SICP was engaged in a capacity building exercise for CSOs under the auspices of the Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Program. PACS Program was a large, non-governmental effort against poverty in India, supported by Department for International Development (DFID) of UK.
The primary goal of this program was empowerment of the poor. It included the enhancement of their capacity and the civil society organizations working for them. Under this program, SICP had conducted Orientation Training programs for Boards of partner CSOs of PACS in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, UP and Bihar.
As a part of “Learning in Board Governance” activity, SICP organised a daylong National Convention on CSO governance on 28th September 2007 in the Conference hall of the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj, and New Delhi-110070. This effort to foster the development of knowledge was titled “Board Governance of CSOs and Organizational Management: Issues and Solutions”.
The purpose of the convention was to deepen the knowledge about CSO governance. The convention focused on exchange of knowledge, experience, insights in effective practices and principles of board governance and organizational development. It also discussed the future form and substance of CSO governance and steps towards building strategies for excellence.
Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy organised a national level training workshop for professional staff of donor organisations (foundations, companies with CSR programmes and international donor agencies), from December 1-3 2003, to serve as a pilot for a longer-term training programme. It is the first time that such a training programme has been attempted in India.
First of its kind in India
Unlike abroad, where the field of philanthropy is well developed and several training courses are available to enhance the effectiveness of professionals working in donor organisations, in India, to date there was no training programme for professionals of donor organisations. This is partly due to the fact that there are few grant making foundations in India and, therefore, no demand for such training.
But now, this situation is changing. With more and more foundations being set up, many of whom are, at least partly, grantmaking, and with many companies now forming partnerships with NGOs and financing their work, the need for professionals trained for donor organisations is greater. It is this which prompted SICP to undertake such a programme.
The workshop was supported by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and attracted 14 participants from grantmaking foundations and donor agencies from all over India. Amongst them were professionals from the Tata Trusts, Mumbai, Coorg Foundation from near Bangalore, USAID, Japan Foundation and three other foundations from Delhi. There was also a participant from the Bangladesh Freedom Foundation, Dhaka.
A resource person making his point !
The objectives of the workshop were:
To help participants understand the context in which to situate their grantmaking and how good grantmaking can help engineer change in society and make an impact on chosen fields,
To help them to enhance their analytical ability and skills as grant makers, and
To offer an opportunity for self-development as a non-profit professional.
The workshop curriculum was designed and developed with the help of an advisory committee of eight individuals well known in the non-profit world and experts in grantmaking, and was conducted by 11 different faculty, with in-depth knowledge of their subject. Amongst the latter were Deep Joshi of PRADAAN, Ajay Mehta of the National Foundation for India, Anmol Vellani of the India Foundation of the Arts, Raghu Anantanarayan of Tao Knoware and Joselyn Martins -- a leading chartered accountant.
The workshop was structured round three themes:
• Me and My Environment (External and Internal, i.e. within the Organisation)
• Me as a Grantmaker
• Me as a Person
Participants busy in a group exercise
The modules on all the three days were directed primarily at the first two themes with a view to imparting knowledge, encouraging analysis and building skills. The third theme -- to promote reflection and self-analysis -- was a thread in all the sessions.
But it was particularly emphasised in the evening sessions on the first three evenings, the sessions being conducted by leading HR experts and behavioural scientists.
Presentations by the resource persons comprised case studies, audiovisual presentations and role-plays.
The themes of the different sessions were:
• Challenges Before Civil Society
• Legal & Fiscal Environment
• Values and Principles underlying Philanthropy
• Strategies and Policies
• Programme Planning and Design
• Grant Appraisal and Development
• Programme Monitoring & Evaluation
• Relationships: With Grantees and other Stake Holders
• Documentation / Communication of learning to a wider audience
• Self knowledge and Personal Development (Reflective)
In casual mood, during one of the break sessions !
Feedback and Suggestions
From the concluding feedback session it was clear that most of the participants had found the workshop useful and SICP was requested to hold more such workshops in future, tailored to meet the needs of different experience and decision making levels in donor organisations, some of which could be purely skill building and others to stretch conceptual thinking about new frontiers.
There were also suggestions from the Bangladeshi participant that perhaps more Bangladeshi and other South Asian Foundations could participate in future and that the course should then be appropriately modified to reflect their different context.
Some more feedback:
1- Selvi Roy from Indo German Social Service Society, New Delhi, said: “SICP has pioneered and has done an excellent job in identifying a ‘gap’ and interfacing it. SICP can try to facilitate trustees / boards of grantors to come together on similar issues.”
