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Indians abroad look to home to give back

INDIA has the largest diaspora population in the world with 17million Indians living abroad as expats in 2017 –  but most maintain a deep connection to their home country.

Non-resident Indians (NRIs) take pride in India’s extraordinary economic growth since 1990. However, they can’t ignore the fact that in the United Nations’ most recent Human Development Index, India ranked 131 out of 188 countries. On the one hand, India is booming, and on the other 75% of India’s population still lives on less than US$2 a day and, on an average, children only complete 6.3 years of schooling.

 So as NRIs accumulate wealth abroad, many feel a strong desire to give back to their fellow countrymen and help develop their homeland.

While traditionally they have sent money back to support family and their communities, the tide has shifted, with many NRIs transferring their support to organisations working to provide social support for India as a whole.

With many issues still needing to be addressed across the country, many NRIs question which cause is best to support in terms of impact. The answer is, there is no right answer.

Access to education is invaluable, but so is having a healthy living environment, clean source of drinking water, and freedom from violence that allow one to survive childhood and put that education to use.

And then there’s the arts; while many think of it as a luxury, evidence shows that it has a more global impact on our economy, health and wellbeing, society, and education, as well as individually affecting our self-discovery and expression, creativity, and sense of history.

A common stumbling block in the donor process is also figuring out how to give back. How can one learn about those in need from so far away? It’s hard when you’re living thousands of miles from home, but there are many online resources to alleviate this.

It’s definitely hard to trust an organisation with whom you’ve never personally interacted, and a majority of NRIs express a widespread distrust of the not-for-profit sector. There are, of course, international intermediaries who evaluate and advocate for larger Indian NGOs.

But there are now Indian organisations stepping up to accomplish the same in a much broader, more equitable way that allows grassroots groups as well as larger, more professional NGOs to raise awareness.

GuideStar India allows any registered NGO to set up a profile. Then, by reviewing a number of due diligence documents, awards them with varying levels of certification based on their transparency.

Credibility Alliance also accredits organisations based on accountability and governance norms and disclosure practices. Annually Bain & Company reports on Indian philanthropic trends and organisational impact, and you can read their insights on the industry.

There is an assortment of global giving platforms, connecting international donors with local NGOs. Now that the Indian government has made it simpler for NRIs to set up bank accounts in India, it is easier than ever to donate like a local.

As an NRI, if you have the time and inclination, you can reach out to an NGO directly and set explicit terms for your gift, and follow up to make sure it happened, but there are easier ways to give. Small Change provides a platform for highly transparent NGOs to fundraise, ensuring that they receive funding for exactly what they need to support their constituents. 

Don’t let being far from home keep you from giving back!

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