Spread some light this festive season!

It’s the time of year when everyone is looking forward to celebrating Diwali with family and loved ones. Before you rush out to do your Diwali shopping for the year, here’s an idea that lets you give back to society while you gift! Many of HelpYourNGO’s partner NGOs create wonderful products like diyas, cards, lanterns, chocolates and other gifting items. Check out these options and do contact them if you’re interested! Double the joy you spread this Diwali.

  • Research Society: One of India’s oldest and largest not-for-profit organisations, the Research Society supports over 650 people annually. They serve the needs of mentally challenged people and provide their students with vocational training to help them lead a self-sustaining life. The proof of the training can be seen in their range of candles, diyas, cards, ornaments and other items. Call them at 022 24701231 / 2285 for more details.
  • OCHOCOLATE BOXES OM CREATIONSm Creations: Om Creations is one of those organisations whose chocolate-making reputation precedes them. A staple in many circles during Diwali and Christmas, Om Creations sells well over 3,000 kilos of chocolates a year. The organisation works with developmentally challenged girls, and use chocolate-making as therapy for them as well as an avenue of earning a livelihood. Their beautifully packaged gifts are an ideal gift for clients, co-workers or for family occasions. Get in touch with them at omcreationstrust@gmail.com.

 

Aastha Parivar2

  • Aastha Parivaar: Aastha Parivaar addresses the issues of sex workers across Mumbai and Thane. They are a registered body consisting of 13 Community Based Organisations (CBO) that work to empower sex workers and make them independent. You can help the CBOs achieve their goal by buying the delicious looking sweets, colourful diyas and decorative items they make. Get in touch with Anjuli at manager@aasthaparivar.org.

 

  • El Shaddai Charitable Trust: El Shaddai Charitable Trust cares for orphans, street and destitute children and provides them with food, clothing, shelter and education for a better future. The children that El Shaddai works with have created these lovely products themselves. If you’re interested in these products, they can be yours in exchange for a small donation.  Cards- Rs 130Contact Siddharth at 0832 6513286/87.

 

 

 

New ways to support NGOs – II

In this second part of our series, we conclude our two-part interview with The Bake Collective and Hand to Heart.

The Bake Collective, led by Kavita Gonsalves and Charlene Vaz, organises bake sales with all proceeds going to charity. This initiative connects an army of like-minded bakers, volunteers and supporters to supply brownies, cupcakes and biscuits for the sales.

KC: Do you think NGOs recognise the value of such initiatives?

TBC: Yes- NGOs usually have a time or human resource restraint on fundraising, even though it an equally essential component of making their work possible. That is where we step in.

KC: Is there a pattern in the kind of people who purchase the products?

TBC: The only thread that connects the people that purchase TBC products is the ‘will to do good’ in one way or the other.

KC: Has social cause awareness increased through this medium? Do you think the use of social media also encourages people to engage with you?

TBC: This medium definitely helps give visibility to social causes on the street- people are attracted to the buzz it creates as well the fun element it brings to fundraising for social causes. We don’t want people to give contributions on the basis of pity but rather allow them to feel that they are empowering someone with their Rs.100.

Social Media has played such a big role in the emergence of TBC, so much so, that a good friend put it aptly that we were ‘crowdsourcing philanthrophy’. The word gets out to the general public via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram , and we also have the good old word-of-mouth doing the rounds.

The Hand to Heart initiative began as an attempt to introduce  SHG women and their products to a potential market. We spoke with Shreya Hariyani, who works with the Hand to Heart initiative, about her thoughts on giving and the reasons for the initiative’s success.

KC: Do you think NGOs recognise the value of such initiatives?

TBC: NGO’s do recognise the value of such initiatives and in some cases rely on it too much. In case of self-help groups these women do not view themselves as a social cause and think of themselves as entrepreneurs which greatly aids in their motivation to make good quality products and work hard to achieve good sales. In most cases women are not even looking at high profits and are just content to be running their own enterprise and being self- sufficient.

KC: Is there a pattern in the kind of people who purchase the products?

TBC: We have not observed any specific pattern. Men and Women (mostly) will purchase any product that appeals/is of use to them and the fact that it will go towards charity only aids their purchasing decision.

New ways to support NGOs!

Who would have thought that 'sugar and spice and all things nice' could put money in the hands of those working to change the world? Or that a shopaholic's spending could help lift women entrepreneurs out of poverty? In this two-part interview series, we speak with The Bake Collective and Hand to Heart , who show us that people are wiling to support NGOs generously, yet fill their stomachs as well!

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The Bake Collective, led by Kavita Gonsalves and Charlene Vaz, organises bake sales with all proceeds going to charity. They've raised money for nine organisations so far. This initiative connects an army of like-minded bakers, volunteers and supporters to supply brownies, cupcakes and biscuits for the sales.

