Experience: Why I Chose To Spend My Summer Interning With ConnectFor
Coming from a family that always encouraged and engaged in charitable activities, and going to a school with similar values, I was fortunate enough to have learned about the importance of giving back to community from a young age. I was involved in several school fundraisers and was also volunteering with a charity aiming to increase education access in remote villages in Cambodia. Now, I have decided to take this a step further by working directly with charities and CSR departments to explore other ways I can also make a difference.
During university, I did a three month internship with FRANK Water Projects, a Bristol-based international development charity working to improve access to clean water and sanitation facilities for some of the most remote and marginalised Indian communities. In my time there as a fundraising intern, I learned a number of things — how to use bank slips, the fact that no number of spreadsheets will ever be enough to get organised, and most importantly, that even though many non-profits have similar values and goals to help society as a whole they ultimately end up competing with each other because there is still a limited pool of resources that is available to charitable activities. A large part of my role involved researching trusts and foundations that FRANK Water Projects would be able to acquire funding from, and despite the number of registered trusts and foundations being quite high, and despite overall spending on charitable initiatives being high, it was still incredibly challenging to get funding.
I believe that ConnectFor is making an active effort to improve this in India, and this is why I chose to join them this summer. When it comes to large scale developmental projects, funds are typically necessary, but when it comes to smaller, more locally based organisations, often times volunteering can also have a great impact. Instead of forcing charities to compete against one another, ConnectFor offers them an equal opportunity to advertise their volunteer needs for short and long term commitments and then helps them find people who would be suitable for their needs. Not only does this reduce the day-to-day financial burden on the non-profit organisation of employing more people and frees up funds to go towards the charitable cause, but also allows volunteers to help out at their convenience and in accordance with their skill set, ensuring that both parties are receiving equal benefits. More importantly, ConnectFor has identified the need and potential for change to volunteering in India, and has managed to better volunteering for everyone involved.
By working here, I hope to gain a couple things — I hope to see how CSR differs from working directly for a charitable organisation, and what challenges are similar or unique in both of these areas. Additionally, I hope to use my experience at ConnectFor to understand how non-profits can act in a more collaborative manner for mutual benefit, rather than having to compete with each other despite knowing that theirs isn’t the only good cause.
Written by Bhavya Jhaveri — with her internship experiences with other non-profits, she brings fresh ideas to ConnectFor.