The non-profit sector is flourishing in India now. I read an article in 2014, that claimed we had one NGO per 600 people. This was after the Companies Act was amended in 2013, which requires firms with a net profit of at least ₹5 crore to spend 2% of their three-year average annual net profit on corporate social responsibility. That’s a huge amount of money which needs to be invested in India on a yearly basis. Now in 2017, we have incubators to support non-profit organisations and social enterprises to startup and grow in the same way the private sector receives incubation and funding support. All you need is a solution to a problem in society and a smart business plan to demonstrate the impact and sustainability of your idea.
The raw meaning of volunteering is to offer to do something freely. In today’s world, we can say it means work for an organisation without being paid. While many positive movements, initiatives, non-profits are dreaming about reaching their vision of a beautiful world through the changes brought about by volunteers, the sad fact is most of us fail to sustain something which doesn’t offer us anything in return. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to contribute. It is human nature that even a social worker gets something in return for what they do, like happiness, positive energy, satisfaction. It is just that priorities vary and each person finds happiness in their own way.
I believe every individual must volunteer only if it benefits them. Otherwise, the actions will be limited to charity and will never contribute to the nation’s building.
This is where you can boost your entrepreneurial aspirations through contributing to the society. Let’s see how volunteering overcomes some of the major challenges which a young entrepreneur faces in the startup phase.
In a country like India, where it is more difficult to convince your family about your idea than your funders or investors, starting up is a nightmare for many youngsters. Family worries majorly revolve around the income which stops when the existing career is abandoned.
Taking care of a startup on weekday nights and weekends along with another full-time job is draining and can cause a lot of damage to your mental health. But you can never get a smiling face from your family on leaving your job. At times you even get scared about all the bills, especially if you are starting up for the first time.
An idea executed on a volunteer-based model will not want your complete attention as you get support from your fellow volunteers. Since people volunteer in their free time and work is distributed among people as micro-tasks your working model will be easily manageable with your regular job. The security of having a job still in hand can gift you a lot of peace. Another advantage is that the positivity of solving an issue in society can help make your relatives proud of you.
Challenges and solutions are a deadly combo which decide the success and life of your idea. At critical times, each decision made becomes important. The exposure and the experience of the decision-maker influence the decisions taken. This quality can be observed in entrepreneurs with over 10 years of experience.
For newcomers, decision making is an anxiety-inducing exercise. But a volunteering based idea gives you the collective wisdom of your volunteers. This will help you get different perspectives and enhance your solution-oriented way of thinking. It provides space to breathe and more peace to you.
If you already have a fund or if you are rich, getting your initial investment will be easy. But for the majority of aspirants out there, gathering the initial fund is a herculean task. For first timers, it is even worse as the risk of the idea achieving success will be stressful. Expenses for the pilot phase of their project will mostly be supported from personal savings.
Volunteering acts as a bulletproof jacket in managing finance for your startup. You can manage to have multiple failures before your first hit as it involves nominal investment to do something which is free. If your idea needs more money, then you can crowdfund it through online platforms and fellow volunteers who can relate to the same cause or issue you are trying to solve. This will be a catalyst to your fundraising. Using social media, you can get your first investor ready – people.
Limiting financial loss while piloting your idea will be a relief for your family and a green signal for you. A volunteer with a background in accounts can manage your funds. This will save your time, make you more transparent and give you peace.
It is very important for each young idea to have a strong team to execute it and make it a reality. Building a team requires good hiring. In this capitalistic economy, everyone is passionate on interview tables which makes hiring an art which very few people can do correctly. It is hard for any entrepreneur to be away from this circus of employment and unemployment due to a mismatch of skills and requirement.
The non-profit sector makes it easier for you, as volunteers mostly come in search of you through social media or due to their interests. This ensures empathy while working, creating a better work culture. Self-driven individuals who align their interests or skills to contribute to the country, through your idea, will help you build a strong team.
It is unfortunate that we don’t use brains in the most important aspect of our lives like entrepreneurship. Most entrepreneurs realise this in their journey and later put importance to psychology in life and work. Will your idea be a success? Will people accept it? There will be a lot of things you are going to feel uncertain about. An entrepreneur will have to face loneliness at work because of the passion and extra commitment.
Volunteering gets people around you to share your journey and support you. Uncertainty will still be there but the perspectives you get from diverse people will help you to be in a better frame of mind.
You may have questions about how to earn when you execute your idea in the non-profit sector. Don’t worry, there are provisions for you to take salaries equal to any company functioning in the country, but proportional to your funds. You can manage multiple initiatives and get consulting fees. You can earn more than what you earn now if your idea is good. You may not have heavy profits like in other sectors but yes you will be popular and will have sound finance.
Yes, you cannot be travelling in a private jet around the world. But of course, there will be a lot of sponsored trips around the world to volunteer, to make the world a better place.