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NGOs in India lack experienced fundraisers: Surat Sandhu

Jun 05, 2014

Graduates from IITs and IIMs should take the challenging job of fundraising in the NGO Sector, says Surat Sandhu of The Resource Alliance.

Surat Sandhu

New Delhi: Experts are increasingly feeling the need for more professionalised ways of fund raising for better programme implementation and accountability among Indian nonprofits.

Surat Sandhu, Chair, The Resource Alliance, regrets that there is an over dependence on foreign funding when the extent of funds available in the country is enormous, much more than what comes from abroad.

According to experts most NGOs in India are dependent on funding and support from government and international donors. Therefore, they have not been able to develop their own visions largely due to the lack of professional fundraisers available in the country.

“Unfortunately, we do not have professional fundraisers. International money is slippery. They can shift it anytime. Even the erstwhile international nonprofits which are now registered as Indian NGOs and raising funds here have never tried to build the fundraising capacity of Indian NGOs ever,” Sandhu explained.

Graduates from IITs and IIMs should take the challenging job of fundraising in the NGO Sector, he said. “These graduates with their perception, systematic thinking, wider exposure and original ideas can change the fundraising scenario in the NGO Sector,” Sandhu added.

In the West, trained fundraisers are able to raise billions of dollars each year for the not-for-profit sector. However, in India only about a billion dollars (Rs 6,000 crores to 7,000 crores) are raised every year by NGOs despite the potential being to the tune of over $ 15 billion a year. The Tsunami Relief fund could draw only a meagre Rs.50-100 crores in India whereas on the contrary in the UK $ 1 billion were in just 60 days.

More than $3 billion dollars come into the country through the FCRA route as foreign funding but not even a small fraction of 1 per cent of this is spent on training, skill building and up gradation in fundraising.

Sandhu feels that foreign funding has also brought in certain complacency amongst NGOs which, while getting these funds have not developed their indigenous fundraising. “NGOs getting foreign funds need to realize that this funding is not likely to continue for ever and they need to invest in local fundraising which alone can move them to sustainability and independence,” he said.

Latest economic surveys have revealed an increase in the level of disposal income among households in India followed by over a million high net worth individuals (87,000 millionaires in dollar terms) who are still untapped. Many would wish to support if approached professionally. This untapped potential further expedites the need for creating fundraisers urgently in India.

The Company’s Act- 2013 has facilitated the availability of funds from the Corporates for development work thereby creating massive opportunities for NGOs to raise and use these funds.

To address the issue of fundraising, The Resource Alliance is also holding an International Workshop on Resource Mobilisation (IWRM) Asia-2014 from 19-22 August. Speaking about the workshop, Usha Menon, a consultant, practitioner and a veteran in fundraising in Asia said, “IWRM Asia will imbibe participants with practical skills that will help build their fundraising capacity and provide insights into best practices in local resource mobilisation from leading fundraising experts and practitioners,” he said.

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