This social enterprise connects citizens with NGOs to promote social development
“As a management graduate from the Institute of Rural Management, I understood the nuances of using management expertise in mission-driven organizations for rural and social development. Also, I graduated at the time of the internet revolution in the country. By plugging the IT boom into the rural development sector, the idea of launching iVolunteer was born,” says Shalabh Sahai, Founder of iVolunteer.
Shalabh Sahai began his journey by co-foundingin 2001 and continues to lead it today as the largest social enterprise for formal volunteering in India counting renowned corporate names as partners. He is also credited with establishing the iVolunteer Awards, India’s only awards aimed at inspiring and setting new benchmarks in volunteerism.
Elaborating on the mission of iVolunteer, Shalabh says, “Social development work undertaken by non-profit organizations has no civic participation. Ordinary citizens have virtually no idea how to participate in activities for the greater good. With iVolunteer, we have established a platform where ordinary citizens can connect with social development organizations to work for the progress of the country.
Helping nonprofits find qualified people
“Nonprofit organizations struggle to find the right talent who can work for their organization. Also, with budget constraints, they cannot afford to pay for quality skills. We have therefore created a platform where we identify the skills required in these non-profit organizations which can be provided by volunteers. These volunteers offer their skills to be used by these organizations without any monetary compensation,” says Shalabh.
“For example, an NGO working with artisans may need a designer to work with. We help the NGO to find a volunteer who, on a weekend, can help them with their needs. The youth of the country wants to contribute to the greater good of the country. We just help them connect with the right people,” he adds.
iVolunteer aimed to be the naukri.com of the volunteering world. Initially, he was fully online but gradually moved into the field. Currently, the company has a presence in several cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad. The platform also provides an automatic system where citizens can find volunteering opportunities and where NGOs receive these applications and communicate with the volunteers.
“For us, the biggest challenge on this journey has been convincing NGOs as well as aspiring volunteers to come on board and use technology as a service,” says Shalabh.
“We recently connected an engineering student from Rajasthan with an educational organization in Maharashtra. The task was to create an app where books will be available for children during the COVID lockdown. The student developed the app which is now live on Google Play Store,” he adds.
iVolunteer for India
Explaining why iVolunteer opted for a .in domain, Shalabh says, “Our organization is called iVolunteer where ‘I’ stands for two different things, one involves raising my hand as an individual to volunteer, but “I” also represents India. Therefore, having .in as a domain name made perfect sense to us.
The National Internet Exchange for India (NIXI) helps many businesses across the country to get a .in or .Bharat domain. Businesses of any scale and size can benefit from a .in domain with the help of NIXI. It is affordable and can be used in over 22 languages for businesses from all parts of the country.
Sharing his vision for iVolunteer, Shalabh shares, “We are a country of one billion people and nothing less than 100 million volunteers are needed to make a lasting contribution. iVolunteer aims to catalyze a volunteer movement towards this goal. .”
Shaping India Inc’s Online Growth series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how building an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain has fueled their success stories.