Sustainability of Voluntary sector

Dear Friends,

No one can deny that voluntary efforts do require funds and other resources.

Central and State Governments do not seem to be positively inclined towards NGOs.

We, the NGOs have to look for resources with in the Country before seeking funds from outside, be it for MDGs or SDGs. Safe guarding Indians’ dignity demands rights based approach to development efforts. We have to ensure Government programmes reach the poor. Foreign funds can be utilized to facilitate this process and to promote cost effective solutions such as SRI for paddy and applying SRI principles to other crops coupled with nonchemical methods of cultivation. That integrates the objectives of resource conservation and action to slow down the process of climate change. That would reduce the costs of cultivation.

The above necessitates capacity building of communities, developing various kinds of skills and designing extension services for the same.

The objectives of creating non agricultural jobs by developing skills of the rural poor based on rural, semi-urban and urban requirements both in industrial and service sectors should also be addressed. This can be achieved easily in collaboration with State and Central Governments.

Foreign donors would be hopefully willing to fund facilitation processes, capacity building and skills development.

National and international issue based campaigns for funds can be done only by specialists and a few Agencies / NGOs.

Upscale – ability of a proposal ( cost effectiveness, simple and effective technologies, magnitude of local resource mobilization for a given external input) attracts funds from external sources.

Web appeals and mass appeals through public events for funds, internal mobilization of resources by taking full advantage of Government sources / schemes including NABARD and other Banks, partnership building under CSR, etc; could be thought of. Many NRI groups and individuals are interested in supporting innovative development action.

Future global thrust would be on facilitation but not so much of development aid / funding / grants, meaning each Country has to fund it’s own development / climate action.

NGOs, given the attrition rates within the voluntary sector, have to develop their own skills for community mobilization, project preparation, writing concept paper and presentation on a continuous basis.


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9 Responses to Sustainability of Voluntary sector

  1. V.B.Chandrasekaran says:

    The question is not one of “Sustainability of Voluntary Sector” but one of “Rejuvenating Voluntary Sector”.
    Living on the edge: The Indian Voluntary Sector- e-VANI expresses with anguish. SRRF raises the question of ‘Sustainability of Voluntary Sector’. VIKALP Sangam passionately voices concern for activism and calling MHA as Ministry for Hounding Activists. Similar voices are heard from different quarters of NGOs after the earlier ‘leaked’ IB report followed by recent MHA – Government of India attack on ‘Green Peace’- organisation and movement.
    Why not we take this as a challenge and opportunity and Rejuvenate Volunteerism that is panacea of all our evils?
    May I quote a paragraph from what Asish Kothari wrote in VIKALP Sangam that we also endorsed.
    “Lest it be misunderstood that I am painting all of India’s civil society in an uniformly rosy light, let me categorically state that there are indeed many bad eggs amongst ourselves: NGOs that are running money-making or empire-building rackets, NGOs that do not comply with statutory provisions, and so on.”

    Let us ignore these bad eggs but include those who are in the sector for meaningful self-employment, for the present dialogue.
    Will it be possible we realise that as passionate Voluntary Organisations, we got hijacked to shift our focus to hollow-professionalism to implement World Bank development paradigm of development and christened as NGOs to avoid guilt feeling? (Ref: Understanding Voluntary Organisations, Guidelines for Donors by L. David Brown and David C.Korten) .
    Will it be possible that we draw lessons from Paulo Friere and recognise that though all of us desired to transform the unjust order but because of our background we started believing that we must be the executors of the transformation? In the process, we identified active Adivasi Youth to nurture them as leaders or recognise and support them as leaders. But, we failed or we were afraid to see their aspirations to grow up the ladder as new oppressors. OR as prosperous NGOs, we created new aspirations in them but they could not follow our path because of lack of the power of English.
    1. Will it be possible that we draw parameters of Volunteerism and Voluntary Organisations, classify us and get united in different geo-political areas?
    2. With belief in Gram Swaraj, will it not be prudent that we provide links to elected local self-government get directly funds from agencies?
    3. Will it be possible we develop appropriate subjects as learning English content and provide world class facility for Adivasi youth to learn and expertise English? Let them along with their communities decide on their course to become Independent Communities- Village Republics.
    4. We incorporate subjects on Ahimsa, Satyagraha, Civil Obedience et al that will challenge the government more violently than physical violence.
    5. Shall we organise a meet of such activists starting with the geopolitical area of Dandakaranya.
    6. We need to rejuvenate Volunteerism in us and our sector. Let us draw lessons from Mahatma Gandhi, Vinobha, Lala Lajpath Roy, Leo Tolstoy, Paulo al.
    I fervently request as many of you to speak out. Our Aashramam will be glad to host one such meet.
    V.B.Chandrasekaran, Chatti Mahatma Gandhi Aashramam,
    Chatti Post, Chinthur Mandal, East Godavari District,
    Andhra Pradesh, Pin Code: 507129.

  2. V.B.Chandrasekaran says:

    Sustainability of Voluntary sector- How?

