27 January 2016

INTERVIEW: forgood, the social giving site and employee volunteering platform

This was an interview Katherine Robertson and I did with the Tech4Africa team. I didn't see it get published - and it was quite a cool interview to do, interesting set of questions. Thought I'd publish it here for prosterity - it gives some insight into our thinking behind the forgood platform. Enjoy!

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Interview questions answered by Andy Hadfield (AH) – CEO of www.forgood.co.za and Katherine Robertson (KR), Head of Corporate Programmes.

OCTOBER 2015 



What problem does your business solve? Or, what problem do you solve?

AH: Forgood connects people and businesses to Causes.

On the consumer side, we’re seeing a groundswell in “activist” behavior. Not only the protest kind, but people generally wanting to be more socially involved in their communities. With a lack of technology (especially technology at scale) in our social sector, there hasn’t always been an easy channel for these people to mobilise through. How can I get started? Where can I get involved? Can I trust the organisations I work with? Where can my skills make the most impact?

KR: We also solve a corporate headache that is the tracking and monitoring of employee volunteering. CSI departments often use Excel as a way to manage who is doing what and who is giving to who. Corporates want to enable their employees to ‘do good’ (the research is all there that it makes business sense to do so) but they don’t have the resources or structure in place to make that happen. Forgood enables corporates to efficiently and effectively engage staff, while providing cool reports on every aspect of employee volunteering.


What's your progress / traction like in the last 6 months?

AH: 497 Causes (growing at almost 10 a week). 988 specific “Needs” captured by those Causes (when we know what they need, we can facilitate a much more meaningful connection) - and 963 real connections between People and Causes. And by the time you print this, those numbers will be out of date. It’s been a good ride – and we haven’t even touched on the current #foodforgood campaign or the previous knock out #uberforgood campaign.

KH: Our traffic spikes nicely when we do campaigns or activations. For example, we worked with Uber on a Spring Clean (#uberforgood) activation. People were able to put together stuff they no longer wanted and request an Uber to collect it, for free. Forgood then received the donations and matched them out to relevant Causes using the platform. The activation trended on Twitter in South Africa, resulted in over 10 million opportunities to see and the Joburg Drop Off Depot alone saw more than 175 cubic metres of stuff! Next up – our integration with the Tshwane Free Wifi Project, where users on their network will be able to use forgood without affecting their daily browsing limit. Zero-rated activism!


What do you look back at and feel is the most rewarding so far in your journey?

AH: Personally? For once in my life, it feels like the timing might be right for this tech business. While CSI and community involvement platforms aren’t unfortunately a “must have” purchase decision for businesses – there is enough evidence flowing in about how actively involving your staff in relevant volunteering and community projects results in high retention and higher morale. That war of talent thing needs some ammo – we could just be it.

KR: The most rewarding part of this journey is seeing people benefit from forgood. There are so many great moments that give you faith in humanity and hope for this country. One example is meeting someone who had travelled from Pretoria to collect a printer that had been donated during the #uberforgood activation. He had travelled far by taxi and was so excited about getting one printer for the NGO he worked for (Trendsetters.) He was a quiet guy who you wouldn’t ordinarily notice except for the fact that he dedicates his entire life to helping teenagers. To see such a small thing make such a big difference…


What would you say has been toughest so far in your journey?

AH: Cost of and time commitment to do development properly. Slow nature of enterprise / B2B sales.

KH: I agree!


What are the 3 biggest opportunities you see in South Africa right now?

AH: Building African solutions for African problems. Scaling into developing markets, not developed markets. Katherine, you want to take the 3rd?

KR: Living in a country where there is so much need, and such an opportunity (with forgood) to change the landscape of that need.


What are the 3 things frustrating you most about the tech ecosystem in SA at the moment?

AH: I think there’s still a lot of ego. At the moment, we’re brutally trying to carve out our own little portion of not much. There is a collaborative spirit in more developed tech ecosystems that is still in its infancy here. I spoke about this 2 Tech4Africa’s ago – how few people even bother to share stats? It doesn’t appear to have got much better.

KH: I would add (a bit of a lateral answer) that a many in the social sector have not cottoned on to the tech ecosystem. Many people doing great work just don’t have access to the Internet or don’t know how to use technology. This disjunct is frustrating.


