What is a NGO?
As clear by its name, a non-governmental organization, i.e. NGO is a type of organization that is not governed or connected with the government of any country.
Usually, as a widely accepted notion, an NGO is a type of organization which are non-profit, i.e. they try and do something other than making money and mainly work for various social causes.
In today's era, an NGO is a term widely accepted as a legally constituted and non-governmental organization created by a legal set of people and, most importantly, with zero government involvement.
However, there are some NGO's that the government either partially or completely funds. So in cases like this, the NGO status is maintained by excluding government representatives from any kind of membership in the organization.
Running or starting an NGO is almost as similar to starting a company; however, your intention is different because running an NGO needs transparency because here you are working for a social cause and welfare.
Also, one would need real hard work, determination, a genuine will, and a desire to support those in need.
Things to consider before starting an NGO
So, if you are thinking on the lines of starting an NGO, you need to do your diligent homework and should know the below-mentioned points before you set up an NGO, especially in India:
Cause and Mission of your NGO
Need not explain there could not be an NGO without its cause and mission. In India, there is no dearth of causes, however, you need to choose it very carefully because you need to believe in the cause and work for it.
Starting from women empowerment, saving the environment, protecting girl child, children’s welfare etc., you can choose any and set your mission accordingly.
Set up the board of Directors/members in an NGO:
Although an NGO is a non-governmental body, you would still need a set of people to govern and run the same, and for it, you would need to choose a set of directors/members.
Here, you need to decide with a pinch of salt because the chosen set of people will have the capability to either make or break your NGO. So, it is important to choose like-minded people who strongly believe in your chosen cause and have the grit and desire to work for the same selflessly.
Apart from this, you would also need a set of financial advisers, technicians and legal advisors for the smooth functioning of your NGO.
Choose the name of your NGO
Needless to say, you need to have a name that resonates with your chosen cause for a long-lasting impact and connect with the general mass.
Also, the name should be catchy and short so that it is easy to remember.
Here you need to be careful because the name you want to give to your NGO should not be similar to any Government Authority Body, Board of Ministry, or any other registered company or NGO.
Articles of Association/Articles of Incorporation
In India, every registered NGO need to have a documented Memorandum of Understanding wherein the name and address of the NGO, its mission and objectives, details and list of governing body members, staff and human resource information, rules and regulations and administrative laws and procedures are mentioned.
Apart from its content, you need to be clear about the process, parameters, and acceptable pattern in which the document, such as Articles of Association/Articles of Incorporation, needs to be prepared.
Indian legal system provides you with an option to hire legal NGO consultants who can help you prepare the documents in the required pattern. Below are the main points which need to be there in the Articles of Association/Articles of Incorporation:
- Name of your NGO.
- It's objective/mission.
- A clear statement is mentioning that the NGO is a non-profit one.
- Working Area of the NGO.
- List and details of the founder members and board of directors.
- The Capital stock of the NGO.
- Personal and social liability of members, beneficiaries, associates and concerned.
Registration of NGO
Once you have prepared the required documents, you can go ahead and get your NGO registered. In India, you can register your NGO under any of the below-mentioned Acts:
- Societies Registration Act: Under this, you need to have a minimum of seven members to start an NGO and works for literary, scientific or charitable purposes.
- Indian Trusts Act: Under this act, you need to have a minimum of 2 people to start your NGO. There is no limit on maximum members under this act. In legal words, this act basically defines how the author of the trust could create trust and assign trustees and his monetary assets to be controlled by the trust.
- Companies Act: Under this act, you can register your NGO as per Section 8 of the Companies Act with the Registrar of the Companies. Companies Act regulates incorporation of a company, its role and responsibilities, directors and dissolution of the company.
Funds for NGO
Quite obvious is that you would need monetary funds to set up and start your NGO.
Also, you would need to have a consistent cash flow to ensure the smooth functioning of your NGO.
There are various ways to collect funds. It can be done through internal sources such as fees, donations, and subscription charges and external sources such as grants or aids from the government, private organizations or foreign sources.
In order to attract the attention of the general mass and the funding agencies, you can also run meaningful campaigns. In India today, there are a lot of organizations that have a dedicated section for charity and want to work for some social cause.
You just need to find the right organizations which believe in your chosen cause and connect with them. Once you start connecting with the right set of organizations and deliver what you have promised to them, you will start getting funds from similar organizations.
Now, this is the most important step because all of your hard work can go down the drain in case you haven’t set the right approach to building a wide network.
To ensure that your NGO gets its due recognition, you need to get connected with various other NGOs, media houses that can do the right marketing for your NGO, corporate and government agencies, professionals etc. and be on a constant lookout for the right partnerships because it is the partnership on which an NGO survives and thrives on, especially in today’s world.
Why register an NGO in India?
- A registered non-governmental organisation acquires legal status and assumes responsibility for the funds it receives. For example, when an individual donates to a charity trust, the funds are received in the organization's name and used for the trust's purposes. In an unregistered business, assets can be acquired under anyone's name and used for personal gain.
- A registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) helps to reinforce our society's ethical, social, and legal standards.
- The most fundamental requirement for operating an NGO is that it has a bank account in its name. To open an account, you must be registered as a Trust, Society, or Section 8 Company.
- Registration as a non-governmental organisation is required in order to apply for tax exemption from the Income Tax Authority.