The ConnectFor Story

ConnectFor is the brainchild of the Rosy Blue Foundation [RBF] team.

In 2014, RBF worked extensively with organisations involved with mentoring, and did a large scale employee engagement effort in recruiting mentors from the Rosy Blue India employee base. While carrying out these efforts, we received a lot of requests for more flexible volunteering options, and it seemed to the team at that point that it would be impossible to find a way to engage all our employees through one single initiative.

Around the same time, a friend of one of the team members, was in Mumbai for only 3 months. Knowing that she worked in the development sector, he approached her and expressed his disbelief over the fact that finding a way to do good was so difficult here — there were so many steps to find an organisation to volunteer with that even the most motivated individuals often gave up, believing that it wasn’t worth the time and effort to search for NGOs, contact each of them, meet them, and finally figure out where they could get involved.

This is where the idea of ConnectFor was born. How can we make volunteering easy, convenient and fun? How can we make sure that a volunteer knows exactly what he/she is signing up for? How do we make sure that organisations see the value of these volunteers?

We started doing a lot of research, and compared models across the world — catchafire, volunteermatch, worldwidevolunteers — and used those to create a model specifically suited to the Indian context.

Once we were convinced of the value of the model, our next obvious step was to test it. Along the way, we found great partners to help us create our technology platform, and while they were working on that, we were working on creating a system of processes to ensure that all the pieces were working smoothly together. We saw ourselves as volunteer cupids, and became personally invested in finding the right match between opportunity and volunteer. At the very basic premise, we see ourselves as matchmakers, and we knew that we could start testing that even before our technology was fully functional. Quickly we started off, working within our networks, contacting beneficiary partners, building our databases, and even we’ve been surprised by the response and impact we’ve managed to create before launching the technology.

We realised there was a lot of potential for research here, and are now also using ConnectFor as a research project to show the sheer value of human resource — how contributions of time and skill are as, if not more, valuable than financial funding, and how every single individual can feel empowered with the ability to give regardless of their financial position.

Now that we’re finally live, we can’t wait to see how this grows, and are excited for you to be part of the ConnectFor journey with us.

To check out ConnectFor, visit www.connectfor.org!

Advertisements

Congratulations Team RBF

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Team RBF at SCMM 2015

Team RBF at SCMM 2015

When we kicked off RBF nearly six months ago, the first event that I actively got involved with in terms of planning and execution was the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (2015). From choosing an organisation to support, to registering RBF as an NGO in its own right, those were the activities of my initial days in this office. We signed up for two corporate teams, 50 people, who were for the first time representing the Rosy Blue Foundation at SCMM, our public debut was all set to be made, clad in socially responsible RBF shirts! It’s impossible to believe that the event has now already taken place, just yesterday, and that all the planning and organising had finally reached fruition. Of course, I would have not been able to do anything without the help and support for the Rosy Blue HR team who worked tirelessly towards the event and helped me execute every idea we had regarding the same.

The RBF representation did fantastically well, and it was the perfect event to kickstart our CSR spirit giving a number of our employees the chance to get involved. The mood was amazingly upbeat, the colours were worn proudly, and we are extremely proud of the manner in which the event turned out, both for us as well as all those who participated in it.

Team building and bonding is always a much discussed business strategy, and I have come to the conclusion that this marathon and other events of this nature are a great medium for the same. We at RBF are eagerly looking forward to the marathon in 2016, where we hope to have an even better representation — and on a personal level, where I hope even I can participate and complete the 6km dream run!

It gives me great happiness that we can now claim the successful participation and completion of our first event — congratulations to everyone who was involved!

Quote

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year on behalf of the Rosy Blue Foundation 🙂

May the upcoming year be full of personal and professional satisfaction, and may our happiness grow by contributing to the lives of those around us!

“So may the new year be a happy one to you—happy to many more whose happiness depends on you.”
Charles Dickens

Here’s to 2015!

An Exercise in Gratitude

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

I recently received an email from a colleague which described an exercise in gratitude that apparently employees in Google are encouraged to practice. It’s a simple exercise really, that at the end of the day, you need to list down three things, however insignificant, that made you grateful. They recommend that this should be a varied list (so don’t list chocolate everyday), and being specific is also shown to have help generate better results.

Apparently this is a good way to shake out the disillusionment and boredom that sets in with routine, and is the key to feeling happier since gratification and happiness appear to be intrinsically linked.