    Dear All, 28th May 2015
    I remember the childhood story in Tamil of a fly (EE) forgetting its name and going round to re-discover her name. We seem to have forgotten our original name Voluntary Organisation. Today, we are confused and weak by calling US as NGOs?!
    May I quote Baba Amte, who inspired me to join this sector- “A person without backbone needs a stick. If you are secure, you do not need security by doing jobs”. What he said for individuals, in my opinion applies to Voluntary Organisations also.
    I can confidently say that all are responding in the context of ‘leaked’ IB report and action taken by MHA against Green Peace.
    May I respond to the above topic “HOW?” with reference to two write ups as follows that in my opinion will be a complete body check-up of our sector and understanding our mind-set that I believe needs resetting.
    URL for this article
    February-March (English) 2015_Layout 1 – Vani

    Instead of finding devil in the actions of the Government, is it not time to look inwards to search as to what makes us so vulnerable?

    In the first write up Ashish Kotari says as follows in one paragraph that needs all our attention before finding fault with the government.

    “Lest it be misunderstood that I am painting all of India’s civil society in an uniformly rosy light, let me categorically state that there are indeed many bad eggs amongst ourselves: NGOs that are running money-making or empire-building rackets, NGOs that do not comply with statutory provisions, and so on.”

    In my opinion, he missed one positive thing that is as a good employment opportunity. -VBC

    Without being negative, can I propose the following actions that could be taken to resolve the issue of our sustainability?
    1. We broadly understand and define very flexible parameters of what Volunteerism, who is a Volunteer is and a Voluntary Organisation?
    2. Professionalism and Volunteerism in our context are closely interlinked- professionalism means to do a task efficiently. We question if professionalism and knowledge of ENGLISH language has taken a dominant role without foot on the ground of Volunteerism?
    3. We have a flexible statute and we have all the space and freedom to classify ourselves. VANI may disagree and express that Government does it. Should we look to government for our classification or shall we classify ourselves?
    4. Why is it we are not able to come together? We are making such a big cry of funds being stopped for Green Peace. We do not do it when smaller organisations are being teased by funding agencies? Are class, caste and nepotism playing a role in our sector and Funding Agencies? It may not be prudent and discrete to speak out on other shady aspects, now.
    5. In working papers on Guidelines for Donors made by World Bank and written by L David Brown and David C Korten, under the caption- “UNDERSTANDING VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS”, they clearly develop on how VOs became NGOs to accommodate heavy salaries and remuneration being paid to professionals. Do we have the wits and guts to say that we are VOs? The present popular NGOs should be classified as Non Profit companies or Cooperatives of Professionals.
    6. To form and manage a Voluntary Organisation is a natural right recognised legally as our Fundamental Right. In India, our Democracy values this. If we are strong and united, we will not have the question of our sustainability.
    7. Can I make the following Statement as ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and seek your response? I am not against getting the support of foreign, government or CSR funding. In my opinion, we cease to be a Voluntary Organisation if we depend upon such funds. Our ideal should be to depend upon public funds and earn our resources by non-profitable means.
    8. Missionaries, Colgates, Fair and Lovelies, Coca Colas, Maoists ad even corporate colleges are going to establish in interior villages. Is it not a sad story that we are flying to capitals?
    9. VOs have become NGOs and now literally Corporates. Their establishment and overheads is top heavy. On the one hand this eats away the funding of small VOs and on the other we are crushed by our own weight. Shall we reflect on this?
    10. Instead of begging the Government to frame a Policy on our Sector, why not we frame our policy towards the Government, Corporate and Funding agencies?
    11. Funding agencies change their priority without or with least consultation with US. In 70s, we said our priorities and got funds. Today, they are dictating their priorities. Why this topsy turvy change being tolerated by US?
    12. Why not we plan to get funds directly to the Panchayaths in whose area we are investing the funds? We all blame the government for not empowering the Panchayaths but we are in turn doing similar thing by bypassing the Panchayaths. Why not we build partnerships with local self-governments? Why not we develop participatory and even direct democratic CULTURE in the working of our organisations?
    Let me end with the following quote and sum up.
    Brave New World

    “The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. “Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”
    ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
    V.B.Chandrasekaran, Chatti Mahatma Gandhi Aashramam,
    Chatti Post, Chinthur Mandal, East Godavari District,
    Andhra Pradesh, Pin Code: 507129.

  3. Viney Kapoor says:


    The topic should better be ” Sustainability of Voluntary Sector – HOW ? ”

    It is not only the stream of Government funding for NGO gradually drying up. The “JHUNJHUNA” of CSR is even of what use. Every business house/group has its own NGOs registered and working in the field of “EDUCATION & TRAINING” with special concessions to the children of their own employees in lieu of “Education Allowance” and simply to plough back this trained workforce in their own different enterprizes being these very employes being entrusted to select the requisite manpower for future requirements.

    These business houses are not at all be interested to disburse these CSR funds to other Civil Society Organisations.

    A simple suggestion to reverse the process is to create a seperate creation of “CSR BANK” and making it mandatory to depsit all the CSR funds to this bank with a facality to get 50% of those funds for their group NGOs and the balance to be disbursed to other civil society organizations.

