Challenges Faced by NGOs in India

Thursday 26 May 2016
There is one NGO for every 400 people in India. However, not every NGO out there is engaged in serious social welfare work. Many are fraudulent and many are there without much serious intent. Amidst this, NGOs doing real work face several challenges. They face situations where they have to repeatedly vouch for their credibility, struggle to reach out to donors and have trouble in collaborating with government agencies.

The demand for social welfare services provided by NGOs is on a rise. Owing to rather slow pace of poverty alleviation in India and millions of people still not getting the right socio-economic elevation in their lives, NGOs are working to plug the gaps in the work done by the Government. NGOs are often confronted with some serious and tough challenges which includes lack of credibility, fierce competition, and inability to market themselves to their target audience.

Below we discuss some such issues and challenges faced by NGOs in India.

Lack of Credibility
This is perhaps the most plaguing issue for NGOs operating in India. During the last few years, numerous
organisations have mushroomed which claim to work for the cause of helping poor. Under the garb of being an NGO, these NGOs often mint money from donors. Any best NGO needs to showcase some serious work to establish its credibility. In order to generate the right quantities of funds to execute their projects, it is vital for NGOs to function like business entities. But NGOs should not become pure businesses either. This is because at the end of the day, NGOs are not-for-profit institutions. Many NGOs in India do not like to open about their finances and activities. This happens more so in the case of NGOs receiving foreign donations. Not only can this lead to a loss of potential donors but it can also dent their reputation. There is a need for a rating system to be in place for NGOs which ranks them on the basis of the seriousness of their work and their openness to getting audited and scrutinized.

NGOs under Government’s Scanner
With recent Government of India crackdown on Greenpeace and several other NGOs coming under the scanner of Indian government, it is important for NGOs to achieve and maintain a high degree of transparency in not just their work but also their financials. NGOs need to keep their income and expenditure open to public scrutiny. India is home to several organisations which under the garb of being NGOs are engaged in different inappropriate activities. Amidst this, NGOs with genuine intent can also face the heat. Therefore, any good NGO worth its salt must work with impeccable integrity.

At the same time, it is imperative to NGOs to maintain a healthy relationship with various government agencies – local, state-level and the Central Government. It is an extremely wrong notion that in order to their work, NGOs need to go against the government. The truth is that NGOs need to liaison well with government entities and be a partner wherever needed.

Get the right people on board
There is no denying the fact that there is a massive crunch of qualified and experienced development sector professionals in India. This is one of the major issues which NGOs face in their work. The projects devised by NGOs are quite complicated at most of the times. They require them to go right amidst the most backward and marginalised communities, engage with them and work with them to craft solutions for their problems. To do all this, NGOs need people with a sound understanding of the socio-economic scenario of India. Even in 2016, there are very few institutes of repute which provide courses in development studies. The NGO sector faces a massive shortfall in the right and appropriate human resources available to them.

Getting people to support an NGO
NGOs often struggle to market themselves. Owing to the challenges discussed above, it’s a daunting task for the NGOs to come up with the right communication to connect with their potential donors. And it’s not just about donations alone. NGOs also have a tough time in campaigning – that is spreading the word about their cause(s) effectively and striking a chord with the masses.

With every passing day, new NGOs are emerging on the scene. But only a few NGOs, (like Save the Children, etc.)are doing things right. What will keep NGOs going is their work and not the gimmicks. It is the seriousness of their intent (which will ultimately reflect in their work) which will take their credibility to new levels. It is vital for NGOs to register in the minds of their existing and potential donors that they are into doing some truly serious work for the cause they stand for.