‘Giving back to society’ is not an unheard phrase; in fact, it is quite cliched. Right from top legislators to the common man, everybody has spoken about and heard of this phrase time and again. So, what does it actually mean? To put it simply, ‘giving back to society’ means helping the needy. We all live in a society and the society provides for us. We are dependent on our community and environment for all our need. So, in turn, it becomes our responsibility to take care of our fellow human beings and our life-sustaining environment. It is no surprise that inequality and difference exists all around us: some are extravagantly wealthy whereas some are struck by poverty, some have the luxury to a lavish spread of fine gourmet whereas some sleep and wake up to extreme hunger, some breathe in fresh air whereas some are struggling under the blanket of soot, some are travelling far and wide to get education in the finest of institutions whereas some do not even have the opportunity to attend primary schooling. These are just a few dots on the huge map of the haves and have-nots. And, the phrase ‘giving back to society’ addresses this very imbalance so that the ‘haves’ step up to provide for the ‘have-nots’ through charity donation, time, skill, and specific resources.
One of the practical ways to channel charitable activities constructively is to get engaged with an NGO. NGOs are legally formed groups independent of government ownership or representation. Their scale of ranges from local to global level and encompasses concerns related to human development, conservation of the environment, animal welfare, and more. The operational structure of NGOs allows them to get involved more closely with a particular issue resulting in a more focussed way of dealing with an issue. And, this is also the reason why NGOs are more effective in bringing about a lasting change in the society. So when you donate charity or invest your time and resources in such organisations, it gives a whole new meaning to your contribution. Heeding to this impact and to increase the involvement of more people with different causes, the Government of India allows tax exemption in India for all donations made towards registered NGOs and charitable trusts under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. This means your donation will have a double advantage: first, it will help the NGO to make progress in their respective causes; and second, it will make you eligible to claim 100% or 50% exemption on the donated amount based on the defined criterions of the Income Tax Act.
One such organisation that has also been recognised as the top NGO by The Global Journal is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. In 2013, the Foundation was ranked 23rd among the top 100 NGOs featured in the 2013 edition of The Global Journal. Akshaya Patra is an Indian NGO running the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme. Headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the Foundation provides freshly cooked nutritious meals to more than 1.6 million children across 34 locations in 12 states. Over the 17 years of its service, Akshaya Patra has observed significant changes in the schooling pattern of children from the economically disadvantaged background. There has been a rise in enrolment, improved attendance rate, improved health, better concentration, and more active participation of children in school activities. However, this would not have been possible without the support of government and philanthropic donors. With the aim to expand its reach and feed more children, the NGO directs all the received funds towards bettering processes and operations and providing wholesome meals to children.
The one meal that children receive on every school day allows them to hope for a better future. It allows them to continue schooling which makes them more confident to achieve their aims. This makes your charity donation a meaningful intervention in the healthy growth and development of young children, making them resourceful citizens of the country. And, the same donation exempts you from taxes too! Well then, wouldn’t it be a good choice to save tax by ‘giving back to society’?