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Culture of giving still at a nascent stage in India: Smile Foundation

Culture of giving still at a nascent stage in India: Smile Foundation

(October 13, 2022)

New Delhi, Oct 13, 2022 (IANS) Inspired by Peter Senge, Founder of Society for Organisational Learning, a group of young corporate professionals came together in 2002 to set up Smile Foundation to work with grassroots initiatives for effecting positive changes in the lives of underprivileged children, their families and communities.

Today, Smile Foundation has more than 400 welfare projects operational in 2,000 villages and communities spread across 25 states.

Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder & Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation, told IANS that the tracking mechanism, efficient delivery of services and measuring programme impact on the ground are going to be more robust, and Cloud technology and AWS have helped them use data effectively towards achieving that.

Here are the excerpts from an interview:

Q1. What is the idea and vision behind the Smile Foundation?

A: Smile Foundation was initiated in 2002 when a group of friends came together with the intention of giving back to the society. We were inspired by the thought and philosophy of Peter Senge, the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning who has propagated that “sustainability, social equality and the environment are now business problems and corporate leaders can’t depend on the governments to solve them…”

What triggered our thoughts was the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990’s which had brought with it a lot of positivity, hope and immense opportunities.

Business revived, and India became not just a market, but also an investment prospect for the developed world. Professionals like us, particularly those in the areas of finance and strategy, were the first ones to benefit from the transforming economy. Disposable incomes and settling down early became a reality for the working middle-class.

For the first time in India, professionals could think beyond just making a living, and contribute towards society.

Fuelled with enthusiasm, we gave a shape to our dream, and Smile Foundation was born. Having almost no experience of the development sector, and being committed to our respective careers, we thought it best to rely on the knowledge and expertise of development professionals, and let experienced social sector leaders take lead in the day-to-day operations and management of Smile Foundation.

Q2. What innovations has Smile Foundation brought into the non-profit space?

A: In the initial years of Smile Foundation, the Indian economy had seen an unprecedented rise, forcing the developed (or higher income) countries to rethink their priorities, and the international grants that had been a major resource pool for the Indian development sector started drying up.

This trend was further augmented with the onset of recession in 2007, when the western world started focusing on their own economic turbulences rather than investing in social ventures in the developing (or middle income) countries. Many Indian non-profits had to close their doors, while others were forced to rethink their core values and change their modus operandi in the new environment.

On the one hand, the conventional resources of the development sector like international grants were dwindling every day, on the other, both the corporate and individual giving culture in India were still at a nascent stage. But where others saw challenges, we saw opportunities. Amidst all these adversities, we resolved to not just survive the odds, but also evolve as a sustainable Indian social institution — committed to do real work on the ground, and make the society and businesses inclusive in the process of bringing change.

With this seemingly impossible dream in our hearts, we set out on the challenging and yet immensely rewarding journey of spreading smiles across the country. On our way, we had to make many difficult choices and constantly innovate – whether it was choosing to work on the ground through a service-delivery approach, practicing management principles and adopting a business-like approach in the development sector, creating a unique resource modeling keeping businesses at the centre, or promoting the concept of civic driven change. Yes, we almost always took the road less travelled, and as they say, that has made all the difference.

Today, when we look back on our journey of the last 15 years, we feel privileged to have been able to impact the lives of more than 1.5 million children and families every year, with the efforts of thousands of committed, passionate people including teachers, doctors, community mobilisers, trainers, development professionals, grassroots community organisations, and with the love and support of over 350 global brands, 5000 schools, hundreds of colleges, millions of children, youth, volunteers and individual supporters.

Q3. Tell us about the reach of your work. What are your plans for the next couple of years?

A: Smile Foundation has more than 400 welfare projects operational in 2,000 villages and communities spread across 25 states of India. It covers areas such as education, healthcare, skilling and livelihood, women empowerment, etc. We would like to create more synergy with both governmental and corporate efforts and thus help expedite the process of development at the grassroots.

Smile Foundation will also continue to deploy appropriate technological solutions in project management and governance. The objective is to achieve better efficiency, optimise resources, promote good governance and create lasting impact on the ground.

