How to Start an NGO in India – A Guide

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Steps to Start an NGO in India

Non Governmental Organisation or an NGO is set up with the sole aim of helping the needy without expecting any monetary gains in return. Running an NGO is a very noble mission and is the need of the hour in developing countries like India. Hence, if you want to start an NGO in India then read on.

Listed below are things you need to know before starting an NGO in India.

What is NGO and How NGO Works?

Before you start an NGO in India it is important to understand what an NGO is, how it works and how can it benefit a developing country.

An NGO is a group of people who work together for the welfare and upliftment of the society.

Two main things define an NGO; firstly there is no profit motive of the NGO and secondly it is a private institution and not a government one.

An NGO can decide to work on a number of causes simultaneously, for example, education, health, women empowerment and so on. Depending upon what is the purpose of an NGO it can be categorized into different types.

What is NGO and How NGO Works

Types of NGO

An NGO can be started to help its members only, like a self-help group. Or an NGO can help others like Red Cross or Blue Cross societies.

Depending upon the activity an NGO performs, it can be divided into:

  1. Advocacy Groups

NGO’s of this type perform activities like lobbying, holding meetings/conferences, organizing boycotts and so on. They typically try to start a movement for change and challenge the existing set up.

An example of such an NGO is WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature.

  1. Service Providers

NGO’s of this type provide service to the society in the form of food and medicine donations and distribution, relief work, conducting classes free of cost and so on.

Doctors without borders is one such international NGO. Goonj, HelpAge India are some examples of popular NGOs in India that provide selfless service to the society.

Can I Start My Own NGO

When you start an NGO in India or any other developing or underdeveloped nation you do a great service to mankind. The benefits of NGOs to a country in general and its citizens in particular are many.

Advantages of NGOs

  • An NGO forms a link between the citizens and the government of a country.
  • Being apolitical in nature, NGOs seem more trustworthy to the people.
  • NGOs perform ground level work and hence are better connected with locals.
  • NGOs have a better reach, even in rural India. In a study conducted in 2010, it was found that there are more NGOs in India than there are primary schools.
  • NGOs are capable of taking over new projects and even venturing into areas that might seem risky.

As you can see NGOs are very beneficial to the society and starting one can help people from different realms of the society.

How Can I Start My Own NGO in India?

Starting an NGO is a simple process where you just need to follow certain basic steps.

They are:

  • Define the causes that your NGO intends to support. You can either decide to support a single cause like animal welfare or multiple causes like poverty, unemployment etc.
  • Get together a team of people who feel strongly for the cause and are ready to work towards it without expecting any monetary gains.

It is better to get people who have expertise in various fields like law, marketing, information technology and so on. Having your own team of experts will help you in the smooth running of the NGO in the long term and will save money too.

  • Decide a name for the NGO. The name should reflect the cause and should also be simple and catchy.

You cannot name an NGO after a government department. This confuses people and misleads them. A person naming an NGO after a government department is liable to be penalized legally.

  • Prepare a memorandum or association that will describe the vision and mission of the NGO, details of its members, address of the NGO’s office, NGO rules and regulations and so on.
  • Collect the documents required to register the NGO. NGO registration is a simple process and you can get your NGO registered in 3 ways:
    • As a trust – To register your NGO as a trust you will require at least 2 members.
    • As a society – To register the NGO as a society you will require at least 7 members.
    • As a company – NGO can also be registered as a non-profit company.

It is not necessary to register an NGO but registration helps in activities like fund collection and tax exemption.

  • Once the NGO is registered you will need to collect funds for its proper functioning and build a network of people who can help you spread awareness about the NGO.

Now, there are two queries which can come to your mind before you start an NGO in India.

  1. Can an Individual Start an NGO in India?

If you are registering your NGO as a trust or a society then you will require more than one person. As already stated a society requires 7 persons and a trust requires minimum of 2 persons.

But, if you are registering your NGO as a non-profit company then you can register your NGO as a one person company. This has been possible after a recent amendment to the companies act.

  1. How Can I Get Funds for My NGO?

You can raise funds for your NGO through the following channels:

  • Apply for NGO grants in various government portals, international funding agencies, and corporate houses.
  • Organize fund raising events and appeal to public for donations.
  • Sell goods made by the NGO. Remember all the income from the sales of goods should be diverted back to NGO work only.
  • Use the social media to create awareness about the work your NGO is doing and appeal for funds.

Starting an NGO in India

Once you have your own NGO up and running you will need to make sure that it works transparently; because that is what makes it different from profit making companies and government organizations.

You will also have to build a network of partnerships as they will help you in finances, administration work, and legal issues and so on.

Wrap Up – How to start an NGO in India

If you want to start an NGO in India then you can either do it yourself or take help from consultants who specialize in this kind of work. Sometimes other NGOs can also help you to start a new NGO.

Either way, it is always better to first work in an NGO before you start your own NGO. This way you will gain experience of the inner workings of the organization which will come handy when you decide to start your own NGO.

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