When did you last have a huge amount of fun at work?

AH: Today! Putting together the #foodforgood campaign for World Food Day. And testing the campaigns module that our product and dev team had just deployed. Check it out here: http://bit.do/foodforgood! It’s stressful, fast-paced, but we have a ton of fun.

It’s quite a different mental outlook when each conversion you do doesn’t result in a 5% margin eCommerce sale to a random stranger – but rather in the relevant connection between a citizen who wants to become more involved in the future of their country – and a Cause that can use that person’s skills.

KR: Also today! We have a great team. Ran a little campaign with one of our corporate clients, through the platform, for St Vincent’s School for the Deaf – the campaign will directly impact the kids there. For me, knowing my work makes a difference, is what makes my job fun.


What advice would you give to anyone who is sub-30?

AH: Take more risks, fail more – the older you get, the harder it gets because there’s more at stake. Have lots of conversations – accept advice and hard feedback, in fact, search out hard feedback, everything else is meaningless small talk.

KR: I think we can learn from the sub 30s as much as they can learn from us. I find that I think differently from a slightly younger generation. As a tech company, we need to be open to youthful minds and respond to the way they operate


Where would you like to be in 18 months from now? What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge in getting there?

AH: We’d like to have 10-15 active business clients using the forgood platform to run their employee volunteering programmes. We’d like to be getting a stream of social activity data, an understanding of the impact each connection is creating. And starting to really leverage the platform nature of what we’re building – all the new revenue streams, the new features and the new partnerships that an open, API-based platform at scale allows you to do.

I want to be able to say the word “scale” without a jealous, wistful tone in my voice!

KR: I would also like to be bridging the understanding gap between Corporates and Causes. The gap is wide - and its creates frustration and compassion fatigue (among other things). I want to be part of the solution to this problem in +/- 18 months!

13 November 2015

It's Friday 13th - and World Kindness Day! How to take part... [INFOGRAPHIC]

There is no better day to practise a random act of kindness than on World Kindness Day, which is being celebrated globally on 13 November. Besides just being a good thing to do, kindness has been directly linked to good health – the simple act releases the feel good hormone oxytocin, which protects your heart by lowering blood pressure.

“It’s not just the apple that will keep the doctor away but kindness too,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of forgood (www.forgood.co.za) an online social platform that connects people to Causes. “Giving back and doing good is a global trend, it’s become integral to work culture, with employees putting it high up on their list of work satisfaction criteria.” 

Takes just a moment to be kind. Why not start on Friday 13th 2015? :) Visit www.forgood.co.za

Hadfield’s sentiment is backed by Trialogue, a corporate sustainability business that estimated an R8.2-billion CSI contribution by local businesses in the 2014 fiscal year. These findings are supported by The Charities Aid Foundation, which listed South Africa as the fifth highest climber on the World Giving Index in 2014 - 4.5-million additional South Africans gave up their time to do good over the 2013 survey The numbers are only set to rise with more and more individuals becoming active social citizens. 

“Social activism is growing in South Africa, it’s no longer just about me and how I will benefit but about how all of us can benefit. The recent #FeesMustFall campaign is the perfect example of active social citizenship and it’s just the start,” says Hadfield. “We want to make positive change and create real value for Causes through rallying up the digital masses.”
   
Describing themselves as a social market place where skills, goods, services and information can easily be offered and asked for, forgood is a central hub for individuals, groups and Causes who want to become more socially active. 

“There are some fantastic Causes doing amazing things across the country, all of them need help in one way or another – be it a volunteer’s time, goods, skills or services – however, there isn’t a central point that connects individuals or corporates with those Causes,” says Hadfield. “We’re the glue that links the one to the other and in so doing, we’re facilitatiing real value for everyone involved.” 

