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Most student-driven charitable initiatives focus on making a difference either through raising money or through raising awareness. Whilst these initiatives are important, they are not necessarily the best way to make a difference. Why? Most students do not have that much money, and even if they did, throwing money at problems often does not address the underlying causes of those problems. Neither does raising awareness. The strength of university students lies in their ability to solve problems, work collaboratively, and think creatively.
At the same time, many non-profit organizations do not operate as effectively as is possible. They often face challenges related to financial sustainability, marketing, human resources management, the effective use of social media, volunteer recruitment, working out organizational priorities, developing a workable business plan, and so on. Addressing these challenges is important because the management of non-profit organisations is just as important as their level of funding. The problem is that most consulting services are prohibitively expensive, and the few services that are pro bono do not operate on a large scale. Therefore, most non-profit organizations miss out.
180 Degrees seeks to connect the untapped capabilities of university students with the unmet needs of non-profit organisations in a sustainable and mutually beneficial way.
There are currently 180 Degrees Consulting branches in seven countries (Australia, USA, Denmark, France, Sweden, Mexico and Russia). At each university branch, teams of students completing studies in relevant fields work throughout the year with non-profit organizations to identify and overcome the specific challenges they are facing. For example, 180 Degrees consultants have worked with AfriCap in Mauritius on improving microfinance programs, with A21 in Ukraine on reducing sex trafficking, and with Viola Vitolis in Bangladesh on combating arsenic poisoning.
In this way, non-profits are assisted in the development of innovative, sustainable and practical solutions. At the same time, students are able to contribute to their communities, apply their university studies in a practical environment, and develop valuable life skills.