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From seasonal giving to sustainable giving
[November 04, 2010]

From seasonal giving to sustainable giving

Nov 04, 2010 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- While guilt giving, religious giving and deal giving find their place in the Indian giving space, these are occasion and event-driven giving and not part of a monthly or annual sharing process. But many affluent Indians have enough money to be able to share income and wealth rise on a regular basis with those living on the margins.

"Only when you start giving regularly; you really give. Otherwise, you are merely responding," says Dhaval Udani, senior vice-president and head of Internet giving, GiveIndia. "Many give as a response to a disaster, but we should realize that every day is a disaster for a lot of people." One of the reasons that stops people from signing on to a pay-roll deduction towards a good cause is a worry about where the money might end up. "People aren't sure if their money actually goes to the right place," says Udani. "Second, they are not sure if the money is being used for the right purpose and finally, they are not sure if most of what they share is actually being used for a cause or not." But technology and some new entrants in the giving space are offering a viable option to those who want to share and keep a tab on how the money is being spent.

One of first things to do is to find a non-governmental organization (NGO) that does the kind of work you want to fund. If this process is too cumbersome, you can use an aggregator that will find an NGO of your choice. Aggregators allow you to support a cause you choose from a list of approved NGOs, and most of them do the due diligence for you. Some well-known aggregators are GiveIndia, Concern India Foundation, Oxfam and United Way Mumbai.

How much overhead is okay for an NGO to charge for running itself? Jayanti Shukla, executive director, United Way Mumbai, says: "People want to see most of their funds going towards the cause and not towards the administrative cost of running an NGO. A good NGO will use around 80% of funds towards the cause and the remaining 20% as administrative cost." If doing this is still too much, you could sign up for the most effective way--payroll giving, where you can have a fixed amount deducted from your salary on a regular basis and diverted via an aggregator towards a cause you choose.

United Way Mumbai has tie-ups with Citigroup, JPMorgan, HSBC and Novartis among others, says its website. Through payroll giving, the employees of these companies have touched hundreds of lives on a regular basis.

"If you cannot give a lump sum of, say, '6,000 a year, a small contribution of '500 a month does not really hurt but at year-end it adds up to a large amount of '6,000," says Udani.

If your firm does not offer payroll giving, use the banking system. Online banking allows you to transfer funds in a matter of minutes. Banks also allow you to set monthly electronic clearing services towards NGOs, all its take is for you to fill up a form with your bank. The automated teller machines (ATMs) of some banks also allow you to transfer funds to charities as an ATM transaction.

Still not happy? There is also the option of being a "social" investor. Firms such as allow you to invest small sums as micro-credit to rural entrepreneurs.

"The rationale behind Rangde is to reach out to rural entrepreneurs with low-cost micro-credit. In return, you could earn a nominal rate of interest of 1-4% on your investments," says Smita Ram, co-founder and chief operating officer, "There are many who choose to take only the principal amount and pass on the returns to Rangde." Lots of options and lots of causes--you just need to choose.

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