Q4. What types of challenges do you face while working and how do you solve them?

A: One of Smile Foundation’s major challenges is the difficulty in finding the right professionals such as doctors, teachers, project managers and community workers to work in remote areas. Also, retaining these professionals is another major problem as tackling development issues is a serious, long term and complex endeavour.

As corporations form the majority of our resource pool, one of the challenges is to meet the gaps between the output-driven expectations of the corporate and the outcome based impact that the social sector is designed to deliver. Generally speaking, in the development sector, input is not always equal to the output.

There are so many subjective processes and outputs which one needs to understand and appreciate. The social impact of a project on the ground can not immediately and fully be measured in figures; rather it is long-term and can be observed in the changing behaviour patterns and habits of a community. However, post the CSR mandate, as the corporate are becoming increasingly involved in development initiatives, they are also beginning to understand the dynamics of the social sector.

Even though our economy is surging ahead, and the income levels of individuals are multiplying, the giving culture in the country is still at a nascent stage. Individuals are generally inclined more towards religious giving, and are less likely to contribute towards social causes. It will take time for the Indian society to wake up to philanthropy, but the scenario has started changing and is hopefully going to get better in the coming years.

This sector has been struggling with trust deficit so changing the perception of people is another major task which we face. One big challenge of our sector is the lack of regulation and organisation.

Sometimes, we have to work in an imperfect environment. Although things are changing now, it will take some more time for it to be perfect. Self-governance can be a solution for the development sector. Smile Foundation has always been very particular in following and promoting practices of good governance.

Q5. What are some of the emerging technologies that will further reshape education, healthcare and livelihood over the next 4-5 years?

A: Next few years are going to be interesting for these sectors from the perspective of evolving technology. The tracking mechanism, efficient delivery of services and measuring programme impact on the ground are going to be more robust. Organisations working in these areas can also optimize operational efficiency and amplify outcome thanks to advanced and innovative technological solutions.

Education will witness newer online tech for teaching and learning. Monitoring tools for observing real-time performance of students are also possibilities. Among many innovations in healthcare, virtual consultation with super specialists even in remote areas will be a reality. Efficient tracking mechanism for specific diseases is also within reach. Skilling and livelihood sector will benefit from imparting in-demand skills and doing better employability mapping.

Q6. What has cloud technology and AWS helped you to do that you couldn’t do before?

A: Cloud technology and AWS have helped us to use data effectively. With the help of Salesforce, we are able to track, manage and build effective engagement solutions for our support to provide regular updates and information and on the other hand, AWS gives us a useful means to host our donation platform which ensures better security. It also enables us in reducing cost through continuous optimization and effective utilization of resources in the long run.

Further, cloud technology has helped us manage our youth employability skill training programme, named STeP, more effectively across India. In healthcare, the Beneficiary Management System is making management of patient databases smoothly. In Smile on Wheels, the mobile healthcare programme, we are managing the supply chain of medicines pan India with the use of cloud technology.

Education Scholarship Management System has made the entire process of enrollment of students, assessment, disbursement of scholarships and funds for the students from primary school till engineering. We are planning to take a few more infrastructure on AWS in the near future. We believe this will help us achieve resource optimization soon.



Print/ Online Media

Deutsche Bank joins hands with Smile Foundation to provide engineering scholarships for girls

Deutsche Bank joins hands with Smile Foundation to provide engineering scholarships for girls

(December 16, 2022)

Dec,16 2022: Deutsche Bank and Smile Foundation have collaborated with the aim to provide engineering scholarships to 200 meritorious young women from low-income families across India. The students will receive funding for a four-year engineering course at select colleges in Bengaluru, Jaipur, Mumbai, and Pune.

The bank, in conjunction with its NGO partner, formally handed over the scholarship letters and laptops at individual events across Deutsche Bank offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, and Jaipur. Other than senior management of the bank, also present at the event were parents of the girls and their college principals.

