Starting an NGO:
And last, but not least ...

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Starting an NGO
Remember Passion alone is not enough
And last, but not least ... it is important to remember that a passion to work with the poor, to do some development or social work, is alone not enough.

Starting and managing an NGO and its activities can actually be a huge burden - depending on the experience you have, and the support you get. The reality on the ground is sometimes different from what we expected, and we have to keep this in mind.

That is why, we need a high degree of professionalism, and a strong code of ethics and sincerity in order to take that first step. The final target audience, the ones that will eventually benefit from your programmes will be the real guide and supporter to what you want to do. Keep all these and other perspectives in mind too!

Some quick words of caution
Starting, and sustaining an NGO is not an easy task, and a few words of caution to remember - right from the beginning:
  • Starting an NGO is almost like starting a business. Its just that there is no profit to be made - any excess capital is ploughed back into the future of the organization.
  • There are a number of laws and regulations, organizational, and particularly financial, that govern NGOs. These are, in most cases, implemented strictly, and without doubt, need to be followed strictly too.
  • Related to the above point, tax and financial authorities usually need proper reporting to ensure that an NGO's non-profit status can be maintained. In fact, this is usually more than a for-profit business. Therefore, there is much paperwork involved in managing an NGO - tax and financial reporting, project financial record keeping, and usual office management processes.
  • Very few NGOS can sustain themselves financially in the long term. This is the fundamental woe of an NGO - to raise funds for its activities. Just starting an NGO does not mean that money will magically flow into the NGO. A prudent fund-raising strategy is a must for any NGO to survive.
  • Many NGOs have come under the scrutiny of government and public authorities due to fraud and misuse of funds and other issues such as labour. This puts the entire NGO and third sector under the spotlight. What and how an NGO carries out its work is being watched closely, and needs to be kept in mind.
  • Because NGOs serve people and communities directly, they always remain under the watchful eyes of the mass media, where fraud and misuse of funds is not tolerated and is quickly exposed.

Note: Not all of the ideas mentioned above will work and they are not complete as well. Different places need different approaches, at different times, for different purposes. The objective is to list out as many ideas as possible, which you can pick and choose depending on your specific need! Therefore suggestions are definitely welcome to add to the above ideas. Send an email to:

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Hari Srinivas -