch with events organised by non-governmental organisations near where you live or work.

“Volunteering is the act of giving back to your community and society through the most precious resource that we have — our time,” Salil Jajodia, an 18-year-old studying applied mathematics at New York’s Cornell University, said in an e-mail interview. “It helps foster a sense of empathy for the less fortunate among us and has far-reaching consequences.”

During their bid to teach mathematics and science to underprivileged children, the two youngsters behind the Bengaluru-based startup found that there was a lack of information about the NGOs and the kind of work they do and the help they need.

“There is a level of skepticism in India about the quality and legitimacy of the NGOs which inhibit people,” co-founder Saaket Jajodia, 17, brother of Mr. Salil who studies at The International School Bangalore, said. “Convenience is another major factor. People want to volunteer near where they live or work.” They also found out that “one-size-fits-all” type of unskilled volunteering was jaded. “Volunteers want to provide NGOs their specialised skills and experience.” So we build DMT from the ground up to address these concerns,” Mr. Salil said.

“Early childhood education, disabled causes, healthcare, and livelihoods are seeing the greatest level of interest,” he said.

The NGOs are vetted for quality before being put on the platform. The administrators of the app will monitor users to prevent its misuse, Mr. Salil said.

Donate My Time app, available on both Apple and Android platforms, has currently 45 NGOs and 150 registered volunteers. “If we find an NGO or a volunteer not holding up their side of the bargain consistently, we intend to coach and train them. In case where it’s appropriate, we de-list them from the platform.”

Among its volunteers, general business skills, teaching, and IT skills are the most commonly listed ones, and English and Kannada are the preferred languages.

“Our goal is to keep DMT completely free for NGOs and volunteers,” Mr. Salil said. “We are hopeful that we can get grants from philanthropic organisations such as the Tata Trusts in the medium to long-term to fund our operations once we reach a critical mass of NGOs and volunteers.”

(This is the first of a five-part series.)

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