The Forbes Crossover Shortlist 2014

 

  • Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj..: Many a poor person must be glad that Anshu Gupta left journalism to begin Goonj.. Gupta was a student at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication[1] and a freelance journalist. An interview with a man who cremated dead bodies left a huge impact on Gupta, especially after hearing that the man’s daughter hugged dead bodies to keep herself warm in the cold winters[2]. This brought home the importance of clothes and poverty to Gupta. Goonj.., founded by Gupta and his wife runs several rural development programmes using clothes as an incentive. Goonj.. has been lauded for its work as a disaster relief organisation, and is setting up a unit to manufacture low-cost, cloth based sanitary pads for women.
  • Deval Sanghavi and Neera Nundy, Founders, Dasra: Former Morgan Stanley analysts Deval Sanghavi and Neera Nundy brought their considerable financial acumen to the world of NGOs. Their organisation Dasra provides NGOs with knowledge and funding to sustain their work by connecting them to High Net-Worth Individuals (HNI) wanting to support good work, As a young analyst, Sanghavi felt that he could bring the investing approach and rigour he learnt at work to help the NGO sector grow[3]. The two have never looked back, raising over 21 crores for a bevy of nonprofits[4] and providing over a 100 organisations with a much-required high quality executive education.
  • Kishore Kher, President and Trustee, Kherwadi Social Welfare Foundation: Kherwadi Social Welfare Foundation (Kherwadi) was founded by B.G. Kher, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 1928 and taken over by Kishore Kher in 1998. Kishore Kher, former Managing Director of an MNC and ex-IIM-A graduate, oversaw Kherwadi’s growth to the 18 states it currently operates in[5]. They empower 100,000 school dropouts a year, and run a widely-feted vocational training programme to give young people employability skills.
  • M.R. Madhavan, President, PRS Legislative Research: M.R. Madhavan’s reputation precedes him. He’s most commonly referred to as former Principal and Senior Strategist for the Asia Region at Bank of America, IIM-C alum or IIT-M graduate. These letters all define his work, and three new letters have been added to his considerable body of work. Madhavan is now co-founder and President of PRS Legislative Research, an organisation committed to improving governance in India by making the legislative process in India more transparent. PRS helps MPs, MLAs and citizenry both. They provide Members of Parliament (MPs) with highly-researched reports to help them debate in Parliament while also analyzing Bills introduced in Parliament and sharing it with citizens. PRS counts the Ford Foundation, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Rohini Nilekani as among their many supporters.
  • Ramji Raghavan, Chairman, Agastya International Foundation: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Ramji Raghavan’s Agastya Foundation brings these Confucian principles to science learning in remote villages in India. The foundation is the brainchild of Ramji Raghavan, former financial advisor, broker and Vice President at Citibank[6]. Raghavan wanted to do something different, and stumbled upon the idea of propagating scientific education and curiosity in India’s unreached villages. The organisation runs mobile science vans, set up a Science Park, holds science fairs and helps children develop curiosity and a scientific spirit. In 2013, they were one of the Google Impact Challenge, winning $500,000 to set up motorbike science laboratories.

Content management secret all NGOs should know

NGOs are always pressed for time and find content creation and distribution daunting tasks.  How do you manage to put out entertaining and informative content month after month? Information dissemination need not be a black hole which sucks up all your time. A well-planned editorial calendar helps! We share some tips:

  • Define your goals: What is the objective of the communication? Getting donors to connect with your NGO is an ambiguous plan. Do you want donors to donate after reading one of your articles or posts – lead them there! Pre-empt a donor’s needs by using your content to communicate impact visually, numerically or in words. This is a great way to provide donors with a sense of satisfaction about their contribution to the NGO. A newsletter or a Facebook page are effective ways to keep media contacts updated about your work.

          Remember: Match your content creation goals with your fundraising or donor communication ones. It creates a sense of continuity.

  • Define your channels: The number of social media and outreach channels available can be overwhelming. Don’t let it get you down! We’ve found that our own website is the most useful channel followed by an in-house newsletter and Facebook posts. Choose channels that are familiar to your donors and regularly measure readership/click metrics.
  • Schedule your annual calendar: This can be in the form of a rough sketch. Choose a time of the year that is a slack period for you, rather than being bound by the calendar year. Brainstorm about a plan for the next 12 months. Don’t despair at the thought of generating vast amounts of content. A newsletter could be monthly or bi-monthly. You can schedule a newsletter summarizing the contents of your annual report, killing two birds with one stone.

