Sanket Gupta

Design Engineer, Marvell Semiconductor

This conversation is closed.

Time based online volunteering portal.

Having been really impressed by the idea of Kiva by Jessica Jackley, I was thinking of how this idea can be extended further. My idea is for the thousands of young people in the world looking to make a change in the world but are not sure what they can do. It is basically similar to Kiva's idea but instead of lending money, people will lend their time.

The online time-based volunteering will allow people to simply log into an online portal and start connecting with people from other parts of the world who need their help. This way there will be not only cultural exchange but also social impact; all through by people connecting online. Although internet access for everyone in the world is still a major challenge. This portal will benefit both the volunteers as well as people looking for help online. These volunteers can be corporate executives, teachers, professionals or students who want to create an impact.

I look forward to hearing about your opinions on whether it is an idea that can be implemented.

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    Aug 31 2011: What if we added to the portal and create a volunteer virtual monetary system which rewards people who volunteer with things they want/need rather than using money as the reward? Corporations could sponsor individuals who do great things to make the world a better place and encourage young people to volunteer?
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      Sep 8 2011: I think Sanket idea is great and the way you develop it is even better :) and maybe the fact that you encourage him and care about it in general is the best part:) If that kind of spirit prevails in TED I would truly be happy to share and not feel afraid;) 10x
      Also I think that Sanket had in mind something really global and we are paving the way to something like that as we saw recently how the very simple fact that the world is more connected even with only to social websites can help people brake free from dictators and brake free from manipulative and paid media influences.
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        Sep 25 2011: Hi Angel,
        I agree so much about the manipulative media influences. It really calls for a more direct connection between people. But, the entire process of building this idea still remains! :)
        Sanket
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Sherry,
      Its a great idea to reward the people for the work that they are doing, and also get the corporations to sponsor such benevolent volunteers. However, the problem that I see with it is that lot of people might start doing it for money and the quality of volunteering will fall. So as Richard has mentioned above, there has to be a a rating or a review system.
      Overall, I really love your idea!
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    Sep 5 2011: Thanks for referencing Jessica Jackley's Talk: Poverty, money and Love. I really enjoyed the talk and learning about her idea of individual's lending money to people in need from around the world. I went to her organization's website KIVA.org and I loaned money to 4 groups of women to do farming and sewing businesses. I look forward to lending more people as well in the future. The idea of lending time is a good one. Do you believe you will organize that idea into an actionable program connecting the people wishing to volunteer their time with the people needing the volunteer
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Michelle,

      Its great to hear that you loved Jessica Jackley's talk. Its so inspiring!
      Yes, indeed, its the biggest challenge to connect people wishing to volunteer and the people needing to volunteer. There are 2 main concerns regarding finding people needing the volunteer:
      1. The internet access is limited in many parts of the world. So the people who really need the volunteering do not have much internet access.
      2. The marketing of the idea cannot be done in a conventional way.

      I know its a significant challenge, but we need to start off somewhere!
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    Sep 18 2011: There is a lot to this idea. Key points

    Global is good. Catchafire.org home page shows a map of America. I am pro American, but what if I am in Europe and I want to help someone in Syria?

    Rationing.. if I am giving time for free I want to know who to give it to...some kind of voting system where those whose need is the most deserving get to the top of this list

    Quality control. Who checks if I am any good as a coach, mentor, whatever . Ebay Couchsurfing type references and scoring would help

    not "re inventing the wheel" where there are great "for free" category killers (like Livemocha.com for languages, Couchsurfing.org for hosting guests, Khanacademy.org for teaching,
    just have a link through. and develop criteria to support and work with best practice, such as "genuine for free"

    Useful tools and features. Apart from matching demand and supply the web site should have genuinely useful tools (like Khan Academy) to make sure that it adds and creates value

    Copyright. TED.com exploded because of Creative Commons. Make sure the content created is in
    Creative Commons so that everyone can benefit.

    Leadership and vision. A Chris Anderson type person at the top inspiring and leading makes a huge difference

    Good luck. I'll give an hour a week to entrepreneurship coaching
    Richard
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Richard,
      Thank you for your valuable suggestions. I am sure they can be really useful during the implementation of the idea.
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    Sep 19 2011: 1.By this portal we can get advise from experts to start or continue the the programme .
    2.It may motivate the people.
    3.Sometime we can get support from the local community or institution or service organisations.
    "Life is where
    Enthusiasm is."
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    Sep 15 2011: I've been living abroad and have tried several times to engage in online volunteering of this sort and found it both really exciting and difficult to put into practice. Several English teaching classes for especially women in impoverished areas have never gotten off the ground (volunteers have gotten all set up and either no students are assigned, or never come to the chat area, etc). Others that mentor students or peers have had similar problems, but I have hope that it can work!