According to an official release, the scholarship programme has been structured to provide students the holistic support required, right from inception until the completion of their course. Under the collaboration, the bank will conduct half-yearly training programmes to upskill the girls. Post the completion of their course, the students will also be given industry experience, support, and guidance for job placements, the release added.

Furthermore, the release said almost 1,100 applications from aspirants studying in over 50 colleges, across the four centres, were received for the scholarship. The process of conducting orientation sessions and selecting the young recipients for the scholarship, was undertaken by more than 150 volunteers from the bank and the foundation, the release mentioned.

“As a country with a burgeoning female workforce, there is an urgent need to ensure equitable distribution of economic resources and to provide equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic, and public life. As a bank, we believe in supporting initiatives that would create a larger talent pool that would help support our vision towards nation building. Our scholarship will help develop a generation of women technocrats and build gender collaboration to sustain a buoyant and thriving economy,” Kaushik Shaparia, CEO, Deutsche Bank Group, India, said.

Smile Foundation’s efforts are in line with the government’s agenda of educating the girl child and creating a gender-balanced leadership, Vikram Singh Verma, executive director, said.


Print/ Online Media

Nickelodeon partners with Smile Foundation for Motu Patlu’s 10th birthday

Nickelodeon partners with Smile Foundation for Motu Patlu’s 10th birthday

(Oct 17, 2022)

New Delhi, Oct 17, 2022: In a decade, Motu Patlu, India’s most-loved kids entertainment show, has created an indelible mark in the hearts and screens of every household.  Inspired by the famous characters in Lotpot Comics, Motu Patlu are the awesome twosome of Nickelodeon. Being the first-ever Indian animated characters to have statues at Madame Tussauds, their popularity has been simply spectacular. Today, Motu Patlu enthrall kids with their hilarious antics and rib-tickling adventures across OTT platforms, games, and wide range of consumer products. Celebrating the ten years of every Indian household’s favorite duo, Nickelodeon – the leading kids’ entertainment franchise has gone all out to celebrate Motu Patlu’s 10th birthday. Smile Foundation, India’s most trusted NGO for underprivileged kids, joined to duo to celebrate their special day. 

The birthday bash was an absolute riot of fun and games. Straight out of the television screens, Motu and Patlu engaged with the young kids with their silly antics while clicking a lot of selfies. The event witnessed Motu Patlu and the kids shaking a leg on the title track while some others also showcased their recitation skills. Making the day special was everyone and Motu Patlu’s favourite snack – Samosas! And because it was for their 10th birthday, the celebrations were taken to a whole new level. The highlight of the event was a gigantic pyramid, made of over 1000 samosas, which the kids and the volunteers totally gorged on along with loads of cake.  

Mr. John Thattil, Vice PresidentSustainability and Resources said, “We are happy that the children from this school Smile supports (SHED Primary School), have the opportunity to fulfil their dream of meeting Motu and Patlu and be a part of this milestone celebration. The show, thanks to Nickelodeon, has brought a smile on many a children’s face in the past 10 years. To add to it the parents and adults watching the show along with their children, also were able to Smile and forget their troubles for some time. Each episode of show, while being entertaining always had a very relevant message which was well received by the children.

On behalf of Smile Foundation and its partner SHED Primary School we thank Nickelodeon for the joy they have bought to the children especially today by including them in this celebration and we wish Nickelodeon all the very best in continuing to put Smiles on more children’s faces through Motu Patlu!”

The celebrations will continue across cities promising a week filled with fun activities. 


Print/ Online Media

4 NGOs Using a Novel Approach to Serious Problem Solving

4 NGOs Using a Novel Approach to Serious Problem Solving

(Sept 13, 2022)

New Delhi, Sept 13, 2022: Over the years, NGOs have advocated for many good causes but over time their work showcased an image of poverty, sadness, and pity. This representation of multiple problems in India invites commiseration from the global as well as local audiences. However, there are a few NGOs who are taking a novel approach to dealing with serious problems, instead of banking on poverty selling they work towards creating a positive narrative. By doing so they aim to not only eradicate the problem but also break the stigma associated with it, which is the primary reason for these problems to persist in society.

