We’re in contact with over 500 non-profit organisations across the country and speak to individual and corporate donors to design custom services for them. Based on our interactions with them and everyone on the other side of the fence, we present our wishlist for 2015:
- Technical solutions for NGOs: “The power of algorithm is extraordinary. It can make the society a better place”, said Narayan Murthy at a global hackathon tasked to create software solutions for NGOs. Software, programmes and apps have revolutionized the world this decade, and we see no reason why they can’t be brought to the NGO sector as well. There has been a start – NGOs like SNEHA have used software and handheld devices to collect data from surveys and monitor beneficiaries in programmes, while Operation ASHA uses a tablet-based e-Compliance system to track tuberculosis patients’ treatment.
What we’d like to see: NGOs embracing technology to reduce their own time, stress and labour costs. A number of software services ‘predicted’ or at least estimated the Ebola outbreak earlier this year. Google’s disaster relief app came in handy to many during the Kashmir floods. There are several other ways in which NGOs can use technology to save the world, and we hope that list grows longer next year.
- Focus on underserved sectors: Philanthropic activity tends to follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of all donations go to 20% of sectors. A McKinsey study found that around 90% of donor contribution was concentrated in 10 sub-sectors out of 50. Sub sectors seen as having a direct impact – like mid-day meal programmes, tend to attract the most funding. However, indirect needs like staff salaries or support for advocacy-based activities are less likely to be addressed. While it is difficult to measure impact in these intangible sectors, investing in human capital, organizational resources like a corpus fund are necessary as well.
What we’d like to see: We wish people would give to underserved sectors like the arts, governance and human rights. On a positive note, the McKinsey study indicated that donors support more complex work as their giving cycle reaches greater maturity. We hope to see the arts, animal welfare and governance benefit from this learning.
- More support for volunteering programmes: One estimate states that Americans spend over 15 billion hours volunteering a year, at an average of 5 hours a month. In India and elsewhere, NGOs find volunteers a valuable addition to their teams – V Care Foundation is entirely run by volunteers. Animal loving volunteers help In Defense of Animals rescue and rehabilitate animals. Volunteering and mentoring the underprivileged is encouraged by workplaces, with offices often giving employees flexible working hours to volunteer. Corporates in India too are increasingly spending time with NGOs. Amit Chandra of Bain Capital, for example, spends up to 35% of his time on philanthropy, while Sanjay Nayar of KKR India spends 10-15 days a year on philanthropic endeavours.
What we’d like to see: More interaction between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, and more support for volunteering programmes from corporates. The gains from such a relationship are immense, and are just waiting to be tapped.
 Mangaleswaran, Ramesh, Venkataraman, Ramya ‘Critical gaps across sectors with donor focus limited to a few, Designing philanthropy for Impact: Giving to the biggest gaps in India, October 2013, Pg 13
 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/29/infographic-shows-charity-is-more-than-money_n_5233390.html, April 2013, accessed on 28th November 2014.
 Ghosh, Ahona, http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-07-16/news/40613255_1_pe-fund-equity-fund-cx-partners, July 16th 2013, accessed on 28th November 2014