2- Sugandhi Baliga from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai, found the interactive sessions “really useful for reflection and for sharing experiences”.
3- Prodyut Mukherjee from Sir Ratan Tata Trust appreciated “the openness with which issues were addressed by both the facilitators and the participants”.
4- Very meticulously planned workshop
5- With the groundwork and the effort that SICP had put in, the success was not a surprise
6- Very minutely taken care of and thus Programme went so smooth
Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy (SICP) organised a one-day workshop on Effective Governance through Effective Boards on 16th September in New Delhi, in partnership with Board Source in USA (one of the few organisations that is devoted exclusively to the governance of voluntary /not-for-profit organisations) and Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy (CAP) in Mumbai (a non-profit organisation engaged in the promotion of institutional philanthropy).
Attended by senior representatives of Delhi-based Trusts and Foundations, donor agencies and non-governmental organisations, the workshop was conducted by Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, Director - Training and Consulting in Europe and Asia for Board Source, and Mr. Noshir H. Dadrawala, Executive Director of CAP.
Conducted in an interactive manner, the topics that the workshop covered for discussion included: Role and responsibilities of Governing Boards; Co-operation between Governing Board and Staff members;
Board operations (including meetings and committees); and Board’s role in fundraising and public relations.
The workshop was organised with the objective to enhance the effectiveness of various philanthropic organisations in the Indian non-profit sector through appropriate involvement of their Governing Boards.
For more details, please refer to the 21st September 2003 issue of the Financial Express.
At the behest of the Law ministry’s justice department, the Law Commission has prepared a consultation paper for enacting a law for the purpose of regulating the contributions collected during natural and other calamities. SICP has submitted its comments on the paper to Mr. T. K. Vishwanathan, Member Secretary, Law Commission. Presented below is an excerpt of SICP’s observations.
We entirely support the move to regulate unprincipled misappropriation or misutilisation of charitable funds donated for a noble purpose. However, we believe that the problem needs to be situated in the wider context of charitable giving in India, and the Govt.-civil societyinterface. As we are well aware, mere enactment of laws does not ensure solution to a problem. And the enactment of a law isolated from the other enactments related to charity, as well as the setting up of the regulatory authority as proposed, may not have as salutary an effect as reviewing the situation in the context of regulation of charity as a whole.
Govt.-civil society Interface Issues
There are a number of issues of concern in the government-civil society relationship. Mainly they are:
• A need to review and redefine accepted definitions of popularly used concepts – “charity”, “non-profit”, “voluntary”, “civil society”, “development organisations” and so on, especially as interpreted in the laws and regulations governing the sector;
• Lack of authentic official statistics pertaining to the sector;
• Securing a more enabling and supportive legal, fiscal and administrative framework;
• Finding a voice in policy making;
• Funding practices of government;
• Good governance of civil society organisations to reflect transparency and accountability;
• Lack of a mechanism for redressing grievances without recourse to the courts;
• Lack of a permanent forum for ongoing interaction between civil society and government.
Piecemeal regulation of a particular kind of charity (i.e. contributions to relief funds), without looking at other aspects of the charitable sector as a whole can be likened to the story of blind men each describing an elephant. In order that the voluntary sector is enabled to play an appropriate role in nation building, it is necessary:
• To strengthen its capacity to provide services for its clients in accordance with its values of individual care and dignity;
• To increase its capacity to raise its own resources by encouraging people to give time and financial resources;
• To establish and maintain a professional relationship with governments.
Charity being a state subject, there are a number of enactments and corresponding administrative structures at the state level to administer charity laws, which are meant to oversee the functioning of civil society organisations (CVOs). For instance, Maharashtra and Gujarat have offices of the Charities Commissioner to oversee charities in these states; Tamil Nadu has a department of Religious and Charitable Endowments, and others have something similar for charitable trusts, and Registrar of Societies to deal with organisations registered under the Societies Act. Only the Income Tax Act and FCRA are applicable all over India. The IT law regulates the utilisation of charitable funds, and also provides incentives to encourage private contributions to charity. The FCRA was essentially meant to control external funds that could be used to threaten national security. However, in practice it has come to regulate the receipt and spending of foreign funds irrespective of security concerns. We need to consider whether these can be replaced by a single enactment or regulatory structure.
Currently, charitable organisations have several problems in the practical administration of the Acts, whether it is in getting tax exemptions or FCRA registration.
