Scope of the Policy
In the Policy, voluntary organizations (VOs) mean to include organizations engaged in public service, based on ethical, cultural, social, economic, political, religious, spiritual, philanthropic or scientific & technological considerations. VOs include formal as well as informal groups, such as:
- Community-based organizations (CBOs)
- Non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs)
- Charitable organizations
- Support organizations
- Networks or federations of such organisations
- As well as professional membership associations.
Characteristics of VOs
- They are private, i.e., separate from Government
- They do not return profits generated to their owners or directors
- They are self-governing, i.e., not controlled by Government
- They are registered organizations or informal groups, with defined aims and objectives.
Objectives of the Policy
- To create an enabling environment for VOs that stimulates their enterprise and effectiveness, and safeguards their autonomy;
- To enable VOs to legitimately mobilize necessary financial resources from India and abroad;
- To identify systems by which the Government may work together with VOs, on the basis of the principles of mutual trust and respect, and with shared responsibility; and,
- To encourage VOs to adopt transparent and accountable systems of governance and management.
Enabling Environment for the functioning of Voluntary Sector
- All laws, policies, rules and regulations relating to VOs categorically safeguard their autonomy, while simultaneously ensuring their accountability .
- Voluntary organizations may be registered as societies, as charitable trusts, or as non-profit companies under Central or State laws. Some States have adopted the Societies Registration Act (1860), with amendments, while others have independent laws.
- In order to encourage transfer of shares and stock options to VOs, the Government will consider suitable tax rebates for this form of donation. The Government will also simplify and streamline the system for granting income tax exemption status to charitable projects under the Income Tax Act. At the same time, the Government will consider tightening administrative and penal procedures to ensure that these incentives are not misused by paper charities for private financial gain.
- An organization seeking foreign funding must be registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. This law prescribes stringent screening norms that often restrict the ability of VOs to avail foreign funds. When approved, there are problems like funds must be held in a single bank account, thus presenting enormous difficulties to VOs working at different locations. The Government will review the FCRA and simplify its provisions that apply to VOs,
- There would be formal systems for registering complaints and for redressing grievances of VOs.