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Home >> Case studies from the Indian Voluntary Sector >> SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF AREA RESOURCE CENTRES (SPARC)


About the organisation

SPARC was founded in 1984 to create new and innovative partnerships with communities of the poor and professionals who wish to work with them on issues of social justice and equity. SPARC believes that the poor must be organised, and in order to sustain this, it is they who need to develop skills. Hence it becomes essential to create a physical, emotional and social space for people to pool their human resources and facilitate learning. SPARC works both independently as well with partners by striking strategic alliances.

Services are in the area of housing and infrastructure and savings and credit. All activities involve the community right from the stage of needs enumeration, conceptualisation, planning and implementation. Also, SPARC addresses issues of gender and destitution in children proactively through concerted efforts in both areas.

The SPARC Board

  1. The SPARC Board was constituted by the coming together of a group of individuals who shared a common vision.
  2. It was a ‘board of peers’ – people who were supportive of the founder’s initiative and vision and who believed in creative freedom as the key to building a successful organisation. This continues to be the spirit in the Board
  3. The Board has evolved today to include both individuals who have been associated with the organisation right from the beginning as well as newer members who have been taken on to add to the changing requirements of skill and expertise as the organisation has grown
  4. One of the FUNDAMENTAL requirements that SPARC Board members need to have is their ability to understand ‘risk’ in the context of the work that the organisation does.
  5. Therefore all Board members are able to be supportive of decisions that are taken from the perspective of ‘what’s best for the community’ rather than adopt an approach that maybe purely ‘textbook’ in terms of good practice or be relevant to other organisations.
  6. The Board also is extremely ‘critiquing’ in its role and there is an active discussion on all matters relating to policy and long-term strategy.
  7. The Board ensures that it is always kept abreast of any developments and is proactively interested in ensuring members are well informed.
  8. A lot of this happens naturally since the Board is encouraged to engage with all stakeholders , staff and the community and communication is open and transparent.
  9. This engagement has been helpful in keeping the Board enthusiastic and interested in the activities of the organisation; and has helped members develop perspectives that reflect ‘bottom up’ accountability and understanding
  10. Trusting the CEO and mutual trust amongst the Board are key to the effectiveness of the SPARC Board and this has also been instrumental in socializing new members easily.
  11. The lines of authority between the CEO and the Board as well as between the CEO and the management are very clear and the Board does not micromanage
  12. The effective functioning of the Board is NOT an end in itself. It is only relevant in the context of the organisation’s work and how effective the organisation is in delivering on its mission. The Board is acutely aware of this as is the management in SPARC .

SPARC may be contacted at

Khetwadi first lane, Mumbai ,Maharashtra Tel: 022 - 2386 5053 /2385 8785