In any case, the legal and administrative framework and infrastructure concerned with charitable organisations in India is mostly for regulating activities and does little to encourage and promote healthy development. For instance, the Charities Commissioners of Maharashtra and Gujarat levy access for charities administration but no development work is undertaken with this fund. There is no forum for redressal of grievances, the only recourse being to regular courts, and in the current state of things, this is hardly an option.
Finally, there is no forum for regular ongoing dialogue between the state and charitable organisations on macro issues of concern to all and which can be reflected in policymaking.
Many countries across the world are facing a similar situation. Because of this many civil society leaders worldwide have lobbied for a review of the govt.- civil society relationship, and institutional mechanisms for the same. In response, several governments have initiated review of and dialogue with the voluntary sector in their countries.
Apart from developing an agreement between the govt. and the voluntary sector, several countries have also given attention to developing different mechanisms to ensure that the voluntary sector is well governed in terms of achieving stated objectives, compliance with legal requirements, financial integrity and accountability not only to the donors but the beneficiaries and society as a whole.
The U.K. has perhaps the oldest institutional mechanism for ensuring good behaviour on the part of the charitable sector.
In Canada and Australia, after extensive reviews and dialogues, it was realised that the institutional machinery governing the sector needs to be redesigned to respond better to the new realities facing both governments and the sector. What is required is more than a watchdog to monitor the financial accountability of the sector; it is also necessary to help the sector meet its full potential.
Before we rush into another enactment, we believe there is a need to look at the present charities administration in India to see what can be done to improve it and to consider whether the establishment of an independent and autonomous National Charities Commission, rather than a regulatory authority for only certain kinds of charitable contributions, is a feasible solution for meeting the needs of good governance and development of the charitable sector.
• The problem is not only of misappropriation or misutilisation but also of non-utilisation. The public should be concerned if large amounts of charitable funds, which could go for long-term development, are lying idle.
• There should be some mechanism for public information about the use of the funds. Anybody seeking bonafide information should be able to receive it and there should be periodic public statements about the amounts collected and how they were utilised.
• The setting up of a Judicial authority along with a Regulatory authority will, we believe, lead to a heavy administrative structure and expenditure for only a part of the charitable field.
SICP organised a brain storming session on religious philanthropy on June 18 in New Delhi. The event was organised as a follow-up to the publication of SICP’s book entitled For God’s Sake: Religious Charity and Social Development in India, and in keeping with SICP’s mandate to periodically organise programmes for sensitising different groups of people and disseminating relevant information on religious philanthropy for wider involvement of individuals, institutions and organisations.
The objective of the meeting was to get a group of people together to primarily deliberate, understand, conceptualise and plan a course of action that SICP could initiate in the near future.
Representatives of different religious faiths, NGOs and research institutions attended the meeting, which was moderated by Rev. Valson Thampu, member of the Delhi Minorities Commission.
Some of the long and short-term activities that were suggested for SICP to carry out in the future were:
• Commission progressive religious leaders to do a series on the true meaning of charity as contained in different religious texts, and how it can be interpreted to meet contemporary needs.
• Identify and put progressive religious and secular organisations in touch with each other.
• Organise seminars for the managing committee members of leading religious organisations to reorient their mindsets regarding charity.
• Develop curricula to focus on giving as a path to prosperity. The curricula should be so designed as to encourage children to think through their own concept of what religion should mean.
• Use print and electronic media to disseminate ideas on religious philanthropy.
Close on the heels of SICP’s study on religious giving entitled For God’s Sake: Religious Charity and Social Development in India (publication launched in December 2002), Charities Aid Foundation India co-hosted with SICP a one-day high-level meet in Bangalore on March 21, 2003, to brainstorm ideas on Faith Based Giving and Social Development in India. The meeting was attended by people and organisations representing different religious faiths across India.
Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy (SICP) held its Third Annual Conference of Trusts and Foundations from January 8 - 10, 2003 in Chennai. The theme of the conference was "Making Partnerships Work".
Overall 27 participants attended the two-and-half day event from Trusts and Foundations across India. As always, the conference this year too had excellent speakers from all over the country, including Chennai.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Pushpa Sundar, executive director of SICP, stated the two main objectives behind organising the conference: Firstly to give more visibility to Indian charitable foundations, and secondly to knit foundations together into a strong network so that they can learn from each other’s experiences and become more engaged in public policy debate.
The conference was inaugurated by Mr. M. V. Subbiah, an eminent industrialist of Chennai from the Murugappa group, while Mr. N. Ram, editor of Frontline, presided.
