By Vidya Pradhan
Another year has gone by and despite your best intentions, the barren lines 16 through 19 on Schedule A of your 1040 form are staring back at you accusingly once more. You want to give back; you mean to give back, but doubts over which organization is most deserving, how your money is going to be used, and the potential impact of your offering have led to unwilling procrastination when it comes to charitable donations to India.
Now GiveIndia, a non-profit venture conceived by Venkat Krishnan in December 1999, makes it easy for the charitable impulses that we all have to find a suitable home.
The premise is simple – NGOs in India register their projects with GiveIndia. A team of professionals vets both the organization and the project using norms developed by the Credibility Alliance and Give India’s own criteria. These norms include both basic requirements like registration and vision statements and more stringent ones like composition of the organization’s board and operational structure.
There is a small fee associated with registering with GiveIndia, purely to gauge the seriousness of the registering organization. In return, the non-profit gets the benefit of being under the Give India umbrella and availing of its brand and marketing and access to international donations.
For potential donors, there is the satisfaction of knowing that their contribution is directly impacting a specific project that is close to their hearts. On the GiveIndia website, it is possible to drill down from a broad category like disability to sponsor, for instance, a Braille typewriter for a blind student. The level of detail is satisfying; instead of your money disappearing amorphously, there is something to hold on to.
Large donors also have the option of developing a project. One example of a project that was sponsored through GiveIndia was for an NGO called Janakalyan Welfare Society. The project assisted 25 people living with HIV/AIDS in Amalapuram Mandal of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The project expenses were broken down into medical treatment and home based counseling with feedback in the form of doctors’ and counselors’ reports, photos and case studies.
Feedback is another cornerstone of Give India’s message. All donations receive feedback and the ability of NGOs to provide a fairly high degree of the same is an important criterion in the selection process. The idea is to keep the process as transparent as possible and make accountability a core priority to attract donors who may never have the opportunity to see their money at work.
There is a cost associated with it. Approximately 9% of your donation goes to sustain GiveIndia itself. Pawan Mehra, who volunteers for GiveIndia in the US, argues that because the donation goes directly to the project, this is actually a far lower overhead than donating to the organization itself would accrue. ( GiveIndia claims that 90% of its donations go to the project directly as opposed to 60% if routed through the NGO.) Registering with Give India also lowers marketing costs for the organization, which in turn is free to allocate more of its resources to actual charity work.
GiveIndia, which is managed by professionals who have earlier worked with various corporates, prides itself on being self-sustaining. Corporate services in India like payroll giving and organizing the charitable arm of marathons significantly contribute to the bottom line. Projects for large donors also make the organization viable. In the last 8 years, GiveIndia has vetted over 1000 NGOs to come up with a list of about 100 that have met their stringent requirements.
Don’t let another regretful April 14th roll around. Here is an opportunity for the Good Samaritan in you to donate without doubt. Helping someone in India is just a click away.
All donations through GiveIndia are tax deductible in the US.