Business 360 gives a quick response to some of the queries that we have been receiving from International donor agencies in the course of our consulting practice in NGO management.

Although some NGOs have begun to be concerned about how foreign funding can be gradually replaced with Indian money, since fairly substantial sums of foreign money are still available for NGO work, local fundraising has not yet become a strategic objective for most organisations.

NGO work in India has diverse ideological origins and underpinnings. We need to have a basic understanding of these backgrounds, if we are to design strategies for the future of these NGOs, confronted by rapidly changing social, political and economic environments.

Establishing the credentials of NGOs who approach the Indian charity market; and involving the public in the cause of the NGO thus become very important priorities, and reminds us that Fundraising has Communication and Financial objectives.

Fundraisers know that it is easier to raise money for “charity” projects, especially in an urban setting. “Rural Development” and afforestation projects are seen as responsibilities of the government and not the individual citizen. People find it easier to stay away from controversial projects working with AIDS/HIV patients and “Gender Relations” and support universally non-controversial projects working with child welfare.

NGO work has been called “Non-Party Political” work, because it involves organising people around issues and demanding change. In this sense, NGO work which questions the status quo should provide some cause for concern to politicians who find their omnipotence threatened.

The impact of foreign money flowing into India has been so great that it has inspired a piece of legislation called the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). This Act is used by the Home Ministry to control the NGO sector through it’s achilles heel of funds, without which the NGO cannot function in it’s existing form.

Foreign funding, which is controlled by the FCRA, forces NGOs to seek “safe” and non-controversial issues including the delivery of government programmes. Becoming an extension of the government must cause considerable dissonance for organisations which call themselves “Non-Governmental” organisations.

If it were possible for Indian NGOs to raise their funds within the country, at one stroke, it releases them from the government surveillance associated with the FCRA, and provides them with a “mandate” for the work they are doing.