At 11 years of age, Ruhi should have been buried in books all day; instead, she is sitting with a pile of shuttlecocks all around her. Her day starts with knitting shuttlecocks and ends with helping her mother in household chores. Had this routine continued, Ruhi could have been a classic example of untapped potential and lost childhood. Thanks to a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), which rescued her from the clutches of child labour.
In Ruhi’s community, girl child education is not a priority. Ruhi was forced to give up her dreams of going to school and contribute to the economy of the house, as her parents were daily wage labourers. It was not easy to convince Ruhi’s parents about the importance of girl child education. After 2 years of persuasion and behavior change education, the NGO was successful in sending Ruhi back to school. All this was possible because many of us still believe in investing in girl child education. Children like Ruhi are direct beneficiaries of child sponsorships. When a child is sponsored, an entire community transforms. The change it creates is lasting, and it continues for generations. In short, poverty becomes history for the family and the community at large.
Child Sponsorships is one of the ways to address poverty. Different aspects of life, such as good health, quality education, a happy family and a safe environment is the key for the well-being of children. Aid agencies and Civil Society Organization’s (CSO) work relentlessly in this space for social change.
This pandemic (COVID 19) has impacted millions of families especially their livelihood. Thousands of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) stepped in to alleviate the needs of the most vulnerable by providing food, healthcare, cash transfers to psycho-social support and awareness. At the same time, the pandemic also left many NGOs gasping for funds to continue the relief and rehabilitation work. NGOs in India typically have three major sources of funding- Indian CSR, individuals and international donors.
The recent Foundation Strategy Group (FSG) research shows that COVID-19 will lead to a drastic reduction in funding for non-profits in 2020 and 2021. The government has notified new CSR rules on January 22, 2021, and these will have far-reaching implications. Corporates will now be required to deposit the unspent annual amount in the fund specified by the government. Apart from this, CSR activities can now be undertaken only through entities that are registered under the Income Tax Act and such entities are also required to register themselves with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
In the light of the new guidelines, Corporates may have to recalibrate their funding patterns. There could be a reduction of CSR funding, between 30-60% in the next two consecutive years. Corporates now have the flexibility to contribute to various COVID-19 relief work. Some corporates have already transferred their annual CSR budget to COVID 19 relief efforts. Essentially this means many non-profits could lose out on their committed funding, which will affect the continuity of development work.
Philanthropy typically recovers more slowly than other sectors after a recession. This cooling time could affect NGOs’ core capabilities – namely, helping to address issues such as malnutrition, water sanitation and hygiene and domestic violence. Most of India’s development goals will take a hit. India presently stands at the 117th position on the Global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Index. Considering the magnitude of the funding gap to address development indicators post COVID-19 pandemic, it is extremely critical for every individual to pitch in and contribute to the nation-building process.
Many individuals who contribute funds to non-profits will also feel the crunch in these times of economic uncertainty and may have to rework for a planned giving. Planned personal philanthropic activities are more likely to be successful, as individuals will invest personal time and effort for causes they are passionate about.
The work of NGOs is critical. It is important that NGOs continue to work with the government for building a fairer nation fit for children, so that children like Ruhi are on the track to school.
Sony Thomas is Group Director- Resource Mobilisation and Public Engagement (RMPE), World Vision India. As the Group Director for Resource Mobilisation & Public Engagement, he provides strategic leadership for Resource Mobilisation, Media, Communications, Brand, Interfaith engagements, Advocacy, Government Relations and Campaign efforts of World Vision India. He is passionate and deeply committed to the poor.