The following 4 NGOs are committed to breaking the stereotype and bringing a celebratory outlook to serious problems.

Bal Utsav

Bal Utsav is an education-based NGO who works towards the revitalization of government schools across southern India and has impacted over 8 lakh children. During the inception of Bal Utsav, founders decided to take a celebratory approach in problem-solving and were never involved in depicting an image of misery. In all their messaging since then, whether on their website, social media pages, brochure, banners showcased happy faces of children, and them enjoying the facilities in their schools and celebrating their childhood. Along with this positive outlook and their flagship programs like iShaala and Sampoornashaala, BalUtsav aims to not only provide children with quality education but also combat the underlying stigma associated to government schools in India.

Smile Foundation

Smile Foundation is an Indian social development organization which directly benefits over 15 lakh children and their families every year. The foundation works towards educating, empowering and cultivating better citizens. As the name signifies they also work around the narrative of bringing and spreading smiles. Their social media pages showcase the smiles of all the people they have impacted through their programs. The foundation works intensively through focused welfare projects in four major areas – child education for poor children, healthcare for families, skills training and livelihood for youth, and community engagement through wOMEN empowerment. In tandem to their efforts to uplift the citizens of India they also aim to uplift the overall notion around India through their positive outlook.

Nanhi Kali

As part of the Mahindra group, project Nanhi Kali is a sponsorship program that has reached out to over 500,000 underprivileged girls across 14 states in India. From far-flung areas such as the hamlets of Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu to the rural outskirts of Banaras, from the tribal hills of Araku in Andhra Pradesh to the sub-plan tribal district of Udaipur, and from the crowded slums of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, to the more remote but cooler locations of Darjeeling, Project Nanhi Kali is ensuring that girls complete 10 years of formal schooling. Along with their efforts to provide schooling for girl children , through their social media accounts and website, they take a positive narrative to combat the stigma around educating girls.


Sightsavers’ work in India has enabled thousands of people to lead lives of independence and dignity. They have been working with local partners to strengthen organisations and communities, and have supported the treatment of millions of people with eye disorders. The organization has educated, counselled, trained and rehabilitated people who are visually impaired or blind, and helped extend the reach of eye services to the least served areas of India. Most importantly they tell stories of people who have achieved success even with their disabilities. In addition to helping persons with disability they also use a positive approach to drive the notion of equality for all and the idea that no disability can make a human being less capable.


Print/ Online Media

Smile Foundation Hosts 12-country International Meet

Smile Foundation Hosts 12-country International Meet

(Sept 13, 2022)

New Delhi, Sept 13, 2022: Smile Foundation, in association with Wilde Ganzen Foundation, hosted the Directors’ Meet 2022 under the Change the Game Academy (CtGA) initiative in New Delhi, India. 

Directors’ Meet is an annual or biannual meeting of national partner organizations (NPOs) representing various countries from across the globe. This time, the meeting was organized to discuss plans for scaling up the programme globally as well as at the country level to enable local grassroots organizations to sustain their endeavor and create higher impacts.

Across the globe, social entrepreneurs and grassroots initiatives are in the dire need of capacity building to achieve programme sustainability, efficiency, impact creation, among others. Such organizations and social initiatives play a big role in furthering social development, tackling socio-environmental challenges and complementing governmental efforts in bringing change at the grassroots.

As recognized by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations, non-government organizations play critical roles in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Change the Game Academy is an initiative by Wilde Ganzen Foundation, Netherlands co-created in association with Smile Foundation, CESE from Brazil, and Kenya Community Development Foundation from Kenya. It aims to end dependency on foreign funding in the global south regions by supporting grassroots organizations through strengthening their in-country fundraising capacity.

The Directors’ Meet 2022 involved representatives from 12 National Partner Organizations (NPOs) from as many countries, and the Wilde Ganzen Foundation. The deliberation included the program’s progress at the global and country-level, besides setting its roadmap. It was a residential meeting and was hosted by Smile Foundation in Manesar, near Delhi.