    I think that volunteering online takes extra work since you are not getting the person-to-person connection, but it holds great promise!
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Shannon,
      Yeah, its indeed tough to organize something like an online volunteering system. But, before we get to the stage of helping the people who need education etc, we can start off with people who want to do something for other people. Initially, the portal can be for people to just discuss and implement some of their ideas. Gradually, we can bring in the people who really need education and other kinds of help.
      Am not sure whether its a correct way to think, but its just a thought.
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    Sep 11 2011: This is partially taking place in St. Pete, Florida with community members offering free classes on subjects that they feel others would benefit from learning.
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    Sep 9 2011: Its a good thought I would love to help but many things need to be considered on this... off the top of my head.... the suppliers of such opportunities and the communication to the people willing to contribute. We can discuss this more on skype and make this happen infact Im longing to do something in Animal conservation as my project but anythign is a start. let me knwo if you would be interested to get my help and then we can speak with a few others if they are willing.. iyer.preeti@gmail.com
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Preeti,
      Yes, there are many challenges to overcome for such a project. I indeed feel that finding people who need help of some kind will be hard because so many people dont even have access to internet. But, we can start off somewhere, maybe with the people who already are using internet. That way the challenge of finding the suppliers of opportunities is reduced. For example, recently in India there has been a lot of talk about Anna Hazare. Thats a great source of opportunities.

      As for Animal Conservation, I am sure there are thousands of people doing something. If we can connect them together, in an online portal, the combined power of everyone will be greatly enhanced!
      Sure! I have added you on Skype.
  • Sep 9 2011: Dear Sanket if you listen the recent "Anna Hazare" case in INDIA it would be a best example for you, i support your idea but many senior citizens are not usually involved in internet tasks but they have time to volunteering now what.
    In the current case we saw a lot of ways of volunteering like.

    one day i received a message from my friend containing a number (phone) saying give a miss call and you will receive a sms i did and got a sms.
    that sms was containing a question related to that case with two options yes or no and two phone numbers for yes and not i again gave a missed call on that number as per my answer same like this it repeated with 5 questions

    what i spent "only time" and my support was a big help like a number of users.

    So there is a number of ways for volunteering.

    Thanks !!

    ~nik
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Nikhil,
      I completely agree with you regarding the Anna Hazare case. Esp. the senior citizens with all their experiences can really help other young people! Once started, it can really kick off esp. with something which people really feel strongly about like Anna Hazare.
  • Sep 8 2011: Perhaps if timebanks.org expanded to allow connections beyond the local community...

    http://timebanks.org/
    http://timebanks.org/blog/tedx-ashoka-dr-edgar-cahn-timebanks-founder/
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    Sep 8 2011: Dear Sanket,

    I see you are in Singapore. Contact Robin Low, he is in Singapore these days. It will be worth it to bounce ideas with him and explore collaboration opportunities. This is very much in line with his doing.gd plan (and my own doingmyshare.org plan). Robin spoke at TEDxKRP ( http://www.tedxkrp.com/2011/robin-low ) and TEDxHayward ( http://tedxhayward.org/speakers/robinlow/ ).
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Carlos,

      Thank you for your suggestion. I heard Robin at TEDxKRP and his ideas were really inspiring. I will love to hear his opinion on this idea. Also, could you tell more about your doingmyshare.org plan?

      Sanket
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    Sep 6 2011: I like both the Kiva approach and yours, too, Sanket.

    Here is an interesting approach to volunteering that a fellow TEDster shared with me:

    http://www.crowdrise.com/
  • Sep 5 2011: Sanket, I really like your idea and its simplicity is a key feature which could make it very successful. My question is though, what are some examples of tangible way to provide help to people via an online portal. The first thing that comes to my mind is telemedicine , but what else are you thinking?
    • Sep 10 2011: I think there are many opportunities here. For example, volunteers can teach kids or even adults science, history, English or other languages.

      People can help each other to run a start up company in a developing country, giving advice on financials, accounting, marketing and so on.

      Finally people could give each other encouragement and support.
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        Sep 25 2011: Hi Vincent,
        There are lots of ways in which a tangible help can be provided online some of them have been listed by Zdenek. Other ways I can think of are connecting people with like-minded ideas and providing a platform in which people can take combined action for example for global warming, human rights etc. But, there is still a long way to achieve those goals. But, we need to start off somewhere.
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    Sep 5 2011: As mentioned below, Catchafire is a really good example of online volunteering made possible in a really good way. I advice everyone to really check it out!

    Also http://justfortheloveofit.org/ is still lacking in design and much more but I think it has good potential.
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    Sep 4 2011: This is a brilliant idea.

