Why Millennials and GenZ are disconnected with nonprofits today
Pradeep Kandimalla, Founder and Chief Executive of SAHAVE™ is so passionate about social change he has dedicated his life to serving others. Spending twenty years in the nonprofit world and witnessing their struggles to fulfill their missions spurred him to build The Platform for Social Change to bring about social change worldwide. Not only does SAHAVE keep him hopping, his beautiful daughters keep him busy as well. Oh, and mom has high expectations for him too.
Ever since watching “Schindler’s List,” a significant impact has been made on his career and inspired a mission to work towards a greater good around worldwide. He has been working on and refining the concept of SAHAVE since 2015 and now it is time to make this disruptive technology that is going to shift how nonprofit and communities can come together to provide service, available to the future world.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. It’s another Tuesday with Hugh and Russell. As you expect, we have a guest who has profound knowledge for you. A great vision. He is a modest man, but he has a big heart and a big vision. Russell David Dennis, from Denver, around Denver, you’re not actually in Denver. You’re in those big old Rocky Mountains. How are you, sir?
Russell Dennis: Hey, I’m out here in Aurora, a stone’s throw from Denver, Colorado. Today, our guest is a man who has come up with a way to help us engage with one another better. Pradeep Kandimalla, welcome, and thank you for joining us. He is the founder of Sahave. Pradeep, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Pradeep Kandimalla: Thank you. It was a great introduction. It’s been a year that I met Hugh. Learning every time I meet him. Thank you. I’m an electronics engineer with a background of technology. As part of my project for my Bachelor’s, I did an affordable electronic device, a PC. I did a Masters in Business Administration, specialized in operations management from the University of Central Oklahoma, mainly focusing on sciences, how applications can be tailored to usage and businesses around us. That was my focus. For the last 25 years, I was working in the packing industry, implementing enterprise planning operations systems for public sector, private sector, nonprofit sector, multi-million-dollar projects, managing different levels of themes from technology to operations. That is my background.
Russell: What people don’t know about is that you have a real love for social change. You have managed to marry your passion for technology with your passion for social change to make a big difference. You created something called Sahave. It is a place for people to come together and connect and make a difference. Tell me about Sahave, what it is and why you started it.
Pradeep: The meaning of it. Saha in Sanskrit means “community coming together for service.” English word – we. I mixed these two words together. I had a dream ever since I watched Schindler’s List. When I saw Oscar Schindler save lives during World War II by doing business- in my view, he is the first social entrepreneur making an impact in community during a crisis. That is how I view that movie. It made a significant impact on me. Ever since that day, it was my intention to use my skills to build something for the benefit of community. Out of that desire and passion that I have been working with nonprofits at ground level who serve communities. They suffer a lot with technology. There is no one to help them. I have noticed that, and I have tried to provide solutions in many ways in my volunteering space for them. I couldn’t get them what I think as an operational head, it’s not everything. That’s how I started Sahave as a social enterprise, actively developing a benefit corporation. It’s a nonprofit, a benefit corporation, what I am developing Sahave as. It’s been two years now. We officially started in January 2017. That was a journey since then. It’s been two years in creating this social enterprise.
Russell: You said something that’s really important. I don’t know how many of us that work in the nonprofit field think about this, but this saves lives. The work that nonprofits do, it’s life-saving in a lot of instances. That is no small thing. This platform that you created with a space to connect hearts and minds, I will be telling you folks how to get connected, it’s something that we have seen that’s so marvelous that we want to get that out there to everybody so you have a chance to use it.
In particular, this platform helps us to engage with millennials and Gen Z folks. There are a lot of differences in the way that boomers like Hugh and myself think about nonprofits and the way that millennials and Gen Z, younger people, think about nonprofits and think about making a difference. What is your experience, Pradeep, with engaging with millennials and Gen Zs? How has that been?
Pradeep: That’s a nice question. My focus with Sahave is to get the service model built in within our next generation, to be part of charities. As part of it, Sahave’s mission is two-fold. One is to mobilize a social movement to change lives and enable that social movement with a cloud-based global platform for communities to thrive. These are the two things coming together. The movement is first, and enabling that movement with support is very important with millennials and Gen Zs.