         Remember: It’s better to put out quality content on one or two channels than to put out generic content on many.

  • Plan your content: If you’re an NGO running a school, you can schedule a lot of content around the beginning of the school year. Encourage students to share their work or manage parts of the newsletter. Facebook pages like Humans of New York that tell the stories of ordinary people are extraordinarily successful on social media. Plan a series on your beneficiaries, human or otherwise! Remember to create content that goes out during the festive seasons, New Year’s, tax-planning season.

          Remember: All content does not have to be proprietary. Do share others’ relevant content (with due credit of course!).       Positive, upbeat messaging works well, do thank donors for their support.

Having a preplanned calendar will help you slot time needed to spend on content dissemination each month. Clearly defined goals help in creating content that is relevant and interesting to readers. Keep your readers coming back for more!

14 things you can do to celebrate Children’s Day!

Children are indeed the promise of a better world ahead. We give you 14 things you can do to help

  1. Eat dessert!: If you’re in Mumbai, head to for dessert between the 14th and the 30th of November. The surprise element: all proceeds go to Akanksha, an NGO that educates children. The children helped create the dishes too! See more details here.
  2. Celebrate a 14th anniversary: The Akshaya Patra Foundation turns 14 in 2014, a year in which they will reach out to nearly 1.4 million children. You can support their good work and feed a child every day for a year with just Rs750. Find out more now!
  3. Sponsor a child: You can support everything from a special meal to uniforms and tuitions at organisations like Seva Sadan, which runs an orphanage, school and high school for girls.
  4. Be happy as a child: The Research Society provides for every need for a developmentally child within their premises. The happiness on these children’s faces just flows from being well taken care of! See their wonderful video to the tune of the catchy ‘Happy’
  5. Run, run, run!: Run for childhood! The Magic Bus Foundation uses sports to help underprivileged children learn life skills. Contribute to this sporting endeavour by running in the Mumbai Marathon on their behalf.
  6. Support a child: Sneha Sagar Society works with children who have lost their parents to HIV and tuberculosis. You can sponsor a child’s education and other requirements with just a click here.
  7. Thunderclap: Start a movement! Child Rights and You is trying to make a dent in the practice of child labour with their campaign online. Like their campaign on www.thunderclap.it, and your support can help them provide child labourers with the childhood they deserve.
  8. Mentor a child: Your time and advice can make a huge difference to a child’s life. Want to support a child by being a mentor? Get in touch with http://www.thegreenbattiproject.in/!
  9. Donate toys: If you have old toys in good condition that you don’t have a use for anymore, consider donating them to NGOs like the Children Toy Foundation or Toybank, who will then pass it on to children who can’t afford their own. What a wonderful way to spread a smile!
  10. Don’t support child labour: Something you can do from your house, office or building. Don’t support outfits that employ child labourers. Public outcry has produced inspiring results in the past, so let’s not stop till this practice is shut down completely.
  11. Be inspired by their heroism: Heroes don’t necessarily have to star in films or wear capes for us to know them. The National Bravery Awards honour children who have performed exemplary feats of bravery and shown courage in the face of fear. How many adults would have been able to do the same? Read the stories of last year’s winners here.
  12. Marvel at their imagination: Childhood is not just about toys and TV. India’s National Innovation Council’s IGNITE contest saw children from across the country submit their designs for innovative products that can change the way people live. On the list are wheelchairs that can turn into crutches, a low-cost Braille printer and an indicator for phones out of order, all devised by schoolchildren! See the list of wonderful ideas here.
  13. Listen to the Kid President: Timeless advice from America’s Kid President. Enough said!
  14. Don’t forget your inner child: Remember that we were all children once! No amount of wishful thinking can bring childhood back, but we can choose to live our lives with a little bit of the innocence and spontaneity we had as children. What better way to honour Children’s Day!

A gift that keeps on giving!

It’s the end of the wedding festivities, and Rita and Ashok (name and details changed on request) are ready to fly off to Koh Samui. However, theirs was a wedding with a difference – their ‘happily ever after’ now includes the happiness and welfare of marginalised children studying at a music school in rural Karnataka. Rita and Ashok both share an interest in classical music and dance, and felt that their wedding would be the perfect occasion to celebrate their common interests while giving back to society. They encouraged friends and family to replace ‘gifting meaningless presents’ with a donation to this music school charity.

Rita and Ashok are not alone. Many couples, individuals, corporates or clubs now look to ring in special occasions by supporting a cause, an individual or an organization doing good work. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday, anniversary or memorial, the occasion can be made more meaningful by asking people to donate to a charity of individual choice as a gift.

