People’s reluctance to give to charitable causes and organizations often stems from scepticism about NGOs and a lack of adequate information about how their money is used. They would be more likely to donate if they had reliable and credible information about the organization they want to support and knew for sure that their contribution was making a difference. GIVE Foundation, India was established in April 2000 to address these barriers to giving. It offers donors selected and screened NGOs to invest in via the GiveIndia.org website.
GIVE Foundation’s mission is to promote the act of giving by helping ‘good’ NGOs raise funds and promoting greater accountability and transparency in the ‘third sector’.
Since its inception GIVE (Giving Impetus to Voluntary Effort) has grown to provide two broad sets of activities to help promote a culture of giving – fundraising services and consulting services.
How GIVE’s fundraising works
GIVE’s fundraising is unique in that it identifies ‘good’ NGOs working all over India across a wide range of causes, through a fairly rigorous screening process that emphasizes transparency, accountability and a willingness to report to donors on use of funds. Responsiveness to donors is central to GIVE’s approach. Every donor gets a report on exactly how his or her contribution was used – be it a picture of a child educated or information on the women’s group whose livelihood was facilitated by the donation.
The selected NGOs are listed on GIVE’s website (http://www.GiveIndia.org). There are currently almost 100 organizations listed, and this number continues to rise. Donors can visit the site, choose an organization to support, based on comprehensive and well-researched information about the organization and its activities, and make a decision to donate. The donor can also choose to donate to a specific project or programme within each organization.
Since its inception GiveIndia.org has raised Rs3,150,000 (approx US$65,000) online and Rs16,600,000 ($350,000) offline. Neither donor nor NGO are charged any transaction costs at this point, as 100 per cent of the operating costs of GiveIndia.org are met through a grant from ICICI Bank, India’s second largest financial corporation.
Approximately 60 per cent of the money comes from within India and 40 per cent from abroad. Of the 40 per cent, roughly 80 per cent comes from the Indian diaspora and the rest from people of other nationalities. The average donation ranges between Rs2,500 ($52) and Rs3,000 ($63) from Indian and foreign donors respectively.
In order to promote diaspora giving to Indian charities more actively, GIVE Foundation Inc has been established in the USA as a 501(c)(3) registered charity that enables US donors to donate tax-effectively to projects that have been screened in advance. GIVE UK is also in the process of being set up.
GiveIndia.org also allows people to shop for artefacts produced by rural artisans, volunteer time and skills, and read sector-related news and articles. These ‘channels’ are managed by other organizations that GIVE Foundation partners with. To date over 1,100 individuals have registered to volunteer with the organizations listed on the volunteering channel.
A choice of financial instruments
GIVE offers donors, Indian and foreign, a range of ways to contribute. GIVE and ICICI Bank have recently launched a new financial instrument called Give2India. Directed at large donors and institutions, this is available both through GiveIndia.org and offline. It allows individual donors to use financial instruments like escrows and donor advised funds to remit funds to charities in India.
The escrow scheme allows the donor to fund a specific project within an organization and to have the funds transferred to the project stage by stage on completion of specific milestones; the minimum donation is $10,000. Should the project fail at any time, the donor reserves the right to shift his or her funds to another cause.
The donor advised fund allows the donor to open a charity account earmarking the amount and timetable for the donation to be disbursed to the chosen charity.
The deposit scheme gives donors the option of opening a charity account with a minimum amount of $40,000 and earmarking the interest to a chosen charity.
GIVE Foundation is also involved in an effort called the Credibility Alliance. This is a collaborative effort within the Indian voluntary sector to increase accountability and transparency within the sector as a whole. The idea is to devise a more or less uniform set of minimum ‘criteria’ or ‘norms’ across the board that organizations can voluntarily subscribe to in order to establish their credibility.
1 GIVE’s consulting services include Financial & Accounting Management Services (FAMS) for non-profits, Grant Management Services (GMS) for institutional donors and Corporate Philanthropy Services (CPS) for corporations that wish to integrate philanthropy and business strategies.
2 An ‘escrow’ is a type of bank account that allows for automatic payments to be made when predefined milestones are achieved. It is very commonly used in business, but has rarely been used in non-profits.
Venkat Krishnan N is the Executive Director of GIVE Foundation.