Creating an NGO. Things I learnt while donating my 30th Birthday

First of all, I have one thing to admit, I was totally inspired by Scott Harrison and Charity:Water’s initiative to facilitate people donating their birthdays for a good cause. I did it for my latest venture, education-everywhere.org

A month after my 30th birthday, I’d like to reflect on mine.

I always thought that becoming 30 was kind of a big deal, and now more than ever, I believe we’re experiencing a paradigm shift towards a more Minimalist and fullfilling life.

Data shows that people my age -and younger- are spending more on experiences than in buying objects and saving, together. (Note: If you haven’t seen the Minimalism Documentary, I recommend you do that now. )

So my plan was to spend a week in Mallorca with my closest friends, secluded in a lovely villa with a pool, music and food.

Joyjeet Das Memorial School

Then, eight to ten months ago, a friend and now partner told me about the difficulties that “Joyjeet Das Memorial School” was going through. The School was a project he had been collaborating with for years, giving underprivileged kids in India an education, medical programme, one meal a day and almost as important, a place to be during the day, far from the usually dangerous and hostile slum streets of Calcutta.

Mimi, and Joyjeet Das Memorial School had been forced to downsize due to this year’s lack of funding by other NGOs. At it’s peak, they had around 300 kids, now they were at barely 100.

On top of that, without further funding, Joyjeet Das Memorial School would not make it to 2018 at all. So we decided we’d do everything in our power to fix this. Education Everywhere was born.

Education Everywhere

After months of learning about the legal process of setting up an international NGO, looking for partners, members and hearing everyone’s saying on multiple aspects of the organisation, we consulted a lawyer and started the paperwork. But my 30th birthday was coming up real soon.

We had very clear our keystone. That just like Charity Water, 100% of donations would go to fund the schools, and any future overhead costs would be covered by Corporate Donors.

Some Things I learnt

  • Everything takes longer than previously anticipated. From the paperwork to the website, the Branding, social media or the feedback process, everything took longer than expected. Especially since we all had full-time jobs to attend.
  • Do everything in advance. I ended up filming a little youtube video on the day, uploading it to youtube on a terrible connection, and sharing it with my closest friends on Facebook in the evening. I should have done this 1 week before to maximise early participation.
  • Since we didn’t have the NGO officially registered yet, (we still don’t have the tax number or bank account) I didn’t want to go “public” or viral, so I shared it in private with a few friends. I created a Paypal.me account, and asked friends to “gift me” so that I could help Joyjeet Das Memorial School. This seemed ethically correct.
  • Be ready to be surprised. Since I sent this video to a couple of dozen friends, it’s impossible to “not picture” who would donate first. You can’t be more wrong. I was
  • Take any other gifts people donate. Cash is not always king. A stewardess friend donated three flights to India, so that we can visit, learn, give and essentially produce assets (professional photos and videos) that will help us raise more money.

The result

After all of this, I’m happy to share that after only a month -I don’t think this “campaign” is over yet- I raised slightly over 600€, or the equivalent of the cost of 80 kids, for a whole month.

Which means if I get eleven more friends to do this -once we go live- we can cover all expenses for Joyjeet Das Memorial School for the year. Twenty-three friends and we can duplicate the amount of kids at the school before opening another school. How awesome would that be?

And that’s without counting corporate or private member’s monthly donations (NGOs #1 source of revenue.) This will allow us to speed the process, invest in structural costs such as marketing, and take Education Everywhere to the next level.

So I’d like to thank everyone who donated so far, thank everyone who’s following us, and thank you for reading this.

You will be able to donate once we go live. For now, You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or education-everywhere.org

Thank you.