The side-effects of charity

Making a donation has an effect on your life and behaviour as well. You may not even realise it, but it will change the way you feel about the world. Have you ever had any of these reactions? Find out below!

  • You feel good: You start to realise that you are not helpless and can actually play a part in bringing about some change. It feels good take action about something that is important to you. This sparks a feeling that is not happiness, but a feeling of positivity about yourself and your action. This is especially true of people who donate blood.
  • You may even feel happier: But this is not the kind of happiness you get when buy something at the mall. Psychologists gave money to two groups of people. One of them was asked to spend it on themselves, the others were told to buy something for someone else. When surveyed later, those that had spent the money on others were happier! Turns out that sometimes doing something for others can make us happier than spending on more things for ourselves. This was even true for women in Uganda who had very little money of their own, but felt happier after helping others.
  • You feel less selfish: We are trained to conserve our money, time and our energy for ourselves, our families or things that matter only to us. This sentiment is understandable if you are going through difficult times. However, in the long run, it makes one narrow-minded and focused on the money-value of everything. After you donate, you start to lose a little of the scarcity mindset with which we usually view the world. You may realise you actually have enough resources, be it time or money. You are able to look beyond the concerns of everyday life.
  • You learn a little more about the world: We all have mental models of the world and we operate according to those. Our theories about other people’s lives change after we hear stories of those in need. You put yourself into the shoes of elderly mothers abandoned for being a burden to their children. You wonder why a woman who lost her only daughter is volunteering at the cancer wing where her daughter died. You start to realise that the world is not as predictable as you thought it was, and not as black-and-white either.
  • You rethink your own values: The media wrote a story about the man who downsized his daughter’s wedding to save farmer’s lives instead. Here is an ordinary, middle-class person who probably put aside some part of his salary each month for years to save for his daughter’s wedding. As it turns out, when his daughter is to get married, farmers who have been struggling with drought are dying for want of a few thousand rupees. Should he do something? Isn’t it the government’s job? After all, he didn’t cause the drought, and he had planned for his daughter’s wedding years ago. Yet there is something about the plight of the farmers and his own money that lights a spark in him. He cuts down the unnecessary expenses and manages to donate Rs6 lakh to charity. What’s more important than the money is the fact that he gave up something important to him to focus on someone else. He has acquired a new value of his life’s priorities, his money and his relationship to others in society. This happens to many people who sacrifice something of their own to give someone else. You orient your priorities in a way that is more meaningful to others, and not just yourself.

It's something to keep in mind the next time you want to help out someone else. The rewards you get from acts of charity are not material, but it is surprising what a high value they will have for you!

What do cancer NGOs do?

On the eve of World Cancer Day, the fight against cancer is gaining public attention. The U.S. Government has announced a $1 billion fund to accelerate research in cancer cure. In India, a number of celebrities including Yuvraj Singh, Manisha Koirala, Lisa Ray have spoken publicly about their struggles with cancer. This year’s Padma awardee list included V Shanta, grand-niece of CV Raman, who has spent 40 years making cancer care affordable to the poor.

For the poor, the fight against cancer is a long struggle, from finding the right doctor to arranging finances for treatment. Patients from rural and tribal areas are forced to uproot their lives to come to cities for treatment as the local hospitals lack expertise. NGOs working in the field of cancer step in to facilitate their journey. Read about how they impact the lives of needy cancer patients:

  • Funds for treatment: While the greatest need is funds for treatment, most NGOs cannot provide the entire cost of treatment. A common intervention is to support costs of medicines, scans, radiation sessions and so on. Indian Cancer Society found that patients, alarmed by the high, recurring costs often stop their treatment after the first scan itself. They arrange for funds that cover the costs of the initial screenings and diagnosis, in addition to part-sponsoring funds during treatment. 
  • Palliative Care: Palliative care refers to end-of-life services given to patients with a terminal illness. While the disease itself cannot be cured, enduring the pain is traumatic for patients and families alike. Palliative care gives patients relief, peace and dignity during their struggle. Care India Medical Society runs customised programmes ‘Vishranti’ and ‘Satseva’ for this purpose. Both programmes are free-of-cost for patients. CanSupport specialises in providing home care for patients as some patients prefer the home rather than hospital environment.
  • Tertiary services: These are unforeseen costs and requirements that patients are not aware of, including transportation to and from the radiation centre, prosthetics, nutrition during medication and more. Cancer Patients Aid Association and V Care fundraise to meet the nutrition requirement of patients. A paediatric oncologist from Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital noted a shocking fact, that4 out of 10 children lose their fight (against cancer) because of malnutrition.’ Many of them cannot afford the cost of food that is likely to keep them alive while being treated. Cuddles Foundation provides nutrition to malnourished children who often don’t survive chemotherapy due to weak health.
  • Counselling: Many cancer patients in advanced stages come from villages to seek treatment in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities. As Mitu Puri and Geetanjali Bhalla of Pall Can Care say,..just getting into a ward could take them months”. They could be uneducated, poor, and unaware of how to navigate government hospitals. Initially, the duo offered services to children but have now extended their work when they found elderly people who travelled to Delhi alone as their families did not want to take care of them.

Many ways to celebrate India

This Republic Day brought some happy announcements for the nonprofit sector. Dr. V Shanta was awarded a Padma Vibhushan. Dr. Shanta has been tirelessly working to make cancer treatment more affordable to the poorer sections of society. (Watch our blog next month for more updates on the work of cancer NGOs!) Dr. Shanta runs one of the ‘biggest and busiest cancer hospitals in India’, her enthusiasm unabated at the age of 87. Incidentally, she is also the grand-niece of Nobel Prize winner C.V. Raman! Madhu Pandita Dasa of the Akshaya Patra Foundation and Arunachalam Muruganantham (India’s sanitary pad revolutionary) were awarded the Padma Shri, as were several other accomplished social workers. Congratulations to them all.

