The homeless who need food. The strays that need medical attention. The rivers that need cleaning and safeguarding. There are causes that touch our hearts. We find ourselves wanting to help them in any way we can. Many of us donate to Non-Profit Organisations (NGOs) and other socially-driven organisations. Some of us volunteer with them. But you might want to take on a more active role and start your own organisation.
You Need To Build The Right Foundation
The right idea, the drive to convert it into a reality, and the determination to see it through are all important when you start any type of organisation. “The most important thing is to be sure that this is what you want to do,” says Meena Bedarkar, founder of Nirmalya, a non-profit organisation that works for the welfare of the physically challenged, which she started in 2005. She advises you to first decide on the field in which you want to work; “Running an NGO is a commitment we make not only to society but also to ourselves. The work requires the understanding and support of family and friends. It demands long-term involvement and a never-lose-hope attitude.”
It is also worth keeping in mind that there might be hurdles along the way. Bedarkar recalls the obstacles that have stood in the way of Nirmalya “in terms of finance, societal issues and differences in urban and rural thinking. There are hundreds of hurdles, but these are to be expected and must be taken in our stride. Persistence and dedication towards our choice of work will put all hurdles in the backseat.” She points out that what used to be a hurdle when she began is not one now. “Society has changed, mindsets have changed – new hurdles come and pass by,” she says with a smile. “It is only with determination and patience that we can overcome all this.”
Meena Bedarkar, founder of NirmalyaImage courtesy: Meena Bedarkar
“One doesn’t have to start an NGO to enter this field; many people become social entrepreneurs,” she adds. “They are profit-making businesses, with a focus on involving grass root level empowerment – rural artisans, women, underprivileged children, communities, tribes etc. Working for a social cause is serious work. It should not be done just to gain praise and the attention of peer groups. I am happy to say that many young people, who are focused and dedicated, turn to this work at an early age now.”
Remember, you do not have to start an NGO to take up a social cause; you can volunteer with one instead. This will also give you a better understanding of the work involved. If you still want to start an NGO, there are different aspects to keep in mind, from setting up the organisation, recruiting personnel, registration and documentation to the actual work you do towards the cause. Here’s what you need to understand…
Registration Is A Must
NGOs include trusts, societies, and Section 8 companies, with corresponding registrations. The registration process for a charitable organisation is governed by various laws. Registering an NGO is a way to gain legal status and become accountable for the funds that are received. It is a vital step in developing ethical and legal norms in society. You will need to have a bank account for the NGO and be registered as a trust or society. You will require a set of documents to register; find this detailed information on government websites.
Your Vision Matters
First, you need to list what your mission is and why it matters to the organisation. This step will help you plan and implement the organisation’s goals and objectives, and establish a clear vision and a focus area. Set up a board of directors or members. This is the structure of the organisation. It is important that the people on the board have a passion for helping others and are willing to do so without profit. You might also need to have support personnel such as accountants, financial advisers, and support staff.
Documentation Is The Key
The documents that you need to start an NGO are unique to this type of organisation. The process is usually done once using a trust deed or a memorandum of understanding. This contains all the details needed to establish and manage a corporation, including its name, address, and operating procedures. The memorandum must be prepared in a manner that is acceptable
to the authorities and the public.
You can get your NGO registered under various Act-related registration laws, including the Societies Registration Act, the Indian Trusts Act, and the Companies Act. In India, it is permitted for non-profit organisations to receive funds from foreign sources, but with restrictions. Therefore, it is important not to work in a vacuum. Since many people work towards the same cause, it is important that you have a wide network to be successful. The main way an NGO survives and flourishes is through partnerships.
Be open to consulting founders of other NGOs and lawyers who work in this sector for advice pertaining to your organisation. For detailed information, check out details on the respective government websites
An Insight Into The Social Service Sector Of India…
“Social work has always been a part of everyone’s life,” says Bedarkar. “Many fields – such as education, environment, women’s empowerment, social justice – were not acceptable 50 years ago. Our forefathers struggled to bring about change. They persevered, faced opposition, they laid the foundation on which we are working today.” She notes that, as society progresses, new areas in our lives will require our focus. “Social work will hold the past and embrace the future. Work at the grassroots level, yet forge ahead with technology.”
What is unique about India’s social sector?
Reveals Anuradha Prasad, CEO and Founder, India Leaders for Social Sector, “India’s complexity lies in its religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural diversity. Additionally, with a swirling diversity of 150 languages, defining India’s non-profit sector is difficult.” The length and breadth of India’s social sector make it a unique and challenging landscape, with the three million registered organisations of this sector employing about seven million people, she adds. “The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act are two main legal frameworks where the sector’s funding is monitored. India is the first country in the world to mandate CSR spending as part of the corporate law framework,” she reveals. No other sector (corporate or otherwise), she feels, can offer this range and complexity of work with the additional opportunity to help improve the lives of the underserved in society.
Also Read: Understanding The Framework And Working Of The Social Sector In India