Council of NGOs
done! You have come up with an idea that many people must be
mulling over at the moment: if only the voluntary sector could
speak with one voice. But maybe that is wishful thinking. The
voluntary sector, of which I have been a part for more than
30 years, is as diverse in its make-up, motives and methods,
as full of prima donnas and scoundrels, workaholics and wonderful
people (maybe a few more of them) as any other sector. Bringing
them together in any meaningful way would be tough.
the NGO sector there are a wide variety of organizations representing
an even wider variety of causes and concerns. There are also
a large number of CBOs, community
based organizations, whose concerns are more often issue-based
but whose voice is strong. Most of the committed people working
in this sector are up to their eyebrows in their own concerns
and have little time available for sitting on committees that
don't seem to achieve very much.
in Apnalaya have been part of various issue-based groupings
– on drug abuse, HIV Aids, TB, or the right to health, or education,
and of course rationing, to name only a few. With the exception
of RKS most of these groups start with a strong commitment from
a number of NGOs to participate, but as the months go by attendance
at the monthly meetings declines and eventually peters out,
as members are too busy with their own programmes to spare the
time for something that has no direct benefit to them.
personally support any effort to bring greater respectability
and recognition to the voluntary sector, and for that reason
I welcome wholeheartedly the Credibility Alliance and the vetting
done by Give Foundation. Many NGOs are reluctant to become members,
and one has to ask why? If we are to command respect then we
must assure that our house is in order first.
do we need a council for? So that the government will listen
to us when disaster strikes? Arising out of all the goings on
of the last 2 weeks I have felt the need for a slightly different
initiative. NGOs or the voluntary sector including CBOs are
– all be it rather reluctantly – by the government (by which
I mean BMC as well as GOM) as having a better rapport with the
people than they have, and as such, efforts are made in various
programmes to involve NGOs in govt programmes. But within the
NGO sector there are those who are OK about working with govt
and those who are not; those who believe in working with the
government to make it do what it is meant to be doing, and those
who oppose govt or take a more confrontational stance.
the floods, voices have been raised in criticism of the govt
from across the social spectrum. Noticeable among them have
been prominent citizens, business leaders, media people, who
have appeared on TV talk shows or contributed their views in
the newspapers, or even moved the courts, all wanting to see
an improvement in the functioning of the civic administrators
and govt representatives. Some of them are sympathetic to the
needs of the poor, some not so. To my mind a really powerful
alliance could be formed to challenge the power of politicians
if some of these prominent citizens could work with NGO and
people's movement representatives on the major issues arising
out of the recent flooding.
I have run out of time & effort... I am going out of Mumbai
tomorrow, for a few days. I will back at my email by Friday. I
don't know whether this is any help. The whole business of selecting
representatives is also fraught with hurdles. Incidently, I
think you are doing a fantastic job with Karmayog!
All the best,
Some quick thoughts:
Definitely a great idea. Lot of us have felt the need for such
a common platform. However, while brainstorming we need to keep
in mind that there are number of such networks already existing
and such a council should have its
own usp and not be a duplication of efforts and may even think
of linking up to existing ones.
Of course the current backdrop of disaster is appropriate for
any of such effort. A council can play a vital role in monitoring
the information assimilation/dissemination processes carried out
by Government, proactively such council can make complementary
efforts along with the government, it can disseminate the information
to other organizations as also play a role in research and documentation
As far as proposed members are concerned I think the idea should
be thrown open to as many as possible and then take a call based
on people/orgs who are with
the idea. Of course too many core members may be detrimental to
any decision making process. We are perfectly ok with karmayog
as convenor for the council precisely for the reasons you have
mentioned, as most NGO personnel would really be involved with
their core programmes they maynot really drive such an activity.
I also take this opportunity to congratulate you on carving a
niche for karmayog in a really short time.
Greetings. Thanks for the mail you've sent and I can envision
that you are working on something whose idea has come. I will
peruse your mail carefully because it raises the need to have
cohesion in the seeming broadbanding of NGOs whose work, size,
reach are dispersed across the spectrum; and respond in the next
two to three days. I will definitely help in the initial deliberations.
Once again, keep up the great work on the flood relief and have
a great day.
Your proposal is quite interesting. YUVA would be willing to engage,
although I am sure you realize that there are so many efforts
at 'co-ordinating the co-ordination' of relief at present that
it seems like just tracking these developments and their
own dynamics will take more energy that the actual relief.
If the proposed Council is aimed beyond just relief co-ordination
and will provide the much needed space for continuous interaction
and dialogue between voluntary development agencies of all hues,
we would be enthusiastic about it.
I trust that Karmayog can also bring and sustain an environment
of open communication, representation and participation to such
1) Concept is note worthy
2) List is too diversified hence
sustaining the interest in the long run may be an issue.
3) Interaction alone may not
serve the purpose of having a council.
It is better to begin with council
of few NGOs representing a common goal, purpose of action, interested
in implementation to benefit larger and weaker sections
of the society covering all communities perhaps can set
the ball rolling.
as you go about setting up your NGO Council, you might want to
have a look at similar activities that have taken place here in
the U.S. It looks like you in a position to resolve some of the
same problems non-profits had here.
You might want to look into the "Council on Foundations (www.cof.org)"
and their mission, strategies, and services. They have been working
in this area for a very long time having started in 1949. They
are quite large now but you should be able to pick up some ideas
from their experiences.
In addition, (someone brought this up in a discussion I think)
there are smaller "sub-sets" of this type of organization. Their
purpose is to bring together non-profits from a specific region.
Others are set up for smaller sized, and others are for certain
types. So a specific NGO might be a member of a number of "Councils"
that help them with the different layers of issues.
The problems you face are quite unique. But what you are trying
to accomplish is really necessary and worthwhile. The value will
be come clear as the organizaiton grows and develops.
Keep up the great work it is appreciated.
are doing a great job through the website and now with the council
formation, issues can be advocated in a more concerted and effective
We are organising an event " Mumbai Meri Jaan----- A call
for survival" It is a paper presentation on the recent crisis
in Mumbai. The focus is on out of box Solutions and efficient
delivery mechanisim. We can discuss the outcome and probably need
to take it up with higher authorities.
Regarding the obective and functioning of the council,it can play
a key role in lobbying and facilitating the manpower to work on
policy issues at various lavels and you should be the convener.
The structure will gradually emerge as per the need, situation
and relevance. When the council meets, details can be worked out
with broader perspectives and context.
Center for Development of Coporate Citizenship(DOCC)
S.P.Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai
We do recognize the valuable work your organization has done in
connecting people, organizations and institutions across sectors
in responding to the floods of Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra.
We urge you to continue playing this important role.
The idea of setting up a council of NGOs is a noble one. In our
experience a collective of Voluntary Organizations is much more
effective if it works together on certain identified issues. Further
instead of a council an alliance or federation may also be explored
as a viable institutional mechanism. Further, there are so many
differences between Voluntary Organizations, in terms of ideology
and approach that unless we address these it is difficult to weave,
funders, support organizations, action groups etc in to one entity.
For the past year the Trusts focus has been to support strengthening
of grassroots processes, of promoting and of building, Community
Based Organizations and their federations. We feel that often
the marginalised get left out from all decision making processes
and civil society activism.
We wish you all the best in facilitating interaction between voluntary
groups, and we are open to be part of the dialogue between voluntary
groups working in the city but would refrain from becoming members
of the council.
Thanking you for taking the initiative in building this relationship.