The meet witnessed participation from organizations such as Advocacy and Policy Institute and Cooperation Committee for Cambodia , Association Burkinabè de Fundraising from Burkina Faso, CESE from Brazil, Development Expertise Center from Ethiopia, Foundation for Civil Society from Tanzania, Kenya Community Development Foundation,  The Institute of Monitoring and Evaluation and ASM from Sri Lanka, Uganda National NGO Forum, West Africa Civil Society Institute from Ghana, Cordaid from Nepal, and Rhiza Babuyile from South Africa.

“Our collaboration with Wilde Ganzen Foundation has enabled us to help local community-based organizations grow and achieve impactful results. We are happy to be enabler of change and help genuine grassroots organizations in India and beyond imbibe good governance, achieve scale, ensure efficiency and attain overall self-reliance,” said Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation.

Smile Foundation, based on its philosophy of Social Venture Philanthropy (SVP) and its alignment with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, has so far empowered more than 1,000 grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs especially in the areas of good governance and improved self-reliance.

About Smile Foundation:

Smile Foundation is an Indian development organization directly benefiting over 1.5 million children and families every year through more than 400 welfare projects on education, healthcare, livelihood, and women empowerment spread across 2,000 villages and urban slums in 26 states.

Change the Game India:

As a partner in co-creating Change the Game Academy, Smile Foundation has major ownership as the national partner in India, along with the responsibility as the nodal partner for Asian region. Change the Game India aims to empower the grassroots, including communities and social entrepreneurs, in India by building their capacities & mentoring them towards self-reliance & self-sustainability by helping them adapt sustainable ways of raising funds and Mobilising support. This is done with a vision that it would enable them to address the needs of the civil society by supplementing and complementing the efforts of the government and in line with global development strategies.


Skilling Youth for both Employability and Entrepreneurship

New Delhi, July 15, 2022:World Youth Skills Day emphasizes the need to equip the youth with skills that make them employable, able to deliver stellar work, and become job creators

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Print/ Online Media

Post pandemic below 50% children catch up with age-appropriate learning, reveals Smile India Foundation survey

Post pandemic below 50% children catch up with age-appropriate learning, reveals Smile India Foundation survey

(August 9, 2022)

New Delhi, August 9, 2022: Followed by Covid-19 pandemic, less than 50% of children are able to cope up with their age-appropriate learning and they get distracted easily, a survey by the Smile India Foundation on learning loss and education recovery has claimed. “These are mostly those students who have been regularly performing well prior to the pandemic as well. Hence, bringing the rest of the students to par with their expected learning level will require some time and effort in the upcoming months,” the survey said.

The survey has covered urban, rural and aspirational districts of 22 states and over 48,000 students participants and further revealed that 58% of teachers were of the opinion that children have missed on social skills and now get distracted easily. “Their attention span has gone low.” It findings noted that parents have started getting more involved in their wards’ education as 47% percent of them were of the view that there is an increased interaction between them and teachers in schools as well as over phone calls.

Furthermore, as per the survey insights 38% of parents started interacting with teachers by visiting schools, and there is a 27% increase in attendance in parent-teacher meetings (PTMs). Fifty percent of parents interviewed felt the absence of digital learning resources such as devices, networks, and data packs made the learning experience inadequate for the children during the pandemic, the survey highlighted.
Meanwhile, 31% of parents’ most preferred mode of learning during the pandemic was direct classes in offline mode or cluster classes, the survey revealed and added that 20% felt worksheets and visits by teachers were very convenient and useful.


Skilling Youth for both Employability and Entrepreneurship

New Delhi, July 15, 2022:World Youth Skills Day emphasizes the need to equip the youth with skills that make them employable, able to deliver stellar work, and become job creators

View Details

Privacy Policy - Smile Foundation

Information Gathering

1. Smile Foundation collects information from the users in a number of ways, for example when the user:

  • Makes a donation
  • Signs up for a campaign
  • Signs up to stay updated

2. While forwarding a donation for Smile Foundation the well-wishers have to submit some personal information as it would help us ensuring genuine contributions:

  • Your name
  • Your email and mailing address
  • Your telephone number
  • Your payment processing details
  • Any other data as required

3. Smile Foundation does not collect or record the user’s personal information unless he/she chooses to provide it.

Use of Personal Information

1. General browsing of Smile Foundation website is anonymous and it does not register the user’spersonal information except the time, date and place of visits and the name of internet service provider. This data is used only for statistics and diagnosis.

