Giving can help people in need and save our earth. Collective, philantrophic spending is tiny compared to the power of government but it can bear risk. It can kick-start innovation or fund unpopular causes. It can also support voices yet unheard. There are various forms of giving, including cash, services, new or used goods like clothing, toys, food and vehicles as well as voluntary service. The following outlines a few helpful tips for those looking to donate.
In religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, the idea of donating plays a key role. In Buddhist thought, it has the effect of purifying and transforming the mind of the giver. As a great social critic-poet named Sarvajna put it (in Kannada language) “If oil in a lamp gets exhausted, do not flood the lamp with a barrel of oil. No barrel of oil for the lamp, but do not rest tending the lamp through spoonfuls of oil. Do not give up charity.”
In 2004, the domestic Indian fundraising market was measured at US Dollar 500m, excluding religous and untracked donations. 80 percent of donations were from individuals.
Online giving has enormous potential to help charities save money in fundraising costs and allowing them to communicate more effectively with donors. If you are willing, finding a starting point isn't always easy given all the possibilities you have on the internet. In the report "Giving in India", NPC (New Philantrophy Capital) and Copal explored that funding in India does not appear to be prioritised optimally and good information on the impact of individual NGOs is rarely available. Here we try to provide some tips for donors to choose which organisation to support and how to assure the quality of funding.
Tips on Giving Wisely
Look at whether the NGO targets excluded groups, neglected issues or pressing problems such as ecological and social disasters.
Help them help themselves. Organisations or projects who are conscious of helping people help themselves i.e. building sustainable structures the people can develop further by themselves.
Ask about results. Donors should ask about results. Poitive results are when the NGO uses its results to improve its services, that it is led well, that it has a strategic focus, that it it is commited to increasing the number of lives it touches and that it is efficient and stable.
Be an informed giver. Don't be afraid to ask questions when you're asked to give, including the specific name of the solicitor and his or her relationship to the organisation, how much of your gift will be used for overhead, the specific project the money will go toward and other important information. Give only when you feel comfortable that your money or goods will be going to support an organisation you know and believe in.
Don’t respond to emails asking for donations. Go directly to the organisations you trust.
Consider alternative forms of giving. There are many other creative forms of giving such as donations-in-kind or endowments. Many organisations and projects seek certain things that they inform you about upfront. Here are 10 tips for donating a computer.
Volunteer! In addition to providing financial support, consider giving your time and skills. Not only will you help the organisation but you'll also make contacts, pass on your skills and learn more about the project. Check out our Act Now guide for tips on effective and rewarding volunteering opportunities in India and worldwide.
Don't forget you have the right to say no. If you feel uncomfortable with an organisation, don't be afraid to say no. You can also ask for more information and take more time to think before making your decision.
Be a proactive giver. Don't wait to be asked. Look for projects and organisations you want to support and plan a giving strategy in advance.
Most nonprofits are legitimate community assets. However, counterfeits do exist. If possible, limit donations of cash to nonprofits that have an established reputation in your local community or are recommended by a trustful person or institution. Should you feel compelled to donate to an unfamiliar nonprofit, request documentation including copies of the organisation's annual report, newsletter and approval before dropping a cheque in the mail.
More Tips for safe online donation can be found here.
Platforms for Donating
A number of in-country initiatives in India are being established to promote good governance, transparency and honesty such as those listed below.
The Credibility Alliance (CA) - credall.org.in - is a national consortium of Indian voluntary organisations concerned with establishing better self-regulation. It has established a set of norms to which NGOs can subscribe. Minimum norms include: that an NGO is registered; that it has some defined indicators; that is has a board that meets at least twice a year; that it practices full disclosure of board membership and remuneration; and that signed audited accounts and annual reports are available.
GiveIndia - giveindia.org - The site is designed as a "Philanthropy Exchange" that allows donors to donate directly to any of the "listed" non-profit organisations. It´s essentially a fund raising organization committed to making online donations effective. The online NGOs have been validated against CA minimum and desirable norms with an additional requirement that they commit to reporting back annually on any donation they receive. They work on causes ranging from child welfare and education to disability, poverty, and women's empowerment, just to name a few.
Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF India) - cafindia.org - provides services to donors and charities and includes an online directory of organisations tn which it states it has carried out 'due diligence'.
All of these initiatives take positive steps towards improving the flow of information about NGOs in India. What none of them do is put much visible emphasis on impact or results.
RESET - For a better World: After careful research and assessment, RESET recommends projects aiding the reduction of climate change and improving living conditions in underdeveloped areas. With RESET you can support sustainable projects in a way that suits you best: by donating money, goods or services. Each project is carefully selected based on our criteria of transparency, trust and cooperation. RESET mainly supports projects by protagonists and NGOs who focus on specific tasks. At the same time, we make sure that your investment is being used for the project’s current requirements.
RESET as a non-profit organisation does not charge any fees for said intermediation, meaning 100 per cent of donations proceed directly to the intended partner recipient! The selected projects are self-supporting and can be transferred to public institutions for continued operation.