Internal politics is one of the biggest problems faced by NGOs around the world. In India, foundations, and NGOs (registered as societies, trusts, section 8 [old – section 25] companies), are incorporated on a daily basis, either to make money or to launder it.
These organizations spend 90% of their time carrying out illicit activities. The rest is spent on blowing their own trumpets (unnecessary marketing expenses, media cover expenses, posh office buildings, vehicles, expensive resources, and so on). With illegal foreign funds, laundered money, and bogus non-existent projects, the NGO sector is a booming illegal business, worth several billion US dollars.
India houses over 20 million NGOs and 99% of them fall under this category. The Government has to take strict measures to curb this, in order to boost economic growth and reduce black money.
Understandably, regular citizens can be confused about whom to support. A donor should be aware of and make themselves familiar with certain criteria before supporting an NGO in India.
Unfortunately, bureaucracy still plays an ugly role in big NGOs. NGOs often rely on grandiose and controlled media coverage, instead of transparency. An NGO readily available with the documents below can be trusted to some extent – although make sure you remain cautious in your approach.
- Registered with 7 or more members on the board
- 12A for tax exemptions
- 80G for local fundraising
- FCRA for foreign fundraising
- Recent annual reports & audited financial reports for transparency
Despite possessing these documents and being transparent, the remaining 1% of NGOs, those which actually want to make a difference, are limited by a lack of resources, funds, and other external pressures. Absence of professionalism, limited capacity, support, and lacking the right approach further limit their performance. Below are some of the pressures which can limit an NGO’s work:
- Political pressure – Equality and true societal transformation require challenging existing power structures, often to the outrage of those currently in power.
- Societal pressure – e.g. A high caste settlement may try to drive out an NGO for working with the oppressed low caste settlement in their locality. They may want to maintain low caste oppression in order to fulfill dirty/menial jobs.
- Project area pressure – e.g. Local power bodies (politicians, village heads, etc) will try to remove NGOs because people may start questioning the bodies and their “traditional practices”, after raising public awareness of public rights and privileges.
- Project beneficiary pressure – Beneficiaries may accuse the organization of supposedly “making money at their expense”. For example, half-educated beneficiaries with little/no knowledge about community development tend to make such accusations.
- Governmental pressure – A local administrative body may simply deny entry for an NGO to work with communities, due to various underlying factors (e. g., bribe demand), overtly stating unrelated law/policy/procedure.
While some may easily give up, SHAPE sees these obstacles as a challenge to work harder, taking the projects to the deepest parts of society. The people deserve and need the help we provide, even if this means we fight against external pressures to do so.