2. By signing up for various services offered by Smile Foundation, the user explicitly authorizes us to collect information based on the user’s usage. The information is used to help provide a better experience to the user and is used as per the user’s specified instructions.

3. Smile Foundation keeps the user information strictly confidential and this information is secured safely. All relevant information collected through Smile Foundation website is handled and used by internal and/or authorized officials only. It is nevershared with any external agencies or third party individuals.

4. Smile Foundation uses the information givento it in the following ways:

  • To keep an accurate record of all the donations received
  • To update users about its happenings and developments through bulletins and newsletters, with an option of not to subscribe for the same
  • To make sure the user is receiving the most appropriate and relevant information
  • To find out more about the people who are visiting the Smile Foundationwebsite, donating, or joining its campaigns

5. Usually, Smile Foundation does not store user data. In case of specific sign-ups, the data is stored as per user request. The user can opt to delete all the information he/she has provided by simply requesting such by mail. All information, without exception, will be deleted in two working days.

Privacy of e-mail lists

Individuals who join Smile Foundation’s mailing lists via its website or through its campaigning engagements are added to its email database. Smile Foundation does not sell, rent, loan, trade, or lease the addresses on our lists to anyone.

Cookie Policy

1. Cookies are pieces of electronic information which will be sent by Smile Foundation when a user visitsthe website. These will be placed in the hard disk of the user’s computer and enable Smile Foundation to recognise the user when he/she visits the website again.

2. The user can configure his/her browser so that it responds to cookies the way he/she deems fit. For example, you make want to accept all cookies, reject them all or get notified when a cookie is sent. The users may check their browser’s settings to modify cookie behaviour as per individual behaviour.

3. If a user disables the use of cookies on the web browser, or removes or rejects specific cookies from Smile Foundation’swebsite or linked sites then he/she may not be able to use the website as it is intended.

Payment Gateway

1. SmileFoundation uses well-recognised and proven technology for payments. Payment information is transferred by the use of an SSL connection which offers the highest degree of security that the donor’s browser is able to support.

2. Several layers of built-in security, including an advanced firewall system, encryption of credit card numbers, and use of passwords, protect the collected information.

External Web Services

1. Smile Foundation uses a number of external web services on its site to display content within its web pages. For example, to display video it uses YouTube. As with the social media buttons, Smile Foundation cannot prevent these sites, or external domains, from collecting information on the user’s consumption of the content embedded on its site.

2. The Smile Foundation website contains links to other websites for the benefit of its visitors. This Privacy Policy does not apply to such other websites.

3. Smile Foundation is not expressly or impliedly responsible for, or liable to any loss or damage caused to a user by the collection, use and retention of Personal Information by such website in any manner whatsoever. It is important that the users review the privacy policies of all websites they visit before disclosing any information to such websites.

Changes to Privacy Policy

1. As and when the need arises, Smile Foundation may alter its privacy policy in accordance with the latest technology and trends. It will provide you with timely notice of these changes. The users may reach out to Smile Foundation if they have any queries about any changes made to its practices.

2. If you have any questions at all about Smile Foundation’s privacy policy, please write to us at: [email protected]

Refund and Cancellation Policy

Welcome to this web-site of SMILE FOUNDATION. We make public our policy on refund and cancellation of donations received for the social cause on payment gateway as under:-

  • No refund/cancellation for the donated amount by any donor will not be entertained, the online donations through the online payment gateway.
  • No cash or refund of money will be allowed.
  • If any in-kind support received by the donor from any where the material will be reached to the poorest of the poorer communities.
  • Once received the donation for a cause will not be refunded to the donor. No cancellation to be made. The donation will be used for the community development, children education or women’s empowerment.
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