India is home to more than 4 million NGOs, all of which have helped foster civil society, and the role of these NGOs have become quite important keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic. In such an unprecedented scenario, help in the form of volunteering or donations is undoubtedly crucial.
Many of us want to donate and volunteer with a not-for-profit organization but do know where to begin and how to determine if they do genuine work or not, as these days there are several cases of scams people are doing under the hood of carrying out noble work.
Most of the NGOs are working diligently, legitimately, and have been using donated funds honestly. However, exceptions are always there and it is sometimes not possible to differentiate between a genuine and non-genuine non-for-profit organization.
Non-for-profit organizations reach individuals and places where the government is unable to reach and that is why citizens these days are more eagers to do charity work so that they can make their country better be it for women’s safety, better education, or unprivileged children, better medical facilities, etc. But like a coin has two sides – everything has a good and bad perspective to it. Then good perspective of donating to a genuine non-for-profit organization cannot be expressed in words, but the bad perspective of donating to a fake NGO is deeply harmful and daunting.
Here are some tips from The NeoFusion Creative Foundation that will help you determine if you are donating or volunteering with a reliable NGO –
- Try to connect directly with the non-for-profit organization – It is always better to connect directly with the NGO and not some vendor or middlemen. Some NGOs might not have a website but one should always try to call them and ask them relevant questions and details about the NGO. If they are legitimate, they will be upfront and confident in answering all the questions.
- Inquire about the proof of registration – If you are thinking about donating a considerable amount of money to an NGO, you should always ask the non-for-profit organization if they have registration proof and certificate. Generally, a genuine NGO would always be registered as a trust or society.
- Try to analyze the urgency of an NGO’s/Charity needs – Whenever you think of donating to a charity or a not-for-profit organization, the one important question to ask yourself is – Does this charity/organization need funds immediately or not? If the answer is yes then you need to analyze how urgent and are their needs and why. Genuine, large, and reputed NGOs have greater access to donors and consequently are better funded. Some charities and NGOs are labeled as “underfunded” or “immediate need”. Such labels sometimes are explained in careful detail and one more go through these details intricately before donating. Some NGOs do great work but struggle to continue to help people as they lack the monetary support they need. These are called unfunded programs. The extreme needs label defines that the program is for usually socially excluded groups that lack necessities or are surrounded by a social stigma.
Thus, it is always important and helpful to analyze if your donation will have a great, legitimate, and positive impact or not.
- Ask them for their annual reports – You should always consider going through a non-for-profit organization’s annual report in which detailed records and information of the past activities undertaken by them are recorded. You can always do a reference check to validate the reports. One more advantage of checking the annual report is that it also gives you an idea of the NGOs/Charity financial performance over the past few years.
- Get in touch with watchdogs – A watchdog is basically an individual or group that monitors the activities of another organization on behalf of the public to ensure that the organization being monitored does not behave illegally or unethically. It is always a good idea to visit or get in touch with such watchdogs before making any donation and cross-verify the credibility of your chosen organization/charity.
- Always ask yourself who is this donation going to benefit? – We would always easily assume that the beneficiaries of the donation are the people you hope to help but this might not be the case always. It is always better to donate and ensure that you are donating to a particular project of the charity. If there is a third-party platform involved, it is important to know how much of your donation is retained by them.
- Check the payment methods of the NGO and avoid cash donations- Ideally, a reputed and genuine non-for-profit orgnization or charity would accept donations through online payment but if they ask for cash transactions – it is always better to cross-check documents, etc. Though online giving is convenient and less time-consuming – making an online donation is sometimes accompanied by payment security challenges. Unsafe payment methods can harm and cause losses to the donors and can deprive charities of much-needed funds. So, it’s always better to take time and make sure that the payment methods being used online are safe and secure.
- Check the Tax Benefits – Making donations to an NGO is any case a selfless deed but sometimes it can benefit the donors as well. A reputed and legitimate charity will mostly provide monetary benefits to the donor through tax exemptions. If you are an Indian citizen who pays tax, donations given to reputed charities are eligible for a 50% tax exemption. Other countries have similar rules as well.
In the end, do not forget to trust your instinct and keep in mind these tips before donating or volunteering with a charity or NGO. Here’s a shoutout to all the selfless people who are passionate about transforming the lives of people in need of support and care.