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Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are organisations that are independent of any government and are not part of any political party but instead focus on providing services to the public. In India, NGOs play a significant role in the country’s development, providing a platform for citizens to express their concerns, drive social change and positively impact society. The NGO sector in India is one of the largest in the world, with over 3 million registered organisations across the country. Organisations must register themselves with the government to be legally recognised and operate as NGOs in India.
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Types of NGOs in India
There are two types of NGOs in India, registered and unregistered. Unregistered NGOs are organisations that do not have legal status and are not eligible for any kind of government funding. They are typically small, non-profit organisations run by volunteers and are mainly involved in social work or charity activities. On the other hand, registered NGOs are organisations that have been registered with the government and are eligible for government funding. These organisations are typically larger and more structured than unregistered NGOs and are involved in various activities, including education, health, research, advocacy, and social welfare.
Requirements for NGO Registration in India
Tlegal requirements for NGO registration must be met. These include:
- The organisation must have a minimum of seven members
- The organisation must have a memorandum of association and rules and regulations that clearly outline its objectives and activities
- The organisation must have a board of directors and a governing body
- The organisation must have a registered office address in India
- The organisation must have an audited balance sheet and an income statement
- The organisation must have a PAN card and a bank account
- The organisation must apply with the Registrar of Societies or the Registrar of Companies, depending on the state in which it is registering.
The Process for Registering an NGO in India
To register an NGO in India, the following steps must be taken:
- Choosing an Appropriate Name for the Organisation: The first step to registering an NGO in India is to choose an appropriate name. The organisation’s name should reflect the NGO’s goals and objectives. The proposed name should be unique and should not be similar to any existing NGO or registered company. Once the name is chosen, the organisation must apply for a name approval certificate from the Registrar of Societies or the Registrar of Companies.
- Preparing the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations: The memorandum of association outlines the purpose of the organisation, its objectives, and the powers of the governing body. It also outlines the rights and obligations of the members and the governing body. The rules and regulations should define the internal functioning of the organisation, such as the methods of appointment of members and the procedures for conducting meetings.
- Preparing the Board of Directors and the Governing Body: The board of directors and the governing body of the organisation should be constituted by the rules and regulations. The board of directors should be composed of members with authority to take decisions on behalf of the organisation. The governing body should be able to regulate and oversee the organisation’s activities.
- Obtaining a PAN Card and Opening a Bank Account: To register an NGO in India, the organisation needs to obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN) from the Income Tax Department. The PAN is an important document that is required for filing tax returns and obtaining bank accounts. The organisation should then open a separate bank account in the name of the NGO.
- Submitting an Application to the Registrar: Once all the documents have been prepared, the organisation needs to apply to the Registrar of Societies or the Registrar of Companies, depending on the state in which the organisation is registering. The application should include the memorandum of association, rules and regulations, and audited financial statements.
- Submitting All Necessary Documents to the Registrar: Along with the application, the organisation should submit all the necessary documents to the Registrar. This includes the memorandum of association, rules and regulations, and audited financial statements. If the documents are accepted, the Registrar will issue a registration certificate.
- Obtaining a 12A Certificate from the Income Tax Department: After the registration certificate is issued, the organisation needs to obtain a 12A certificate from the Income Tax Department. This certificate exempts the organisation from paying taxes on donations or contributions made to it.
- Applying for an FCRA Certificate from the Ministry of Home Affairs: To receive foreign funds, the organisation needs to apply for an FCRA certificate from the Ministry of Home Affairs. This certificate allows the organisation to receive foreign contributions.
- Obtaining a Registration Certificate from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs: The organisation should obtain a registration certificate from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. This certificate is required to register the organisation as a non-profit organisation.
- Filing Annual Returns: Finally, the organisation should file annual returns with the Registrar of Societies or the Registrar of Companies. This is important to maintain the registration of the organisation and ensure compliance with the laws and regulations.
Maintaining NGO Registration in India
Once an NGO has been registered, it must adhere to certain legal requirements to maintain its status. These include filing annual returns and submitting audited financial statements to the Registrar of Societies or the Registrar of Companies. Additionally, the organisation must ensure that its activities comply with the objectives and activities outlined in its memorandum of association.
The Benefits of Registering an NGO in India
There are numerous benefits to registering an NGO in India, such as:
- Legitimacy: Registered NGOs are recognised by the government, which gives them credibility in the eyes of potential donors and other stakeholders.
- Access to Funds: Registered NGOs are eligible for government grants and other forms of funding that can be used for their activities.
- Tax Benefits: Registered NGOs can avail of various tax exemptions and deductions, which can help to reduce the organisation’s overall costs.
- Legal Protection: Registered NGOs are protected by law, which provides them with certain legal rights and privileges.
- Increased Visibility: By registering an NGO, the organisation is listed in the government’s database, which increases its visibility and makes it easier for potential donors and stakeholders to find information about the organisation.
Registering an NGO in India is a worthwhile endeavour, as it provides the organisation with legitimacy, access to funds, tax benefits, legal protection and increased visibility. By taking the time to register an NGO, organisations can ensure that their work is legally recognised and benefit from the various advantages of the registration. Although the process of registering an NGO in India can be lengthy and complicated, the benefits of doing so far outweigh the effort involved. Therefore, registering an NGO in India is worthwhile and will continue to be so in 2023.
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