I’ve tried this exercise for the last week or so and have to say that even if I did not necessarily feel overwhelmed with happiness at the end everyday, it was definitely quite an exercise in self reflection. More than that, I also began to feel that because I knew I was going to come to do this at the end of the day, I was pushing myself to break my routine in small ways everyday to make sure that I would have something to think about and write about. I think in some sense it created a self fulfilling prophecy, where it worked because I expected it to, but I don’t think that matters. The logic of the process may be hard to define but the results definitely were not. At the end of somedays it’s so easy to give in to exhaustion, to believe that it’s a great thing that the day is just over, so forcing yourself to find things to be grateful for even on those days forces a kind of evaluation that really does help elevate your mood. I’m only a week into it but so far I would definitely recommend it. The way google advocates it, it seems that they believe that this is the first step in making happiness a habit.

Happiness

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Somebody forwarded this story to me, and suggested that it would be great for my this blog. I agreed, so here it is. A little food for thought:

***

This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning.

So, the lady went to visit a counselor to seek out happiness.

The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors.

The counselor then said to the rich lady “I’m going to ask Mary here to tell u how she found happiness. All I want u to do is listen to her.”

So the old lady put down her broom and sat on a chair and told her story:

“Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a car. I had nobody. I had nothing left. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I never smiled at anyone, I even thought of taking my own life. Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work. Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in. I got some milk, and the kitten licked the plate clean. Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and, for the first time in months, I smiled.

Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile, may be doing something for people could make me happy.

So, the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed.

Every day I tried to do something nice for someone. It made me so happy to see them happy.

Today, I don’t know of anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do.

I’ve found happiness, by giving it to others.”

When she heard this, the rich lady cried. She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.

“The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are; but on how happy others can be because of you…”

Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.

Happiness is not tomorrow, it is now.

Happiness is not dependency, it is a decision.

Happiness is what you are, not what you have.

***

The Pursuit of Education

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a while, but I come back bearing great news!

I recently took a trip to do a field study for the first project that we are looking to roll out and it was quite a success — but I don’t want to jinx anything before it’s officially set up, so I’ll try to contain my excitement for the time being.

The trip I made was to Gujarat, primarily to two places in the Banaskatha district: Palanpur, and Sanali. To a city girl like me, Palanpur is a tiny town itself, but when I visited Sanali, I realised that Palanpur is to Sanali, what Mumbai or maybe even New York might be to Palanpur! This realisation completely changed my perspective about what I’m trying to achieve, what I’ve been working on. I realised quite how easy it is to take things for granted, or even to believe that money can easily solve all problems. This isn’t quite true, and I think when these challenges are met, that’s when it’s really rewarding.

Sanali is a tiny, tribal region, where even convincing parents of the need to send their children to schools and to believe in education is a constant struggle. With bus routes being unreliable, constant delays, unfavourable timetables, it becomes clear that any child studying in this region is managing to do only on the basis of their own determination. Never have I quite seen as many deterrents to education in a single place as I did when I was here. Beyond this, the schools themselves operate on such tight budgets that sometimes is seems incredible that they even have functioning classrooms.

It really brings to attention everything that we take for granted right from digital classrooms, to internet access, and libraries and sports facilities. At the end of the day, I guess the question that remains then, is there any other than simply will and determination that are absolutely essential to gaining an education? My guess is probably not.

Improvement//Innovation

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Our first project is nearly underway! Nearly 3 months in, and we’ve come quite close to making a final decision regarding a plan that we’d like to execute. I’m still hesitant about saying more in the fear of jinxing anything, but things are rapidly progressing, and by mid-November, everything should be pretty much set up!

This project is in a purely philanthropic one, and marks the beginning of Rosy Blue Foundation’s activity process. The location is outside Mumbai, and we will be carrying out a couple of field visits in the upcoming weeks to assess the effectiveness of the programme. Hopefully we will be able to estimate impact at that point as well.

It’s been a long (or so it seems) journey to reach this point, and we’ve revised our original plans several times along the way. What I’ve learnt so far, is that when working in non-profit, it really is all about the end goal, or intended target. If there is clarity as to what that should be, navigating the way there and being able to adapt to new challenges and issues along the way becomes far easier, because there’s always that target that’s being kept in mind. Of course the ways to get there are varied and many, and that is exactly why this space has become so crowded; that said, it is only when you begin engaging with the many other actors in the field that you can make a note of the systematic gaps and enrich those, thereby improving the entire process in place.