If you think of empathy as a big thing that is required for charity or any kind of service, before millennials, empathy was naturally built into humans in previous generations because we have faced hunger. We know what hunger is. We have seen different cycles in our lives. World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War. Name any war. We have seen the Iran War, Iraq War, different cycles in our lives. We built that empathy naturally. Today, if you look at charity organizations, 90% of them are run by people older than 40-50. That natural empathy in them has created those charity organizations that support our communities at the local level that governments cannot do through social services. We definitely need to try and spread these charities even for our future generations. We need to have the next generation leadership come on board, continue our legacy of services that people today are doing in the community. That is key. We need to make an impact on millennials and Gen Zs and teach them in their way how to provide service and build an empathy in them. They still have empathy, but their nature of empathy triggers a different way than ours. Before millennials, it was a natural empathy; there is no trigger required. Millennials are more socially inclined, but empathy needs some kind of trigger in every moment. That is what this two-fold mission of Sahave is intended to build: to create a movement with a system that enables it together.
Russell: Where is it that some of us in the older generation, as time has passed we sort of lost our ability to connect, to pass on that empathy? Are there some language differences or some thought differences that have hindered our ability to pass that on and make that connection?
Pradeep: I wouldn’t put it that way. We did pass on that connection. They still have empathy. But the trigger points are different. Their thinking mindset. For everything, they look at real time. The impact has to be transparent to them in what they are creating. It wasn’t a need for us before. If we just know somewhere in the world something is happening, we know naturally, “Sorry, man, let’s do something,” even though we aren’t expecting that transparency. With millennials and Gen Zs, they do have this empathy, but the empathy requires a different kind of trigger. Transparency is key for them. Without transparency, they don’t feel the impact of the creator. They don’t see a next time to do the same service. For us, it was totally different. We just do the service. Forget about transparency and accountability, what we have handed over to somebody else.
Russell: What are some of the ways that Sahave helps us to do that?
Pradeep: Very good question. Sahave is a platform that we are building. It is a technology that is pending right now. Couple of principles I would say there. My intention to create Sahave is to provide cutting-edge technology at low cost for nonprofit organizations for operations, to focus their mission, to maximize their impact with their donor base. Luckily, today’s technology has provided that advantage because the new way to develop an enterprise application is disruptive right now. Think about transportation services right now. It has disrupted the way technology has enabled us. These apps are connecting individual to individual for low cost. Very efficiently providing the services. Sahave is a service platform enabling individuals. People come together to help each other save lives with that disruptive technology and innovation we have built. Just building a technology is not good enough. With my experience and seven years of research and working with millennials to understand their need to be part of some movement. That is why our first part of the mission is creating a movement that enables the heart to do service, and then give them support to strengthen their movement with technology, which brings us transparency and is low cost for nonprofits to operate this platform.
Russell: It’s not always easy to bring the mind and technology together like that. You’ve been at this for a while. What has kept you motivated to bring this movement together with technology over such a long period of time?
Pradeep: It’s 25 years. Oskar Schindler has made a significant impact on me. The way he created a for-profit business manufacturing with cheap labor during World War II- cheap labor was Jews in camps. He created that selling to Germans. Doing that, he saved lives. He learned that. Initially, when he started the business, he didn’t know that. When he went through the process, he learned he was saving lives. Bringing bribes to the German army to get cheap labor on board, he was thinking he was making profit. He never counted how much bribes he was giving out. He lost all his fortune. In 1945, after World War II ended, he saved about 200 lives. He said, “I wish I would have made more money to save more lives.” He lost all his fortune. He was a rich person at that time.
What he said at the end, I wish I had more money to save more lives, has created in my mindset every impact has to be multiplied. It’s not like every charity is suffering with donations. It’s just like if you think as an individual, charities are living paycheck to paycheck on a monthly basis from donors. If they don’t have a paycheck that month, their services are dying. We need to create a platform that enables nonprofits to fight against the social issues that are ever growing for us: poverty, hunger. Name any social issue that is growing. Charities are only doing a miniscule part of it today. My goal is to minimize that and strengthen nonprofits as part of this platform. That is the reason we are creating it as a benefit corporation, which is to give back while creating an impact in our platform. This enables nonprofits to sustain even longer.
Russell: It’s about sustainability. What we are talking about is social profit. It can’t always be measured in terms of dollars. It’s measured in other terms, but shifts in humans lives. I commend you for that. Nonprofit is a term that can be misunderstood. I think people have the misconception that nonprofit means you don’t make any money or have any extra money. A good friend of ours points out that nonprofit is a tax status, not a business strategy. Making a difference is what it’s all about. I think that nonprofits and philanthropy is there because they are just certain things your ordinary profit-making enterprises and the government aren’t set up to do. It’s that place where everything is married together so that it can actually go out and make a difference. I find that our problems are so complex now that it takes all hands on deck. Social benefit organizations are that fourth thing: the nonprofits were the third sector for a while. It’s that fourth piece that has come in to fill the gaps.
