As the second devastating COVID wave rips through the country, communities and individuals are stepping up to help. From appeals for oxygen and hospital beds, to channeling food and funds, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become the country’s principal avenues of amplification.
This story focuses on one initiative by technology, design and product practitioners, who are offering you their time in exchange for a donation to a COVID cause.
On April 23rd, Anshumani Ruddra, Group Product Manager, Google, tweeted that he would give two hours of his time to anyone who donated Rs. 50,000 or more to any COVID cause they believed in. He would share expertise on topics like product building, organisation structure and career advice. “Heck”, he said,“I will even write your Product Requirement Document (PRD)”
Ruddra says that while he had donated money to several causes, he still felt a sense of helplessness. This was a way of creating greater awareness and nudging people to give more. His feelings clearly resonated within the ecosystem. Many others have followed suit, starting a trend of sorts.
This includes people from Prem Panicker, the eminent journalist, who will spend time with you to discuss your writing, to design leaders like Jay Dutta, Senior Vice President, MakeMyTrip, who will help you tackle design, career or team challenges. Founders like Ravjot Chug (Upgrad) and Vivek Hallekere (Bounce), have offered to guide startups, while Sanket Shah, Founder, Invideo, said he would also rope in experts from his team.
Here’s a partial, alphabetically sorted, list of people who have currently volunteered their time in return for a donation to a COVID cause.
Questbook, an upskilling app has even created a page for this on their platform. 120 members have already signed up at covid.questbook.app, including engineers from YouTube, Facebook and Google. There are also Indian students from Cambridge and Oxford, offering help with admissions. Co-founder, Questbook, Sriharsha Karamchati says that total donations have reached Rs. 16 lakh in just four days.
The THC View
Ruddra opened up 2 x 2 hour slots on Saturday and Sunday for the next thirteen weeks and these are sold out for May and June. People wrote back to ask him for time later in the year. Shah of Invideo also says his weekend is booked solid by startups seeking advice.
While offering time for a cause is a well-established paradigm in the world of philanthropy, almost every type of ‘incentivisation’ was in play over this last few days, as people sought to use their influence to encourage donations. Co-founder of private equity firm, True North, Haresh Chawla collected a sizeable sum for charity “Doctors For You” by matching donations. Designers like Jack Butcher and Amrit Pal Singh offered NFTs, with proceeds going to COVID relief efforts. However, most of these worthy efforts are borne of – and will end – with the pandemic.
With this ’Time for Good’ offer, we wonder if Ruddra has managed to seed a movement, that could well endure beyond the current crisis.
Young businesses are struggling and professionals are worried about their careers. This unfortunate situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. There are very few structured and scalable ways to unlock the time of senior professionals and allow them to share their expertise with people who could greatly benefit from it.
Globally, there are for-profit networks like GLGInsights that have adjacent models. Could we create a structure in India, which delivers benefits for both the receivers of advice, as well as the receivers of donations?
What do you think? Would you be interested in either availing of this offer or making one yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Considering the overwhelming response to this story, we are planning a follow-up piece. Drop your questions in the comments or mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org