The story behind Edelgive empowering small NGOs to work, without worrying much for funds

According to the India Philanthropy Report, 2022 by Bain & Co. and Dasra, the total social sector expenditure in India has seen a robust 12 per cent annual growth from around INR 10 lakh crore to about INR 17.5 lakh crore over the past five years. 

Sounds great! But there exist some problems. 

In India, the major chunk of philanthropic donations goes towards disaster relief, charitable causes, and religious purposes, leaving social initiatives with a very small pool of funds. Within that pool, most funding goes to the larger NGOs.
As a result, small to mid-sized NGOs with deep penetration at the grassroots level and community-based solutions that help educate children, empower women, and build resilient communities are deprived of crucial funds.

And this led to a start
Realising the need, urgency and belief that the ecosystem of philanthropy has to increase funding towards social causes targeted towards small to mid-sized NGOs, Naghma Mulla founded Edelgive in 2008. Edelgive provides partner NGOs with funding support, capacity-building support and assistance in establishing linkages to other funding sources. “We provide our partner NGOs with funding support, capacity-building support and assistance in establishing linkages to other funding sources. We also assist funders in identifying and accessing NGOs,” said Naghma.

“Our core focus is on enabling more partnerships within and between the corporate sector, the social sector, and the government to bring in collaboration, coalitions, and co-creation for far-reaching, sustainable impacts,” she added.
Bumps in the road

India’s social sector expenditure as a percentage of GDP is lower than that of its neighboring countries and other BRICS countries. As per NITI Aayog, India needs to funnel approximately 13 percent of its GDP, up from the current average of 7 percent, into social causes to achieve its United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commitments by 2030.
While the government has focused on social sector funding, the role of private philanthropy is important in bridging the gaps. However, certain issues would need to be addressed going forward. 

1) There is a heightened need to look at interconnected issues on the ground and deploy joint efforts to provide innovative solutions for communities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of NGOs has weakened due to an acute shortage of funds that has forced several NGOs to shut shop. An increased focus is required on funding the well-being of NGOs and building their organizational strength. 
2) There is an uneven concentration of financial support for a few large NGOs. For international and domestic funders, insufficient information on critical sectoral needs, low regulatory incentives for philanthropic giving, and inadequate mechanisms for impact measurement pose further challenges.

Collaborative philanthropy can be the way forward

Collaboration has always been an efficient method of working in the development ecosystem. The government, citizens, corporates, and civil society organisations cannot function separately. 

Moreover, the recent pandemic-induced restrictions have centre-staged the effectiveness of collaborations in tackling issues and providing relief to communities.

Collaborative philanthropy brings different investors, non-profit organisations and corporates under one umbrella for a common cause. Multi-stakeholder collaborations are a great way for different organisations to work in tandem by investing their resources and leveraging collective strengths to drive large-scale impact.

In India, collaborative philanthropy is at a nascent stage. However, due to the diverse range of geographies, cultures and communities across the country, and therefore, the contextual nature of issues, collaborations are the best way forward to work on tailor-made interventions. 

A collaborative model that brings different philanthropic organisations together can help influence public policy, decisions and investment, which otherwise may not be possible in the case of individual, organisational efforts. 

Without collaborative efforts, organisations work in silos reducing the synergistic impact that could potentially be achieved. It is, therefore, vital for civil society organisations, corporates and the entire developmental sector to embrace collaborations and collective action as the primary method for effecting the necessary change. Collaborations can no longer be considered an option but are imperative for the sector’s future development.

Capacity building for NGOs holds importance 
Capacity-building is essentially developing and strengthening the abilities, processes and resources organizations and communities need to function effectively, adapt and survive in a dynamic environment. Capacity building for NGOs includes
1) upskilling the staff
2) developing leadership and strategies
3) infrastructural changes
4) ability to carry out their programs and research unbiasedly
5) strength to continue even during crises. 

“Capacity building is required to elevate NGOs’ performance on programmatic outcomes by strengthening the core functional areas within their organisations,” said  Naghma. 
She further added that building capacities through creating new departments, hiring the right people, and enhancing infrastructural and technological capacities directly “contributes” to a more robust organisation.
An NGO that has developed these essential capabilities can drive far greater impact on-ground through its projects. 

Initiatives by Edelgive Foundation
The pandemic and its disastrous effects, including the risk of forced closure, have highlighted the need for NGOs to innovate and quickly adapt to the changing circumstances. There was an urgent need to support the NGOs with funds that could be directed towards their organisational development needs and help them overcome the challenges.

Grassroots, Resilience, Ownership and Wellness (GROW) Fund, established by EdelGive Foundation, was conceptualised with the aim to redefine philanthropy by committing to build a conducive ecosystem for organisations to become resilient and future-ready. 

As per Naghma, the GROW Fund has several Indian and international funders, including philanthropic institutions and eminent philanthropists like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, MacArthur Foundation, A.T.E Chandra Foundation, Rainmatter Foundation, Dalyan Foundation, Oak Foundation, Indus Foundation of Utah, Omidyar Network India and Ashish Kacholia along with the Edelweiss Group. 

Additionally, eminent businesspersons and changemakers such as Sanjay Purohit, Rati Forbes, the Bikhchandani Family, Helenka & Sunil Anand, Onward Foundation and Govind Iyer have also lent their support to the Fund.
Under GROW, total funding of INR 100 crores is being deployed over a period of 24 months to support and sustain 100 grassroots organisations across the country. 25 NGOs have been selected from each zone – East, West, North and South – to ensure equal representation from all parts of India. GROW Fund will help them cover critical costs, build capacities and become future-ready.
The NGOs selected to receive the grants have been selected from 20 states of India.

Additionally, the 100 NGOs selected under GROW Fund will receive support on capacity building and organisational development, managed by a central capacity building helpdesk at EdelGive. Technology, Human Resources, Finance & Compliance, as well as Website Audit & Development, have been identified as primary domains of support to the 100 grassroots organisations.

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