Before going on to list the top 10 most popular NGOs in India, a few words on NGOs would be helpful to those who are not familiar with the term and their purpose. United Nations defines an NGO or a Non-Governmental Organisation as any kind of private organisation that is not-for-profit and is independent from government control.
The important point here is, NGO’s are independent from the influence of any government or governmental departments or organisations. NGO’s are not-for-profit social and charitable organisations. Although they may protest against any government action, they are not affiliated to any political ideology or party. They are financed by donations and charities. They are run by volunteers or paid social workers. They are registered with the government and some NGO’s are given the status of tax-exemptions to their donors. They indulge in a diverse range of activities.
Why are NGOs necessary?
Even in the most developed countries there are certain areas or issues where the government may not be able to effectively deal with it. There are several aspects of human development that needs to be addressed. These may not be covered by the government’s agenda. Some of these reasons can be:
• In case of calamities, government relief can take time whereas NGOs can act quickly.
• Some huge issues may not be redressed effectively or quickly by the government due to resource crunch.
• In certain incidence, government can be reluctant to offer help, but it does not bind the NGOs to offer help.
• Government may lack policies or guidelines in case of some issues, but NGOs work purely on humanitarian grounds.
Some such examples, where the NGOs came forward are those involving LGBT community, or in case of riots some government may not help the majority community to display their secular credentials and show support for the minorities. Moreover, in some cases government may need to displace a large population and in response to which the NGOs can come up with feasible alternatives.
Also, in environmental issues and pollution, the NGOs have been quick to respond for sustainable solutions. Some problems are so huge, like illiteracy, sanitation and cleanliness, or female child education etc. that the government on its own is helpless to eradicate the problem and the help of NGOs become vital.
It might shock you to know that India has the largest number of NGOs in the world, almost 3 million! All of these may not be registered, active or have a formal shape or professionally managed. Many may be just a gathering of people working towards a common goal. However, in contrast there are hundreds of NGOs that are doing exemplary works to alleviate the difficulties and problems of common and under-privileged people in the country.
List of the top 11 Best and most popular NGOs in India in 2017-2018
Pratham was founded 1995 and works for the improvement of education to the underprivileged children in India. Pratham has its headquarters in Mumbai, and is spread over 21 states of India and runs educational programs like Digital Classrooms, Read India etc.
10. Smile Foundation
It was founded in 2002 in New Delhi, to promote the cause of education amongst underprivileged children. It works through several programs ranging from healthcare, education, livelihood, women empowerment. They have also worked hard to make policy changes and abolition of Child labour in India. It has made its presence felt in 25 states and influenced the life of more than 300,000 children.
9. Lepra Society
Lepra Society was established in 1989 and works for better health, in discrimination, and eradication of poverty. It helps the National Health Programmes in the preventing and controlling diseases such as Leprosy, Malaria, Lymphatic filariasis, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and Blindness. It is headquartered in Secunderabad and is working in several other states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand etc.
8. GiveIndia Foundation
It is a sponsorship NGO that raises funds and helps to attract funds from all over the world to help verified and trusted NGOs. It has helped 200 NGOs which meets its criteria, with funds. It holds unique events and fundraising drives through online and offline efforts. They track how and where the donated money has been spent and has created accountability on the part of NGOs. Since it is involved with the mobilisation of funds, it is a very highly visible NGO and has quite a dominating presence in the media.
7. Nanhi Kali
This NGO was started by renowned industrialist Anand Mahindra in 1996, and is based in Mumbai. It is a very focused NGO which works for promoting education of the underprivileged girl child. In partnership with 21 others NGOs that help the Nanhi Kali project to implement its cause, every sponsor gives a selected girl child the required academic and material support. It has helped 100,000 girl children get education across 9 states in the country and aims to reach out to 500,000 girls by 2020.
6. Care India
Care India is one of the oldest NGOs in India and started functioning in the year 1946 and works for the welfare and empowerment of girls and women in the society. It focuses on ending poverty, social injustice and discrimination against the weaker sex in society. It works in the sphere of education, healthcare, sustainable livelihood opportunities etc. It has its headquarters in New Delhi and operates in more than 14 states across the country.
5. Save the Children
Save the Children started in 2008 and has since lives of more than 6.1 million children. It also helps during emergencies such as natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. It helps children get the best chance for a bright future. Its pioneering programmes address children’s unique needs, giving them a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. It reaches to the hardest-to-reach children – especially those unfairly excluded from the world’s progress.
4. CRY India
CRY – Child Rights and You, was founded in 1979 by Rippan Kapoor with the objective that no child should be deprived of his basic rights like survival, participation, protection and development. Since its inception CRY has been working towards tackling the issues of the millions of underprivileged children in India, who are deprived of their basic rights.
These children are not able to pursue education, are subjected to abuse and forced into labour at a young age. In India children constitute more than one-third of the population. CRY works across 23 states in India and has changed the life of more than 2,000,000 children. It has its headquarter in Mumbai, and branch offices in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata.
3. SOS Children’s Villages of India
This NGO has been working in India for more than 50 years and advocates the concerns, rights and needs of children in need of care and protection. It provides family-based care for parent less or abandoned children in India. It works through its pioneering family approach of two key programmes, Family Based Care (FBC) and Family Strengthening Programme (FSP). One of the most unique features of SOS Children’s Villages is the home-like environment that is provided to the disadvantaged child. It supports the child for a long-term till the child attains 24 years of age. It has spread to 22 states and has 32 SOS Children’s Villages and over 25, 000 beneficiaries
In March 2017, SOS Children’s Villages of India became the first ever NGO to be awarded the status of a Superbrand. In 2016 it was included in the list of the 100 Great Places to Work.
2. HelpAge India
Established in 1978, HelpAge India works for improving the status of the disadvantaged elderly and senior citizens of India. They have been providing much needed support to the abandoned, poor and isolated elderly people. It provides medical services like mobile healthcare, health camps, free cataract operations, physiotherapy, Elderly Helplines etc. and also helps in poverty alleviation and income generation schemes in urban and rural India.
The senior citizen population in India is more than 100 million and is growing steadily every day. The elderly are facing neglect and hardship due to lack of financial, medical and social support. Their physical strength and economic status deteriorates with time and they become victim to several illnesses and continue to suffer due to lack of affordable and effective health care. HelpAge has its corporate office in New Delhi and is spread across 23 states in India. It has also been successful in influencing the government to make policy changes to help the elderly.
1. Akshaya Patra Foundation
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is headquartered in Bengaluru, India. Since 2000, it has been helping in implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the government schools and government-aided schools and fight hunger and malnutrition. It is the largest not-for-profit mid-day meal programme in the world. It is serving nutritious food to more than 1.6 million children across 11 states in India and the number is growing each day. It also helps to bring children to school.
The NGO strives to reach more and more children with wholesome food on every single school day. Akshaya Patra has state-of-the-art kitchens that are studied by researchers from all over the world. They have partnered with the Government of India and several State Governments, business houses and philanthropic donors.
‘Akshay’ in Hindi means never ending or one that never gets over; and ‘patra’ means pot. True to its meaning, Akshay Patra is the inexhaustible pot of food that continues to serve every school-going child. It aims at reaching out to 5 million children in India by 2020.
These 11 NGOs are doing not just exemplary work, but they are motivating and inspiring millions of men and women to come forward and do whatever best they can, for others. They are making people realise how their small efforts can bring monumental changes in someone’s life. They are able to change even the lives of those who are donating or volunteering for these social causes. If you think any of your favourite NGO has missed this Top 11 list, you can write about it in the comment box.