July 23, 2015, marked a leap for grassroots and digital community in the country when the .NGO domain was launched nation wide at Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi, by Osama Manzar, Founder & Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation, in the presence of an esteemed panel that included CEO HelpAge India Mathew Cherian, Director General of IIMC Sunit Tandon, Convenor and Chief Programme Executive (CSR) at Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs Gayatri Subramaniam, CEO of GuideStar India Pushpa Aman Singh, Lead of Corporate Affairs/CSR at Microsoft India Manju Dhasmana, and Co-founder, MD and CEO of Head Held High Madan Padki.

The session kicked off with Mr. Mathew Cherian introducing the origin of the non-government organisations in India while shedding light on the issue of credibility and trust deficit. Conduct committee meetings, announce the accounts, pin them on a notice board or upload five- year previous accounts on the website”, suggested Cherian.

Mr. Sunit Tandon congratulated each and every NGO present for contributing to the development sector in some way or the other, and stressed on the point that NGOs need to get out of the vicious circle of insults and “come out clean”.

“Right to Information is often talked about across the NGO sector but to waive off dishonesty, Internet connectivity is important,” Tandon said.

Talking about the importance of CSR within the framework of an NGO, Gayatri Subramaniam remembered the ghastly past when the NGOs were merely grant based. “With the increased number of opportunities, NGOs will have to understand how the corporate world functions, how their lifecycle works and the need to do regular monitoring. Most NGOs are not aware of these aspects, thus, they lose a lot of opportunities”, remarked Subramaniam.

Today, 5000 NGOs are connected through the eNGO network across South Asia and Africa.

Pushpa Aman Singh congratulated Entrepreneurs and NGOs for moving one step further and said that they are benefitting the most from the explosion of digital media. “Establishing relationships and getting a voice heard has never been easier than this,” she said.

Stressing on the importance of online visibility and engagement for an NGO, Manju Dhasmana talked about the central relationship between an NGO and corporations. She remarked that donors keep a tab on an NGO’s activities on the Internet and voiced for more field work by the concerned organisations. “Creating an impact is very important as the credibility of the Lead in the Corporate depends on the success of the programme,” she summed up.

If NGOs do not generate sustainability it is difficult to sustain. Incentive lies in not just to spend money but to generate impact that is a sustainable impact. India is a rich country of poor. Stressing on the importance and emergence of social entrepreneurship in the country today, Madan Padki added: “Each enterprise has to be social and each NGO has to be an enterprise.”

Mr. Amitabh Singhal, Board member of PIR.org, introduced the audience to the .NGO Domain, which is a closed domain and cannot be bought until the NGO is verified and validated.

At the end of the panel discussion, which largely focused on the importance of online presence and ensuring credibility of NGOs in India, 13 early adopters of .NGO domain were awarded with mementos and selfie sticks by the Panel.

“Take selfies, selflessly,” quipped Mr. Manzar as he drew the curtains on the first session. The next session focused on the notion of crowdfunding for non-profits across different spectrum.

The journey has just begun!

The regional launch of .NGO Domain, which is the key to global trust and visibility of non-profits, was held on 19 August, 2015, at Hotel Atithi, Puducherry.

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