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A time for giving

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January 02, 2010
Times of India
Pronoti Datta

Time For GivingA corporate jet-setter abandoned the plush life to mobilise the NGO sector, raising not just crores, but hopes for a more charitable culture in India ..

Venkat Krishnan N is curiously self effacing for someone who has an impressive list of achievements to his name. The founder-director of GiveIndia, an organisation that helps people make donations to causes of their choice, he has in its nine-year history helped raise over Rs 80 crore for more than 200 NGOs.

Krishnan, 39, could have been a CEO of some bigbanner corporate house, making crores just in bonuses. With an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad, he couldn't be more qualified. But after just three years of working in corporate companies, he decided that improving bottom lines just wasn't much fun. "It didn't seem an interesting thing to spend time on," he said. "So what if you become MD at 35?"

What Krishnan gained from the corporate world was knowledge of systems and processes, principles that he applies to GiveIndia in order to run it efficiently. What he left behind was a general belief that making money is all important. "In the corporate sector, we assume falsely that money is the biggest motivation of human beings," he explained. "Our needs go beyond money."

After a brief spell in the corporate world, Krishnan began on a course he had perhaps been veering towards ever since he was a student in Andheri's Airport High School where kids from well off families studied alongside those from the lower middle class.

It was here that he became keenly aware of social inequities. In 1996, Krishnan started an educational foundation called Eklavya in Ahmedabad along with three IIM alumni.

Four years later, GiveIndia was born. The organisation acts as a bridge between donors and NGOs devoted to causes from environment to support for the elderly. It tracks movement of the donation and sends donors reports on exactly how their money was spent.

The biggest challenge of raising funds, Krishnan said, continues to be reaching out to people without spending much money.

One of the interesting ways GiveIndia collects money is through its payroll programme, which involves getting employees of corporate companies to donate a part of their salaries every month to an NGO.

From 2008 to 2009, the organisation has raised Rs 26.7 crore from 150,000 donors through this. GiveIndia was also the first to raise funds by way of the Mumbai and Delhi marathons.