How to ensure that you are donating to a genuine NGO?

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.

Charity is one of the purest forms of serving humanity. However, certain charitable organizations have damaged the faith of millions by using donations for their personal gains. In an age where even saints are running a business, donating money to any NGO (or, non-governmental organizations) without verifying it, is as good as not donating.

In India, NGOs don’t work to make a profit; they are supposed to work endlessly to raise awareness and collect funds towards their cause which would lead to the betterment of the society. These organizations are usually charitable and receive an exemption from paying taxes once they are registered. The people donating money to these organizations can also receive income tax rebate up to 50% of their taxable income which makes the act of donation a bit more incentivizing. However, there are some organizations forever looking to dupe people of their money by posing as NGOs, and looting generous people, along with avoiding taxes. Because of these frauds, people are losing confidence in NGOs and are shying away from donating to NGOs.

These are a few ways to check if the NGO you are donating to is genuine or no:

  • The Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART)regularly releases names of blacklisted NGOs – check before you donate. Or approach an NGO through Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India, which certifies the credibility of charitable institutions. Though the certification is not compulsory, genuine NGOs prefer to register themselves with CAF to obtain credibility.
  • There is also help at hand by an organization called“Credibility Alliance”, which is itself an NGO made to keep a check on other NGOs. The donor needs to simply check if a particular NGO is in the list of Credibility Alliance’s website or not. In case the NGO is not in Credibility Alliance’s list, there is another organization acting as a checkpoint called Give India. Give India’s website, has an alphabetical list of NGOs that are eligible to receive donations through GiveIndia.
  • Generally good NGOs do not take cash donations. They prefer donation through cheque or online payment. The best and the most cost-effective way is to pay directly to the NGO either by sending a cheque or online. Do not go by paying to agents of the NGO commonly known as direct selling agents (DSA), who get the commission on the collections. It is often heard that the DSAs work on high commissions amounting to about 40-50%, so in a way the capital which was meant to be used for noble causes is getting halved by the DSAs.
  • The NGOs which receive grants from the governmentcomes under the purview of RTI Act. If the NGO says that it receives funding from the government ask the head of the NGO for details of the funds they got and how did they utilize the funds. Generally, NGOs which are good/genuine publish their funds collected and funds utilized with detailed reports on their website.
  • You may verify the NGO’s registration, their Tax Exemption Certificate and the cause they claim to support. Better still visit the organization to get a fair idea about their operations.
  • Genuine NGOs usually provide reports or updateson causes they work for so keep in touch with the NGO even after you have donated money – following up with them will ensure that the money you donated is being used for the right purpose.
  • If you cannot decide which NGO to donate to or for what cause, you can approach organizations like ICICI Communities, GiveIndia, CAF or CRY who work for multiple causes and will utilize your money wisely and effectively.

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