For prospective philanthropists, deciding which sector to support can be difficult. With the greatest and most pressing need in the areas of education and children’s health it isn’t surprising that these sectors are overwhelmingly popular. However there are NGOs and grassroots organisations working all over India in fields as diverse as mental health and sports. Mint has collated a non-exhaustive list of some NGOs in each field doing innovative or significant work.
Based out of West Bengal, Parivaar works to rehabilitate homeless children, whether orphaned, abandoned or extrememly impoverished, in its ashram. Parivaar was started in 2003 and currently houses about 430 children but aims to expand in the next two years to more than double the size.
Akshara Foundation www.aksharafoundation.org
This Bangalore-based NGO provides basic literacy and numeracy programs and runs a network of libraries in government schools. Akshara was established in 2000 and won Gold at the 2008 EII Awards for excellence in information integrity. It also sets up preschool (balwadi) centers for four to six year olds.
M V Foundation www.mvfindia.in
Working all over rural Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad and covering over 2500 villages since 1991, the M V Foundation works to abolish child labour with its residential bridge course (RBC) camps to get children back into schools. The foundation uses an “area based strategy” ensuring that all children in a neighbourhood stay in school until class 10.
Sports and leisure
Magic Bus www.magicbusindia.org
Works with deprived children providing opportunities for sports and play. Starting work in 2002 in Dharavi, Mumbai, with a group of forty children, Magic Bus has reached out to 140,000 and is expanding fast. Promoting gender equality, teaching social and life skills and advocating a child’s right to play are the organisation’s central tenets.
Aajeevika Bureau www.aajeevika.org
A public service organization, based out of Udaipur, set up to provide solutions, services and security to seasonal migrants. Established in 2005, the Aajeevika Bureau is currently pioneering projects to provide migrants with government-recognised ID cards.
Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) www.sewa.org
Since 1972, SEWA, a trade union, has been working to help self-employed women with job, income, food and social security. Migrant women and domestic workers are a particular concern for the organisation.
Children in Need Institute (CINI) www.cini-india.org
This Calutta-based NGO focuses on helping mothers and children. For 35 years it has operated primarily in West Bengal and Jharkhand, helping impoverished communities get access to services, going door to door in villages and advocating for public policy. Donors can choose to adopt a mother, educate a child or give to emergency relief causes.
The Ashoka trust for research in ecology and the environment promotes socially just environmental conservation and sustainable development. Works on policy advocacy and sets up community based conservation centres for research to promote India’s biodiversity.
NM Sadguru Foundation www.nmsadguru.org
This water development organization was established in1974 and works to improve the lives of rural and tribal communites by helping them make better use of available natural resources and appropriate technology. It’s aim is to replenish large semi-arid areas which were once verdant but have suffered drought and erosion, rehabilitating tribal communities.
The Freedom Foundation www.thefreedomfoundation.org
Offers treatment and residential care for people dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse and AIDS. Based in Bangalore, the foundation set up the first HIV “comprehensive community-based care and support center” (CCSC) in India. Works across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa.
Mental/ physical disability
The Banyan www.thebanyan.org
Since 1993, The Banyan has provided shelter, care and psychiatric and medical services to mentally ill destitute women. In Chennai and Kovalam the organisation runs health care centers. It also provides disability allowances and runs mental helath awareness programs. The Banyan is partnered with the Ratan Tata trust.
Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank www.manndeshi.org
A regulated cooperative bank run by and for women. Founded in 1997, Mann Deshi bank was India’s first rural financial institution to receive a cooperative license from the Reserve Bank of India. It now claims to be the largest microfinance bank in Maharashtra, with over 100,000 clients.