Monday, February 11, 2008

How can NGOs in India really start raising funds

India has around 1.2 million NGOs. The population having a giving potential is also around 400 million. These are really mind boggling figures. A possible donor community larger than the entire population of USA or a big chunk of European Union! At a glance, these indicators make Indian fundraising market appear as a highly mature entity. But the real picture is totally opposite. The Indian fundraising scenario is still in its nascence. One can argue that professional fundraising in India has been around for more than quarter of a century. But for good two decades, only a handful like CRY and HelpAge India were really practicing it. And only these clutch of NGOs managed the distinction of being funded by mass voluntary contributions. But how did a country with vibrant civil society and giving population manage such a lump? No, it is not even about the giving culture or lack of it. Infact the country has a very powerful giving strain in its DNA.

The main reason for this was that the voluntary sector in India never needed to score around for funds. With its teaming millions needing help, there were pots of money pouring. Every one including the bilateral, international organisations, overseas non profits and philanthropists had India on its priority. This kind of put the Indian NGOs in a reverse time wrap when it came to fundraising. So, while they developed various programmatic and operational functions in their organisations, fundraising was sadly never thought of.

Unfortunately, the dream run is about to end. India is loosing favour with the international donors. Suddenly, the Indian voluntary sector finds itself devoid of the very sources it always thought were permanently there. But all is not lost. The good thing is that Indian donor community is today largest in the world and waiting to be tapped. It is high time the voluntary sector ramps up its act. It is not an impossible path but only a little difficult. Every NGO can develop its own sources for sustainability. It just needs some application and investing in. In my future blogs I plan to write exactly about it. While, it will also be of use to large NGOs, I plan to make it more relevant for the smaller ones. Please keep visiting this space.

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