The Story Exchange, Danielle Leong, SocialEffortYour Name: Danielle Leong

Business Name: SocialEffort, an organization that supports and connects volunteers

Type of Business: Social Enterprise

Business Location: New York, NY, United States

Twitter   @socialeffort

Reason for starting
I’ve volunteered for a few years in libraries as well community centers. In my experience, a common problem faced by volunteers is that they go once, twice, sometimes a third time, and then they stop going. I want to help solve this problem and help people to stay motivated to keep volunteering.

How do you define success?
Success is when after trying your hardest you are able to stand back and look at what you’ve done and see that you’ve made a change in the world, whether it’s a change in the community around you or it’s a change in the world. If you’ve tried your hardest but haven’t succeeded in making a change, you’re on the road to success. Even if one fails on the road to success, they’re still taking a small step towards success. Success isn’t a measurement of how much you’ve done, but how hard that you’ve tried and whether or not you’ve made a change.

Biggest Success
My biggest success has been SocialEffort. Through hard work of myself and my team we were able to grow from an idea to an mobile app prototype. I believe that SocialEffort can change the way that people see volunteering as well as increase volunteering and make it a lifestyle for today’s culture.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The hardest thing was finding common ground between charities and corporations for them to collaborate with our app. Corporations are geared towards profit while charities are more altruistic and not as concerned with making money. Convincing both parties that we would be able to create a network that helped both of them and could bring them together was very difficult. We started our approach from the perspective of volunteers, the people that would help and be helped by both parties. We saw volunteers as the connection between corporations and charities. By thinking of this connection as a human element rather than a way to make a deal, we were able to convince the charities and corporations to partner with us and make a difference in volunteering.

Who is your most important role model?
One of my most important role models is Sheryl Sandberg. I admire the way that she advocates for women to work and start their own businesses. Her ranking as one of the most powerful women in business is inspiring, and I hope that I can be as influential as her one day. I feel encouraged by her support of women leaders. Someday, I want to be able to encourage others to be leaders well.