“We think of ourselves as the Airbnb of volunteering,” says Abhishek Humbad, founder and CEO of Goodera, a US start-up that is today announcing the successful completion of a $10 million Series A funding round. It’s a mission he feels evangelical about. “Volunteering is how we will build better human beings in a very divided world,” Humbad says. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Goodera’s role is to play matchmaker between thousands of corporates and other organisations worldwide that want to facilitate volunteering opportunities for their staff, and charities and other not-for-profits organisations that are in need of volunteers.
Once it finds a match, the company organises events for its corporate clients. They set aside a chunk of time – three hours on a particular day, say – at which staff can come together to work on a particular project. That might be anything from reviewing the CVs and resumes of underprivileged youths in the local area to cleaning up a local beach or park; other projects have involved assembling solar lamps for the homeless and planting trees. Some events are held virtually while others are in-person.
To make sure each event works as well as possible, Goodera provides a range of material in the run-up – emails, flyers and video content, for example – to get employees excited about the opportunity and drive sign-ups. It has also recruited a team of hosts – or MCs, as it describes them – who manage and run the meetings, with the aim of making them as engaging as possible for all those taking part. And after the event, it reports back on impact and provides shareable content so that the employer can talk about the experience.
It’s a concept that appears to be proving popular. Since mid-2020, when Goodera launched its programmes, it has helped more than 450,000 individual employees to give their time. So far, it’s signed up more than 400 companies large and small that are keen to offer staff such events and put together a database of 50,000 not-for-profits organisations with which these companies can work. Each customer pays a fixed fee per employee volunteering hour organised by Goodera.
Many companies are keen to work with good causes in their local area, Humbad says, which is why it’s important to have so many not-for-profits signed up. Identifying and working with what are often small organisations in a specific area can be challenging for corporates, so having Goodera as an intermediary makes life more straightforward.
More broadly, Humbad thinks volunteering has huge potential to expand worldwide – the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted people to consider their collective vulnerabilities and therefore to want to make more of a societal contribution, he says. New ways of working provide people with more flexibility and greater opportunity to volunteer.
“We often talk about how much good volunteering can do for a deserving cause but volunteers get a huge amount out of it too; it really helps them to feel better about themselves,” Humbad says. “I sometimes think of it as religion 2.0 for generation Z and millennials.
Sanjay Rao, head of corporate development and M&A Strategy at Zoom Ventures, which is participating in today’s funding round alongside investors including Elevation Capital, Xto10X, Nexus Venture Partners and Omidyar Network India, is also inspired.
“Volunteering has become mainstream across companies of all sizes, sectors and geographies,” Rao says. “It is the most meaningful employee engagement, especially for Gen Z and millennials, so Goodera solves a massive need that was underserved and overlooked.”
The funding will be important as Goodera looks to build out its team and scale its organisation, Humbad explains. Its platform already works with organisations with more than 10 million employees and the target is to reach 100 million before the end of 2025. That will require further investment in technology, systems and in outreach to more not-for-profits organisations.