HelpYourNGO facilitated several connections this month. We are happy to report that Art for Akanksha’s lovely calendars have found a place at the desks of one of our clients. CSR portal Sammaan is attracting attention from corporate houses. The “Be a Brick!” Campaign has seen donors commit over Rs25,000 in just one month. The nicest moment of our month was helping Cricket Club of India with their annual Republic Day event in Mumbai. Nearly 300 children and young adults with disabilities from various NGOs came together on the CCI lawns for an evening of celebration.

February is just around the corner; time for the Deshpande Dialogue. The Dialogue is the flagship event of the Deshpande Foundation set up by NRI millionaire Desh Deshpande. Desh’s vision is to build a Silicon-Valley like incubator for social entrepreneurship in India. Unexpectedly, it’s in Hubli, not Bengaluru, and hopes to back rural entrepreneurs and students; not the usual suspects that come to mind when one hears ‘entrepreneurship’. In its short life, The Dialogue has made a name for itself as a no-frills gathering of some of the brightest and most accomplished minds in the social sector. Members of team HelpYourNGO will be heading off to Hubli, so if you are at the Dialogue do say hi!

Celebrating the future of India

Not all corporate houses choose to fund education or health. A few visionary put their funds towards asset creation – beneficial to all citizens; in the present and the future.

1. Tribal Development: Mahindra & Mahindra is best known for its Nanhi Kali programme which funds education for girl children. A hidden gem in their portfolio is their contribution to tribal communities in the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh. Working in the area for 15 years now, the Foundation intervened to help the resident tribals form farmer co-operatives to grow and market organic coffee. The all-round development approach work had environmental, economic and social benefits. The coffee grown was organic, profits stayed within the community of growers and the farmers have enjoyed y-o-y income growth.  The project has touched 100,000 lives so far. The intervention included planting six million trees in the valley by 2015.

2. Saving an endangered species: For 40 years, Tata Power has been working towards protecting and promoting the endangered mahseer fish. Most recently, they have set up a website to spread the work about this dying species. Their breeding centre at Lonavla in Maharashtra has established a proven system to breed the fish. The initiative has been successful, providing more than 10 million seed that are distributed all over the country. Their efforts have resulted in 3-4 lakh fingerlings being bred a year, rescuing the fish from extinction and increasing the biodiversity in the space.

3. Science and Technology: Narayana Murthy faced criticism for his remarks on the lack of scientific research in India. The Infosys Science Foundation is doing its part to counter the lack of funding Indian scientists and researchers based in the university. They award world class research achievements in science, mathematics, the humanities and the social sciences. Prize money is generous – the awardees receive a sum of Rs65 lakh, and the jury appears to have a good eye for winners. Sample this – a previous recipient went on to work on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals; another became the RBI Governor. Indian universities are underfunded and scientific research is often not a priority. This initiative should go a long way in encouraging their work.

4. Preserving art and heritage: Not a lot of corporates venture into heritage conservation. However, JSW Foundation, the charitable arm of the steel major JSW Steel took it upon themselves to restore the ancient Krishna temple at Hampi, Karnataka. An ambitious eight-year long project, the effort was awarded the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Many of India’s majestic ruins lie in a state of disrepair, and the Foundation’s intervention has ensured that Hampi’s temple did not meet the same fate.

Tax deduction on your donations

1. Why do I get a tax deduction on my donation?
Many of India’s poor live on less than Rs130 a day. This is hardly enough to feed a family of four, take a sick child to hospital or provide education for the poorest of the poor. Credible NGOs provide food, shelter, education and treatment for people who have dire need of it but cannot afford to pay for it. The government grants economic concessions to registered NGOs who work for the needy, and also to citizens who donate to those NGOs.
 
2. How does the government register NGOs?
As per the terms of registration, NGOs are mandated to spend spend 85% of their annual income on programme expenses in a given year.
Those that meet this qualification are granted a 12 A certificate which exempts the organisation from paying income tax. NGOs in turn apply to the Income Tax Commissioner for an 80G certificate which enables donors to claim a tax deduction based on their donation. NGOs with an  income of over Rs50,000 a year are required to have their accounts audited by a Chartered Accountant, and are also expected to file their returns with the Income Tax Commissioner each year. Failing to do so can lead to the government cancelling their registration licence. HelpYourNGO has listed 600 NGOs with audited financial reports for the past three years. You can be assured that these NGOs are compliant with legal requirements and spend their income on beneficiaries.
 
3. What kind of donations can I make?
All types of resident Indian taxpayers can claim a deduction under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Donations to certain entities are eligible for deduction under section 80G. These include prescribed government schemes and registered NGOs
  • You can claim deductions up to 10% of your adjusted gross total income while donating to NGOs. However, if you are donating to designated government schemes, there is no qualifying limit

Category

Name

Deduction

Qualifying limit on income

Prescribed Government Schemes

PM's National Relief Fund

100%

None

Other Government Schemes

PM Drought Relief Fund

50%

None

Registered NGOs

CRY, Sevalaya, Goonj..

50%

10% of adjusted gross total income

  • Donations made in cash exceeding Rs10,000 are not eligible for deductions, as are donations in kind (materials, clothes, medicines, vehicles etc.)
4. How do I claim my deduction?
Charitable donations are accounted for under section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
  • Ensure that the NGO gives you a receipt and 80G certificate when you make your donation.
  • When filing your returns, include the following details: name of the donor, PAN, address, amount contributed, receipt and 80-G certificate