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Joining hands for new life

Seva Sahayog aims at engaging socially conscious corporate, groups and individuals, with NGOs of matching interests, Alekh Angre reports

India has several grassroots NGOs in remote tribal areas, small towns as well as urban centres. Many earnest ones are born out of their founders’ passion and commitment but face problems like lack of administrative expertise, paucity of funds and inability to access donors. On the other hand, donors have little information on NGOs and are unable to distinguish between genuine NGOs and those set up with dubious objectives.

Seva Sahayog Foundation (SSF), itself an NGO, has been started to bridge this gap between donors/volunteers and NGOs (especially the smaller ones) and to connect the two.

SSF was registered in August 2009 under Section 25 B of the Companies Act by Sanjay Hegde, former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Devendra Dewasthale, an industrialist, along with their friends. “All of us had worked with NGOs. We knew the problems faced by smaller NGOs, like lack of finance, skilled manpower, or maintaining accounts. Most donors are city-based and NGOs lack the experience to approach them,” says Kishore Moghe, group head of SSF.

Currently based in Mumbai and Pune, SSF is largely operated by volunteers. Till date, about 500 volunteers, from the IT sector, accounting, medicine, engineering, advocacy, etc, are registered. “With volunteers from diverse fields, we marry the NGO’s need and volunteer’s expertise. For instance, a volunteer, who is an accountant, will guide NGOs in accounting and help in other areas of finance,” he says.

SSF focuses on capacity building of NGOs. Before commencing on a project, SSF visits the organisation for necessary inspection like scrutinising legal and registration documents. It also analyses the work that the NGO has done, its accounts, and whether they are working for the poor. NGOs are then associated with SSF and, based on their needs, donors and CSR (corporate social responsibility) cells are approached for funding. So far, around 45 NGOs have benefited from the efforts of SSF.

For corporates, SSF helps in formulating CSR policy, planning & implementation of CSR initiatives, identifying appropriate NGOs and monitors funding. For NGOs, it provides funds and other resources, documentation, strategic planning, drafting proposal, etc.

SSF has been running a school-kit programme since inception. It distributes kits, comprising school bags, notebooks, drawing books, compass boxes, to students from slums and tribal areas. Last year, it distributed around 25,000 school kits. “We found that in many rural and tribal areas, children get textbooks from the government, but they don’t get bags to carry them,” says Mr Moghe.
SSF funds this with sponsorships of Rs250 from individual and corporate donors. Kits are assembled and distributed by SSF’s volunteers to various NGOs.

SSF conducts a two-week NGO internship programme titled ‘Social Leadership Development’ for college students for a nominal fee. Around 15 students are placed with various NGOs and are assigned to specific projects. SSF also organises ‘Seva Darshan Tour’ where people visit various NGOs in and around Mumbai and Pune for a first-hand experience of grassroots situations and needs.
SSF plans to replicate its efforts in Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji (Goa). SSF funds its operations only through donations. Mr Moghe says that getting volunteers on a continuous basis is a challenge.

You can help SSF as a volunteer, or contribute financially. All donations are eligible for tax-exemption under Section 80-G of Income tax Act. 

Seva Sahayog Foundation

1st Floor, Pitruchhaya,
SH Palkar Marg, Shivaji Park,
Dadar, Mumbai-400 028
Tel: 022-2444 6094
Email: [email protected]
www.sevasahayog.org

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