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November 21, 2014
Times of India

The Social Impact Awards 2014 process has completed its first stage. Over 1100 applications were received from all corners of the country, spanning five sectors -education, health, livelihoods, environment and advocacy & empowerment.

Process partners GiveIndia and GuideStar India scrutinized the lists and finalised the shortlists for each sector, and within each sector, three categories — NGO, corporate and government. The shortlists were defined using pre-decided criteria which include scale of impact, replicability, sustainability and promotion of equity. After this painstaking scrutiny, a rainbow of about 75 organizations has qualified for the first shortlist.

Talking about the entries under Health, Environment and Advocacy & Empowerment, Archana Hari of GiveIndia said that the areas of intervention were wide and varied ranging from water and land resource management to biodiversity in Environment and organ transplantation to newborn care under Health. Advocacy & Empowerment brought to fore some interesting campaigns which have significantly impacted the society through increased access to financial services at the bottom of the pyramid, improved accessibility for the physically challenged and affordability of essential products like medicinal drugs for terminal diseases.

"This year also saw applicants who have employed technology effectively to bring low cost solutions to environmental problems plaguing remote locations. It was heartening to see that technology not only provided solution but also brought about improvement in labour skills in rural areas," Archana said.

In the areas of Livelihoods and Education a range of time tested to amazingly simple approaches to solve some of our country's toughest problems were seen, said Pushpa Aman Singh of GuideStar India. "These included same language subtitles in movies to improve reading literacy, using old computers in orphanages to tickle the imagination of children, a government organisation that takes science exhibitions in buses to remote areas and corporates leveraging their relationships and infrastructure to make low cost interventions," she said.

What we would really like to see is more applicants reporting not just what they did but how their work has impacted lives such as increase in incomes and improvement in learning levels.

The shortlisted entities will have to submit more details of their activities and supporting documents through an online portal. Thus, dossiers of each will be built. These will be sent to a distinguished and experienced panel of twenty experts for evaluation and grading. The experts will be evaluating the entries on a set of 7 key criteria: scale of impact, replicability, sustainability, finances, people's participation, innovativeness, and promotion of equity. The panel will closely review the shortlisted entries, bringing their vast experience into the evaluation process. Most of these experts have two to three decades of experience in the field, and have been associated with the voluntary sector.

The experts will grade each entry after evaluation on a prescribed grading matrix. The graded entries will then be ranked and the top 3 from each category in each sector will constitute the second short-list. Field visits will be done to each of these 45 final shortlisted entrants in order to cross check various aspects, especially the impact on the ground and involvement of people in the field areas.

Finally, the 7-member jury will meet in the last week of January to examine the final short-list and select the Award winners, for each of the three categories (NGO, corporate and government), in each of the five sectors (education, health, livelihoods, environment and advocacy & empowerment). So, a total of 15 winners will be selected by the Jury. The jury will be guided by the Experts' evaluations as well as the field reports. The Awards ceremony will be held in March 2015 at New Delhi.