Focus India Forum


A project by Focus India Forum

To be the bridge between donors and NGOs......

Ramya Nageswaran, an Indian professional, came to Singapore more than 14 years ago. She regularly donated to charities back home and was often approached by different charities. Knowing that she "could not do justice to all these projects" herself, she "thought why not form a group of people interested in NGOs back in India that would be a pooling mechanism" to support more causes.

In 2002, Ramya and 16 friends started Focus India Forum (FIF). Each individual contributed S$20 (US$16) every month. The amount was deliberately kept small so that individuals would continue to donate to those charities in India they had long supported, but the new, pooled fund would encourage people to step out and investigate unfamiliar NGOs or locations.

By 2012, FIF has grown to more than 250 members, with 180 giving regularly. On top of the regular S$20 contribution, many give lump sum donations, for special occasions or when receiving a salary bonus. It has distributed the equivalent of 1 crore Indian rupees (US$161,000), and much more indirectly and in kind in its first ten years of operation.

Philanthropic circles also overlap. FIF has joined two of Dasra’s Singapore Giving Circles (see DASRA profile), taking one of the six or seven syndicated places on each. Each ‘circle within a circle’ makes an annual commitment of US$2,500 to the Dasra project. Participating in a Dasra giving circle gives FIF members an introduction to the venture philanthropy model, as practiced by Dasra in helping scale up the ‘best in class’ non-profits.

Beside donations, FIF members regularly collect clothing, toys and books, which are shipped to India to charities supported by the giving circle. In addition, FIF seeks to educate the Indian diaspora about the non-profit sector back home and the impact of non-profits. When non-profit leaders from India pass through Singapore, Ramya will convene a social event for members to learn more about the work of their organisations. As Ramya says, "FIF is a bridge between donors and NGOs". 

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A project by Focus India Forum