According to their website, United Care Development Services (UC) is a philanthropy exchange that provides a wider giving platform for various non-profit organisations (NPOs) through the Four Donations For Development (chaar daan, chaar dhaam) initiative, which invites contributions in the form of volunteering (shram daan), in-kind donations (vastu daan), waste donations (kachra daan) and financial (post pay) donations (dhan daan). UC aims to generate resources for resut-oriented social work in the areas of education, health and environment.
To address one of the key challenges in social development work, which is the elusiveness of outcomes for the investments that people make in projects, UC decided to come up with a post-pay model of funding, contrary to the oft-used pre-pay one. In the latter, the risk is borne by donors. But with postpay, donors can see the results of the development projects before paying for it, making it risk-free. During the organisation’s first three years, the focus of this model ensured a deep engagement with NPOs with whom UC worked, which eventually led to recognizing the need and opportunity to provide all four donations (chaar daan) to organisations working for social causes.
UC pre-funds specific line items of partner NPOs, measure and document outcomes from such projects and then invite donors to post-pay for these outcomes.
Born in June 2009, UC provides information about NPOs based on the type of resources (the four donations) that they may be seeking.
Their website says that for the kachra daan initiative that was born in September 2010, UC works with residential, office and academic communities to reduce, segregate and donate waste. It forms bridge between the community and waste recyclers.
While dry waste is donated once a month, items like paper, plastic, glass and metal are picked up by a waste recycler from the local area and the money collected can be donated by the community to support UC projects in health, education and environment. Electronic waste items are handed over to specialised e-waste recyclers while books and old clothes are re-distributed to people in need. UC also provides support to set up compost centres in communities to prevent waste from heading to landfills and instead form organic manure for gardens.
Since they follow the post-pay model, how do they have access to grants? UC’s website has its members saying that they believe post-pay model brings in greater accountability and grant agencies would see the benefits of the model. Grants could be structured in a way that existing project certificates are paid for, released in tranches based on outcomes.
In the public healthcare sector, UC carries out three major activities:
1. Preventive health care: UC helps in identifying available health education content, mobilising resources to develop new content and putting in place communication infrastructure like TVs for health facilities so that visitors can be educated about health care topics.
2. Free and open source IT solutions: Volunteers have designed a free and open source health information system, necessary IT infrastructure plan and provide training and implementation support for this application at public hospitals.
3. Patient care support services: Helping hospital staff and patients by providing clear sign boards and information boards, developing website information for patients regarding services at hospitals, emotional counseling services for patients and manning information desks at health care facilities to guide patients within hospital premises, without substituting the role of hospital.
Prior to UC, Gunaranjan worked for seven years with BASIX, a development finance institution. As head of the microinsurance business unit at BASIX, he led the expansion of micro insurance services across India, also undertaking product development covering a wide range of life, health and asset insurance products including livestock, micro enterprise and weather index based insurance products for crops. His initial work at BASIX gave him wide exposure, experience and insight into challenges in the development sector, both at the grassroot and policy level.
He said that the key challenge seen by stakeholders at all these levels is the elusive results or outcomes for the investments made in development projects.
“A closer look at the nature of funding reveals that the risk is often borne funders, as they PrePay. The idea of reversing this flow of funding, through a postpay model, making it contingent to achievement, measurement and documentation of the results or outcomes, making it risk-free for donors, seemed an attractive potential, with a potential to unlock greater levels of giving. Over the next three years, the outcomes focus of this model, ensured a deep engagement with NPOs with whom UC worked, which eventually led to recognising the need and opportunity to provide all the four donations (chaar daan) to organisations working for social causes,” Gunaranjan said.
As far as scale is concerned, Gunaranjan said, “We don’t have a specific set of goals. We’re looking at taking forward what we already have and perfecting it. We want to let the volunteer-driven platform grow organically”.
All images are courtesy of UC.