Case Study

Crowdsourcing to build a better democracy

The brainchild of Ashish Goyal, Umang Foundation aims at bringing about a positive change in the lives of as many people as possible. Members of the Umang Foundation work with close to 3550 students to ensure a brighter tomorrow. The Foundation has many dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to bring joy to people’s lives. These volunteers include people who work in  IT, finance, HR, and management; college students, doctors, entrepreneurs, senior citizens, homemakers, architects, etc. also make up this diverse group.

Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy is a non-profit organisation which aims to improve quality of life in urban India through systemic change. Janaagraha sees ‘quality of life’ as comprising two distinct, but interrelated aspects – ‘quality of urban infrastructure and services’ and ‘quality of citizenship’. It works with both citizens and government to catalyse civic participation from the grassroots up, as well as governance reforms from the top down.

The Nudge Foundation, a non-profit start-up, is a collective initiative of some of India’s brightest entrepreneurs, leaders, and changemakers coming together to tackle the greatest human development challenge of our times – poverty. The goal of the foundation is to bring 1 million people out of poverty. It focuses on sustainable poverty alleviation by building a strong 360-degree life, learning, and economic foundation that equips people to escape the cycle of poverty.The Nudge Foundation, a non-profit start-up, is a collective initiative of some of India’s brightest entrepreneurs, leaders, and changemakers coming together to tackle the greatest human development challenge of our times – poverty. The goal of the foundation is to bring 1 million people out of poverty. It focuses on sustainable poverty alleviation by building a strong 360-degree life, learning, and economic foundation that equips people to escape the cycle of poverty.

The challenge

Democracy is defined as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. As a country of 1.3 billion people, more than 800 million of whom are eligible to vote, India takes pride in being the ‘world’s largest democracy’. As India’s democracy continues to mature, an increasingly important indicator of its health will be the health of its constituent political processes. Yet, today the country still struggles in several areas of political transparency, free media, corruption, connectivity, etc.

With the belief that technology-based solutions could streamline processes and revolutionize the lives of millions, well-known NGOs such as the Umang Foundation, Janaagraha, and the Nudge Foundation teamed up with HackerEarth to come up with digital solutions to handle real-world problems through Hackocracy – a hackathon to build a better democracy. Each of these NGOs, though working towards a common goal, work to find solutions to a diverse set of challenges. Considering the diversity of the problems, Hackocracy aimed to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and skills to work on various themes to promote fairness and openness and contribute to nation building.

“We are happy with our collaboration with HackerEarth for Hackocracy. We got to see many innovative applications from developers across the country. It was amazing to see such a tremendous response from participants for strengthening our democracy.”


The problem statements

With HackerEarth, the NGOs were able to bring together thousands of participants from across the country to work on solutions for real-world problems. The challenges were put forth by the NGOs as well as HackerEarth.

HackerEarth chose to solve problems on democracy, media, and corruption.

  • Political transparency: The challenge was to find solutions that could make it easier for citizens to be heard by representatives and to keep people across the nation informed on the latest changes in the political diaspora, thus increasing participation in elections and government affairs.
  • Fake News and free press: The challenge was to build a tool for fact-checking and helping people decipher fact from fiction. These ideas needed to ensure “freedom of press” is guaranteed to people attempting to bring the truth to the public.
  • Anti-corruption: The challenge was to purge the system of corruption by building hacks to expose misconduct and help control its spread.

Umang Foundation sought to build an app to help streamline the activities of volunteers who work towards providing better education to the underprivileged

Umang Foundation sought to build a mobile application which could simplify the process of collecting volunteers’ details. It provides volunteering opportunity to thousands of individuals round the year and filling out multiple forms was a tedious process. The Foundation was looking for ideas for an easy-to-use app where users could

  • Easily register and be validated
  • Help in event nominations and track event attendance
  • Connect with social media platforms
  • Track individual volunteer hours
  • Effortlessly connect to a payment gateway
  • Collect feedback from volunteers

Umang also sought an admin portal which could help manage events and track volunteer activity and donations.

The /Nudge Foundation sought solutions for better engagement among its community

  • Learning Management System: The Product and Operations teams at the foundation were heavily dependent on a Google drive for creating and accessing content and assessments which proved to be a bottleneck for program effectiveness. The Foundation required ideas to build a Learning Management System (LMS) to ensure smooth execution.
  • App for community engagement: The /Nudge runs a 90-day fully residential foundational skill building program for underprivileged youth followed by placement assistance and a lifelong support program for them to stay out of poverty. It sought to build an android app which could work offline to capture student data and run analytics to give an insight into the effectiveness of the program.
  • Assessment data tracker: Assessment scores were previously tracked via Google sheets and forms which was proving to be cumbersome. The Foundation needed an assessment data tracker to compare assessments over time and analyse the improvement in learning.


Ashish Goyal is the founding member of Umang Foundation that works for underprivileged children and now has expanded its activities to include others in need of help. Umang Foundation’s volunteers come from all walks of life including IT, finance, management, and medicine and use their respective skill sets to work towards education for underprivileged children.

Damini Mishra works as an Associate Product Manager at GiveIndia, India’s most reputed giving platform that serves NGOs working for the poor. Prior to this, she has worked as a Senior Associate in Marketing at The Nudge Foundation.

The Outcome

6214 Registrations

4100 Teams

144 Submissions

3 Ideas chosen

“The idea that we could build an app which could essentially improve and make an impact in the lives of thousands of people is what drove us to participate in Hackocracy. We built an app that could help people efficiently report problems and authorities to pick them up in better, easier ways. We loved Sprint as it’s so much more organized than others and it’s very simple to use!”

Vivek Chanddru,

“The Hackathon was good; it had themes that were focused on solving the real-life issues that we need to target and fix. Utilizing technology in cleansing the social evil and issues can be a game changer. Developers have the power to build a better world and why not start from people around us first. This gave us the direction which led us to the solution we built.”

Shivangi Mittal,

Ideas submitted based on themes

51 ideas

39 ideas

24 ideas

16 ideas

6 ideas

4 ideas

The ideas that stood out

Sarkaar Salahkar (Theme: Democracy)

An app that lets the government and municipal organizations crowdsource solutions for civic issues faced by the public.

Hackocracy – A helping hand for the needy (Theme: Society)

This application aims to bridge the distance between NGOs and the less-fortunate people on the streets of India.

Manifesto (Theme: Democracy)

This is a GPS-based application that lets users pin the issues in a locality, gain support from the public, escalate the issues, and track the response of the appropriate government/municipal body.

Special prize – Umang Smiles

This is an app to manage the end-to-end aspects of Umang’s everyday activities starting from creating events, to tracking volunteer contributions, accepting donations, etc.

Experience with HackerEarth

Crowdsourcing empowers people to connect and contribute their ideas and expertise to a project or cause that they are passionate about. By applying the concept of crowdsourced innovation to a democracy like ours, HackerEarth was effectively able to provide a platform for citizens to brainstorm, develop, and implement solutions for the nation. Once a platform is provided for active citizen participation, people can actively contribute ideas to solve the problems they face in their community. The biggest advantage of crowdsourcing is the fresh perspectives it brings from a diverse set of people and Hackocracy is a perfect example for this.

“We were in our initial discussions to create an app for our daily operations and that is when HackerEarth pitched in with Hackocracy. We are overwhelmed by the quality of submissions we have got. We have picked the best “Umang Smiles app” and are improvising on it.”

Ashish Goyal,
Founder Umang Foundation

Bring about tangible change one hackathon at a time.