There are a large number of organisations and institutions engaged in social activities. Most of
these claim to be doing selfless service to society for a good cause. At the same time, we come across a good number of such bodies that collect money by various means including dubious ones with hardly any visible service. We also notice many of them closing their shops sooner or later. It, therefore, becomes a matter of consideration on how to sustain a social organisation in order to achieve its objectives. One simple way is to create enough fixed deposits and run the organisation out of the interest income. Once I was contemplating over this matter in reference to Kabir Peace Mission. At that time, the organisation was in its childhood stage and the only source of income was its membership fee. For us too, one of the options was to create a corpus by seeking donations, but I was not very comfortable with this option.
It was around this time that I came across a book of Mahatma Gandhi titled ‘Satyagraha in South Africa’. This book has a very good account of the Mahatma’s days in South Africa. In fact, it was during this period that Mohan Das was converted into a Mahatma. Overall, it is a very touching narration of events. Somewhere in this book Gandhiji had mentioned the sustainability of his movement in South Africa. It was a great task and required a lot of resources, particularly money and people. He got both but he lays the condition for this arrangement of nature. Gandhiji clearly mentions that when one undertakes a social cause, only three conditions have to be fulfilled. The first condition is that the cause should be a felt need of the society and not the fancy or whim of one or few individuals. In other words, the cause should be owned by the society. The second condition is that the leadership or leaders behind the movement should be totally selfless and the third equally important condition is that the working of the organisation should be transparent, irrespective of the credibility of the leader or leaders. Gandhiji concludes by saying that if these conditions are fulfilled, no fixed deposit is required and the resources will be made available by nature perennially.
In these words of Gandhiji, I got the answer to my dilemma. The idea of fixed deposits was totally dropped and the whole concentration was shifted towards the cause, selflessness and transparency. Thereafter, the mission grew in an exponential manner with support coming from many sources. Incidentally, we now have some fixed deposits also which is the only cause of worry.