The NGO Culture
NGO or Non Governmental Organizations refer to non-profit organizations in India and many countries around the world. In India, there is a veritable profusion of NGOs across a vast spectrum, and in all states. One number (that I have been unable to verify through any official government body) is that there are some 2 million NGOs that dot the country. With this many, you can be sure that their variety is immense.
Temples, churches, mosques and other religious affiliated organizations would be considered NGOs. Most of the others focus on social or charitable work in areas such as education, environment, poverty, children, women and so on. Their scope varies – they maybe community-based, village or township oriented, city, state or country wide.
I have heard and read about NGOs that number anywhere from 55000 to 80000 in Mumbai alone! Call me cynical if you want, but with those kinds of numbers, I can guarantee you that there are several NGOs in India (not just Mumbai) that are bogus – either operating as fronts for some other activity or in existence purely for receiving government subsidies (probably owned by a distant relative of a politician responsible for said subsidy).
On the other hand, the good thing about the numbers is that no matter what area you wish to contribute to as a volunteer or financial supporter, an outlet is bound to exist for you. With the disparity between the haves and have-nots in India being so enormous, stark and visible, I believe that its natural for the more fortunate people here to want to contribute in some way to those less fortunate. But, it’s also really important that you either research the NGO in question carefully or use friends and family to provide validated referrals.
In this electronic and information age, I found an extremely creative and productive use of technology at GiveIndia. They are not so much an NGO themselves, as much as they are an enabler of philanthropy. In operation now for a decade or so, they have a website that allows you to pick from about 270 carefully vetted NGOs to donate (online) to. Last year, they raised about $5 million which I would say is no small feat.
GiveIndia obviously provides a platform, no matter where in the world you are. I’m just not sure how widespread the knowledge of their existence is. In their own words – GiveIndia has, in the last few years, attempted to meet the “unmet gaps” of institutions needed to constitute the nonprofit “philanthropy marketplace”.
These important attributes constitute the value that GiveIndia provides-
- 90% of your donation goes directly to the NGO you have chosen (minimal overhead).
- Their vetting of NGOs is serious business and is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process, and it’s very thorough.
- You get feedback on your donation, where it went and who it helped.
- It’s super easy to donate online!
- You get to choose the NGO you want to donate to – and they provide easily accessible information for you to make this choice. For example, here’s the information for a random one I picked. You can check out its profile, financials, governance, stories of hope, etc.
GiveIndia is run by professionals with no religious or political affiliation. The site is truly outstanding – in depth and breadth. There is an easy to use search feature (and an advanced search) where I can choose among organizations that meet certain criteria. For example, as follows:
BTW, Do You Really Need All Those Gifts?
Another interesting feature of the site is what they call iGive. This is ideal for anyone who wants to create a personal page of an NGO of their choice that they can send to their social network.
For example, say you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or important occasion (even a wedding in the family). Instead of that extra fine china setting that you will maybe use once in your entire lifetime, you can think of putting that money to much better use. In lieu of receiving personal gifts, point your family and friends to your personal iGive page. Neat!
But, the best part, really, are the stories of hope that are provided for each NGO. These are real stories of real people who have benefited from donations. You know exactly how your contribution is helping someone in need.
You Don’t Have to be Bill Gates
Yes, I spoke about Bill Gates and all his insanely massive philanthropic works. But, everyone cannot be a Bill Gates. Nor does one have to be, in order to do their part to help.
There’s even an easy monthly giving program which you can join to automatically donate as little as $2.50 every month using your credit card or bank account. This accumulates in your online GiveIndia account and you can then donate this amount as you wish, when you wish. Plus, if you are donor from the US, you can get a tax deductible donation simply by registering as a US taxpayer and donating via GIVE Foundation Inc.
With a site like GiveIndia, there’s truly no reason nor excuse to keep you (the fortunate one) from doing your part for those less blessed. Epiphany! It’s actually like the democratizing of giving.
Think about it: we are all so caught up in our very own whirlwind of life. All the time. Aren’t we?
So, stop right there.
Now, take a deep breath.
And, go spend no more than 10 minutes checking out GiveIndia. (Then, tell a friend).
Here’s my personal guarantee: It will do your heart good!
The Fine Print:
1. I have no affiliation whatsoever with GiveIndia nor any of the NGOs it lists; I discovered them in one of my random wanderings on the internet.
2. There may be other such admirable organizations. If so, I don’t know of them (yet). Just give me some time here to find them and I will update this post or write another one…
3. All images except one (see below) are of and from the GiveIndia website. I rationalized their use by providing links back to their site. All for a good, scratch that, great cause!
Village Children Photograph By Vipingoyal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons