— Chandresh Dedhia
There is no dearth of excuses for not being able to chip in the ‘good work’ happening out there. All of us are busy, most of us don’t have those extra nickels to spare, and only a few of us actually have the emotional bandwidth to go out there and help. Money, time or intentions – we are really genuinely constrained even if we want to feel guilty about not doing ‘enough’.
But pause for a moment and think of this the other way.
How blessed are we to have a family, have friends and people around us who are willing to help us to grow in future!
We have been blessed to get anything and everything from our near and dear ones when we were infants and grew through childhood, teenage years and then into adults along a life full of possibilities. The road was paved with wonderful aspirations to become a Doctor, Engineer or an Entrepreneur or inherit a business with the kind of physical and mental abilities and knowledge that is gifted to us be the Almighty. Our first job and the money that is available is poured into partying for the first few years and later as into new responsibilities of family and parenthood as we grow.
Things change and from an individual we become family and are naturally more focused on the requirements of our family. Planning those holidays and the future of our kids takes priority and we aspire and work towards our kids becoming more successful than ourselves. Then life changes as our kids get independent and at some stage we become dependent on them and then we start to lose our physical and mental abilities.
This would be my life, your life!
How do you think would be the life of an infant or child who doesn’t have a family, a child who is special (mentally or physically challenged), a child or a teen whose parents do not have enough money to pay for his/her education, a girl child deprived of education of higher studies or an adult who is incapable to support himself or his family because he isn’t educated and is not able to get any jobs, or an old adult who has lived a life supporting his/her child but the same child has asked them to move out and stay at old age home? There are lot of such questions which we need to ask ourselves, have we been helpful to any person who is needy, people who are in need of various kind of support? Does it really help to share you miniscule share of earning with them, or will this kind gesture really help you in future?
My answer to this is yes, it is a long term investment if that is the language and terminology we rather understand. What if you lose or wish to seek someone’s support?You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone!
Do you have a right to expect such support from people around you when you haven’t even supported anyone in past? What goes around comes around!
Accept it or not but life is more than just you, it’s about all of us, helping and supporting each other is the way of life,.
All this started when I met my better half through a good friend, this was an act of help that I and my wife had done sometime in our life, but we realised how this has worked beautifully for us and our lives. What goes around comes around, remember!
I have been a Half Marathon Runner since last 7 years and have been supporting the fundraising through Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and have been able to raise close to over six lakhs in past 3 years and the donations have been increasing every year with new donors pledging their support.
I have been supporting“Ummeed – Child Development Centre” since last 3 years and was inspired by my wife who was once a teacher at Early Intervention Centre for special children working for the same NGO. Every one of us has something to offer to the world around us, some of us can provide time, knowledge, support to the NGO of our choice and cause. For people who do not have the liberty of supporting knowledge or time, donate money. I am one of them, too busy with life at work and home, and hence pick that avenue.
- Choose a cause you would like to support, ex. Child education, Women Empowerment or safety, funding someone’s higher education etc.
- Connect with an NGO at local level where you can meet them once or twice a year to understand how they operate and how the funds are being used.
- Commit a part of your earnings towards these NGO’s, start with and amount which you are comfortable sharing and increase it every year by at least 15%.
- If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of sharing your wealth, invest your time. Start a fundraising for them, this way you would feel happy that you supported the NGO.
- Help them with your knowledge like making a business strategy, Training their workforce, developing their website etc.
There are challenges to supporting NGO’s too. There are fly-by-night NGO’s as well who would call and share a sad story and collect some funds and the next thing you know that they do not exist. Don’t donate to any NGO who has no physical presence or are only connected to you on a call. Visit the NGO office place and see how they use your funds and support the cause. If they do not have an office, try and visit the places where they provide support.
Fundraising is very challenging, at first your friends and family look at you with doubt as to whether you were doing this for a genuine reason?
People around you are too shy to talk about the donation or pledging their support, a small information session giving details of the entire process makes them connected to the cause you are supporting.
We also have people who are willing to put money in temples and other religious touch points but are not ready to donate for a cause, hence a special one-to-one talk can change the way they think and support you.
In the end, it all about money, you need the attitude and passion to raise funds, this even means that you literally beg in front of your close family and friend and debate on why they need to donate. Wow! This is both tough and fun. This certainly develops my negotiation skills!
There also would be times when people around you would suspect about your fundraising campaign and look at you if you were a SCAM artist or something. First timers would think all the money would go into the raiser’s pockets. I don’t blame them for their innocence or ignorance. But fundraising can be very transparent, and you can donate through online portal, Cheque and for which you get an 80G certificate. I have been blessed and lucky to have good people around me. I have had instances where my group companies gave me a huge amount of contribution even before we have had the CSR Act mandating the corporates to donate 2% of their profits and they continue to support me every year without any scepticism. Sometime I get donations from people I didn’t expect and that’s a surprise and reassurance in your ability to continue fundraising.
One such incident was with my ex colleague, Suhas Inamdar, who also happens to be a writer and has written 2 books in past two years, Power Games of Life and Altered Destiny. He is the single largest donor to my fundraising efforts, we haven’t been in contact since last 8 years, but this looks like a ray of hope to me. His books reflect his passion and commitment of helping people in whatever way we can.
Not everything is a walk in the park and glamorous, as fundraising is a very challenging job;
- You need to commit a lot of time to this effort and specially convince your friends and family to support your cause.
- Lot of convincing is require to collect funds, not all people would relate to your cause, so you would have to give them options to support your cause in some way or another.
- There are multiple reminders required to ensure that constant support is provided to you by your family and friends.
- Share your goals with your community, keep them updated on the progress of the fundraising and how you are able to reach your goal with their help and support.
- Don’t over commit if you can’t deliver. Don’t give false hopes, be realistic on the commitment towards the NGO.
Finally all such gestures come with benefits;
- You get tax exemption, how cool is that! We all love to have any kind of Income tax exemptions that we are able to and this would go under section 80G. Some 50% to 100% is applicable depending on how the NGO is placed in the Income Tax exemption list.
- Respect! People respect individuals who support other people. Your brand as an individual is well recognised by the society and social network and I also mean digital social network.
- Wouldn’t you respect someone who is known to support people and NGO’s? I bet we all do. It just that most of us shy away from such social work.
- Good deeds done by you will always help you in future.
- Good Intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness.
- Finally, you get what you give.
The author is a technologist, and is Head-IT at Fermenta Biotech. Besides IT, he is much passionate about social causes and is keenly involved in many of them. Follow him on @chandreshd and can be reached on chandresh.d(at)gmail.com