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Non Profit sector in India

Be the change, you want to see in the World- Mahatma Gandhi

The development sector in India is as large as the country itself with approximately anything between 1 to 2 billion NGOs operating in various capacities across different sectors. This sector has many opportunities and challenges to offer which makes it all the more interesting to work in. There are different types of NGOs based on what the work done and development issue supported.

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information.

Here is an indicative list of the kind of NGOs you will find in India.


These NGOs basically work on advocacy or campaigning on issues or causes.

Consultancy / research organisations

These NGOs work on social and developmental research & consultancy.

Training / capacity building organisations
In the NGO Sector, training is usually called Capacity Building. Some NGOs only work on capacity building of other NGOs.

Networking organisations

These NGOs provide vital network opportunities for NGOs in a specific field

Mother NGOs

These NGOs are recipients as well as givers that is they receive funds as well as disburse funds. They have a work focus, but instead of implementing projects, they identify projects and monitor, evaluate and build capacities of participating NGOs.

Grassroot organisations
These NGOs work directly with the community e.g. any NGO that works with underprivileged in slums or with farmers in a particular village.

City based organisations
These NGOs restrict their focus to cities

National organisations
These NGOs have national presence

International organisations
These are part of international NGOs. Like Mother NGOs, these NGOs receive and disburse grants.

Self Help Groups (SHGs)
They are not typically termed as NGOs. These are formed by beneficiary communities, typically women who come together in a group of 10 plus.

Reference: PRIA

As an international volunteer you may come from backgrounds as diverse as finance, marketing, banking, education, social work or even diplomatic services and each one of you has a lot to contribute to the development sector of India. You can teach children or help an NGO create and maintain its website. You could work for on marketing and corporate communication for an NGO. If rural India interests you, then you can head to the hinterlands and work at the grassroot level, helping farmers get a better agricultural produce. If you come from a technical background, you could help an NGO setup a renewable energy project. You name it and you shall have a challenge that appeals to you.

A volunteering experience in India has a great deal to offer you as an individual. It will be challenging yet rewarding in several aspects. You will also get to be a part of the melting pot of cultures and traditions that India is known for.

In a nutshell, as a volunteer, you will have a new experience each day in India. There will be lots to learn and lots to teach.

To know more about Non profit secor in India, we recomend you the below studies

  1. Working Papers of the The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project. Click here to download the study in Pdf. version.
  2. Non Profit sector in India by PRIA. Click here to download the study in Pdf. version
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