Help Your NGO’s Charity Registry allows you to do just that. We create a customised page for the host to share with friends and family for this purpose featuring your special occasion and the cause you may choose to support. Guests who are sent this link would be able to donate to the NGO in the name of the host. Help Your NGO will co-ordinate all payments between the donors and the selected NGO. Other support features include a thank you letter from the host to each donor and co-ordination of tax deduction related paperwork.

We know that selecting a deserving NGO can be a challenge, especially for the growing number of socially conscious adults who are unable to ascertain the genuineness of the charity and the people running the NGO. HelpYourNGO.com has been established to promote transparency in the social sector so that people can give their money to organizations doing good work.

We follow a stringent classification process, and detailed financials of over 530 NGOs are listed on our database (over 50 of these are analysed). Users can choose from NGOs across 12 sectors that span the fields of arts and culture, children, education, governance. You can also compare NGOs by other performance categories like funds spent on beneficiaries, number of people helped, fundraising expenses or even programme costs.

There’s no better way to make a special occasion even more memorable, and create a ripple of goodwill that benefits someone in need. Giving to charity is truly a gift that keeps on giving!

The best kept secret in town!

The Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT) and HelpYourNGO organised a talk on Community Foundations (CFs) in association with Ms Bibi Patel, Vice President of the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Canada. The talk introduced the concept of Community Foundations to an Indian audience. While CFs are not unknown abroad, we have to agree with Ms. Patel when she said they have often been called ‘the best-kept secret in town’!

Philanthropy through CFs was conceptualized in 1914 when Frederick Goff set up what is now the Cleveland Foundation in the USA. They represent an organised form of philanthropy that pools funds provided by donors and grants them to organisations working to support communities in that region. They have been growing in numbers and reach ever since, and are particularly popular in developed economies. There are over 1,700 CFs worldwide. In the United States, for example, CFs form 1% of all registered foundations and have an asset size of $64.9 billion.[1] They were estimated to give $5.5 billion in 2014. The Community Foundation of Ottawa itself manages over 700 individual funds set up by a variety of individuals, and gave out almost $66 million dollars in 2013. The Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT) in Mumbai remains one of the few CFs in India. Set up in 1992, BCPT has assisted 342 projects run by 142 NGOs in the past 15 years.

A sustainable and democratic structure

IMG_20141007_173743461
Mr. Richard Bale, Consul General of Canada in Mumbai with Ms. Bibi Patel at the event

CFs typically work within a geographically defined community, though they can support initiatives elsewhere depending on donors’ preferences.

They offer donors the option of pooling funds with other donations, thereby increasing the total value of grants being awarded. The CF route presents an ideal option for donors looking to direct funds to causes of their preference without starting an organisation of their own. Other funding agencies often may not be able to accommodate a donor’s interest, while NGOs working in a single core area may not appeal to donors who want to have a wider impact on the community. In 2013, The Community Foundation of Ottawa’s grants went out to education camps for children from low-income groups, purchasing an MRI machine for a hospital, and supporting a school in India.

On occasion CFs manage and invest donations by turning them into endowments. Interest earned on the endowment is distributed as a grant to organisations working for the benefit of the community. This route ensures that funds are available over a long period. CFs can decide what percent of the endowment fund will be spent each year, with figures ranging from 1.5 – 4%. Alternately, if donors choose to have their funds reach the community directly, CF’s will honour that request as well. CFs’ funds are professionally managed, as are the grant-making and donor advisory processes, making them an ideal option for someone who wants to organize their philanthropic activities.

The model is a donor-friendly structure, as it offers donors the flexibility of choosing a cause or sector of their choice. Donations can take the form of donor-advised funds, designated funds, scholarship funds and other options. A CF allows donors to stipulate the sector or organisation they would like to fund, or leaves it up to the discretion of the Foundation itself. Individuals looking to give smaller amounts also find place under the CF umbrella.

Drawbacks of the model

The lack of awareness about philanthropy through a CF can be said to be its Achilles Heel.

Given the large funds they marshal, CFs are ideally poised to support NGOs for several years in their lifecycle and help them sustain themselves. On occasion CFs provide gap-funding to meet small-ticket local, community-specific needs, which can be a drawback.

NGO capacity-building also emerges as another area in which CFs could do more.


[1] Preview of Key Facts on U.S. Foundations, 2014 edition, foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/research/pdf/keyfacts2014.pdf, accessed on 20th October 2014.