Close this search box.

‘Pandemic Has Fundamentally Altered The Way Civil Society Organisations Function’

(July 04, 2022)

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many things around us. Many organisations are experiencing the impact of this once in a lifetime kind of a situation. Santanu Mishra, Co-founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation spoke to Indiatimes about where the civil society organisations stand as the world prepares for a post-pandemic time.

Table of Contents

 How have civil society organizations served and survived over the past two years since the pandemic hit?
What are the specific ways the pandemic has changed the way non-governmental organizations work on the ground?

 Access to quality healthcare services and education remains a challenge What is your assessment of the change that community-based organizations have been able to effect in both these areas?

 There are several community-based organizations that are unable to muster resources for impact-related work as they have been hit particularly hard by Covid How is Smile Foundation working to build their strength, so their work does not suffer?

How have civil society organizations served and survived over the past two years since the pandemic hit?

Santanu Mishra: The past two years have, no doubt, been challenging especially for civil society organizations. Development projects take a cycle to achieve visible impact. Managing resources, continuity of projects, keeping the experienced manpower together, approaching and engaging the community were among the challenges that cropped up during the pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic owing to its very nature demanded a plethora of responses and work to be done with urgency.

In many cases, funding support for non-Covid causes almost dried up, which presented an unexpected challenge. In general, there was a cloud of uncertainty across the board. Many organizations such as ours had to innovate, realign their delivery strategies and also to arrange resources in an emergency situation. The pandemic was unannounced but it was also a phenomenon that was much more than just a healthcare emergency. It affected almost every major areas of people’s life and hence civil society organizations were very much part of it.

What are the specific ways the pandemic has changed the way non-governmental organizations work on the ground?

As the pandemic has not just been a healthcare crisis, it changed the way we travelled, worked, lived, studied and did many other things. Naturally, civil society organizations had to adapt to a number of changes so as to bring change on the ground.

Beginning with schooling, in no time teachers had to be trained in a dynamic digital learning environment. Children and their parents were also made to be familiar with virtual and blended mode of schooling, which were never thought of before.

In healthcare, tele-medicine, virtual counseling and care etc. were brought into practice, especially for the communities living in urban slums and remote rural areas. The pandemic brought to the fore the issue of mental wellbeing among children, from both underprivileged and privileged backgrounds. Organizations had to analyze the issue, develop possible solutions and prepare the mechanism to address the same.

Skilling, especially the employability training programme, had to undergo a disruptive market-driven transformation. Many jobs and the related skills simply vanished; at the same time, many new areas of employment emerged. For example, we put our major focus on developing courses and training youth on general duty assistant and patient care, e-logistic and supply chain management, digital marketing, banking service etc. and achieved great success in placing them too.

Working with the communities demands frequent visits in person, unavoidable human interaction and frequent travel. The pandemic put restriction to many such crucial activities.

Project management and planning, resource mobilization, human resource development etc. also needed major rethinking and realignment with the changing the environment.

Overwhelmingly, application and integration of technology were not only accelerated but also preponed. In many areas, it would otherwise have been possible by 2030. In my view, a majority of the disruption is for the better and there is no looking back from here.

Access to quality healthcare services and education remains a challenge. What is your assessment of the change that community-based organizations have been able to effect in both these areas?

Healthcare and education are key indicators of human development. It is true that there is a scope of more work to be done in these spheres, which includes better convergence between different players in the society.

Community-based organizations, first and foremost, have the last mile connect with communities. Their understanding of issues with respect to a specific area comes handy in delivering solutions. The complementary roles they play in the efforts of the colossal governmental endeavour and also in pursuing independent efforts are praiseworthy.

Specifically speaking about the pandemic-stricken time, it was more than just a health crisis as it disrupted every possible areas of life. The innovation, resilience and perseverance displayed by community-based organizations, especially in the areas of education and healthcare came out as a blessing in disguise.

Amidst the peril of loss of livelihood and migration of families, commendable efforts were made in continuing education of less privileged children. Motivating the communities in so, preparing both teachers and students in the new ways of schooling, taking care of mental wellbeing of children, mobilizing teaching and digital aids etc. among the changes the sector has been crucial in bringing in.

