- The MAD Experience is a social business where they focus on connecting high need community focused non-profit organisations with those who want to help.
- The MAD team partners with local non-profits around the world to design very specific poverty alleviation projects that detail the project cost, required resources, time lines and social impact.
Nearly half of the world’s population—an estimated 3 billion people—live on less than USD2.50 (about RM10.34) a day. More than 1.3 billion people live with less than USD1.25 day. According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty.
However there are many organisations out there that are trying their best to make a difference, but they need the finances to do it.
The easiest way to enlist public help was through fundraising. However organisations face many risks such as theft of funds, fundraising fraud, and failing to fulfil donor’s wishes.
Knowing that organisations around the world face such problems, a Malaysian named Navin Muruga started The MAD Experience to overcome all these issues with fundraising and wants to help organisations from all over the world to fund and implement international poverty alleviation projects.
A New Beginning
In 2012, Navin Muruga quit his corporate job at a global recruitment firm in KL and volunteered in Sri Lanka and Kenya. He came across the water crisis in Sri Lanka and Kenya and decided to fund raise for the causes after realising many Malaysians back home wanted to get involved and do what he was doing but without having to quit their jobs.
Thus he founded Water and Toilets (WNT) which was a non-profit organisation that fundraised for water and sanitation projects.
Navin’s early success with WNT taught him many lessons and when he met Charu Agarwal, who was at the time working with UNHCR, they realised WNT needed a more sustainable business model if it was to continue running in the long term. They decided to pivot WNT and launched The MAD Experience (MAD) together in 2013.
Now, MAD is a platform for people to fund and implement international poverty alleviation projects. They have taken the “adopt a child” model used by large non-profits and applied it to other poverty project that needs attention. You can “adopt” preschools, water wells, food programmes and other projects.
Despite the growing popularity of crowdfunding and volun-tourism, Navin and Charu realised that no one has offered an integrated online platform like MAD where volunteers can:
- Take ownership for the project they would like to support
- Receive customised support to start an online crowd fundraising campaign
- Be given the opportunity to volunteer at the project site.
By using MAD, small local non-profits will no longer have to wait for funding from large international backers. Instead, they will be able to depend on the general public as a channel for risk-free fundraising.
“Traditional non-profits usually fundraise by organising charity runs, gala dinners or other fundraising events which means they have to incur cost upfront without any guarantee they will raise enough funds,” said Charu.
“If they go through MAD, they have zero upfront cost as we only charge them a 10% fundraising fee after funds have been raised, so it’s a zero risk model for non-profits. All funds are channeled directly to the non-profits via an online crowdfunding platform called SimplyGiving and we are paid by the non-profits directly, therefore there’s no risk of the non-profits not receiving the funds,” she added.
The reason why they charge a 10% fee is so that they are able to sustain the business model.
The money goes to the operational cost of MAD which includes basic salaries, overheads and project monitoring costs. They do not charge their non-profit partners an up front fee to participate in MAD and the 10% fee is only charged when they hit the fundraising target.
MAD Over Helping
Currently MAD is focusing on the Water for Cambodia project to raise funds for biosand water filters.
“We partner small non-profits working on the ground directly with communities rather than the larger well funded organisations. We have consistently worked with Water For Cambodia in Siem Reap since 2013 to provide access to clean drinking water via biosand water filters and to date have raised USD83,134 for them. All our volunteer field trips are with Water for Cambodia,” said Charu.
Initially The MAD Experience planned to work with small non-profit partners across the globe, however they found it challenging to find the right partners.
“Some potential non-profit partners appeared to be doing great work but lacked a strong leadership, were not able to implement and monitor their projects as well due to staff constraints or did not have sustainable element to their projects,” she added.
“We also wanted to select projects which were able to incorporate a meaningful volunteer element for our fundraisers so this was another limitation. We overcame this by realising it is better to support a few non-profits really well than to support many but with small amounts of funding. By working consistently with Water for Cambodia, we feel we have been able to create a larger and more sustainable impact,” Charu explained.
Making A Difference
The MAD team is motivated by a strong desire to contribute positively to this world. Charu believes that our 8 hours a day should be spent on meaningful work rather than on work which purely provides material benefit.
“Of course, finding the balance between doing meaningful work and making a decent living is a constant challenge but we are always working towards it.”
“Currently we run about 4 fundraising campaigns and volunteer trips a year to Siem Reap and the revenue from the fundraising fee and volunteer program fee covers our basic operational expenses,” said Charu.
“Our trips to the field are designed as short exposure trips and are only open to fundraisers who have raised a minimum of USD300. We are against voluntourism and make every effort to ensure the presence of volunteers positively benefits the community.”
Dictionary Time: Volun-tourism (also known as volunteer tourism) is a controversial combination of holiday and volunteer work. Critics have argued that going on volunteer travel does not always mean doing good, regardless of the good intentions.
Their youngest volunteer to date has been a 10-year-old girl and the oldest has been a 70-year-old man.
“Age is never a barrier to making a difference.”
- You can find out more about MAD and what they are currently working on through their website here.
Feature Image Credit: The MAD Experience