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Thursday, Nov 14, 2002

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CRY reports to donors on how the money is spent

Sankar Radhakrishnan


"REVENUES in the first quarter have grown compared to the corresponding quarter last year, income is up by 8 per cent while income from product sales remains constant." Nothing out of the ordinary about these statements; just the kind of information you will come across in the annual results of any corporate. But that is where the catch is: These statements are not from a corporate's quarterly or annual report, but from the results of Child Relief and You (CRY), a non-profit organisation (NPO) that works in the area of child rights, to be released on Children's Day.

So, why is an NPO taking the corporate route and making its results available to its stakeholders including the public? Put this question to Ms Pervin Varma, CEO, CRY, and her response is that this is part of the organisation's efforts to be more open and accountable. "We are committed to accountability and transparency and expect very high levels of accountability from the projects we support. So, if we demand it from them, it's only fair we do it ourselves," she declares. CRY is among the few NPOs that actually depend on the public for raising most of its funds and as such owes it to the public to disclose its financials, she adds.

"The publishing of our results is also an effort to say it is possible to be clean and transparent and still survive in this business environment. We also do it to share the impact of the work we have done for India's children," she explains.

The organisation has been making some sort of a disclosure of its performance to the public for the last 10-odd years, says Ms Ingrid Srinath, Resource Mobilisation Director, CRY. However, it's only in the last four years or so that there has been a more formal approach to publishing results, she adds.

The organisation is possibly one of the few Indian NPOs that disseminates its results in such a formal manner and in such detail, claims Ms Varma. "We mail a `hard copy' of the report to every one of our donors and also put it up on our Web site. The annual report goes to every single person who has ever donated to CRY or who's a potential donor or volunteer," she declares.

The document, with the organisation's results, contains details of where it gets its resources from, where the money went and the impact of the resources that were utilised, says Ms Srinath. In addition, the results also present details of any policy changes, the rationale behind such changes and the changes of direction in the field. There is also information on the various projects the organisation supports and the impact of the work of its projects.

For instance, in the last fiscal, despite disbursals to projects going down, initiatives supported by the organisation resulted in the `reactivation' of 532 Government-run schools across the country. Similarly, projects supported by CRY led to 100 per cent enrolment in schools in 796 villages in India in the last financial year, while some 44,617 children were given a chance of education.

Fiscal 2001-02 was a relatively good year for the organisation, which ended it with an income of Rs 20 crore, an increase of 8 per cent compared to the previous year. The organisation continues to depend on individual contributions for most of its income, says Ms Srinath, adding that the size of the average individual donation has now gone up to around Rs 2,000 per annum.

However, it's the organisation's performance in the first quarter of this fiscal that has been a cause for cheer, says Ms Srinath. In this period, the organisation registered an overall income growth of 155 per cent against the corresponding period last year and added a number of new individual donors to its base, she points out.

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