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National workshop on nurturing partnerships for developing sustainable CSOs February 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "National workshop on nurturing partnerships for developing sustainable CSOs February 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 National workshop on nurturing partnerships for developing sustainable CSOs February 2010

2 CSE: set up in By Anil Agarwal. Engineer-journalist. Wanted to create an institution that could bridge the gap between information and knowledge; between knowledge and public awareness; to influence public policies What is CSE

3 Set up as a public-interest research organisation. It promotes sustainable development with equity, participation and democracy. Through ‘knowledge-based activism’. Policy research combined with public awareness. On water, forest management, air pollution, climate change, industry, health. CSE: Background

4 City water & waste management Media resource unit River pollution & sewage Climate change School education Water conservation Environment information dissemination unit Anil Agarwal Green College Books unit Sustainable industrialisation Website unitFilms unit Anil Agarwal Green College Right to Clean Air campaign and sustainable urbanisation Environment resources – books, journals, AV resources, clippings Science and environment reportage unit (DTE)‏ Training and outreach Research & advocacy Knowledge portal Knowledge dissemination Objectives

5 What is financial sustainability? Not securing long-term funds Not securing long-term donors Not even securing long-term partnerships Having the capacity to learn from past mistakes and react quickly to changing environments

6 Early history: 1980s Small group – Fiercely independent, relying solely on publication income Sole activity was producing publications – state of India’s environment

7 Drawbacks The book elicited huge response from all sections of society – need to respond by networking, creating awareness and policy research BUT…. It put strong constraints on institutional growth: tremendous pressure on the staff to produce high quality books to generate income. This resulted in high turnover of staff and hampered institutional growth. It curtailed the ability of the Centre to respond to the needs of voluntary agencies: Since networking does not yield income, it had to take second place to income generating activity. But networking is essential. Experiences generated by others help to shape our understanding of issues. The Centre was not able to employ young people: Young people want to develop their skills and understanding. But this required time and effort to be devoted to training them. But this was not possible with the ‘publish or perish’ policy of self-reliance. Young people needed good salaries: Also led to outmigration of talented, committed staff

8 Therefore, If there had to be institutional growth, Financial independence had to be tempered with grant funding. Started with small project grants from government, UN 1986: first foreign grant from Ford Foundation Policy on corpus: Corpus can lead to laziness in quality of work. Therefore, restricted to programme grants. Had to do good work if grants have to be renewed. 1989: First institutional funding from SIDA

9 Early 1990s: Grant funding vs. own income Slowly, grant funds replaced publication income as the main source of funds. Absolute income from sale of publications grew but percentage of total declined. Used institutional funding as well as own income to construct office building.

10 Late 1990s: Expanding basket of donors In the early 1990s we had very few donors. Largely SIDA. Late 1990s: undertook a long-term financial sustainability study. Institution had grown: Building and about 100 staff. Revised our earlier position on corpus. Needed to build up corpus for a future day when there would be no funding. Also needed to expand basket of donors and reduce dependence on any one donor. Decided that will never undertake consultancies to generate income. Will always work in public interest.

11 Late 1990s Devised a grant programme that will consist of: Corpus/Institutional grants Programme grants Project grants Own income was used to build up the corpus

12 Early 2000s Donors were leaving India Series of measures by the government that restricted donors coming to India The ones that remained were not interested in working with civil society Developed a programme to generate income: through training Started the Anil Agarwal Green College to both fulfill our mandate of making knowledge investments in society as well as earning income.

13 Current scenario Government came up with amendments to definitions of charitable societies. Very trying environment for civil society groups. New amendments to direct taxes code looming. Need for innovation.

14 CSOs severely shackled Cannot expect research, advocacy and other forms of public interest activities to get funded from revenues from sale of products. Civil society has to compete with the market in terms of sale of products minus a capacity to invest in marketing.

15 Future of grant funding Very dim. Foreign governments have severely curtailed aid funds. Also themselves in the throes of economic slowdown. Tendency for donor agencies to provide funds for activities they want done. Reduced to being a consultant. Moreover, there is a growing influx of foreign CSOs setting shop in India to tap funds from government, corporates etc. Danger of issues getting marginalised. Very few Indian philanthropic organisations. Government increasingly becoming the single major funder. Severe competition.


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