Healthcare, without doubt, was at the very centre of concern. Existing healthcare facilities were either over-burdened or no-go zones during the pandemic. The community-based organizations played a remarkable role in ensuring basic healthcare services that included curative, preventive and promotive aspects most importantly in urban slums and remote rural areas. Besides launching Covid-specific initiative, we for example linked our existing pan-India mobile healthcare programme with static facilities and tele-medicine centres. We have now been scaling this up so that specialized healthcare can be delivered at the grassroots with the application of technology.

There are several community-based organizations that are unable to muster resources for impact-related work as they have been hit particularly hard by Covid. How is Smile Foundation working to build their strength, so their work does not suffer?

Thousands of genuine community-based organizations have been playing a crucial role in the social and economic growth of the nation. They are empowering the bottom of the social and economic pyramid persistently.

The good intentions and hard work of grassroots organizations are often hindered by various challenges even in normal, non-Covid time. It ranges from unprepared leadership to organizational anomalies, inability to communicate effectively to, importantly, mobilizing adequate resources.

There existed a crucial need for a dedicated and effective endeavour that is focused on enabling, training and handholding small, genuine orgnisations to help maximize their efforts on the ground.

We have a structured initiative named Change the Game that aims at strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to raise funds, continue their developmental efforts.

The innovative blended-learning programme helps change-makers from communitu-based organizations and social entrepreneurs from all over learn and imbibe fundraising best practices.

The goal has been to enable social entrepreneurs working at the grassroots by mobilizing funds from diverse sources, inculcate practices that deepen organizational capacities and empower communities.

I personally believe in the philosophy of ‘Civic Driven Change’ that means unless and until privileged members of the society are involved in the process of development, lasting change will continue to elude us. At time, that is the only way forward.

Source :

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.
Terms and Conditions

Use of this site is provided by SMILE FOUNDATION subject to the following Terms and Conditions:

SMILE FOUNDATION reserves the rights to change these terms and conditions at any time by posting changes online. Your continued use of this site after changes are posted constitutes your acceptance of this agreement as modified. You agree to use this site only for lawful purposes, and in a manner which does not infringe the rights, or restrict, or inhibit the use and enjoyment of the site by any third party.

This site and the information, names, images, pictures, logos regarding or relating to SMILE FOUNDATION are provided “as is” without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind whether express or implied. In no event will SMILE FOUNDATION be liable for any damages including, without limitation, indirect or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever arising from the use or in connection with such use or loss of use of the site, whether in contract or in negligence.

SMILE FOUNDATION does not warrant that the functions contained in the material contained in this site will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected, or that this site or the server that makes it available are free of viruses or bugs or represents the full functionality, accuracy and reliability of the materials.

Copyright restrictions:

Commercial use or publication of all or any item displayed is strictly prohibited without prior authorization from SMILE FOUNDATION. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license by SMILE FOUNDATION to use any item displayed.

Documents may be copied for personal use only on the condition that copyright and source indications are also copied, no modifications are made and the document is copied entirely. However, some documents and photos have been published on this site with the permission of the relevant copyright owners (who are not SMILE FOUNDATION). All rights are reserved on these documents and permission to copy them must be requested from the copyright owners (the sources are indicated within these documents/photographs).

SMILE FOUNDATION takes no responsibility for the content of external Internet sites. Other websites that we link to are owned and operated by third parties and SMILE FOUNDATION has no control over them. The fact that we include links to other websites does not mean that SMILE FOUNDATION approves of or endorses any other third party website or the content of that website. We accept no liability for any statements, information, products or services that are published on or are accessible through any websites owned or operated by third parties.

Any communication or material that you transmit to, or post on, any public area of the site including any data, questions, comments, suggestions, or the like, is, and will be treated as, non-confidential and nonproprietary information. If there is any conflict between these terms and conditions and rules and/or specific terms of use appearing on this site relating to specific material then the latter shall prevail.

These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of India.

If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, the use of this site must be terminated immediately. SMILE FOUNDATION for Social Welfare Service is a registered at

161 B/4, 3rd Floor, Gulmohar House
Yusuf Sarai Community Centre
New Delhi-110049
Phone : +91-11-43123700

Supplementing & In Alignment with Government Initiatives


Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
National Education Policy
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao
Digital India


Skill India
Enhancing Formal Skilling


National Rural Health Mission
Universal Health Coverage
National Digital Health Mission
Promotion of Govt. Health Schemes


Anaemia Mukt Bharat
Poshan Abhiyan
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
Anganwadi Strengthening