Overwhelming, is probably the closest I can come to describe my experience raising funds for Isha Vidhya during the Microsoft GIVE Campaign. To give a little context, every year in month of October every Microsoft employee can pitch for a charity of their choice and donations up to $12,000/year are matched by the company. This was a tremendous opportunity and the Seattle volunteers were very determined this year to start the first annual fundraising event for Isha Vidhya in the Microsoft GIVE Campaign.
Isha Vidhya being a relatively new charity inside Microsoft, we had to appeal to first time donors and be visible among other charities supporting education in India. With creative posters and a message from the former CEO of Microsoft India, Ravi Venkatesan, we kicked off our fundraising campaign with a lot of hope. The biggest hit was the $240 donor matching – we had a photo display of various children on scholarship along with their progress/thank you letters. Many people who had no previous association with Isha Vidhya came forward and donated generously. They were truly inspired by the work of Isha Vidhya and what appealed to them most was the English medium, computer-based education for rural children.
The centerpiece of our GIVE Campaign was a Table Tennis tournament with a $50 donation to Isha Vidhya as an entry fee. The tournament started slowly, but soon we got around 40 registrations and many people from various nationalities donated above and beyond $50. We had many talented players from the table tennis club and the competition was intense. Wei Zhao, a Chinese national was the winner.
Overall the tournament along with our campaign raised more than $6000. This would not have been possible, if not for the support of our Isha volunteers from Microsoft. Now that we have taken the first step, we hope to make it even bigger in the coming months and support the education of more rural underprivileged children.
For me, what I realized the most was that many people in my work place and outside are looking for a genuine opportunity to lend their support. All I did was to ask for their support to this cause. Thanks to all my colleagues at Microsoft for their participation and donations to Isha Vidhya.
Isha Vidhya is doing phenomenal work in the rural villages of South India through education. I am thankful to all the teachers, staff and volunteers who are dedicating their lives to make this happen.
Many of us are fortunate to reap the benefits of our education and this is our time to make this opportunity available to those in dire need.
– Shiv Sundar
Isha Vidhya Volunteer, Microsoft, Seattle, USA