My journey at Shades of Happiness Foundation (SoH) taught me the true meaning of the Latin phrase, ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ – ‘Through Hardship to the Stars’. SoH is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in India, with the mission to promote social inclusion by empowering underprivileged children with the knowledge and skills to pull themselves, and their families, out of poverty. The initial years taught me three key lessons. First, talent retention is extremely challenging when you’re working with unpaid volunteers and interns – which affects the organization’s ability to deepen impact. Second, not only is fundraising mystifying (and often terrifying) for NGOs, but relying on donations or grant funding is a highly unsustainable approach to scale impact. Third, without measuring your outcomes, it is virtually impossible to sustain the organization’s impact trajectory. SoH’s overarching vision to change the world to act as a level playing ground for children of all backgrounds seemed remote and unattainable.

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