In your journey, as you were putting it together, tell us a little bit about how you came to the decision to create a benefit corporation, how you came to the conclusion that this was the right structure to use in order to make this difference.
Pradeep: Excellent. One of the major problems with nonprofits today is they are faced with local rules and regulations. Every country and state is different. Having a global nonprofit organization, even Red Cross is not a global entity. If you look at American Red Cross, it is a separate entity from Indian Red Cross. They have to be defined in their jurisdictions and play according to the rules and regulations of that separate entity. That is the first challenge I was thinking about when I created Sahave. I can’t be global. This should be global. My vision is to connect people to save lives. It doesn’t matter. We are a global community, a global economy, globally connected on platforms. We know Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google. It’s all global. Humans are connected well. Sahave should also be a movement globally making an impact and connecting. With that intention, I created this as a for-profit.
I had to make stakeholders of Sahave to be aligned with our mission and vision. Every for-profit organization has a for-profit motive for stakeholders. Keeping the mission and vision as they come on board is very important for me. I don’t want them to be deviating from our mission and vision in the eyes of making profit. People first, and then profit following. That was my intention in creating benefit corporation. I have been studying this for the last three years. I was lucky enough to get a partner like Kings Council and Cross Foundation who knows how to set up a benefit corporation. I was looking for somebody to develop it, keeping this mode of people first and profit next. If I have that as part of the DNA, it’s a success for me. That was the intention.
Russell: That is the power of the form and why I think it’s taken hold. Social profit is about people as well as materials and money to solve problems. This is disruptive. I think of Airbnb. I think of Uber. Now we have Sahave, here in place to help make a difference and help us connect with one another in ways we weren’t able to, and providing us an opportunity to be more global in our approach to things. That is something.
Hugh: Hey Russ, let’s spell that to make sure people get to the right website. Sahave. Thank you. There is a lot of information on that website. Sahave.org.
Russell: It’s a great place to go. We want to help bring this to people, help people find this, enroll in it, use it. That is the best way to get a feel for it. It’s just a wonderful platform for people to come together.
Prior to your building this platform, what is it that is missing for your typical nonprofit to attract millennials and Gen Z workers or supporters?
Pradeep: As you mentioned, without money, there is no operations. That is a big issue with millennials. They should see the money there. What you mentioned about charity organizations as a third sector today, they don’t see that money. That was a primary factor for them: getting attracted to other for-profit organizations. With what we have created on this platform is we created our own currency, which is called Kindness Currency. It’s our trademark. There is a way somebody can exchange kindness within them with some other person right next to them and earn Kindness. It all goes back to karma. What you give is what you get back. Here, with Kindness currency, you are measuring your own social impact in the community. The person, every individual, millennials are looking for that feeling in them. How do I measure my kindness that I have done and the impact I created? With that intention is why we have created Kindness Currency, which gives them an opportunity to exchange kindness with anybody, neighbor helping neighbor. That neighbor doesn’t have to help that neighbor back. They can help others. It’s a pass-on method. It allows them to build that kind of social impact without using money, using your time that you’re giving to kindness. For example, in yoga, you don’t calculate time. The life of a person is in terms of number of breaths. You could take in one second three breaths, and then you could take one breath. A person has the number of breaths defined when they are born. Kindness should connect to that because that is what is directly connecting the time in your life with materialistic life, what we are doing today. As a platform, Sahave is getting you back as a human within you doing service to each other.
Russell: That has been a challenge for nonprofits to try to measure that impact. Social profit is a term that the author David Grant came up with when he wrote a book about it. Hugh talks about what we call return on life. I call it return on influence, return on impact to stay in the ROI frame. There are a lot of nonprofits that have difficulty framing that and showing that impact. It looks like Sahave is a vehicle for helping us to measure impact beyond dollars and cents, which is the biggest challenge for nonprofits. Am I on track? What do you think of that?
Pradeep: You are perfectly on track. Humanity coming out of heart is perfect for Sahave because that is how you can create charity in community. That is the movement. Sahave is creating within every individual to have that kind of feeling at every moment making it real time for them. It’s key for the next generation.
Russell: Our primary problem I would surmise has been communication. What would you say are the most common barriers to communication between the generations?
Pradeep: Communication is a big thing. As long as we have existed as humans, we have had this problem. Every generation thinks differently. It’s tough to put ourselves into their mindset. When we have defined our own lifestyle in certain ways and never previous generations, the majority of them, they don’t focus on changing themselves looking in the future. I’m saying just the majority of them, not everyone. There is still a population of that generation knowing what’s important to learn. That transformation is always happening between industrial revolutions from generation one to two, two to three, three to four. We have made certain changes in our community. From ground level to government level. It’s a continuous learning process. My feeling when it comes to communications. That gap will happen only when someone can peek into others’ hearts with their view.