How to be kind and do good? Visit forgood (www.forgood.co.za) and choose from the following options: 

#2  Donate goods 

Connections made through forgood:

The offer 

Sandisiwe has been the main breadwinner in her family for the past few years, her mother passed away five years ago and she takes care of her two younger siblings, aged eight and 10. In 2013 Sandisiwe matriculated with a Bachelors degree entrance. In 2014, thanks to a bursary from Harmony Gold, Sandisiwe began a social work degree at the University of Johannesburg. African Food For Thought NGO (www.afft.org.za) created a need on the forgood platform for Sandisiwe who needed prescription glasses – she was struggling to study as her glasses were four-years-old and needed to be replaced. As a result of the need created on the forgood platform, Sandisiwe was equipped with new glasses thanks to Sam Schneider Optometrists in Northcliff, who saw the need posted on the site and created an offer. 
The need

A student residence group was looking for a Mandela Day activity for 350 students, they decided to respond to a need created by a Cause on the forgood website. As a result of the connection, 350 students were put to work on Mandela Day at the Rare Diseases Society of South Africa.

Come chat!

Website – www.forgood.co.za
Facebook - /forgoodSA
Twitter - @forgoodSA

20 October 2015

forgood is hiring - opportunity in the Community Management & Support Team

What we want: Junior/Mid Community Manager. www.forgood.co.za

Forgood connects people to Causes. We’re building and running THE technology platform for the social sector in South Africa – and eventually other developing markets. We’re a proudly “for profit” – and believe in making money and saving the world at the same time. Our primary business model involves selling a customised version of our platform into corporates as a tool to run their employee volunteering programmes.


YOU MUST BE: Black (sorry, but we’re being blunt here – our team is too white – and therefore we can’t dance, or say “sh’ot left” without a dodgy accent)

YOU MUST WANT: To work in a tech startup involvement. We work really hard, play really hard. Very flexible culture – but obsessed with delivery and getting shit done.

YOU MUST BE ABLE TO: Learn quickly, work fast, think big, prove yourself, leave ego at the door.

YOU MUST: Commit. We’re not going to sink blood, sweat, tears, time and champagne (our celebration method of choice currently) into someone who’s going to ditch when things get hard. You’re in this for 2 years+ or you’re not in it at all.

THE ROLE: Working in our Cause Relationship and Support Team.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO DO:
  • Assist with Cause Relationship Management
    • Help manage the approval process for Causes (and keep records)
    • Build relationships with all Causes. They need to love you to love us.
    • Meet with and train strategically important Causes
  • Data clean-up
    • Ensure data across forgood consumer and business products is clean, relevant, fresh and friendly.
    • Spelling, grammar, quality of pictures and how things look – we’re fanatical about it.
  • Consumer query desk
    • Manage user and Cause queries coming in on forgood and various business programmes.
    • Learn how to use and generate reports on queries managed through FreshDesk.
    • Understand what the hell FreshDesk even is.
    • Be able to hustle support – many queries a day, fast turnaround, without losing the personality that’s going to make us awesome to all our Users.
    • Generate a fair bit of manual reporting on user interactions, volumes, quality, approval status etc..
    • Assist with all telephonic queries


Qualifications and experience required
  • A tertiary qualification, preferrably in a communications discipline. If you don’t have a degree, prove to us why you don’t need it.
  • At least 3 years of experience in some form of communications – whatever it may be.
  • Comfortable talking to people – over the phone, over email and in person. Community Managers are peoples people.
  • Comfortable in a tech environment. We’re serious about this. You need to love the Internet, be fluent on online platforms and understand your URL from your Excel.
  • Strong writing, editing, creative and communications skills
  • Attention to detail. This is a detail orientated job – if you’ve got your head in the clouds – this one isn’t for you.
  • Speaking and writing in a language that isn’t English or Afrikaans. Zulu? Xhosa? Tsotsitaal? (But your English needs to be solid as well – it’s just the language of the Internet)
  • Marketing and “selling” skills. You’re selling us by supporting our Users.
  • Any social sector experience = bonus


WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW

If you’ve read this far, then you’ve passed the first test. Don’t send your CV. CV’s are usually inflated by 86.2%  anyway. Anyone who just sends a CV gets tossed in the digital Trash.

  1. Go find out who we are. Google us. Read about us. Go deep. Think about whether you really want to work here.
  2. Write us a paragraph about what you like about forgood.co.za and what you don’t.
  3. Write us a paragraph telling us why you’ll be a good community manager and support person for our Users.
  4. Tell us one thing you’ve done in your life that should make us interested in you.


When you send this info – send it with the same level of quality you’d use when engaging with our Causes and Users.

