Private funding and government policies are helping India's NGOs achieve SDGs

18 March 2019 3 min. read
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Despite growing restrictions on foreign funding for Indian NGOs, India is performing considerably well when it comes to Sustainable Development Goals with help from a number of stakeholders involved, including the public and private sectors as well as the media industry.

The deadline to achieve the UN’s SDGs – 2030 – is just over a decade away now, which is bringing to fore reports on the progress made therein across the globe. All member countries participate with the aim of completely eradicating certain social and environmental issues by the end of this decade.

India is among the most rapidly expanding economies in the world, and is expected to be the second largest economy on the planet by 2050. As a country that is expected to play a central role in the global economy in the contemporary scenario, India has the opportunity and the burden of ensuring that its growth traces the most equitable and sustainable path possible.

What are the SDGs?

According to the latest ‘India Philanthropy Report’ from global management consultancy Bain & Company, India is making steady progress towards ensuring this growth. NGOs are the drivers of social and environmental change, and NGOs in India currently have abundant resources to work with. 

The Foreign Contributions Regulations Act introduced in India in 2010 has prevented a number of international NGOs from participating in social change across India, although the consulting firm reports that India’s domestic private sector has stepped up to the plate in a significant manner.

As per the report, private funding for NGOs has grown by a staggering 15% each year from 2014 till 2018, taking the total funding up to Rs. 70,000 crore last year. Within this bracket, the firm attributes growth in funding to increased participation from individual philanthropists.

Private and public funding

The rapid rate of economic growth in India has led to growth in the ultra-wealthy segment of  the population, and the number of billionaires in the country currently stands in excess of 100. An increasing number of High Net-Worth Individuals are displaying a tendency to contribute for philanthropic purposes.

One example of this is Infosys co-Founder and Chairman Nandan Nilekani, who decided in late 2017 to donate half of his entire wealth – $1.7 billion – to The Giving Pledge for philanthropic purposes. Such efforts from the private sector have been helped along by substantial support from the public sector.

Funding form the central government towards philanthropic purposes has grown by 10% as well between 2014 and 2018, reaching a value of Rs. 210,000 crore by last year. The financial support has been backed up by targeted policy initiatives to ensure that the regulatory framework is conducive to achieving the goals.

Foreign funding for NGOs

The SDG India Index launched by the National Institute for Transforming India has laid down 62 parameters based on which the SDG practices of states across India are evaluated and rated. The scope of the Index is limited to 13 out of the 17 SDGs laid out in the UN stipulations.

According to the report, efforts from both the public and the private domains have been helped along by the media in India, which has ensured frequent coverage of SDG progress. The updates allow philanthropists to keep track of changes and plan their donations to produce maximum effect.