The conference had six sessions that focused on various facets of partnership.
Apart from focused presentations for different sessions, there were three speakers who delivered special lectures at the conference.
The conference received a positive feedback from the participants.
M. V. Subbiah lighting the lamp to inaugurate the conference while Mr. N. Ram and Ms. Pushpa Sundar look on.
For details on the learnings that emerged from the conference, please click here.
As a part of the organization's pursuits towards creating an enabling environment for charities and voluntary organisations in India, we had undertaken a research project on Charity Administration in India for the Planning Commission, Government of India. The research project was aimed at undertaking a critical review of the existing institutional framework, which administers charity law in India. The objective of the research was to suggest institutional as well as policy changes and / or additions to ensure that charitable contributions by the public are properly utilised and the voluntary sector is enabled to effectively play its role in nation building.
The aim of the study was to ascertain whether the state has been able to
• Promote charity and social action;
• Effectively investigate and check misuse;
• Encourage public confidence in charity;
The study also discusses the purpose for which various registration and compliance laws for NGOs have been enacted and various state level agencies established, and on the basis of an all India study, makes suggestions on how the objectives can be met more effectively through reform in the existing institutional framework or through alternative legal and institutional arrangements.
The research conducted on an All India level sought the views and experiences of the following stakeholders to make a realistic interpretation of the existing situation
• Voluntary organizations, including Societies, Trusts and Section 25 companies.
• Professionals including lawyers, CAs, etc associated with voluntary organizations;
• Government officials responsible for administering charity law including Income Tax, Charity Commissioners, Registrar of Societies, etc. Under the aegis of this research project, SICP also organised a Focus Group Discussion on the issue of "Charity Administration in India" inAugust 2004. The meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders, including government officials involved in charity administration; representatives of the voluntary organizations and networks taking the lead on such issues; and professionals such as Chartered Accountants and lawyers associated with voluntary sector in India. The objective of the meeting was to present the preliminary findings of an all India level study undertaken by SICP, as a part of the aforementioned project, and to elicit views and opinions of key functionaries engaged in charity administration for institutional as well as policy improvements. A number of suggestions emerged as a result of interaction with the above stakeholders, which helped SICP to put together the thinking on this issue.
The Report on the current scenario and recommendations for an effective institutional arrangement for charity administration has been submitted to the Planning Commission. Comments are awaited from them for the finalization and wider dissemination of the findings.
SICP Executive Director, Pushpa Sundar,
attends conference on
'Community FoundationsSymposium on Global Movement'
organised by ISTR/WINGS-CF in Berlin, Dec 2004"
While community foundations (CFs) have become perhaps the most popular model for modern day philanthropy throughout the world, it is a model which has been successful mostly in developed countries and in urban areas.
In India they have not caught the imagination of either the public, civil society or policy planners. The few CFs that exist are largely urban, and owe their existence mainly to external intervention and funding. There has been little effort to promote CFs in rural India. This is surprising, considering that the community foundation model has great potential for empowerment of the poor, and there has been extensive experimentation with different organizational models in rural anti poverty programmes. The literature on the organizational aspects of community driven development for removal of rural poverty, much of it contributed by various UN development agencies such as the World Bank and IFAD, has scarcely a mention of the community foundation model. Academic literature on civil society in India has also ignored the community foundation movement.
The lack of previous research on rural philanthropy in India, and even globally, as well as very few instances of rural community foundations on the ground, has limited the discussion in this research paper.
However, within these limitations, this paper first considers how the CF model can help empower poor communities, and then explores the reasons why rural CFs have not been adopted in anti poverty programmes. It suggests that this could be due to the nature of Indian philanthropy; systemic constraints; a disconnect between development theory and the assumptions which have prompted the growth of community foundations worldwide; and donor strategy
It concludes that in spite of the many constraints in the way, community foundations deserve to be promoted more proactively as an instrument for community driven development in rural India by funders, policy makers, and civil society organizations alike. However, instead of a one-size fits all approach, the strategy should be context specific and build on existing indigenous initiatives.
» more in depth research and documentation of the reality of rural philanthropy, other instances of community foundation like organizations in rural India which can be built upon, and how to create the conditions which would make a rural CF viable.
» a sustained promotional campaign to popularize the concept and its benefits for community driven development among rural communities and among voluntary agencies. And, finally,
» that an advocacy campaign by interested stakeholders, targeted at large funding agencies and the government, will become necessary to get the concept mainstreamed in major anti poverty programmes.