That’s it. We’ll get CV’s from the best submissions. We’d like to have you in place by January.
Salary negotiable. But we believe in growing people quickly. You deliver, you contribute to revenue, you keep growing, you can earn whatever you want.

No, we're not giving you an email address. If you can't get in touch with us in this day and age - you don't want it enough :)

29 September 2015

Doing good, now free on Tshwane wifi

Excited to announce another partnership in the forgood stable. This one is particularly interesting as it has real ramifications in bring the tools of "social citizenship" within the grasp of a bigger section of society.

Most important part of this story? The clever folks at Project Isizwe have zero-rated usage of the forgood platform for anyone connected to the Tshwane Free Wifi Project - which means it won't affect each user's daily 250mb browsing cap.

The news below... Welcome to the forgood family, Tshwane!

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The City of Tshwane has launched an initiative known as Tshwane forgood on the City of Tshwane’s Free WiFi network. This initiative is in partnership with Project Isizwe, Happimo and forgood.  

Tshwane forgood is an online platform that connects citizens who want to volunteer time or donate goods with registered and vetted non-profit organisations. It makes finding ways to give back quick, easy, fun and free – all users connected to Tshwane’s free wifi can browse and use the forgood platform without their daily browser limit being affected – in other words, they have zero rated access to do good on the forgood platform (www.forgood.co.za). 

By encouraging its citizens to support those in need the City of Tshwane aims to create a more tolerant and inclusive society. Citizens that would like to volunteer or donate time to a good cause can find out more following the links on the Tshwane Free WiFi content portal, www.tobetsa.com

Municipalities are increasingly playing a powerful role in the Internet connectivity access space. Tshwane forgood creates a perfect opportunity to bridge the economic gap between the haves and the have not.

“Tshwane ForGood is another example of how the City of Tshwane is using technology to improve the lives of residents,” says Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane. 

17 September 2015

#uberforgood cleans up

Here's an update on the recent #uberforgood campaign where South Africans where able to use Ubers to pick up donations, drop them off at our forgood depots and then we used the forgood platform to match these donations out to Causes that could really use them.

Below you'll find some stats, numbers and stories from the campaign. Donations are about 90% allocated at present. Thank you South Africa, you were awesome.

Enjoy the campaign video!

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South Africa, 16 September 2015: More than a thousand pairs of shoes, piles of clothing, 10 baby seats, a couch, a few sets of golf clubs, computers, laptops and a box of cellphones – these are just some of the goods collected through the #uberforgood spring clean campaign that exploded on Twitter on the 08th of September.



Individuals and corporates were asked in the spirit of generosity to clean out their closets as part of the #uberforgood campaign, which saw Uber driver partners collecting items, at no cost, from users across the country. Items were then dropped off at forgood depots in Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban and are currently being sorted and matched to Causes registered on the forgood platform.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support for the campaign. Our Joburg depot was literally filled floor to ceiling with goods,” CEO of forgood Andy Hadfield said. “Our online platform connects Causes to groups or individuals, we partnered with Uber to demonstrate just how easy doing good can be. The campaign, which was literally run at the click of a button, has already benefitted more than 50 Causes. Technology is opening so many doors for the social sector, we’re uber excited to play in this space.

Uber users, new and old, were given a week to spring clean. On 8 September the uberforgood vehicle view became available on the Uber app and within seconds of the campaign launching the first vehicle was requested. Demand was through the roof for the remainder of the day, with some goods being collected the following day due to high demand.

We really wanted to run a campaign to demonstrate just how easy it is for riders to contribute using our technology platform. When we heard about the forgood platform, we knew it would be the perfect company to partner with on a campaign of this kind. It is really exciting that through this campaign and the Uber technology we’ve managed to help South Africans donate items to over 50 Causes in need.” Alon Lits, RGM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa said.

#uberforgood in numbers:
  • Participating regions: Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban
  • Causes reached: 370
  • Causes impacted: 50+
  • Number of clothing boxes collected: 500
  • Volume of Joburg donations: 175 cubic metres
  • Other cool donations: Bedding, printers, books, prams, cots, toys, golf clubs, guitars, keyboards, computers, jewellery and 1 punching bag.
  • Number of social media impressions generated through the involvement of all South Africa's social citizens: 10 million