Nonprofit Nexus

Project RISHI Berkeley connects the local community to Bay Area nonprofits for its annual symposium event

One of the Project RISHI Berkeley chapter’s latest endeavors includes our NGO/non-profit fair, which is coming up in a few weeks. In order to raise money in the past, we have held various small-scale events, including samosa sales and henna fundraisers. This year, however, our finance team came up with an innovative method of fundraising that simultaneously markets our organization to the local community and promotes other like-minded organizations in the area. This year’s symposium, officially titled “Nonprofit Nexus”, will take place on March 4th from 4–7 pm and will feature non-governmental and nonprofit organizations tabling and describing their goals and efforts, and providing a networking opportunity for UC Berkeley students. The event will be organized similarly to a career fair, but will solely feature NGOs and nonprofit organizations. There will also be performances, food donated from local restaurants and guest speakers. We hope that students in the Berkeley community will greatly benefit from this event by getting in contact and potentially working with service organizations that they might not have been previously aware of. Involving the community will hopefully also allow students to find opportunities for summer internships and volunteer positions. Formulating this type of event has required the participation of the entire club; finance, marketing and individual members have been in contact with various organizations and have worked to make the event as fruitful and efficient as possible.

We are very excited to be hosting our first NGO fair, featuring Bay Area nonprofits and NGOs doing amazing service work globally. So far, we have received confirmation from a number of stellar organizations, including Breakthrough Collaborative, Feeding Forward, Amnesty International, Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Habitat for Humanity, Narika, 100 Strong, representatives from the UC Berkeley Peace Corps DeCal and more. Here is a sneak peek of what a few of these organizations do for those in need:

Feeding Forward harnesses the power of technology to connect those with surplus food to feed those in need, instantly.

Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs houses worldwide using volunteer labor and donations, with the belief that every human being should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.

Narika, meaning “of women”, is a nonprofit that serves and represents domestic violence survivors from South Asian countries and diasporas.

We are also honored that Pamela Hawley, Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, will be speaking at our event. UniversalGiving is a web-based nonprofit that allows people to give and volunteer with the top performing projects and volunteer opportunities all over the world. Ms. Hawley was awarded the Jefferson Award, the Nobel Prize for public and community service, for her global philanthropic work in 2009.

Like Project RISHI, the organizations that will be featured at Nonprofit Nexus are truly passionate about helping others across the globe. In addition to marketing ourselves as an organization, our chapter feels that it is equally important to bring attention to these other great organizations at our event and to provide students with the opportunity to learn and network with such nonprofits and NGOs as well.

The Nonprofit Nexus is a multifaceted endeavor and the planning of such an event involved many components; namely, our team had to reach out to numerous NGO and nonprofit exhibitors and speakers, book a venue and, importantly, market the event actively to the Berkeley student population. Project RISHI split into groups covering various geographic regions of Berkeley and the East Bay to search for sponsors that could assist us with these tasks as well as provide much needed resources for the event. We approached countless vendors to request sponsorship and donations for the fair, but this feat proved to be much more arduous than expected. Often times, requests for sponsorships had to be passed up the chain to corporate managers at different offices instead of in-store managers — a process that member Rohan Deshpande described as “wading through a sea of red tape.” But despite the many dropped calls and erratic manager schedules, the Nonprofit Nexus was indeed able to benefit from the generosity of the Berkeley community. Local favorite snack stops like Cheese ’n’ Stuff and La Burrita, as well as chains like Chipotle, were willing to donate food for our event while restaurants like Namaste Madras Cuisine assisted us through the donation of gift cards. Though we met several difficulties along the way, member Mounika Kandalam claims that “companies and stores in Berkeley are really committed to the students and were usually eager to try and meet us halfway.”

Authors: Sneha Pang, Karina Oelerich, Preethi Venkat

Originally published at

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