The non-profit sector in India has been growing consistently over the past decade. However, with growth come new challenges, which need to be addressed to ensure the efficient functioning and delivery of the non-profits.

Some of the biggest challenges that small and rural NGOs face today are capacity building and organisation development, establishing trust and accountability with external stakeholders and keeping abreast with evolving donor expectations.

Working with the social sector for over a decade helped us realise that capacity building is an on-going process, requiring patience, persistence, and strategic effort. We surveyed over 100 NGO decision makers, donors, government agencies and beneficiaries on their definition and constituents of a good NGO, resulting in the Niranthara model, covering eight key non-domain areas for effective NGO functioning.

Building Capacity

The flagship Niranthara programme focuses on building institutional capacity through 18-24 months of comprehensive support. From classroom training sessions and provision of tools and technology to overseeing site implementation, we facilitate NGO transformation by working closely with the board, leadership and programme staff.

Our objective is to help our NGO partners develop into effective, well-managed and sustainable organizations, which perform better internally and meet the evolving expectations of external stakeholders.

A pilot programme was launched in December 2017, with a cohort of 23 grassroots NGOs, most of them from rural Karnataka. From then on, the programme has gone from strength to strength, empowering hundreds of NGOs.

Scaling the Niranthara Model

The Sikshak programme is an innovative “Train the Trainer” initiative, based on the Niranthara model. It enables a large pool of training partners to bring Niranthara and other capacity building programmes to grassroots NGOs.

We partner with funders, federations and other organisations working with grassroot NGOs. We help Sikshak partner develop expert faculty in house to run the programmes in their region and for their networks. As Knowledge Partner, we share resources and processes so the Sikshaks can implement Niranthara programme with their NGO partners. We also support Sikshaks to monitor, evaluate and measure NGOs’ progress.

Based on the experience and success of the Niranthara programme, we have created an e-learning programme for NGOs teams to gain the knowledge and skills that are essential to operate impactfully. Structured as a self-paced, mobile-based offering, DrishtE enables a large number of NGOs to ramp up on the topics efficiently.

NGO Services

We offer need-based solutions that enhance the efficiency and compliance of NGOs, while optimising their time and resources.

Managing Support Functions

One of the challenges that small and rural NGOs face on the capacity building front is finding and retaining qualified and well-trained personnel who can manage their internal systems and processes. The Sahayak programme solves this problem by helping NGOs outsource their backend operations, in an efficient and affordable way. External service agency partners provide services in all significant support functions, including compliance, governance, human resources, MIS, accounting and finance, marketing and fundraising.

Enabling Technology, Communication and Governance Elements

Dhwani Foundation supports NGOs with technology, communications services, and mechanisms for good governance. Donors appreciate and even expect data-based programme management and monitoring. Our technology offering Goonjan brings MIS infrastructure to NGOs and helps the track their services, maintain records and provide timely stakeholder reports.

Alongside capacity and technology, it is important for NGOs – especially the smaller ones to gain visibility. Branding and marketing communications play an important role in establishing NGO credibility, raising awareness and building beneficial relationships with donors.

Many NGOs, especially those in rural areas, lack the resources and skills to promote their work and communicate their impact effectively, undermining their possibilities to attract support.

The Nikhaar programme supports NGOs with digital media presence and quality marketing collateral. We also provide training and grants for resources.

Good governance plays an important role in promoting the accountability of an NGO. Again, small NGOs, especially in rural areas, struggle with this as they fail to attract the right experts and professionals on to their board. Invariably, family members and well- wishers comprise the board, making it less effective.

The Updeshak programme helps induct independent board members to NGOs. We identify experts from various professional backgrounds, including corporate leaders, charted accountants, government officials and academicians, and recommend them to relevant NGO boards.

The new board members, as well as the existing NGO leadership and board, go through an induction program to ensure a fruitful and lasting alliance.

Sector Development

Promoting NGO Federations

NGO federations play an important role in driving the growth of the sector they represent and also supporting the growth of their member NGOs through the power of partnerships and sharing of resources and know-how.

Through our Voice programme, Dhwani Foundation offers strategic direction and support to NGO federations to help them function better as a collective and promote the overall sector’s development. Our services are focused on improving governance systems within the federation, supporting the capacity building of their NGO partners, and helping them represent the sector more effectively and influence policy level changes with the government.

Influencing Government Policies

The government play a pivotal role in social sector development, as the principal donor for community development initiatives and non-profit organisations. Several central and state government schemes offer long-term funding support and medium to large size grants to NPOs working in various development sectors, such as education, health, water and sanitation; establishing a winning government-NGO-community partnership. However, the lack of effective implementation and management often hinders the smooth functioning of this crucial partnership and compromises the programme impact.

The Government Interface programme of Dhwani Foundation strives to build successful partnerships between government departments, civil society groups and NGOs, to contribute collectively towards effectuating progressive policies for the development sector. Key activities include, influencing policy formation, identifying and documenting unaddressed issues in the sector, promoting effective policy implementation and working on the ground to strengthen delivery mechanisms.