    I understand that everyone is in need of some kind of help, however I think that there should be a type of theme (?) that maintains a definite focus and specificity within the site (you've probably already figured one anyway) otherwise it will be something similar to Yahoo Answers etc. Maybe a theme such as sustainable living, humanitarian development and empowerment, I don't know they're some suggestions :)

    I feel that there is much potential within your idea and it sounds like a good starting point for young people who haven't fixated themselves on a specific volunteering path. Like you said, there would be a wide diversity of cultural and social exchange, which is supremely important for a volunteer to embrace and understand its many aspects.

    Keep it up mate!
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Hakana,
      Thank you for your suggestion. Yeah, I understand your concern regarding a theme and its a great idea to choose one theme. However, I feel that we can always create separate themes as the thing grows. So a person can contribute in whichever theme he feels most passionate about. So again its something like Kiva, in which there are different categories for you to volunteer for.
      And yes, if the idea is implemented properly, it holds a potential for a lot of cultural and social exchange. Lets see how it goes!
  • Sep 26 2011: Just found this site, so have not gone through all the back posts, but want to introduce you to the concept of the timebank. See www.timebanks.org. The founder, Dr. Edhar Cahn, has presented in TEDx forums in the past. Most timebanks are community-based (in many differerent countries), but the concept has grown incredibly and with the internet, the possibility of exchange is expanding to include cross-border exchanges, as well.

    In sum, the premise is that there are "no throwaway people," and that we all have something to offer to other people as individuals or communities. There are no net givers or net recipients. Requesters and Offerers list their requests and offers on an a virtual trading post, and exchange services. Services are accounted for in units of time, so that one hour of computer repair work = one hour of dog-walking = one hour of cooking or childcare or car maintenance or foreign language instruction. Premise includes that there are no "charity cases," in that there are no people who DON'T have something to give.

    The site articulates this much better than I am here - I encourage you to check out how the concept is being used in healthcare, criminal justice and other increasingly innovative ways.
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      Sep 28 2011: Thanks for sharing. Yeah, Timebanks is a great concept. Esp. since time is the valuable commodity here. Its a beautiful concept. Hopefully it can really grow and touch many more lives!
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    Sep 25 2011: I was quite overwhelmed by the responses and I am really grateful to everyone.
    I would love to hear more about what you think about the idea. You can reach me at towardsthequest@gmail.com. I am currently in Singapore, and I would be happy to meet anyone who wants to further discuss on this.

    Thank you!
  • Sep 24 2011: Has sparked.com been mentioned? http://www.sparked.com/. I have no affiliation with them. The idea is a good one. It needs more enthusiastic participation -- not just "fix my web site."
  • Sep 15 2011: Yes. I do support this, as I tried in a similar way- volunteering online many times too but it didnt work to the extent I expected. If there is a common platform for communication (the list of volunteers available along with the help seekers too) then that would be GREAT!!! Its a matter of organizing !! Like this idea!!
  • Sep 15 2011: I, as a current volunteer at 3 different places at the moment think that's an awesome idea! Since, I do work full time, attend university, and volunteer at 3 different non-profit organizations I feel that this would be of much use to someone who is busy, like myself. That way the volunteers can log in and out at any time of day, and since there's a time difference in states that makes it more convenient. Also, organizing the options of people that are able to provide help and having different types of tabs with all the subjects people can give and get help from.
    Recognizing the volunteers is the best thing anyone can do for them. Maybe, having a section and posting the volunteer/s of the month would be a good idea.
  • Sep 15 2011: I would love to be able to be involved in something like this. I have very few places near me to volunteer and those that are available it would cost me $100 a month just to drive there and back. Making as little as I do it's simply not possible. I would love a place with a community set up to volunteer at that is internet based.

    Another use of this I could see is (for example) people with disabilities being able to get the help they need to find funding for expensive medical equipment, or even just advice on how to pursue legal matters.
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    Sep 11 2011: I would love to participate in this!
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    Sep 9 2011: It's very great idea!!
  • Sep 5 2011: Yes, just a dropwill do...but it has to begin somewhere. So why not from us?
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    Sep 1 2011: Check out Catchafire!
    Mashable article: http://mashable.com/2011/08/04/sparkafire/
    Website: http://www.catchafire.org/
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      Sep 25 2011: Hi Jimmy,
      Thank you for sharing about catchafire.org. Its an amazing idea and they have implemented it really well. The only constraint that I see from it is that you need some years of experience in certain fields to be eligible for a lot of projects. Justfortheloveofit.org is also a great idea.
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    Aug 31 2011: Gud idea...but the thing is how will d volunteers be working?..i mean is it just for a kinda a webhelp ....ryt? and wat kinda help will b included in dis help section???....
  • Aug 31 2011: I love the idea...even though I am no longer "young." Good luck with it!