MUMBAI is often referred to as the financial, business and entertainment capital of India. While it is home to some of the world’s richest, it has the most significant share of slum dwellers among the metro cities in the country. According to the 2011 census, 42% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. Over the years, NGOs in Mumbai have played an important role in addressing various problems and finding solutions for the same. Extreme poverty, human trafficking, exploitation of sex workers, child labour, lack of sanitation and access to clean water and environmental degradation are some of the issues facing the city.
Many NGOs in Mumbai also work beyond the ‘Maximum City’ and the state of Maharashtra. If you are looking for an NGO in Mumbai to contribute to, here is a list of Mumbai-based nonprofits doing excellent work on the ground.
According to National Crime Records Bureau, more rescue operations of human trafficking victims were carried out in Maharashtra, mostly in Mumbai, than in any other state in the country during 2017-2019. And these were done with the help of NGOs in Mumbai. Prerna is one such that works to rescue, protect, and rehabilitate human trafficking victims across the city and beyond.
This NGO in Mumbai runs an Anti-Human Trafficking (AHT) campaign which has been recognized as one of the most successful strategies to address the issue. Prerana has also worked alongside UNICEF to curb child trafficking. It was the first organisation to introduce and implement the professional Home Investigation Report System to tap re-trafficking in suspected areas. Some of its other programmes include residential care for children, an anti-trafficking centre, and vocational training for human trafficking survivors.
This NGO in Mumbai sees building a nation where children in need of care and protection are nurtured into happy, contributing members of society as their mission. Catalysts for Social Action (CSA) has been working with existing institutions and empowering them to improve and enhance the quality of care to children.
CSA works to increase children’s adoption, supports adoptive parents and children, and strives to maintain higher standards in childcare homes in areas like nutrition, health, hygiene, and sanitation. It is also a powerful advocacy group that works closely with the government on policies related to child care and their implementation. In almost two decades, CSA has created an impact in the lives of 20,000+ children.
Starting in Mumbai in 2007 to liberate women through the pursuit of professional education, Katalyst has come a long way with chapters in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi. This NGO in Mumbai trains young women for leadership roles, creating a wider talent pool for India Inc and helping bridge the gender divide.
Katalyst achieves its objectives through various interventions, including a 600-hour proprietary and scientifically researched curriculum, one-to-one mentorship, medical insurance for the girl and the mother, help with internships, industry exposure and corporate interactions.
Katalyst is an initiative of Third Sector Partners, an executive search firm exclusively dedicated to the social, environmental and corporate sustainability sectors. Its parent entity is Human Capital for Third Sector (HCTS).
This NGO in Mumbai extends both financial and non-financial support to grassroots NGOs working in the areas of education, health and community development. It has a team of professionals that identifies the NGOs for support and helps them strengthen their systems. Every programme is monitored and evaluated periodically to ensure that the funds extended to them are being used as per plan.
Concern India Foundation’s initiatives have helped bring about positive change in the lives of children, youth, women, the differently abled, the aged and rural communities in Maharashtra and other states, including Karnataka, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It helps prevent child labour and child marriages, creates permanent solutions for water supply and water conservation, improves the quality of life and encourages sustainable use of renewable energy. It also worked with several NGOs on the ground during Covid-19.
Established in 2002, the organisation’s vision is to transform the lives of the underprivileged. It runs various projects to support single parents, orphan children and youth and women from rural communities of India and their holistic development.
One of them is Project Anando, which is working for reinstating and sustaining school dropouts and equipping the youngsters with skills to live and thrive in society. Its Project Jagruti supports holistic development of the underprivileged in rural areas through skill and livelihood training, providing healthcare, and conserving the environment.
As the name of the NGO makes clear, Khaana Chahiye Foundation aims to combat hunger through various relief efforts across Mumbai and advocacy initiatives. Khaana Chahiye was formed in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. Its mission is to fight hunger and meet the food demand of those in need. The organisation provided food, water, snacks, masks, sanitisers, and other essentials to migrants at major train stations, locals in Mumbai who had no access to food and others. It later expanded its operations and opened community kitchens to bring relief to the most vulnerable.
The NGO in Mumbai now aims to address the hunger crisis of urban India through its relief and advocacy efforts. It runs community-driven projects which serve the dual purpose of eliminating hunger and reviving the local economy. It involves civil society as part of its projects and works closely with the government. One of its advocacy initiatives is the Hunger Map Project, an evidence-based policy intervention aimed at improving the already existing system by identifying critical pockets in Mumbai and coming up with practical solutions.
Founded by Sarika Desai, a child development care professional, Sparsha started with a focus on education and child rights in Mumbai. “Sparsha” means “touch” in several Indian languages. This NGO in Mumbai touches the lives of the underprivileged by providing access to basic needs and helps them to achieve better and more sustainable living circumstances.
Sparsha began its intervention in Mumbai by adopting five locations in Wadala on construction sites and slum pockets. Sparsha works with parents who are illiterate or semi-literate migrant workers, daily wage workers, street hawkers, etc. and convinces them to send their children to school. It works closely with government-run schools to ensure enrollment of dropout children in the formal education system. Sparsha has impacted around 25,000 children from 12,000 families in 17 centres across Mumbai.
Sparsha also supports community members in obtaining birth, insurance, caste and residential certificates, opening bank accounts, and other documents, which are also needed for getting admission in government schools.
Founded by Ronnie and Zarina Screwvala in 2013, this Mumbai-based NGO works mostly in the rural hamlets of the Raigad and Nashik districts in Maharashtra. Its vision is rural empowerment through incorporating better innovative practices, modern technology and values. Its holistic development model covers all aspects of individual and community development. Swades has benefited over 500,000 people.
The organisation connects rural communities with corporates, young urban India, not-for-profit organisations and governments, enabling marginalised communities to improve their lives.
Dignity Foundation is one of India’s largest NGOs working for the cause and care of the elderly. It enables senior citizens to lead active lives through easy access to trusted information, opportunities for productive ageing and social support services.
Dignity Foundation’s services include the ‘Dignity Helpline’ which is dedicated to helping and rescuing the elderly in distress and the ‘Dignity Ration Service’ which distributes rations to the neediest among the elderly. It also runs a Dignity Dementia Day Care and Dignity Civic Service in collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to monitor the activities of the elderly in various city wards. Through its ‘Dignity Loneliness Mitigation’ programme, it organises bus trips for the elderly so that they mingle with others to reduce loneliness.
Apnalaya (registered in 1973) works with the urban poor enabling access to basic services, healthcare, education and livelihood. The organisation empowers them to help themselves and works closely with the government on issues related to the urban poor.
The organisation’s work is currently concentrated in Shivaji Nagar in the M-East Ward of Mumbai, the lowest-ranked ward in the human development index. Mumbai has 24 wards. As welfare facilities are linked to official statistics, the people living in the ward are rendered invisible, living hand-to-mouth without basic amenities or social entitlements. Apnalaya works with individuals on issues critical to their survival, such as water, sanitation, nutrition, and healthcare. It supports their security and development through improved access to education, skills, and livelihood opportunities.
Overall, the organisation believes in empowering the community by imparting civic education, building groups of volunteers, organising people into civic action groups to engage with municipal authorities, and finding solutions to issues of common concern.
(Blog updated in March 2022)
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Kumara has been a professional journalist for over 15 years with stints in The Telegraph and Reader’s Digest. He grew up hating maths and physics. He is a post-graduate in history. Kumara believes that cricket and Seinfeld have answers to most questions that life throws at you.