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Approaches for NGO Funding


Raising funds is a challenge witnessed by most non-government organisations (NGO) across all social sectors… Each organisation requires a funding strategy tailored to its own requirements. The development sector in India is increasingly witnessing drastic new changes. The inflow of foreign funding is expected to steadily decrease, directly impacting the resources of NGOs.

Over the past few years, NGOs have found alternatives to raise funds.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding

According to data compiled by Prime Database, Indian companies spent Rs 8,345 crore on various CSR activities in 2015-16. The 28% jump from the previous year’s numbers suggests that not only is CSR a major contributor for the social development of India, it has also opened up a source of funds for NGOs.

While seeking corporate funds, it is important for NGOs to understand the focus areas and programmes of corporate house. Doing this will give NGOs an insight into whether or not their projects are aligned and their projects can be funded. Accordingly, trategic partnerships can be targeted by directly contacting corporate firms or having a board member/advisor write to them. It is important to keep the communication brief with key messages highlighted.

Corporate houses select NGO partners after due diligence based on parameters including 80G certification, minimum three years of operation, legal compliance, credentials, certifications, reputation, etc. It becomes essential for NGOs to have requisite systems and processes in place while seeking CSR funding.

Provided the programmes are aligned, there is value in this partnership, wherein NGOs can leverage large funding and mentorship in building systems and increasing mindshare.

Government funding

Government provides support for specific programmes related to women and children, skill development and support for handicapped and elderly among others. With government funding, NGOs are able to tackle issues across the country while also being able to take their initiatives to scale. The Indian government has numerous funding opportunities for the development sector.

Approaching the government to seek grant support is an opportunity many NGOs miss out on. Government is very selective about funding recipients. It is pertinent for NGOs to ensure that they are legally compliant and have implemented programmes that align with the focus areas or scale of government initiatives.

Post this, NGOs can apply for government grants that suit their programmes best.


According to a Massolution report, in 2015, the global crowd-funding industry generated about $34.4 billion in capital and the 2016 figures are likely to surpass the venture capital industry. In India, social/impact crowd-funding websites like Ketto, Milaap, Wishberry, FuelADream, Catapooolt, etc. are witnessing a rising popularity among NGOs. Many NGOs have combined the gripping power of storytelling with this funding model to strike a chord with the public and raise funds, reinstating the fact that resources flow best when there is a compelling connection between the prospective contributor and the program vision.

Make Love Not Scars, an NGO dedicated to the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of acid attack victims has raised close to Rs 6 lakhs on Ketto with the help of just 240 supporters. They plan to use the funds to set up a rehabilitation centre in Delhi and curb the free sale of corrosive substances.

Another successful example is Leena Kejriwal, a public artist and founder of MISSING, an international awareness campaign against human trafficking. Leena raised Rs 16 lakhs on Wishberry, using gripping pictures and a short film on the critical issue.

While creating a crowd-funding campaign, it is important to research the popular crowd-funding campaigns and analyse them. NGOs should leverage their existing support network to reach out to a larger grid to tap into a bigger pool of funds. However, the amount of funds generated through this platformis limited.

Social Media

Social media is also a crucial platform for tapping resources. Not only are NGOs raising funds using this medium, but are also gaining supporters, volunteers and other resources. A successful example is Angel Express Foundation, an NGO connecting adult volunteers with underprivileged children to teach in local communities. By actively using social media to share engaging images, videos and testimonials from their volunteers, they have been able to raise funds, mobilise volunteers and scale their operations in a short period of time.

Animal Welfare organisations/volunteers are leveraging social media to successfully tap into individual donors for funding, rehabilitation/fostering of animals and adoptions.

Payroll Giving

Another source of funding is Payroll Giving, where corporate house encourage their employees to donate a small amount per month and demonstrate their commitment to causes they care about. In 2016, GiveIndia’s Payroll Giving program received funds amounting to Rs 8 crores from corporate employees across 60 companies.

It may be difficult for NGOs to directly approach companies. In such a scenario, registering on GiveIndia or United Way Mumbai to be a part of the payroll giving program may be a good idea. However, they have to ensure that their compliances are in place.

Cause related marketing

Cause Related Marketing (CRM) refers to any type of marketing efforts for social and other charitable causes, including companies that are willing to contribute a part of their sales proceeds to a charity of their choice. Normally, large companies like to tie-up with NGOs that are in sync with their CSR objectives. Certain financial institutions in India also provide their customers a chance to directly donate to select NGOs by setting up a call for action on their websites. This helps NGOs reach out to a wide base and receive funding from all parts of the country.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) partnered with Room to Read, an international education charity for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The partnership helped Room to Read reach out to many more children across the world with the opportunity of a quality education and the funds to implement their initiatives.

I hope the opportunities presented are useful. The starting point is to really understand your own organisation-vision, goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. and based on the alignment with these funding opportunities, leverage it to scale.


Prerana Langa is the CEO of Yes Foundation, social development arm of Yes Bank. She developed YES! i am the CHANGE, a mindset transformation project, innovatively using the medium of films to ignite the spirit of driving positive social change amongst the youth enabling them to become agents of social change.

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The CSR Journal Team