List of Contents
Source: The post is based on an article “Civil society organizations require wholesome support” published in Live Mint on 30th March 2023.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance – Non-Governmental Organisations
Relevance: concerns associated with CSOs
News: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and other kinds of not-for-profit organizations are working for societal improvement.
The article discusses concerns associated with CSOs.
What are the concerns associated with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)?
Donors want to support costs which are incurred for programs and activities that directly deliver the desired benefits or improvements to intended communities.
However, they don’t want to support other costs involved in the operation of the CSOs, known as overhead cost. It is impractical for a CSO to only focus on the outcome while neglecting other costs.
For example, a CSO working with public schools to enhance learning will have team members who train and assist teachers. Their salaries and activity costs are just as essential as the teaching-learning-material and resources given to schools.
The donors in this case, will be ready to support teaching material and not for the salaries and expenses for the staff of CSOs.
Further, donors expect CSOs to be strong and stable organizations which have good processes, sound accounting and reporting, leadership succession and development, the capacity to scale up, and more.
However, a CSO can only become stable when it is being financially supported for these things.
Some donors provide support for CSO overhead expenses ranging from 5-10% of the cost base, which is very low given the enormous amount of expense needed by CSOs to function.
Hence, a reasonable donation for overhead cost should range from 15%-25%.
Moreover, donors are also reluctant to commit long term funding for CSOs. This has weakening effect on Indian civil society.
What can be the way ahead?
Donors usually look for a strong, vibrant and high-capacity CSO ecosystem. This is only possible when they start supporting CSOs objectives along with their overhead costs wholeheartedly.