- Eco-Friendly Ganesha: We love the idea of these eco-friendly Ganpatis made of shaadu (natural clay). Not only is the material bio-degradable, but you can also immerse it at home. What's more, these beautiful idols are made by mentally challenged adults. You can order a Ganpati idol in a colour of your choice. Do contact them in advance to place your order. Get in touch with Kalpana from Social Services Enterprise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rakhis, torans, chocolates and more!: Om Creations' chocolates are something of a legend in Mumbai. They've branched out to other products as well, so you can take your pick from Ganesha idols, paintings, colourful torans, rakhis, diyas and lots more. The products are made by students at their workshop for specially abled youth and adults. Each person in the workshop receives a small stipend for their work, so your purchases help them earn an income and some pride as well. See their website for full details.
A bake sale at your office!: If you're in Mumbai and want to earn some brownie points with your office, call Spring Street Bakery! This professionally run bakery trains and employs girls from underprivileged backgrounds, so every cookie you eat helpsmake their world a better place. They can organise a bake sale in your office (all items are pre-cooked) or you can order celebration cakes, gift hampers or have them run delicious team building activities for you. Don't forget to spread the word!
Like many entrepeneurs starting their social organisations, Dr. Asavari Shinde, Founder of VASS (Vardayini Apang Seva Sanstha) – an NGO that works with children with dissabilities in Mumbai – was struggling with things like how to get the organization more organised!
This is the reason why she joined Atma Network: “We are a very young NGO and have no expertise in areas like Fundraising, Marketing, Strategy or Monitoring. In this sense, we are able to learn a lot from Atma Network”, she explains.
The Atma Network is a free, online platform for entrepreneurs starting and scaling social companies or NGOs. It offers them relevant and quality material and tools to develop and improve their organisation. “We have made a new brochure for our organisation using the tools we found in Atma Network, and even the presentations that we make to our prospective donors are based on information from the Network”, explains Dr. Asavari Shinde.
Atma’s Executive Director Mary Ellen Matsui says, “Atma Network helps organisations save time and resources by establishing efficient operational mechanisms and organisational systems. The best thing is that it is free of cost and anyone with access to internet can use it.”
The Atma Network helps organizations like VASS to determine which areas the organisation needs to work on, and how they can be solved. Dr. Shinde explains how they used to worry about “how to go forward and what to do. Now we think about which area the problem belongs to and open that module on Atma Network”.
The platform comprises a total of 90 projects, with several hundreds of documents, templates and guides. “You'll find samples, modules and examples that are so perfect that we know for sure which direction to go to”, states Dr. Shinde.
“More than 70 NGOs, from different sectors and countries, are currently members of Atma Network. The Network also allows its members to connect to each other, ask questions, share successes and discuss best practices,” says Matsui.
Atma Network was created by Atma, a Mumbai-based organisation that helps education NGOs to achieve sustainability and scalability. The platform is based on years of expertise and work with social organisations.
“We are very happy with our experience with Atma Network”, explains Dr. Shinde. “We feel we have achieved a lot in 6 months, and we have started investing our time in bigger projects.”
Atma Network wants to bring more organisations to the platform, to participate and give feedback, thus creating a solid community in which they can share knowledge and experience. Any NGO or Social Enterprise can become a member of Atma Network, just by registering online on the website www.atmanetwork.in.
What does it mean to live a good life? Is it having all your material needs met? Or is it feeling fulfilled?
We had the honour of listening to Mr. Mohandas Pai, former CFO of Infosys, current Chairman of Manipal Group of Education. Mr Pai has many successes to his credit from the corporate world – notably being judged Best CFO while at Infosys, the first Indian company to list on NASDAQ, and even conceptualising their revolutionary stock options scheme for employees.
Even as he achieved these landmark successes, Mr. Pai experienced a feeling that something was missing. As he said in his speech, many people achieve success in their career or business. Yet a question keeps nagging at them – ‘what should I do with my life?’
This question marked a turning point in Mr. Pai’s path to philanthropy. He found himself , in conversation with Mr. Madhu Pandit Dasa, President of the ISKCON temple in Bengaluru (and an IIT educated engineer!). Mr. Pai suggested to Mr. Dasa that he run a mid-day meal scheme for children, and with a donation from Mr. Pai and others the project was on its way!
The mid-day meal grew to feed 30,000 children, and soon citizens of Bengaluru started to write in, asking them to feed more children. The scheme was formalised as The Akshaya Patra Foundation. They gained support from the Government – Murli Manohar Joshi, then HRD Minister, gave the NGO its name. (Akshaya Patra in Sanskrit means an inexhaustible vessel that never runs out of food.) Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat invited them to set up operations in his state, as did Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. Children eating the food performed better on health and improved their educational attainments! The NGO currently feeds 15 lakh children a day in 11,500 government schools across India, and is one of the largest feeding programmes in the world.
Listening to Mr. Pai gives one the feeling that he has received more than what he has given. He said he feels a renewed sense of purpose, and now works harder than he did at Infosys! He feels that working for a cause has given him tremendous energy to achieve more – not for himself, but for his country and his society. It is truly a selfless sense of giving, driven by the cause and those that benefit rather than any personal sense of satisfaction. Indeed, Mr. Pai says that he is ennobled to be able to work like this.
How many people do we know who have so much meaning and purpose in their lives? True humility evades many successful people, though Mr. Pai does not seem to be one of them. His philosophy of giving is ultimately a philosophy of living – it does not have to do with how much money you make or how much you want to give.
It is driven by a desire to create value for others. As he said, it has given him more energy and purpose to achieve this objective. This energy is indeed present, and infectious!
Your new phone has arrived, and you're not sure what to do with the old one. Ever consider donating it? Your old phone will get a new lease of life and bring value to someone who cannot afford one. 'MeraByte', an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to provide connectivity for underserved and marginalised communities by providing them with gadgets that people routinely discard. These gadgets may be inexpensive for us, but they are unaffordable for many.
Mobile phones, tablets, SD cards and pen drives are all welcome. They will ensure that your donation will reach a deserving NGO in rural India through their networks in 22 states and 8 districts. Click here to find out how to get your electronics to them!