    Need is to propogte the idea with advocacy and lobbying at all levels to take a concrete shape of the proposal.


    (Viney Kapoor)
    Chief Functionary
    National Council of Social Welfare

  4. C Uday says:

    Dear Friends,

    Political parties and Governments across the Globe seem to be having issues with non-profits!

    Follow The New York Times Politics and Washington on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up …

    C Uday

  5. C Udayashankar says:

    Dear Friends,
    Some clarity as regards Govt’s policy towards what I call “F D Grants” through the third sector that is the voluntary sector would emerge from the results of just started FCRA renewal process. I am sure wise counsels prevail upon the authorities.
    Voluntary sector should focus more on facilitating implementation of State and Central schemes meant for the poor and measures aimed at achieving sustainable development and retarding climate change. That shows voluntary sector is not opposed to Government efforts.
    Our PM wants to privatize social sector. Why not through federations of SHGs duly recognized by Village / taluk / District Panchayaths / authorities? NGos can facilitate such a process.
    Voluntary action is as old as hills. Foreign funds or no foreign funds,
    Swachanda seva continues.

  6. Subhash Mittal says:

    Thankyou Uday for raising the very vital question of how NGOs would need to fund their activities. Increasingly it is becoming clear that government is discouraging foreign funding of NGOs. An earlier Home Secretary, who is now part of BJP dispensation, in a press conference during his tenure, had stated that Govt does not encourage foreign funding of NGOs. The statement was not in line with the Voluntary Sector Policy adopted by the then Planning Commission. But at least it helped understand Govt’s real intentions. Thus one can say that the cat was out of bag a long time ago. Genesis of present tightening of screws on foreign funding (foreign donors of all colours, even reputable ones are being put under pressure using the bureaucratic tactics) had been indicated long time ago.

    From this it is very clear that Govt wants to dry out the funds of organisations with ‘activist agendas’, however genuine their activities be. As Mr Mendhapurkar very rightly says that CSR funds are only for education. No CSR would ever fund an activist organisation, even if the funds being provided are not for such activities. Fact is no corporate would like to be associated with an organisation which has an anti Govt image. Therefore it has become increasing clear that any NGO which does not agree with Govt policies and wishes to work on highlighting the same will be facing difficult times.

    Perhaps need to revisit our local contacts in raising funds, however meagre these maybe, was never more required.

  7. The suggested means of raising funds are welcome – the problem is no CSR or other funds are available for social sector development except education and that is viewed as privatization of education sector.
    The most important aspect of Voluntary Agencies is to keep the consciousness of people alive and raise their ability to question the developmental model’ that is pursued or mobilize marginalised people to ask for share in the distributive resources of the Nation. At present, this is precisely is not welcomed- Having an experience of more than 3 decades in the sector, the major change I find amongst the Civil Servants is the rising arrogance with a belief that Government is capable to solve all the problems/issues and nobody should intervene. The previous generation of Civil servants understood the limitations of government and they encouraged VO to intervene.

    • Dwaraka Pandurangi says:

      It is disheartening to see that govt funding for NGOs is practically not there and as for CSR – it is very sad that PSUs are most happy to give their CSR funds togovt agencies and to Prime Minister’s relief fund – just so that they do not have to answer questions about the choice of NGO or how good the NGO is!!!! People who have access to so much funds, people who occupy positions of importance should be able to justify their choice of cause / NGO they want to support. What’s more, the ACT says that funds used by CSR committees to educate themselves about causes / NGOs will also form part of the 2% PAT that companies have to give for CSR – so, why can’t they study organizations well and choose well instead of passing money from their one hand to their own other hand!

      As for private companies – for one thing, many are resisting doing CSR and those that ARE doing CSR, it is fashionable for them to say they are supporting education, but no one seems to appreciate the fact that SPECIAL EDUCATION IS A PART OF EDUCATION!!!
      Disability is forever branded as disability. How can we ever hope for an inclusive society?

      PSUs’ CSR personnel ought to be enlightened into doing responsible CSR – if anyone, they are the people who can facilitate a lot of positive changes in our society and nation. They have huge funds at their disposal. When given to NGOs, they get a full account of how they are utilised, whereas we have no idea whatsoever how govt agencies’ funds are utilised!

      I wish the ACT also said that PSU’s funds should not be given to Govt agencies and that they should be given to good NGOs!

      Dwaraka Pandurangi
      Volunteer Fundraiser

  8. We all , including Govt. Planners understand very well that Govt. alone can not deliver to the downtrodden in the country. Here the VOLUNTARY SECTOR can play a major role. For any activity the funds are required. Funds are available locally and there are also Govt. funds. The only important aspect to be noted is that whatever funds are available they are put to proper use. This should be followed with constant followup by the programme implementers. In my 40 years of service experience I know the Govt. launched number of developmental schemes which were supported by the financial institutions, had all those schemes been successfully implemented we would have been an advanced country. We may do little but do that properly. Thanks.

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