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HelpAge India – the Good Samaritan for the old and disadvantaged

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HelpAge India is a leading registered national level NGO. A secular Non- profit organisation set up in 1978, it has for almost 40 odd years have been working for the cause and care of disadvantaged older people, so as to improve their quality of life, make significant changes in their lives, so as to enable them to live better and healthier lives. SPO India talks to both Madhu Madan, Country Head – Resource Mobilization – HelpAge India and Manjira Khurana, Country Head, Advocacy & Communications – HelpAge India individually to know more about the organization’s latest mission and the support that it receives from different quarters of the society to help fund the cause that it has been single-handedly working for –

What is the focus area of HelpAge India at present?

HelpAge India has 3 focus areas –
1. Basic healthcare for those elders who can afford none
2. Providing sustainable Livelihood options to needy elders
3. Digital Empowerment of elders (teaching them how to use smart phones, computers, applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, using google search, internet banking, paying utility bills online etc. HelpAge has developed an instruction Hand-book for the same.)

What kind of support do you receive from other corporates, NGOs and volunteer groups in furthering this cause, given that the elderly cause is not something that everyone vouches for?

A large part of our donors base are individuals like you and me. Even though the elder cause is not the most popular cause, some of our initiatives do bring in support from the public and we have many donors who regularly donate to HelpAge.

Previously CSR spending was voluntary. India has become the first country in the world to mandate a minimum CSR spend (2% of average profits in the past 3 years) for corporates that are above a certain size so as to tackle social issues and bring the private sector resources to address the fundamental challenges India faces.

Thus where we once got funding mainly from PSU, now a lot of corporates from the private sector have come forward and helped our healthcare initiatives. Today we have a total of 136 Healthcare Units.

Corporate employees as well as other volunteers support us during our events, health camps and advocacy initiatives.

Support from Corporates:

HelpAge has over time partnered with over 100 corporates that have given us support via their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This has enabled HelpAge to undertake several new projects as well as expand some of our existing projects.

• One of HelpAge India’s largest programmes that CSR funds support is Mobile Healthcare. HelpAge India currently operates over 160 Mobile Health Units across India, one of the largest fleets run by any NGO in the country, which bring essential primary healthcare to the doorsteps of the elderly and the communities they live in. In addition, the program creates widespread health awareness in order to proactively address non-communicable diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension.
• Many companies also extend significant support for our Vision Restoration program, funding free Cataract Surgeries. This is one intervention that has a huge and immediate impact, enabling visually challenged elders to be able to see again and live with independence and dignity.
• Some of HelpAge India’s other programmes supported by companies via their CSR initiatives are Livelihood Support through Elder Self Help Groups, Disaster Relief, Health Camps, Old Age Homes, Physiotherapy, Helplines, etc.

Support from NGOs:

HelpAge India partners with grass-root level NGOs across India, to ensure deeper penetration of its programmes into the unreached interiors of country and a wider outreach of its nationwide initiatives for the cause and care of the disadvantaged elderly.

Support from Volunteer Groups:

Every year, HelpAge India engages with over 250 volunteers across the country, who support the organisation in both on the field and within the office. Volunteers offer their services at Mobile Health sites, Health Camps, Cataract screening camps, our partner Old Age Homes, and other programmes. HelpAge India also receives support from several Volunteers at our Head Office and State Level Offices for administrative and outreach work within the offices. Numerous educational institutions and corporate houses also depute teams of volunteers to extend support to the organisation.

How do you raise fund for your different initiatives? What is the mechanism like?

HelpAge India raises funds from the following sources –
a. Individual donors
b. Corporate donors
c. Institutional donors – bilateral and multilateral funding agencies
d. Government

a. Individual Donors

HelpAge India raises funds from individual donors via Direct mailers, online appeals and we use many methods to run these more efficiently. We also have programs in many schools to sensitize children to the issues of the elderly right from an early age, and they also help to raise funds for the work we do in addition to the teams that raise awareness for our work through direct interaction with potential donors.

b. Corporate Donors

In line with the provisions of Section 135, several corporates make project based grants to HelpAge India under their CSR initiatives. HelpAge India’s Corporate Fundraising team across India reaches out to and engages with potential corporate donors, understands their CSR policy and requirements, and provides them with customized proposals for funding of relevant projects. Several corporate employees also support HelpAge India via Payroll Giving (on a monthly basis).

c. Institutional Donors and Government

HelpAge India raises funds from several bilateral and multilateral funding agencies, and also receives grants from the Government for specific, large-scale projects. Detailed project proposals as submitted by HelpAge India, after discussion with the said parties to gain an understanding of partnership possibilities and areas of intervention. This funding is not very large
What is the state of CSR in the country? How difficult or easy it is to do CSR in the country without government intervention or support?
In India, CSR has largely been voluntary and sporadic, until very recently. Following the DPE guidelines (issued in 2010), which required Public Sector Enterprises to make CSR an integral part of operations; we have seen corporate funding for CSR increase. Moreover, Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, which came into effect from 1st April 2014, mandates all qualifying companies to spend 2% of their profits on CSR.

Government intervention mandating CSR spend by companies has indeed enabled HelpAge India to raise funds more easily from the corporate sector via their CSR initiatives.

With the coming of the CSR in the Companies Act of 2013, how has it impacted your fund raising programs?

Post the introduction of Section 135, HelpAge India has seen a significant increase in companies wanting to extend CSR funding, particularly from the Private Sector. HelpAge has been able to undertake many new projects as well as expand some of its existing projects. CSR funding from corporates to HelpAge India has doubled since the introduction of Section 135 in 2014.

What kind of targets do you set for your organization on quarterly basis? How do you try to meet these targets?

HelpAge India aims to raise over Rs. 100 crores annually from donors within the country, i.e. an average of over Rs. 25 crores per quarter which goes towards funding the work we do.

To ensure that the NGO’s fundraising target is met, we have experienced professionals in the areas of direct marketing, business development, corporate partnerships, and donor support.

HelpAge also has a very experienced in-house Programmes Team that plans and implements projects on-ground across the country

This is amply supported with strong support functions and systems – IT, Finance, HR, Audit, Communications, and Procurement etc. that support fundraising, enable smooth flow of operations within the organization, and ensure excellence in operations and delivery of the field.

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