Starting an NGO:
You may not know what exactly to do ...

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Starting an NGO
You may not know what exactly to do ...

A passion to do something for the community you are living in, or the poor in your city, can sometimes be flattened by realities of the ground - you may not know what exactly to do, or where to start, or whom to ask. There are ways in which this dilemma can be surmounted.
  • Talk to people: Tell them of your idea, ask their opinion. Talk to friends, relatives, colleagues, but also to the taxi driver, to the corner shopkeeper, to the night watchman, and to the itinerant seller of vegetables. All of them have a story to tell, an idea to share, a lead to provide. And keep talking to them! When the NGO is actually up and running, they will be your 'eyes-and-ears' network on the ground!
  • Visit Places: Take that weekend off and visit a nearby village. It is with the objective of observing and learning first hand outside your sphere of existence that will open your eyes to 'other' realities! Use a local festival as an excuse to go to other places. Talk to the local shopkeeper, or a priest, or that grandmother sitting quietly outside her home watching everyone. Everyone you meet is a potential teacher, who can teach you something new everyday.
  • Read up: Read magazines and newspapers, watch TV - but with a purpose! Find what other people are doing. Read the jobs section to see what new skills are needed, especially in the NGO/voluntary sector.
  • Go to meetings: NGOs and other entities regularly organize lectures and presentations of their work. Go to such meetings to learn how they work. Ask questions. Meet other people in the audience to expand your network. Convince your local Rotary or Lions club to organize an 'NGO meeting' on a particular theme to share lessons and experiences.
  • Continue learning: Universities and training institutions regularly provide short courses and training sessions on a wide variety of issues related to programme and financial management for NGOs. These are not only opportunities to learn something new, but also to scout for potential partners and staff members for your new NGO!
  • Browse online: More and more NGOs now have their own websites (so should you!) that many use as a means to show what they are doing, and for fund-raising. Check these out. Much can be learnt of the way an NGO works by its website. But be aware that not everything an NGO does is put online!
  • Consult government agencies: Government agencies and departments, including the mayor's or village head's office, usually have plans or ideas that need implementation. Notwithstanding the testy relationships that sometimes exist between government agencies and NGO - visit them all the same. Talk to officials and build a good rapport - they can be a potential source of official funds!
  • Visit other NGOs: Many NGOs are actually eager to talk to people, to showcase their work, to expand their own network of friends and supports. Talk to them, visit their offices, go through their display publications (buy them, and support their work too!)

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 definately welcome to add to the above ideas. Send an email to:

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Hari Srinivas -