[Editor's Note: Indians, in general, and Keralites, in particular, are not know for their philanthropy. So, it is important that the little that is collected go to worthwhile organizations. In USA, there is United Way to collectively collect money for philanthropy. GiveIndia is a new organization in India that uses High Tech tools to collect and distribute money. Since our church is always in search of money, this article may be of interest. It may give you ideas for raising money that does not require our Bishops going all over the world for funds collection.]
GiveIndia was founded as a unique social sector enterprise to connect donors to a wide range of credible causes and NGOs across India. This enables the donors to choose the cause they would like to support, make donations conveniently (online, through payroll, etc.), and ensuring that donors get feedback reports on exactly how their donations were used.
Today GiveIndia has grown to be India's leading "Philanthropy Exchange" that channels approx Rs. 26cr p.a. from 100,000+ individual donors to over 210 NGOs all over India. Their key initiatives (Internet fundraising, payroll giving) are "industry leaders" and are credited with innovations like marathon fundraising in India and, more recently, the Joy of Giving Week.
Venkat Krishnan (IIM A '93), Founder of GiveIndia, said recently:
"We are working hard towards a scale up strategy that help GiveIndia reach out to over 1 million individual donors and channel over Rs 200 cr p.a., impacting millions of lives every year, in the next 5 years."
Read more about this exciting philanthropy exchange.
In less than a week of the killer Tsunami hitting the Southern coast of India, Indian corporations and individuals had contributed more than INR three billion to the Prime Minister's Relief fund. As commendable as it is, the contribution underlines two basic issues in Indian social sector. The first being that, such acts need to be institutionalized as there is plenty of misery in India that merits such generous giving even when the tragedy is not as sudden or as headline making as the Tsunami was. A second issue, and one that would help the first, is the need for credible transparent organizations in social sector that can be trusted to use the money wisely and effectively. GIVE India is an organization that is working towards both the ends.
Started by Venkat Krishnan of IIM A class of 93, GIVE Foundation is a professionally governed and managed Indian nonprofit organization dedicated to promote "giving". The idea is to help "good" NGOs raise funds and promote greater transparency & accountability in the voluntary sector.
The first part of the vision is to sensitize the more well-off towards the misfortune of the poor and to emphasize the need for their effort in bettering the lot of poor. GIVE believes that equity or "equal opportunity" is the cornerstone to civilization. If the poor in India don't get a fair chance to succeed in life (lack of access to decent education, healthcare and livelihood opportunities), the well-off would continue to enjoy benefits from a globalizing economy- greater incomes, reducing taxes, 100% inheritance, etc. The net result is a ticking time-bomb of growing social unrest. While this sounds like the argument of the "JNU types" the solution GIVE proposes is very "IIM type". As Venkat put it in his concept note "What I would like to do is to set up an organization whose basic job is to "professionalise Giving". This basically means ensuring that recipient organizations are transparent in their reporting, keep records and document evidence, and make these available to givers (donors) regularly. Donors should have the satisfaction of knowing that their money was WELL UTILIZED."
In fact, whenever GIVE elaborates its mission, the site uses the capital markets as an analogy. Wherein a donation is akin to an "investment" seeking "social returns", where credible NGOs like CRY perform the aggregating role as mutual funds do in a capital market, and where GIVE typically performs the role of a "rating agency". Beyond this rating agency role ,GIVE also seeks to create a database of different NGOs, create internet based platforms like GIVE India, GIVE World, and ICICICommunities in association with ICICI Bank. The foundation has screened over thousand urban and rural nonprofits from over twelve states of India over the last four years to select around seventy nonprofits which they recommend to you on these sites. These organizations work on causes ranging from child welfare and education to disability, poverty, and women's empowerment. Each organisation lets you choose the project you would like to support, and provides feedback on how your donation was used, all in a matter of few clicks.
In order to promote a giving culture GIVE has recently launched a full fledged charity channel on Rediff.com, and has plans of organizing a large charity television event, with the potential to reach out to over 10 million people all over the country. GIVE is also working to set up the Indian equivalent of Guidestar.org, something like a CMIE for the nonprofit sector (see www.guidestar.org for an idea of what this would entail) -a comprehensive data warehouse for India's nonprofit sector that tracks financials, performance metrics and key indicators of nonprofits.
In its fifth year of operations, GIVE will channel roughly Rs Nine crores to over a hundred nonprofits in India this year, transforming the lives of over 50,000 people, and making them among the five largest nonprofit intermediaries in India. They aim to double this number every year over the next five years. Some of the leading corporates such as ICICI Bank have channeled their social initiatives through GIVE. The foundation's governing board includes Mr N. Vaghul, Chairman, ICICI Bank Ltd, Mr R.K. Krishnakumar, Vice Chairman, Indian Hotels & Director- Tata Sons , Ms Rama Bijapurkar Consultant, Independent Director- Infosys, Mr Tarun Das, Chief Mentor, CII, Mr Vijay Mahajan, Managing Director, BASIX and Venkat Krishnan who is the founder.
If Indians donated in the same proportion of their income as Americans do, we would be donating a whopping Rs 60,000 Crore. So definitely the potential exists to achieve the foundation's ambitious growth plans. The hurdles appear to be creating a giving culture that is partly a larger social issue and partly lack of a credible charity intermediary that GIVE plans to bridge.
The wealth of the noble is used solely for the benefit of others! Even after accepting that giving is good and that one must learn to give, several questions need to be answered.
A Message of Giving
Thanks and Goodwill
As we prepare to give thanks this holiday season, itís critical that we donít lose sight of the many American families who are struggling to make ends meet.
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