The real advantage (I think as of now) is that because there are so many processes to choose from, there is always potential to be useful and to use whatever limited ability at one’s disposal to do something beneficial and effective. I will go into more detail at a later point, once the project is underway, but until then, this is what I have learnt along the way. Essentially, the truth is, that there really always is scope for improvement, and detecting that scope is probably as effective, if not more, than innovating a new technology to tackle a problem that a number of groups are already trying to solve. Innovation doesn’t have to be limited to an early stage of development; it can occur at any stage of process and can then become a tool for improvement unto itself.

Big Picture

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Rosy Blue Foundation’s parent company, Rosy Blue (India) is having its inaugural Founders’ Day celebrations tomorrow, and the last couple of weeks have been spent frantically trying to prepare for this event. RBF will be making its company wide debut tomorrow, but as we work towards making the event a reality, there is a constant notion that RBF is in fact part of something much larger than itself, and has a function not just as a foundation, but also as part of the larger whole.

While writing my presentation speech about RBF, I was struck by this thought suddenly, which made me pause and reflect over how easy it is to lose sight of the big picture when you’re caught up in the details. I know this isn’t a new thought, in fact I’ve probably been told something along similar lines on at least five different occasions before, but for some reason it never struck me as so obvious until now.

The point of sharing this revelation, is noting the cascade effect that it had. Suddenly, I was thinking about everything in a large picture context, which I guess is the point anyway. Few people probably start something with the hope of it remaining isolated and divorced from reality and context. If reality and context do exist then it’s constantly possible to build up to a larger picture. Simply put, if some activity with the hope of providing education for one child, the idea is that by helping one child he will be able to help at least his own family in the future, who would then spawn their own families, and help each other, and the activity would expand until it was helping a group, then a community, then a city, a state, and so on. The idea has always been about sustainability and impact, but I am just about recognising the significance of scalability — not just in terms of operations but in terms of value.

Scalability, tradition, and legacy I think, build from one another, and that’s when real change can be impacted. I’ve been ruing for days how crowded the philanthropy landscape in India is, but that’s just now and today. With time, and changing contexts, it’s probably only going to be the big-picture organisations that will manage to continue to be impactful. After all, survival of the fittest probably applies here just as much as it would in any other field!

The Meaning of Meaning

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

There’s a quote by Emerson that I rather like, so much so that I even included it in our website:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

It’s difficult sometimes though, to remember, that life is meant to be about more than just making it through the long hours and daily trials. In thought it is perhaps both idealistic and optimistic to imagine adopting and living the way Emerson preaches, and maybe that’s why at some point in time practicalities threaten to overwhelm us, and consume most of our activity. The reason that I am writing about this today is because of an article that somebody shared with me. Quite self-evidently titled “Meaning is Healthier than Happiness” examines why ephemeral feelings of joy are not quite as beneficial to individuals in the long run, especially not when compared to the more sustainable benefit of feeling as though one’s life has meaning and direction.

Happiness and meaning need not necessarily be different from each other; it is wholly possible to be happy because of doing something meaningful, but it is also possible to be self-indulgently happy, or alternatively performing acts that have meaning despite personal unhappiness. While setting up RBF, one of our goals was to create something sustainable, something that had incremental value as time goes on. I feel like the pursuit of meaning is a more personal journey towards establishing something along similar lines.

I have no expertise on what it means to do something meaningful, although I strongly suspect that it is something unique for each person. I would like to believe that meaning is what Emerson was talking about in the above quote, in that whatever act has been carried out benefits someone other than the person carrying out the act. Regular acts of charity, volunteering, may be even giving alms to beggars can all be classified as meaningful to the person carrying them out, and in the past, I will confess that I would have considered all these acts as meaningful. The article that I received though, made me pause and think about how meaning should be directed, and whether an act can be meaningful to a recipient without it being meaningful to the person carrying it out. By this, what I’m trying to say, is that more and more I’m beginning to believe that for an act to be truly meaningful for someone, it has to be part of a deliberate process. I think that more than the act itself, it is the process behind its performance, or a series of performances, that changes the way something comes to have meaning.

I suppose what I’m trying to get at, is this sense that the pursuit of meaning cannot unaccompanied by a certain sense of intention, a deliberation as to what the meaning should seek or solve. Perhaps the pursuit of happiness is about the satisfaction of one’s desires, while the pursuit of meaning is about the satisfaction of deliberation result in difference, whatever the level of impact may be. Maybe the meaning of meaning necessitates impact.