KC: What was the driving force which led you to this initiative? Did you face challenges in bringing people on board with the idea?

TBC: The conception of 'The Bake Collective' all began as a Facebook chat – We (Kavita Gonsalves & Charlene Vaz) had a brainwave about having a bake sale to raise money for one of Milaap's causes. It made complete sense to us. We both loved to bake and wanted an excuse to do so. So why not do it for a good cause? That’s how The Bake Collective was born in 2012.

It started as a one-time event that did so well that we didn't have to work too hard to bring people on board with the idea. We had NGOs and non-profits, in the start-up phase, asking us to fundraise for their work. We also had many local and home bakers and volunteers asking us when the next event was. Thanks to that demand, we are now two years in the running and organise bake sales every 2-3 months for charitable causes.chocolate cookies

KC: Do you follow a process to identify NGOs to promote?

TBC: Most of the time, organisations hear of us and get in touch. To make things easier, we have an application form to help us decide which NGOs we want to work with– we brainstorm over their targets or urgent requirements, organise our baking goods/ chocolate requirement and schedule the bake sales. Our criteria for picking beneficiaries depend purely on the causes and the impact TBC can make.

KC: Product-based sales are a great way to integrate societal impact with people’s lifestyles. Do you notice a shift in perception towards charity due to this medium? Are people more positively inclined to consume because proceeds are going to charity?

TBC: We find that most people are generous by nature and only want to make sure that their contributions are making a difference. As TBC has been around for more than 2 years now, its not too difficult to convince people of the power of the cupcake as they can witness the change their contribution makes via our Facebook page.

Most of the people who buy TBC's yummies are mostly in it for the dual benefit—–Buy a cupcake and make a difference while gobbling it up.

Follow The Bake Collective on Facebook to stay updated with their work!

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 The Urban Poverty Eradication Cell of the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai focuses on economic upliftment of the marginalised. Through the Cell's initiatives, thousands of women have come together to form Self Help Groups and start micro businesses. To ensure the success and sustainability of businesses started by these groups, it is important to provide market linkages for SHG products.The Hand to Heart initiative began as an attempt to introduce  SHG women and their products to a potential market. We spoke with Shreya Hariyani, who works with the Hand to Heart initiative, about her thoughts on giving and the reasons for the initiative's success.

KC: What was the driving force which led you to this initiative?

HTH: In my capacity as a Consultant with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai for Corporate Social Responsibility I came across the efforts taken by the UPEC MCGM Officers, the work and lives of women in these groups and as well as the quality of the products. We, at the CSR Cell then began introducing the cause of SHGs to various Corporates we came across in the course of our work who also felt the products and the groups deserved a platform. Many Companies therefore invited us to put up exhibitions in their office premises. The initiative hand-to – heart was therefore born with the aim of integrating SHG products into corporate gifting and a wider market.

KC: Do you follow a process to identify NGOs to promote?

HTH: Our aim is the welfare of all self-help groups in Mumbai. At present we take products from various groups that we feel will be ideal in a corporate-setting as well as. We also give feedback to the groups on how to further improve their products based on our feedback from exhibitions. We also aim to give more and more groups a platform and hence attempt to give a chance to newer groups in each exhibition. If the products of the newer groups are not up to the mark we arrange further training for them, sometimes training is provided by older more experienced groups.

KC: Product-based sales are a great way to integrate societal impact with people’s lifestyles. Do you notice a shift in perception towards charity due to this medium? Are people more positively inclined to purchase an item because proceeds are going to charity?

HTH: The knowledge that purchasing a product will contribute towards social welfare is definitely a significant factor in the decision-making process of a customer. But it is also felt that the need for the product itself to be appealing and of good quality and use is a significant underlying factor for a costumer. Charity will only prompt costumers to look at the products and give them a chance, the ultimate purchase is made when the product finds some use in a costumer’s life. Conversely, if a customer really does like any of the products but finds it a little too expensive for what it is, they may end up paying for it knowing that money will go towards charity.

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Watch this space for the second part of the interview series next week! Get in touch with us at info@helpyourngo.com to find out more about the initiatives.

#Kashmir floods – what you can do to help

Days of incessant rain have led to the worst flood situation Kashmir has seen in 60 years. The damage unleashed by the floods has been unprecedented, and until the rains slowed down, completely unanticipated. Entire villages in hilly areas have disappeared, taking people’s lives with them. Urban areas haven’t been spared as well, with roads hidden under several feet of water. Those who made it out alive watched helplessly as their lives are washed away before their eyes.

It will be a long time before life is restored to normal in Kashmir. Those of us sitting at home cannot imagine what those hit by the floods must be experiencing. Yet we feel the need to reach a hand out to those in need. Disasters like these are rarely man-made, but man can definitely rise to the occasion to deal with the aftermath. We’ve put together a few things that you too can do to bring some hope into people’s lives.

