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In charity match, go for the long shot

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December 17, 2008
The Economic Times
Vidyalaxmi & Preeti Kulkarni

The outpouring of emotions after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has thrown up a curious problem for the city hospitals. They just do not know what to do with the ever-piling fruits and clothes donated to the victims by the city's kind-hearted. While the intention is noble, experts say that the need of the hour is perhaps livelihood options and rehabilitation of the traumatised patients.

Invest Time & Effort

Such instances underline the importance of channelising the donations to ensure a significant and long-lasting impact.

Smita Das, general manager, resource mobilisation, of the non-governmental organisation Child Rights & You (CRY), says one should ask the following questions before zeroing in on the charitable cause and the quantum of donation:

(i) Is my donation addressing a real need?
(ii) Am I supporting an organisation that has a known track record in being accountable to its donors?
(iii) Did I get a receipt for the donation made?
(iv) Will my donation actually help resolve the root cause of the disaster? and finally
( v) Is my support only one-time and hence too little?

For instance, in the case of drought/flood-affected regions, it's better to send dry ration like lentils and spices instead of food packets.

"Food packets might not last for long and could turn unhygienic by the time they reach the needy. It is important to ensure that the goodwill is guided by a clear understanding of the problems," says a spokesperson for HelpAge India, an NGO that focuses on disadvantaged older people.

It has been observed the donations keep pouring in for 1-2 months after a disaster, after which the flow starts drying up. Hence, it important to ensure that when you lend a helping hand, you stay committed for some time.

Says ICICI Prudential AMC deputy managing director Nilesh Shah, who is associated with the West Bengal-based NGO Parivaar: "Parivaar believes in the fact that dignity has to be earned and to that effect it works towards the all-round development of a child, which is why I decided to get associated with it."

The Monitoring Aspect

Opening your heart and wallet is just one part of the process; acquainting yourself with the NGO's fund utilisation plans is the other equally important part. One has to also ensure that the NGO she supports is reliable and transparent.

If you have supported specific projects undertaken by an NGO, you are entitled to regular reports explaining how your money was used. "For instance, donors who support our Sponsor-a-Grandparent programme receive regular updates," informs Kapil Kaul, country head, HelpAge India.

If you are supporting smaller NGOs that do not have the resources to send frequent updates, you can approach organisations like Give India Foundation, which maintain a list of credible NGOs.

"Ours is a donation platform that allows donors to support a cause of their choice from about 150 NGOs that have been scrutinised for transparency and credibility," explains Ujwal Thakar, CEO of GiveIndia Foundation.

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