Project 1% : A How-to Guide

Project 1% as the name suggests includes each of us pledging 1%.  We pledge 1% of our incomes, time and energy to helping worthy causes.. because we believe that small things can often be the big things. We meet virtually monthly to channel the resources to a partner of our choice. That’s it!  (Perhaps, our favorite part of project 1% is  how easy it is to explain)

The logistics:

  • People: A few of friends got together to share 1% of our income. We are close to 15 of us, but our active population is a bit lower.
  • Charities : We chose a few charities we ll donate to (see Charity choice) & the cause within the charity to fund. This took a few iterations and may change further. Roughly we plan donate up to 2000 USD per charity per year.
  • Funds: We collect some funds centrally (we have a central bank account) and others are transferred directly to the charity. Check country specific logistics to ensure everything is done legally. The transfers are done either quarterly or annually – fewer transactions means lighter logistics.
  • Reporting: We meet the charity virtually via skype/hangout call & have a fun conversation with them periodically. This is the only form of reporting we like.
  • The process is fairly simple. At this point – I coordinate the logistics, but we’ve been taking turns based on personal workloads.

How we chose our partners:

  • We were certain that we wanted to support charities that helped underserved children. This narrowed our scope a bit – but then we reached out to charities (through network, google searches & cold calls).
  • When a charity piqued our interest, we spent some time talking to them and understanding their work. When possible we also tried to meet them in person. We wanted to ensure that a long standing relationship could be sustained virtually.
  • We also went for a variety of charities as opposed to concentrating on just one. This we believed would help us learn more about making a difference.
  • Given the small size of our donations – we chose to help charities that are currently on their growth phase.

The partners we donate to:

This goes across our donation philosophy. Read more here.

Why this is awesome?

  • It’s a constant reminder that we have a responsibility to share
  • It’s super light weight, yet a constant source of inspiration
  • It’s a great way to stay in touch with friends

What can you do?

  • As you can see – this is simple. Happy for you to take this along and run with it your group of friends. Reach out to or and we’ll be happy to help.
  • If you would like to join us – we need to be sure that you get comfortable with us. As you can see, we run based on each of us trusting each charity partner. We do this because we want to share, not to be commercial (at least not yet). At this point, due to legal reasons we can also only work with you if you have an Indian bank account.
  • Want to take this idea & expand it. Please go for it J Let us know if we can help.

Crossposted on Help2Grow’s blog here

Let’s get started 

The end of One Young World 2015 is here. Many of us are making plans about the next steps – about finding the cause we care for and making a difference. Inspired by 3 books I read this year , I wanted to share  a couple of lessons that might help moving from thought to action. .

Take a first step ASAP

We have an idea. The next step is planning and flushing out the idea- white boards, getting feedback and market surveys. Right? No. The recommendation is to skip all the intellectual masturbation and get straight to action. Don’t think too far – just start! Maybe take 30 mins to do something about your idea. Try your product on someone you meet ( even if they are not the ideal user). As Prof Yunus said, find the first user (or customer) , whack together a very basic product(minimum viable product) and get cracking!

Keep gathering momentum – bite sized improvements 

If your MVP works, we tend to go back to the drawing board. You want to foresee the future of your product and plan towards it. But plans work only in a stable world – our world changes very quickly. Change your mindset from planning the entire product to creating iterations of a fully functioning product- keep adding features or making improvements. This gives great momentum and energy. This is particularly useful if you work on some ideas as a “side job” – lack of momentum kills many ideas. Remember your ideas won’t save lives – only the implementation will. So keep pushing out versions of your product. Keep learning and improving.

Fail fast, learn faster

To allow the iterative development process to work, you need a major change in mindset. You need to learn to fail and fail fast. Accept that you are going to screw up and just screw up quickly.  You can’t be an adult without being a baby. Treat each iteration of your product as a lesson and fix one thing at a time. Over time the failures will reduce and the successes increase. But please fail fast and learn quicker.

I am learning as we go, slowly moving from thought to action. Hopefully these tips will help you too. Do leave a comment about the small steps you  are taking – am certain it’ll inspire all of us.

Have a go, you never know what happens…

The reading list :  
Little bets by Peter Sims
Scrum by Jeff Sutherland 
Lean startup by Eric Ries


P.S.  This post was in response to a fellow delegate’s question. Conversation was turned into this post. If you have  questions or feedback, I’d love to hear and improve this post. 

You can speak. Can you communicate?

When I was 2 years old, I uttered my first word – apparently ‘ma’. I learnt more complex words quickly – food, chocolates, biryani,etc. Soon, I spoke fairly well and could express what I wanted. While the choice of words might be different, this is the case for most of us. That’s both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because most of us can speak. Unfortunate, because we confuse speaking with communicating.

Speaking is about expressing an idea. It is a one way relationship – much like my high school romance. Communicating goes beyond. It is about forming the bridge with the other party. It is about a two way dialogue.

So how can we be a “Public Speaker” and yet communicate?

We think of speeches as a fully prepared script. We rehearse every motion and deliver them. However, a trully powerful communicator can use static scripts only if he trully knows his audience (refer point 1). Instead I propose that you think of your speech as a slightly fluid piece of work and alter it based on what the audience is telling you. There are loads of techniques and loads of things to learn. But let’s get started with three.

Knowing your audience:

This step is to let us predict your audience in advance and plan for it. Start by building the persona of your audience.. Below are some questions that can be used to build the persona.

  • What is the knowledge level of the audience (and their views)
  • What is their physical and mental state (tired because of journey, just had lunch,etc)
  • Why are they here & what do they want from my speech

Now imagine how they would react to the currrent draft of your speech. Better still, deliver the draft to a few people who can represent your target audience. Based on these reactions, modify and fine-tune the speech. In this approach, though the audience is not giving you immediate feedback – you’ve already gotten feedback in advance & fine-tuned the speech to build the bridge quicker.

Gauging the audience:

You are on stage to give the audience the best experience you can. By continuously gauging the audience’s non-verbal cues, you can adjust your speech.

  • They look bored: Maybe thisparticular  segment is not new to them (assuming you are a great entertainer). Skip over this part of the talk and go to the more juicy parts.
  • They look lost: maybe you were not supposed to speak now? Open the floor up to questions and you’ll understand why they feel confused. Then get the confusion sorted.
  • It looks like they disagree: If it is a lot of people disagreeing, you need to do something about it. A question like – “you look concerned, how can I help” may help. But do this early, not at the end of your presentation.
  • They are shivering or reaching for jackets : Simple way to win the audience – ask for the air con to be reduced. They will listen to you after that.

We can go on… ask the editor to make me write more J

Influencing your Audience:

While material on this subject is worthy of a few books, let me illustrate with an (over simplified) example. Imagine a teacher at a boarding school trying to get her students to go shower.

  • Format 1: Go shower now.
  • Format 2: Can you go shower?
  • Format 3: Would you like to shower now or in 30 mins?

Format 1 works if the teacher has the power, but might lose respect. Ask my parents about the success rate of Format 2. However, Format 3 works wonders as it allows the children to decide that they will shower.

With such subtle changes(when not used for sly things), a communicator can gain acceptance from the audience and by the end of the speech – build a very strong bridge.

Delivering a message is step one, but when your audience accepts your message and feels like they connected with you – then you’ve graduated from speaking to communicating.

The true difference betweena speaker and communicator is exposed when they are put in front of an opinionated audience. A good speaker will express his or her views very articulately, but not many opposers will change their initial views. A good communicator can build a bridge with the audience and convince the audience of his or her views. Which one are you?

Published a part of Toastmasters District 98 newsletter –

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