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Wednesday, July 12, 2000

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All for a worthy cause

Setting up an NGO

If you are empathetic, and enterprising, with an altruistic outlook; it's time you put your philanthropic ideas into action. Providing a panacea by making a contribution to the underprivileged is both benevolent and noble. Focus your talents for the betterment of society - it's a vocation worth your effort. A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is a private, non- profit foundation, which aims at improving the quality of life of disadvantaged people. There is an NGO for every human need as indeed for animal needs and here's what it takes to kick start an NGO.

Defining the focus

Surveying the scene and zeroing in on the mission critical areas is the first step. See what the need of the area is and act accordingly. Make sure you have your turf marked out - your organisation could be local, national or international, but whatever it is, it must be relevant.

A mission to accomplish

There should be a burning zeal in you to further the cause you espouse. You need a focused vision before you launch an NGO. Write down your mission statement and create a logo that goes with it. Also make a list of all the services you will provide. Once you are clear about this you can then communicate your ideas and float them around in order to gather the support of like- minded people.

Your utmost for the highest

Having a vision in mind is like having your eyes set on the goal. Your future plans will give you a sense of direction and will act as a benchmark while evaluating progress. Social entrepreneurship requires you to put new ideas to effective use. The mark of a true social worker is to contribute untiringly to translate a vision into reality. It is therefore expected of you to give your all, without expecting any thing but satisfaction in return.

Contacts are vital

Unless you are totally convinced about the urgency of furthering the cause you choose to spearhead, you cannot justify your stand to people who may be prospective donors. Once your mission statement and vision are in place it's up to you to raise funds to get you going. Prepare yourself for presentations.

Meet people in high positions who will accept to give a helping hand, volunteer or donate in cash or kind. If you have a wide circle of friends and contacts that are influential, then that's one up on your side. Foreign aid can also be mustered through associates.

Lobbying for Funds

Since money gets things moving, fund-raising is an important part of NGO building. Be convinced first that your project is workable and then push for financing. Money can come in as administrative grants (which cover the cost of hiring employees, infrastructure and overheads) also called core funding, and project grants. Project grants provide for the timeframe till that particular project is brought to completion.

There can also be sponsorship of a project, which includes a certain amount of the money or resources given towards administration. Don't rely entirely on any one source of money. When funds flow in from different sources you don't owe sole allegiance to one single source, this makes the NGO more independent.

Report the status of funds regularly, this will help you gain the confidence and retain the support of people who have contributed to the foundation.


Setting up the infrastructure and hiring people to man your project comes next. Persons who are compassionate, hardworking and who are interested in furthering your cause are the ones whom you should lay hold of. Individuals with a master's degree in social work would be archetypal but an expert in your thrust area should form the benchmark.


An NGO can be registered as a society, a trust or as company under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. At least three persons are needed to form a management council or a trustee board of an association.

One has to submit an application for registration to the Charity Commissioner of the region, and a nominal registration fee has to be paid. If you can manage three influential and well connected persons on the` board, it will make the task of registration that much easier and faster. It normally takes two to three months to complete the process.

In the case of registering a company it is mandatory that ``an association is to be formed as a Limited Company for promoting Commerce, Art, Science, Religion, Charity or any other useful purpose, and it intends to apply its profits, if any, or other income in promoting its objects and prohibits the payment of any dividend to its members...''

An NGO at a later stage can apply for Income Tax exemptions under section 80 (G) of the IT Act and if the NGO/Association/Trust or Company happens to be involved in scientific research 100% IT exemption is granted under section 35 (I)(1) of the IT Act.


The NGO may take about a decade to establish itself. If the resources are managed well and funds are not misused, the NGO will survive beating all odds. The vocation of providing succour to a world in need is hard work, and calls for dedication and a dare-it-all attitude.

Working to promote a worthy cause will always have its returns, and the joy of helping, rebuilding and replenishing a weary world will be a reward by itself!


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