Not-For-Profit Organization: Transforming Communities In The Long Run

With over 25 years of work experience, Shridhar has been associated with leading multinationals like Philips, ABB, Webex Communications (now CISCO), and others. He is an Eisenhower Fellow for Innovation and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program from Wharton Business School. He is a recipient of Mother Teresa Social Leadership Scholarship.

kindly give us an overview about how npos are operating in india and the response to those npos in india.
India has got close to 3.5 million NGOs, and some of them are NPOs that have scaled up. One of them is Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world's largest not-for-profit transformation program. NGOs are generally seen as organizations that do good for the people, and therefore they are trustworthy and reliable. There are a lot of not-for-profit organizations in India that are building credibility in terms of execution, implementation, scalability, and replicability. Additionally, NPOs require support from stakeholders' donors, government, and well wishers to do well. They need to build credibility and transparency. NPOs in India are striving toward building these attributes.

The mere act of participating in activities is designed and implemented to help the less fortunate. It brings the realization that collective force can help and deliver impact at scale. Akshaya Patra, a public-private partnership, works closely with the Government of India, various state governments, private donors, public sector entities, individuals, philanthropists, and others. Similarly, other NGOs/NPOs need to become a platform for all these stakeholders to come together and try to deliver sound to society. Meanwhile, not-for-profits are building capacity on many funds. If you look at the alleviation of hunger or access to education and sanitation hygiene, many not-for-profits are doing an amazing job. The time of NPOs in India has arrived, and NGOs are also attracting good talent from the private sector and youngsters. Hence, India is poised for a big leap forward regarding not-for profit performance.

NGOs/NPOs, as a catalyst, can understand issues by interacting with various stakeholders and bringing these to the notice of the policymaker

Enlighten us on how npos are playing a vital role in the transformation of the society from only profit-oriented to more social cause-driven one.
NPOs are able to show outcomes and impact. Individuals, corporate, and governments have come forward to support the NGOs, and it brings a kind of aspiration in the society to solve the problem. Hence, NGOs help accelerate a solution to problems. People often are unaware of the core problem and NGOs/NPOs make society aware of it. They do so by providing data or showing pilots and suggestions to contribute for the solution of the problems. This is not for purposes of low risk to implementation or capacity building; in fact, they act as catalysts. Government has its own powers as well as limitations in the rule. NGOs/ NPOs, as a catalyst, can understand issues by interacting with various stakeholders and bringing these to the notice of the policymaker. Hence, another aspect of NGOs/NPOs is influencing or bringing out policy-level changes. It is likely to take in the matter of the government changing the policy. These are some of the areas that not-for-profits are contributing.

How do npos contribute towards the realization of sustainable community development?
From a sustainable community development perspective, NPOs play a significant role. For instance, when you transform the life of a boy or a man, you transform a family. Though, when you transform the life of a girl or a mother, you transform a whole generation. So, NPOs work for the livelihood of women. Similarly, it works to developed people's capacity, such as skill-building and knowledge giving NGOs. This helps the beneficiaries come out of the cycle of poverty and do well not only for themselves but also for society. NGOs also mobilize communities to be self-reliant by helping them discover their potential and enabling them to make the best use of their resources. And in these ways, NGOs are playing an essential role in sustainable community development.

Youths are powerful change agents with enormous potential to bring about positive changes in society. How do npos empower the youths and what are the strategies on the same?
Today’s youth is very well informed. Many youngsters today want to join companies that have a social purpose. IIT and IIM students are wishing to work for NPOs. It estimates that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 years of age worldwide are about 1.21 billion, which is about 15 and a half percent of the world population. Youngsters bring a lot of energy on the table, which is unparallel. The power of youth in a country like India is going to be phenomenal. They are socially conscious and don’t just want to do good in their spare time. They want to form societies and give opportunities to the needy. Giving back to the community has become a key component of job satisfaction for youth today.

In your thirty-two years of experience in a corporate and a nonprofit organization, what similarities do you find in business management? How did it work out for you?
As you have mentioned, I have about 32 years of experience out of the sixteen years I've been in corporate, and last sixteen years, I'm a part of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Hence, nearly half of my life has gone into the development sector, Akshaya Patra, which is an immensely satisfying journey. So, the difference I saw between corporate and the Akshaya Patra Foundation is that I got the purpose of my life in Akshay Patra. NPOs, like Akshaya Patra, give a platform by which an individual can find purpose in life. From the perspective of similarities, if you look at Akshaya Patra, we are currently about 6000 people across various states and 60 locations. We function pretty much like a corporate. If you ask me to describe Akshaya Patra as a person, Akshaya Patra is a person whose mind is of a corporate and compassionate for not for profit. I left corporate at the peak of my career in my mid-30s. I would urge many youngsters to look at not-for-profits as a career option. Today, many not-for-profits are paying very well. Not on industry standards, but what you will get at the end of the day is immense job satisfaction, which I got, and a sense of feeling that you are meaningfully contributing to society.

What should be the ultimate objective of npos in the fast-changing world?
The ultimate objective of NPOs in a fast-changing world is basically to bridge the gap between the privileged and not-so privilege. And NPOs should be working towards creating a transformative impact in people's lives and consequently change the fortune of the country.