Russell: It’s a question of being open to a different point of view. What are some ways that we could do that today? There are a lot of different nonprofit leaders listening to this. Some are older. They’re my age and Hugh’s age. What are two or three things that you would tell a baby boomer that she/he could do that would help shift them in the direction of being more effective at communicating and connecting with millennials?
Pradeep: I’m in your shoes, Russell, when I started this journey. I identified this problem. I started going to interacting with them. What does their mindset look like? They are more gamers. We know that. But at the same time, if you get involved with them and play a game, you will learn their behavior in that game. They are naturally connected to that game. Our generation, we just see it as a thing. We never connect ourselves to that, but they do. They even change their mindset based on that. They think everything else outside is the same. Getting them to their natural instinct is difficult. If we can tap into their mindset and understand why they are not doing that, and if they intend to do something, for example a charity or a donation, a dollar donation to homeless-
We just did this interesting project with millennials in Chicago. We picked a homeless woman. Our goal was to raise $100 only from millennials and Gen Zs on that day. We went to ask millennials for $1 or $2, not much. What experience would we get from them? What is their mindset? They came forward and gave us a lot of information about “I will give you a dollar, but I don’t know how you’re going to use it. I don’t trust you. I know you will give this to a homeless shelter, but I don’t know how they use this dollar. I need that transparency. How do I get it?” We learned that. We failed in that project the first day.
We went back again the next day. How do we provide the transparency to them? We approached them and enrolled them on this Google form. We collected $1 from each of them. We provided a complete transparency of every donation that is being collected and how we have utilized the dollar, delivered it to the homeless shelter. The homeless shelter was kind enough to give information about how they are using that to buy food for them. We provided every moment information to them. Information has flowed to them. At the end, after that project was completed, we went back to ask for feedback. “Wow, I see my dollar how it has been utilized in this transparency.” The platforms, not a lot of millennials are on those crowdfunding platforms today because transparency is lacking. That is how we learn about them with this project.
Russell: That’s good. Are there ways nonprofits can bridge the gap between their expectations and the expectations of the millennials/Gen Z supporters and prospects? Building trust sounds like the crux of it. Are there some other ways that they can function to move closer, to bridge that gap?
Pradeep: The biggest thing I am thinking is we have to have the leadership transformation in charities. We need them to come on board and continue the service. How do we do that is a big question mark still for me. I’m still learning about that. A couple of things I observe about them today is they are more looking at for-profit money-making organizations as they carry a cross as part of their growth. They don’t see that in nonprofits today. To utilize their skills, marketing requires a different kind of technical skill today. It’s not the same anymore as it used to be. It requires a mix of technical skills and the different mindset to run a successful marketing campaign today. Traditionally, marketing has been non-technical. That gives you an example of what skills we are looking at as individuals. What is their growth? How will their careers build if what they are doing is important to them? How do we address that as nonprofits? I don’t know.
Russell: Every favorite radio station is WIIFM, What’s In It For Me? That can be shifted to What’s In It From Me? Part of what Sahave does is it creates a way to really engage people. To engage people, you have to give them what they want. It’s that simple, whatever type of business or organization. Give people what they want. It’s finding out how to do that. I think one of the big differences today versus my youth is that the days going down the career path and starting with a job and working for 40 years and going off into the sunset to retire are over. There are multiple career changes. People want to expand. I’m seeing people who want to expand. Be more, do more, do work that matters. You can’t do that sitting in one place. What type of experience can you deliver to those people, whether they are your donors, whether they serve on your board, whether they are your staff or employees? They are there because what nonprofits need from people is time, talent, and treasure. If somebody loves what you’re doing enough to give you one, they will probably give you the other two if it’s in their means. It’s having that conversation and making that connection. Maybe we’re falling down on that.
What do you see are the biggest benefits of finding ways to bridge those gaps in where we are now and where we could go?
Pradeep: Career paths are critical. As an individual with a technology background, I see artificial intelligence is going to play a bigger role in our community, not as technology. I’m talking about a community level. It’s going to play a bigger role by 2030. It disrupts the way we live today. How we are living today is not going to be the same in 2030. We need an alternative for humans to connect to each other in that environment. This is just a theory. What kind of technology, artificial intelligence will disrupt in our community? We don’t know. We just know what is coming. How it will impact how we are living, we don’t know. We can just speculate. It could be worse. It could be better. For example, unemployment will grow definitely. What will the growth rate be in 2030? A lot of information is happening. A lot of low-cost methods of implementing technology are coming out. Which is going to disrupt the way so far we have been living within a community where we are making wealthy social profits and for-profit segments. We are living in that at every moment today.
