Tunnel to Towers, American Red Cross, World Vision, and the Wounded Warriors: What do these groups all have in common? They are top-rated charities according to CharityWatch.org. These are some of the best non-profits in the country in terms of the money raised versus money spent on overhead, yet between 7 and 19 percent of their donations are still spent on administrative costs. If these are the best, one can only imagine what the average and below-average organizations are spending. There must be a way to help.
It all started when I was standing alone in my school’s quad one somber afternoon last February. After 11 months of virtual learning, we were finally back – but something felt different now: a sense of uncertainty and anxiousness pervaded the air. Students were admittedly reluctant to switch from pajamas back to pants and I felt the need to do something about it. The following day, I returned to school with a bag of candy and tossed some to my classmates as I walked through the halls. Quite quickly, smiles started to emerge and apathy turned to excitement. Even such a small act of service got the attention of our school resource officer, Mr. O’Neill, who awarded me a unique token of his appreciation: The Cat’s Coin. I began to realize that the type of person I wanted to become was the one that creates immense value for other people. I’m not someone who is particularly motivated by money or status, but rather the idea that I can do something that makes the world a little more positive and life a little easier.
After some eavesdropping and online research, I discovered that my father’s employer, SAP, had an opportunity to help me become exactly that person. SAP develops software that helps companies better manage spending, but I envisioned a solution where the software could tie multiple charitable entities together, thereby allowing them to make volume purchases and receive greater bulk discounts due to those volumes. With this idea, I set to work. I began by developing a business plan.
I soon realized that there was a lot more to this than I had anticipated. I made phone calls to charities, trying to understand the specific needs and requirements of this industry. Through my dialogue with multiple non-profit leaders, I realized the need for a better way to share my idea more broadly. At that point, I decided to construct a website. Except, I only had a basic understanding on how to code. After some research, I found that the most cost-effective solution was to outsource the project overseas. This led to me collaborating, developing, and managing a small team of developers. After 90 days of development, we were ready. We launched the first version of our website.
With the new website up and running, it was time to start connecting with people who could bring my idea to a reality. After several discussions with the SAP Innovation Office, I learned of a program called “Foundries” that could provide the required resources for mentoring, services, and platforming. Feedback from the SAP Foundries was very positive; they clearly see the benefit of leveraging their platform to do more good through a charity network and were also excited about a potential new revenue stream. Due to the timing of SAP’s budget cycle, the funding for my program is under consideration for the 2022 fiscal year.
Admittedly, everything at this point is contingent on receiving funding from the Innovation Office. Nonetheless, the perspectives I’ve gained will be indispensable to my future success. Through this extraordinary experience, I’ve been inspired to further my abilities in combining business and technology to shape a positive change in the world and improve the lives of others. I have come to believe that I will be a person who will create value for others and improve the lives of many.