Donate and get a date

City Covid-19

Many product managers and CEOs are encouraging people to donate to the COVID cause in exchange for their expert advice. 

Indore: When Anshumani Ruddra, Product Manager Lead for Google Pay, had an idea to make things “more interesting”, he encouraged people to donate for any COVID cause by offering his expert advice in return.

Soon, many other influential people from the tech world joined the wagon. Vivekananda Hallekere, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Bounce, was one of them. “Anyone donating more than Rs. 50,000 to Act initiative or for oxygen initiative, I will give my time for brainstorming for your startup or idea you are working on. If you can’t, then pool from your network and donate,” Hallekere wrote on Twitter.

“It was a great idea to get along with,” he said. “It received a good response and I have been getting messages from people who wish to have a one-on-one session.”

Vivekananda also took this initiative forward and created a platform, Covid Donors India, where they raise money through donations and give it directly to the patient in need. They have managed to raise Rs. 1.8 crore till now.

Kaushik Subramanian, Product Leader at Facebook, wrote, “Donate a decent amount to these causes, DM me the receipt and I’ll spend an hour with you. Career advice, MBA, Product, org – wherever you think I can add value.”

Pushpak Kedia from Sequoia Capital and Tushar Behl from Investment Team at Alpha Wave/ FalconEdge, said, “Donate a reasonable amount,  @TusharBehl2 and I will spend time with you on all things funding – outreach, deck, positioning, market sizing, whatever.” 

Where Anshumani, Vivekananda, Kaushik and others saved their time for people who made big donations, many others took inspiration from them and offered their expertise for seemingly small donations too.

Utkarsh Singh, the co-founder of Creators of Product, offered 30 minutes of his time if people made a donation of Rs. 250. “I am against donations and charities because they are usually one-off things and don’t address the real issue,” he said, “but, right now we don’t have time or the luxury to think about such things.”

“Ideally, it is not our responsibility to raise money, but India needs donations so that the money actually reaches people in need,” he added. 

“Everybody has been trying their best to connect people and keep the demand and supply chain moving,” he said.

Singh knows two people who have donated more than Rs. 20,000 for COVID relief. He also said that many people who had donated earlier have approached him to avail his offer of a one-on-one session. “The response has been very good,” he remarked.

People on Twitter hailed this initiative. “Know a bunch of people who would like to donate but are conscious about their contribution getting stuck in red tape. This thread can help in incentivizing and pushing them over the line,” Twitter user @shubiji wrote in a comment.

“What a cool way of asking people to donate,” Hridyansh, a software engineer, said. Even though he made his contribution in the fight against COVID before this trend started, he believes that it is a great way of encouragement. “Rather than preaching, as most influencers do, these people have brought some skin in the game,” he said. “When someone does that, the chances of you getting motivated to do what has been asked of you, increases manifold.”

He also explained that most people like him might find a direction to achieve their goals after having intellectual conversations with people like Vivekananda and Anshumani. “And it also reinforces the idea that we all are in this fight together,” he added.

Dr Jagdish C. Mehta, Head of Sociology Department, DAV College, said, “We live in a country which got independence a long time ago, and it is of great concern why we still depend upon donations.” 

He explained that charity is a good thing, especially in times of such crisis as the pandemic. “We are helping someone, and that is good. But depending solely on charity and donations might not be a way forward,” he said. “People, and especially the government, need to take concrete steps to improve the infrastructure at the ground level,” he added.