What is in it for me in terms of money is a priority today. That nature when a community changes from that demand for money goes down and there is no demand. Our essential things to live are food, shelter, and clothes. That is all. It comes down to those three things. When you can’t make money, how will you get those three things? We can’t imagine today in this environment. To put ourselves in 2030 and what we will face and how we will train and educate our future generations to be ready for that, I don’t see that happening today. Preparing ourselves with technology, making changes in our communities. We are not putting them in the right path for the future. That will be a big challenge. Especially with the mindset, what is in it for me in terms of benefits of money only has a significant impact on charities.
Russell: This is what I love about this platform. In looking around, there are places where people have meetings of the mind. There is a magnificent blog area. There is a place for people to come together and have conversations and connect. This is the way to move forward. It’s about collaboration, connection, getting out of the old thought paradigm and working in a silo and becoming part of a community. It’s about community. If we can find a way to make it global, that will solve our problems. The nature of hunger, the nature of homelessness, the nature of disease, these things that are persistent as such that it takes all of us working together to try to make a big difference.
Pradeep: Exactly. That is the collaboration strategy on Sahave. That is the reason I want it to be a global platform. Collaborative platform. This integrates kindness without conversion into dollars. There is an exchange of kindness happening here, which has an economic impact for charities and for communities. It really depends on how this Kindness Currency will transform in the next 12 years by 2030. My intention for introducing kindness as an exchange within charity arena will bring us back into what we are as humans and our necessities at the bottom level. That was my intention of introducing kindness currency.
Russell: It’s important to have us. That is where that struggle has been to measure what matters. It’s all about making things better for all of humanity. This is why nonprofits are here. We’re here to make a difference and impact the community and help us bring people together. That’s what it’s all about. Having a place and a method to come together and talk about it is what Sahave provides on a global scale. I am very excited about it. Sahave.org. Go there and sign up.
Pradeep: Thank you. Sahave. You can also contact me directly at Pradeep@sahave.org. That is my email address. If you have any questions about how to use this platform for nonprofit organizations and also for individuals. I am always there to-
Hugh: Pradeep, thank you for this information today, and Russell for such a great interview. We have given out the website, Sahave.org. We want people to go there and join. There is more to be gained by working together than trying to work in silos. I think it’s primarily people don’t have the experience, the knowledge, or the tools to be able to move into the collaborative space in a substantial way. Russell’s wisdom and the conversations we have had with people is to find out what other people are interested in and what they want. Russell, I have learned a lot from you. Pradeep, I want to learn how to roll my r’s. You bring forth a sense of calm as you’re talking. You’re all in on this venture. SynerVision is helping you launch and supporting this platform because we know it will bring some energy to all the nonprofits that are struggling in this area of connecting communications.
*Sponsor message from WordSprint*
Pradeep, what do you want to leave people with before Russell closes out this really great interview?
Pradeep: I want to mention our relationship with SynerVision Leadership Foundation. We can provide some grants through our relationship to nonprofits who are interested in working with Sahave and building this platform and using this and providing some feedback to us. Very nice questions, Russell on how we bridge this gap between millennials; as you have heard me, I am not 100%. There are always gaps. As you grow, you learn more gaps, then you fill them in. I am looking for nonprofit organizations out there who would like to work with me in building this Sahave platform in our relationship with SynerVision Leadership Foundation to provide some grants to use our platform and build it to close that gap somewhat, which is our critical need in this time.
Hugh: Thank you for that. We are accepting donations to support you. We are giving away a few scholarships for people to get in there and try that. It’s good for you and your team to be involved. Reach out to us after you register. email@example.com, he will respond to you. Pradeep, thank you for being a guest today on The Nonprofit Exchange. This is an important product you’re producing.
Pradeep: Thank you very much, Hugh. Thank you for your time, Russell.
Russell: Thank you. As always, thank you to those folks who join us and support us regularly. We look forward to seeing you again. Don’t forget the name, Sahave.org. You will be seeing a lot more of them and a lot more of us. Thanks as always.
Thank you for making 2018 a spectacular year for SynerVision. I’m looking forward to 2019, where we can go out there and make a difference in the lives of people. As Pradeep so eloquently put it, in a way that I don’t always remember and I don’t always think about, our work is saving lives out there. Thank you, stick with it, and we will be here in 2019.