I volunteered with Asha for Education last year participating in marathon program and raising a good amount of money for the organization. I was also fortunate enough to visit couple of programs run through the organization in India to see meaningful impact on ground level of my fundraising.
The best part of this organization is how well and efficiently it run by its volunteers. I would definitely recommend checking out the local chapter of this organization.
Review from Guidestar
I recently joined Asha San Francisco Chapter and I am impressed with how the projects are run. Based on what I have witnessed, the group is very non-hierarchical, open and collaborative.
Looking at the Form 990, the organisation is sitting on more than $6 million in assets. This is more than enough to cover two years of expenses on programs, so it's unclear why new money is being solicited.
Review from Guidestar
"100% of your donations reach our projects" - This is what every Asha volunteer is proud about. During one of Asha UFlorida's annual cultural event - Praharsha we were selling we were selling food items. Chai was one of it, and was supposed to be very tasty. When one of the guest told a volunteer to have a sip as it was very tasty. The volunteer could have easily taken a cup full and no one would have made a fuss about it, but this is what he said "The money from the sale goes to our cause, unless i buy it i can not drink it." This is the dedication of each Asha volunteer.
Asha is a great organization. There are no overhead costs, the purpose of the organization is simple, straightforward, and effective, and we work with grass-roots programs that work within the community to bring about change. I am a steward for a project and have had a great experience working with a volunteer in India who is extending micro-finance loans to women in an impoverished area of India. At Asha, we make sure that the projects that receive our funds are legitimate and effective projects that really are seeking to bring education to the many underprivileged children in India. These programs not only provide these children with an education, but empower them with the knowledge and skills to find opportunities and escape poverty.
Big positives: 1) It has little or no overheads, so the funds raised can go completely to projects. 2) Since it is completely volunteer driven, volunteers are fully vested in the success of the organization, so overall effectiveness is high. 3) The organization management is "flat" (with no hierarchy), which makes it truly democratic, and gives every volunteer a strong voice. Negatives: 1) There is a constant problem of volunteer burnout, and few roles for long term volunteers to diversify into. 2) Fundraising capabilities remain limited, and therefore the impact of the organization is limited. 3) Constant turnover of volunteers results in a lot of loss of knowledge, and new volunteers keep "reinventing the wheel"
I started volunteering with Asha as an undergrad at Berkeley. I haven't been able to keep up since graduating, but I hope to get back soon. Volunteering with Asha was both fun and satisfying.
I really like Asha. I just joined the UC Berkeley chapter this year and although I don't know much about it yet, the projects that Asha supports sound really awesome.
I have been a volunteer with this organization for more than 6 years now. I have enjoyed volunteering for Asha and find it amazing that a group of individuals with a common set of goals and beliefs can come together in this way and support education related and other causes in India. It has been very gratifying to see that the volunteering effort is paid off in terms of better education opportunities for young children who would other wise not have any access to even elementary education.
I have found Asha for Education to be a very strong volunteer organization. In working with the Berkeley chapter, the organization has been a a way to unite both Indians, who want to be more involved with improving the country of their heritage, as well as non-Indians, who are looking to get involved in grassroots development. Our chapter is based on the collaboration of undergraduates, graduate students and working professionals. Because Asha for Education is a flat, non-hierarchical organization, everyone has a equal voice and thus, all our decisions are based on a wide range of perspectives. Asha for Education goes through an involved vetting process to ensure that the money we raise goes to well-deserved grassroots organizations in India that have the greatest potential to enact change in their communities through education. We require that our partner organizations in India give regular updates on the status of their schools and institutions so we know exactly how are money is being spent and what impact it is having. I have personally been deeply involved with the planning of our annual culture show fundraiser, Images of India, which is now on its 19th year. While putting on this event, I have seen the loyal following of the show's regular attendees and witnessed how Asha for Education has become deeply entrenched in both Indian and non-Indian communities in the Bay Area. Even in these times of economic troubles, we still have a group of supporters who regularly donate to our chapter, recognizing the need to maintain international development and realizing that Asha for Education is one of the best ways to channel their donations to this effort. Asha for Education as a whole also finds innovative ways to fundraise, such as the Work an Hour campaign, which is an online fundraiser that asks people to symbolically donate an hour of their time to help underprivileged children in India by simply giving an hour's worth of their wages or salary. Using this simple premise, in 2009, this campaign was able to raise over $100,000 in just two months. Asha for Education is entirely volunteer based, and every one of our volunteers cares deeply for this cause. We are a zero-overhead organization, which means that all the operational costs are borne by the volunteers and 100% of the money we raise goes directly to our projects and the children who need it most. As such, if you're interested stimulating socioeconomic change in India, Asha for Education is one of the most worthy organizations to work with.