  1. Use the internet to help share information: Check out www.jkfloodrelief.org  an independent website bringing volunteers, donors and technology to the aid of those in Kashmir. A number of organisations including Uday Foundation, Google India, Cipla and others are coming together to gather resources and set up collection centres to source items urgently required by those on the ground. They’re receiving support from IndiGo Airlines to send this material to Kashmir. You can use the site to see what resources are needed most urgently on the ground, collection centres for donations and many more details.
  2. Track missing people: Google has a nifty tool call the Person Finder, designed for emergency or disaster situations like this one. Set up after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, this open tool allows users to share their own information if they are in a disaster zone and able to access internet/telephony services. Third parties can also enter details of people affected by disasters. Users can also use the list to search for a missing person or ask for information about someone in the disaster zone. The list of information includes details like the last time of contact, whether the person has since been rescued and specifies the type of relief needed. Since the Person Finder is continually updated, chances are someone will have entered information about the person you’re looking for. If not, it alerts those in the area and relief volunteers to the fact that there is a person in need who hasn’t been tracked yet.
  3. Donate Relief Material: NGOs like Goonj.. are encouraging people to donate urgently needed essential relief material. If you have water purification tablets, medicines, dry foods, disinfectants or other items, get in touch with their collection centres across the country. To see a full list of their collection centres, click here.
  4. Sponsor relief kits: Plan India has put together food, shelter, cooking, water and hygiene kits to be distributed in relief camps. You can sponsor these kits by going to their website here. ActionAid is trying to provide tarpaulin sheets, dry food rations and hygiene kits to women and girls.
  5. Donate money: Cash and cheque donations are of great use as well. You could consider donating money to any of the earlier mentioned NGOs, or the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund here to support their work.

India’s answer to the Ice Bucket Challenge

What do Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have in common with Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh and Sidharth Malhotra? They’ve all taken the #IceBucketChallenge, where individuals drench themselves using a bucket of ice water. The challenge was initiated by the ALS Association in the United States as a bid to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

While the challenge has achieved its objective for the organisation, several people have begun to point out that the terms of the challenge result in a huge wastage of water. In a country like India, where access to clean drinking water is a luxury for many, this particular activity seems a bit counter-productive.

Happily, someone has provided a better alternative, and designed a new version that Indians can participate in. It’s called the #RiceBucketChallenge, and is being hailed as India’s answer to the IceBucket Challenge. Started by Hyderabad-based journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi, the challenge requires you to give a bucket of cooked or uncooked rice to a hungry person or a person in need. You can also give money to a charity that does similar work, sponsor medicines at a government hospital or adapt the challenge as you wish to benefit people.

We know of several organisations that run schemes to feed the poor and hungry. It would be great to support organisations that already do this good work and help them continue this work. The NGOs mentioned below currently run programmes that benefit those in need. All the NGOs listed below are registered with HelpYourNGO, and if you would like to read more about them just click on their names.

So consider yourself nominated for the #RiceBucketChallenge by us, and do keep these NGOs in mind while giving!

  1. Akshaya Patra: The Akshaya Patra Foundation is renowned for its mid-day meal scheme. Their industrial-sized kitchen serves more than 1.2 million children in schools across the country every day. They’re trying to reach out to 5 million kids in the future. Read more about their work and get in touch with them here.

     

     

    Vegetables being readied for preparation at Akshaya Patra's kitchens
    Vegetables being readied for preparation at Akshaya Patra's kitchens
    Vegetables being readied for preparation at Akshaya Patra’s kitchens[/caption]

  2. Goonj..: One of the areas in which Goonj.. works is disaster relief. They’ve intervened during the floods in Uttarakhand, and are currently working for communities affected by the floods in Orissa and West Bengal. Goonj.. will accept dry rations for communities who have been badly affected by the floods. You can donate rice to them or donate money that they will use for their flood relief efforts. Contact them at mail@goonj.org or check out their work at www.goonj.org.
  3. ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF): IFRF believes that ‘no child should go hungry’. They’ve received an ISO22000 certification for the staff in their 18 kitchens across 7 states. Get in touch with them at 022-23531530 or at info@annamrita.org.
  4. Prem Seva Mahila Mandal Kalyan: PSMMK runs a regular mid-day meal programme for the children they reach out to. They’ve put up a chart that outlines how much their food and supplies cost, so this handy guide will give you an idea of how many children you can impact. If you’d like to give to them, contact them at 251-2207464 or premseva001@gmail.com.
  5. Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled: Samarthanam’s ‘Vidyaprasad’ programme was launched in 2002, and serves 250,000 mid-day meals each month to children in 54 government schools in Karnataka. Email kumar@samarthanam.org for more details, or check out their website at www.samarthanam.org.

Click here to learn more details about the #RiceBucketChallenge!