From Rajasthan To Odisha: Inside India’s Nonprofit Sector

Explore the Indian nonprofit sector with GlobalGiving’s Kavita Ann Mathew, an avid traveler who is inspired daily by nonprofit leaders in India.


Kavita Ann Mathew

India Partnerships Consultant, GlobalGiving

Who She Is:

Kavita helps GlobalGiving increase its reach and impact in India, drawing from her experience of working with multiple nonprofits in the country. Before discovering her passion for making the world a better place, Kavita spent two years with Goldman Sachs, where she found her love for spreadsheets and data. She then earned her stripes at a grassroots nonprofit and later took to consulting to widen the impact of her work. A believer in life-long learning, she recently completed her post-graduate work in child rights law from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

Q: Tell us about your background in philanthropy.

A: I started my career with an investment bank, which included a volunteering opportunity that changed my life forever. After two years with the bank, I decided to leave the corporate world for a more meaningful life where I could impact my local community, directly. Working in the social space started off as an experiment; now, it’s been 6 years, and it’s become an obsession for life. I started with a nonprofit organization in India as a full-time staff member where I put my skills to use by fundraising. The joy that fundraising brought me pushed me to take on consulting projects with multiple causes from economic empowerment of persons with intellectual disabilities to life skills education for children.This helped me widen my experiences and impact. My passion for the sector, enthusiasm to explore the path less trodden, and love for India eventually brought me to my current role with GlobalGiving.

Q: Describe GlobalGiving’s recent accomplishments and future in India.

A: GlobalGiving spent 2015 and 2016 listening to its nonprofit partners in India and understanding their needs. The GlobalGiving India Field Program 2016 had eight amazing field travelers who visited 93 partners across 18 states and two union territories in 45 days, which helped us deepen relationships with and provide in-person support to our partners in India. In response to one of their biggest needs, the ability to fundraise in Indian rupees, we launched an experiment with an Indian crowdfunding partner: the Daan Utsav campaign in October 2016. This campaign enabled 20 of our highest-performing partners to activate their Indian supporters through rupee donations with local tax exemptions. The campaign was a success, which reinforced the demand for this service. Today, we are actively exploring ways to make this option available to all of our partners.

Q: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the Indian nonprofit sector?

A: I see changes in politics, policy, and regulations in India as both a challenge and an opportunity for the Indian nonprofit sector. It’s forcing the sector as a whole to look at new and untapped avenues for support. With an increase in the spending capacity among Indians over the last decade, individual giving capacity has also gone up tremendously. This itself is a huge opportunity for philanthropy in India to take on an inward movement. With organizations like GlobalGiving providing the tools and training to mobilize the individual donor market, it’s the right time for nonprofits in India to explore the power of crowdfunding.

Q: Tell us about some of the inspiring people you’ve met in the Indian nonprofit sector who are making the world a better place.

A: I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of India and visit some earth-changing organizations through GlobalGiving. Every site visit was an absolute delight, and I learned something from every person I met. SANTI (Social Association For Nourishment, Training & Improvement) taught me the power of having a fundraising advocate. This organization is based in rural Odisha and does not have a single staff member who can speak English, but has been able to raise over $80,000 on GlobalGiving with the support of a U.S.-based volunteer fundraiser. The Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan was my favorite visit as I was blown away by how a little classroom, the size of a garage located in a desert, could transform the lives of communities in 60+ countries around the world through grandmothers, known as solar mammas, who teach others how to become solar engineers. The stories from the field are endless, you can visit my Instagram page to learn more: @causeitravel.

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