A few months back a friend here in Seattle asked if I’d like to help out with a new non-profit idea he’d been cooking up. My friend – Digvijay Chauhan – had worked in the U.S. for years, first at Microsoft and later as co-founder and CTO of AskMe. But he was born and raised in India, and was all-too familiar both with that country’s crushing poverty, and the inefficiency and corruption that often prevented help from reaching those most in need.
Dig’s idea was simple: to create a platform that allows first-world donors to make small contributions directly to those in need, and to receive direct feedback in the form of images and stories about the impact their gift had made on the recipient’s life. Because of his personal connection to India the idea would be piloted there, but if successful the platform could be made available to any qualified 501c(3) that could support the model of small gifts + personal impact stories. In keeping with its focus the organization was named SeeYourImpact (http://seeyourimpact.org)
Thanks to Dig’s vision and persistence, the project quickly moved from idea to reality, hugely assisted by the commitment and support of Scott Oki (another Microsoft alum and committed philanthropist). A basic software platform was wired up (using WordPress for content management and PayPal for transaction processing), and we were just planning the first phases of donor outreach when the Seattle Times got wind of the effort and put together a story that ran today profiling SeeYourImpact and another local effort with similar roots called Jolkona.
We had hoped to tie up a few more loose ends before spreading the word, but the site is live and the Times story is out there, so SeeYourImpact is officially open for business. It’s a little different from most of the startups I work with, but we have the same basic needs: customers and feedback. So if you have a few dollars to spare please come by and consider making a gift. Not only will it help us test the platform, you might just change someone’s life…