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Time to indulge in the joy of giving

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September 1, 2013
Times of India
Lubna Kably

MUMBAI: Many self-help books are available on how to find joy and happiness. The answer actually is quite simple: it lies in giving. A person can contribute a rupee or several lakh, clothes, toys, books, or even volunteer time at a local NGO. The result is pure, unadulterated joy for the giver. This is the ethos behind The Joy of Giving Week (JGW), which kicks off next month on October 2.

From its launch in 2009, the initiative has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year, 70 cities with 750 events and more than 15 lakh participants set a new benchmark. Over Rs 30 crore in cash and material resources were contributed during the JGW in 2012, besides millions of hours of volunteering. The bar is raised higher for 2013.

"Not just metros, but smaller cities and towns are taking to the JGW with greater passion. Coimbatore, Trichy, Vizag, Vijayawada, Surat, Navsari saw exciting momentum last year," says Ashish Shrivastava, volunteer, JGW.

The same initiative can work equally well in both rural and urban India. For instance, an orphanage in Eriyoor village, Tamil Nadu, set up a 'WishTree'; the simple wishes of the kids were met by the village folk. Wish-Trees in urban India sprung up across companies, hotels and malls. The concept is simple — wish tags — indicating the denomination and the end utilisation of the contribution, such as for buying stationery for children, are pinned up on a tree or a poster of a tree (as was done by the school). The donor selects a tag, replaces it with a 'smiley' on which he could write his name and drops his donation in a box. By the end of the JGW, the wish tree tends to bloom with smiles. During JGW last year, Amodocs in Pune raised Rs 4 lakh in a few hours, whereas 50 employees of Bain Capital in Mumbai collected Rs 2.5 lakh.

The India Giving Challenge, organised by Give India, which helps connect NGOs with donors, helped garner Rs 5 crore in donations. About Rs 4.1 crore were received from over 10,000 individual donors, and cash prizes of Rs 95 lakh were given to participating NGOs who topped collections.

"The India Giving Challenge runs over six weeks, and this year it will be flagged off on September 10. Give India provides a lot of encouragement and guidance to its registered NGOs on how to raise funds by effectively utilising their extended networks. This challenge gives them a big boost, and they strive to emerge the winner," says Dhaval Udani, CEO of Give India. In addition to its clothes donation campaign, last year Goonj launched a new initiative, 'School to School,' which helped connect schools in urban India with those in rural interiors.

"School supplies contributed by urban school children were then sent to schools in rural areas via our network. We are trying to inculcate a new line of thinking where a rural school child will be rewarded for various actions such as cleanliness," says Anshu Gupta, founder, Goonj.

Each year, one sees new creative ways of giving. Volunteers of Ekam Foundation equipped with mops and brooms cleaned up government-run hospitals in 32 districts across Tamil Nadu. "This year, the programme will be extended to cover many more hospitals in Tamil Nadu and will be introduced in Mumbai. In addition, other programmes are planned, such as imparting knowledge of available government health care schemes and hygiene training," says Dr Sailakshmi, founder, Ekam Foundation.

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