Maximizing Your Impact: A Roadmap to CSR Funding

The Central Statistics Institute of India reports that there are about 33 lakh NGOs as of March 2023. Only 1,69,684 of them are registered on the Government of India website, NGO Darpan. Of this, only about 25,000 NGOs have CSR 1 Number issued by the Ministry of Commerce. These are the documents essential for obtaining CSR funding. Registration on this portal is free of cost as the Government of India does not charge any fees from NGOs. Apparently, there is a lack of awareness among NGOs on the rules and regulations and most of them are not able to avail CSR funding from corporate donors.

In order to be able to mobilise CSR funding, NGOs should have all valid documents mentioned below:
1. CSR 1 Number issued by Ministry of Corporate Affairs
2. Registration Certificate on NGO Darpan Website of the Government of India
3. Registration Certificate as a Trust, Co-operative Society or Section 8 Company
4. Updated financial statement of accounts for at least last 3 years
5. Certificate of Exemption from income tax, like 80G, 230A, etc.
6. Social projects permitted only as enlisted in Schedule VII of Companies Act, 2013, for
needy and poor, and sustainable.
7. Promoters of the NGO should have good moral character and relevant experience in
project implementation
8. Presence on social media, and website, if possible
9. CSR proposal in proper format

It is therefore essential for every NGO desirous of availing CSR funding to be aware of the rules and regulations and to prepare all valid documents in advance. They should also define their core areas of strength and expertise, like education, skill development, healthcare, sanitation, environment, etc. and accordingly try to reach out to CSR heads of companies operating in these areas, preferably in the geographical operational area of the respective NGO. They should also keep themselves updated from time to time on the rules, regulations, events, exhibitions, award functions, training programmes and CSR funding opportunities published on various platforms.

All the NGOs should also register their names on the National CSR Exchange Portal started by the Government of India about eight months back. This is again free of cost. The NGOs will also be able to reach out to corporate CSR heads via this platform. SEBI has recently given approval to BSE as well as NSE to start Social Stock Exchange. NGOs can also take advantage of this platform and raise funding required for their social projects.

The NGOs should have the ability to communicate effectively with the corporate sector, preferably in English, as CSR funding can come from any part of India. The CSR functioning of the corporate sector is highly regulated and compliance driven. At any cost, the project should not be a failure. If the project funded under CSR fails, the rating of the NGO is downgraded and some are even blacklisted. Thus, NGOs also have to be responsible in CSR project delivery. It is highly recommended that the officials of NGOs seeking CSR funding should get some orientation training and keep themselves aware of the rules and regulations from time to time.

There is no dearth of CSR funds in India. During 2020-21, about 20,840 companies spent Rs 26,211 crore and it is estimated that for 2022-23 it has reached about Rs 30,000 crore. This means there are great opportunities for community service across metro, urban, rural and tribal India through CSR funding.

In fact, there are many corporate CSR donors who have complained that they are not able to locate a good, reliable and capable NGO with all valid documents in order. CSR has a bright future and as the economy grows the CSR funding available will also increase at least by Rs 1,200 crores to Rs 1,500 crore every year. NGOs need to prepare, equip and build capability to approach CSR donors and give them confidence that they can deliver projects with full compliance. The future is yours. All the best!


About the Author

Dr. Anil Dhaneshwar, holding a Ph.D. in Corporate Social Responsibility from Savitribai Phule Pune University, serves as the Founder & Managing Director of Genesis Management & Market Research Pvt. Ltd. He is an accomplished CSR Professional and also acts as a Service Partner for the Social Innovation Lab, offering CSR Fundraising Support through the Shared Service Centre for Social Enterprises.

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