Informal, yet we mean business
Caring Friends is an informal group of friends who have come together over the years to act as a bridge between outstanding NGOs and the donors. People in cities are willing to support outstanding humanitarian efforts, but do not have the time to visit, assess, and monitor such NGOs. Caring Friends fills this gap. We identify, visit, assess, and evaluate the promising NGOs. This has helped us a lot and people have come forward with their contributions to support such NGOs. The only criteria for support is the excellence of work and factors like caste, creed, religion, region, language or gender are of no consequence.
Caring Friends, thus, is a platform which, on one hand, does resource-mobilisation through donors (individual and institutional) and on the other, deploys these funds through a plethora of superlative NGOs for efficient social returns. It generally identifies grassroots organisations which have very low-visibility and low-accessibility to funds, but with highly dedicated founder-leaders with strong organisational fundamentals. It then enables them to scale up at a rapid rate, thus impacting the lives of a much larger number of beneficiaries (who are invariably from extremely poor and deprived communities), and in course helping these NGOs build their capacities. It also uses the energies, competencies, and experiences of its various constituent members/ entities in myriad collaborative ways (donor-to-NGO, volunteer-to-NGO, corporate-to-NGO, NGO-to-NGO) which leads to continuous long-term sharing, learning, and partnerships.
Caring Friends does not have a bank account and neither accepts any contributions in its own name. Cheques are drawn directly in the name of the NGOs. Hence 100% contributions go directly to the organisations from the donor. Donors have liked this practice as complete donation goes to the ngo without any admin cost. The admin cost are borne by the core group of Caring Friends.
The prime characteristics of Caring Friends' engagement with the associated NGOs are as follows :
1. Proactive Reaching
More often than not, it is Caring Friends which contacts the NGO than vice-versa.
For this reason Caring Friends does not restrict itself to examining only the proposals received (as is the case with grantmaking agencies in general). But reaches out on its own where it feels the work deserves support (based on its quality parameters) as well as it needs support (that no other source of adequate funding is available to them).
2. Preliminary Study, Visit, and Post-Visit Detailed Study and Deliberation
After the contact with the NGO is established Caring Friends calls for its basic documents, and if satisfied, sets up a visit to the NGO by an experienced Caring Friends member. The visit report is then deliberated upon and based on a host of parameters, it is decided whether to extend support to the NGO or not, and if yes, then to what extent and for what time-frame.
3. Initial Grants and the 'Probationary Period'
If it is decided by the Core Team that support ought to be extended then, some members of the core-team (who are long-engaged with Caring Friends) make substantial donations / grants to the NGO in question. Very often for the first few months or even a year or two, do not include it in the General Campaigning Program (wherein the campaign for fund-raising is done among a wider circle of potential donors). If and only if the Core Team of Caring Friends is satisfied with the performance of the NGO in course of the Probationary Period, the NGO is included in the General Campaigning Program. The Core Team of Caring Friends feels itself to be duty-bound to ensure that the only NGOs it recommends to other potential donors have been thoroughly tested for a certain lengtth of time through financial and time-effort involvement of only its core members, and that these NGOs are never found wanting on any parameter. This is a fundamental 'Article of Faith' with Caring Friends which greatly convinces the potential donors.
4. Changed role post 'NGO maturity'- the beneficiary becomes benefactor
NGOs which have been engaged with Caring Friends for long, and have been able to build up its own broad resource-pool due to increased visibility, assume a more evolved role in the Caring Friends Family. While Caring Friends may continue to support them financially (these NGOs then generally see Caring Friends as the donor of the last resort) and stands firmly behind them, these NGOs take up a mentorial role in guiding other NGOs by way of competencies, contacts, strategic and management guidance etc. They also help in expanding of the donors' network of Caring Friends by introducing some of their own donors to the Caring Friends Family and in due-diligence of new and probationary NGOs.