“No one has ever become poor by giving,” wrote Anne Frank. We all have a social responsibility towards the world we live in. There are many who don’t have a roof over their head, one square meal a day, access to education, provisions, facilities, benefits and other basic amenities that most of us take for granted. Helping others is the first step to making the world a better place, and irrespective of who you are and where you’re from, everyone can do it. Service to mankind doesn’t always have to be monetary as many people believe; helping someone cross the street, educating a child, sharing your lunch with someone hungry, donating your time, energy, and ideas – there are several ways one can make a difference. History has shown numerous examples of people who’ve managed to change the world for the better. A classic example is India’s revolutionary leader who played a pivotal role in helping the country attain Independence through his non-violent ideology – Mahatma Gandhi. He once said, “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” His life remains a testimony to how even the smallest acts count and can make a difference.
As an ode to his life and lessons, the Networking and Development Centre for Service Organizations (NDSO) held the 150th Gandhi Jayanthi Celebrations on 12th March 2020. The event was held to recognize the contributions of young volunteers and service organizations who’ve provided selfless dedicated service towards the betterment of others. This year, Thiru. Banwarilal Purohit, Honorable Governor of Tamil Nadu, presided over the awards ceremony as the Chief Guest and it also witnessed attendance from several NGOs and volunteers. The NDSO, also called the Ennangalin Sangamam, is a forum that identifies, unites, and facilitates networking among service-minded organizations and individuals across Tamil Nadu, India. Over the span of 13 years, the center has built a network of 1500+ NGOs and has been striving for the overall development of its members.
Humane: Awarded for its technology services
Among the awardees this year, Humane managed to bag an award for its exemplary technology service delivery. The award was in recognition of Humane’s efforts towards bridging the gap between NGOs and donors using technology as a medium and is a testament to Humane’s growth and contribution in a matter of just 2 years since its inception.
Commenting on the awards, Kishor Rajagopalan, who currently heads the Humane Life division of Vuram Foundation said, “It was an unexpected win as we didn’t nominate ourselves for it. We’re happy to have been recognized for our service to the society and take this win as a motivation to push forward, and take Humane further”
Humane’s journey: Where did it all start?
“The idea for Humane started materialized during the Chennai floods, which was a crisis of epic proportions, displacing several people and reining in complete chaos. A team volunteered to help out during the floods. We noticed that while there were generous contributions received from all quarters, there was also wastage due to excess donations and the inadequacy in delivering the right relief materials to the right people. That’s when Vuram started ideating on probable solutions and came up with Humane.”, said Kishor.
Humane aims to bridge the divide between contributors and recipients by providing a platform to post real needs and connect contributions to those needs. Its idea is simple: there are many in need of essentials, and many who want to contribute, but are unable to identify the need or find a convenient or reliable means to contribute. Humane provides a common platform that links them and makes the process easier. With a string of Humane stores and an active volunteer community to deliver the goods, Humane has been changing the conventional face of social contributions and uses technology as a medium to make giving and receiving easier.
What makes Humane different?
- Focus on needs, not funds
One of the most distinctive features of Humane is that it works on a model where there are no monetary donations involved, rather it works on tangible goods and essentials that contributors can directly pay for and get delivered. “Humane does not have any concept of crowdfunding. There are funds involved, but donors directly buy the needs for charity homes and are not making a purely monetary contribution.” says Kishor.
- Trust and transparency
Most donors rarely know what goes on post making a donation: Does it really reach them on time? Does it fulfill the needs? Did it make a difference? With Humane, it’s different. By eliminating purely monetary donations that donors are rarely able to track, Humane allows you to buy the needs and get it delivered via Humane’s network of volunteers or a nearby store. “Most charity houses, as a token of gratitude, also send out a thank you video which adds a personal touch and human element, that’s otherwise missing in most donation platforms”
- Small or big, everything matters
There is no lower limit on the donation since it is entirely dependent on the need. It could be anything; from the month’s rations to a pencil box, which means that donations can range anywhere between INR 10 to INR 5,000 and beyond. “The flexibility opens up donations to anyone; be it a working professional or a college student. No need is small, and no contribution is dismissed. Even a pencil or a pen can help support a child’s education”, he adds.
- Verified and wide NGO base
Humane opens up the options for making a donation, by bringing together NGOs, homes, orphanages and other organizations under one centralized database. “This means that you could be sitting in Chennai, yet still be able to contribute to an orphanage in Bangalore. Further, each one of the organizations registered is verified by us. We check the necessary documentation, and a Relationship Manager also makes a visit to the organization to validate it, thus ensuring that all the listed organizations are authentic”, says Ramya Murugadurai, a part of the Humane Team.
- Humane Store
A distinguishing feature is the concept of Humane Stores that was introduced more recently. The idea materialized to make deliveries easy and cost-effective and also to empower small scale stores. Prior to the inception of Humane stores, the only options for delivering the goods were either by the donors, volunteers or in some cases, courier services. “By partnering with a network of Humane Stores, we’ve streamlined the process and made it easy to fulfill needs. Both the store partner and the organization are provisioned with a separate mobile app to make it easy to keep a tab on needs and deliveries”, says Kishor.
Technology: If used right, it can make a world of difference
Humane has reformed the social space by leveraging on the latest technology and using it to connect NGOs with donors. The platform is striving to inculcate a sense of social responsibility, facilitate easy contributions, and ensure quick fulfillment of the basic needs of charitable homes. Recalling an incident on the opportunity that technology presents, Kishor narrates, “During a session at a children’s home, we projected a video from another home showing the children speaking. The video comprised of interviews with a few of the kids at the home. Midway through the video, a girl pointed out that one of the boys in the video was her own brother. The fact that the siblings were separated and put into two different homes was realized by the management only then. It was quite a heartfelt moment and indeed, the realization wouldn’t have been possible without technology playing a key role. When used right, it can truly open up a range of possibilities and make a world of difference. Through Humane, we’re attempting to do just that”, adds Kishor.
Humane: Now and beyond
Humane is now two years old, transitioning from an idea into something bigger, with the potential to change the world for the better. At present Humane has a network of over 119 NGOs, 38+ Humane Stores, a 41+ strong volunteer community and presence in over 5 states in India. Till date, it has recorded contributions worth over INR 2 Lakh and counting. While the numbers seem promising, Humane still has a long way to go. Expansion is being planned to 15 states in India, an increase in registered organizations to 250, and reach increased to more than 5000 donors by the end of 2020. There are also plans of conducting dedicated events hosted by the Vuram foundation involving the various partners of the Humane platform. “We have conducted several events in the past; we’ve taken kids out on trips with us, we’ve invited an NGO to celebrate Vuram Day, with all expenses borne by us, we’ve set up Humane Stall to sell goods made by children and return the proceeds back to the organization, and much more. But we want to take it further this year and have a string of events and activities lined up. We are also planning on partnering with Corporates to extend Humane as a platform to their employees”, says Kishor.
With great aspirations, accolades pouring in from all quarters, and a positive vision for the future Humane is taking a stride in the right direction. Anything and anyone can make a difference. Let’s all support a noble cause and help Humane grow.
To contribute, register as a volunteer, or to post a need, visit https://thehumane.life/