Do items in your shopping basket add up to Rs. 95?

“Your total bill amount is Rs. 3,542”, said the cashier as he handed over the bill to me.
I took out my wallet, paid him the amount. And, as he was packing the items in a bag, I wondered ‘has my needs increased, am I buying impulsively, or has the prices of the commodities skyrocketed.’

Shopping basket

Graphically speaking, I fail to understand how my grocery bill constantly shows an upward trend every month. I don’t remember when was the last time somebody handed me a bill of below Rs. 1,000. It does bother me, but again with the usual humdrum and busy schedule, I forget about it until the next shopping. And, then came the moment of truth when on a regular day at work, I saw my colleague donating to an NGO named The Akshaya Patra Foundation. After she finished her transaction, I enquired about the NGO. Her reply completely left me amazed.

She said, “Akshaya Patra is an NGO for children that provide food to government school children on every school day. The NGO has been operating the school meal programme for the past 17 years. It has a pan-India presence and presently serves school lunch to more than 1.6 million children.” At this, I stopped her and said that it must be a really expensive affair because grocery for one household itself costs somewhere between Rs. 2,500 – Rs. 3,000. My colleague smiled and said, “Akshaya Patra feeds 3 children for an entire year with Rs. 2,850.” And, she pointed towards the donation page of the NGO. I was totally stumped at what I had just heard and what I was seeing on the screen.

She added, “Though I am in a situation where I can afford food, I know how the hunger pangs feel. On the days when I have to skip my breakfast and rush to office, or skip my lunch to complete a report, my body and mind give up. It becomes very difficult to remain focussed on what I am doing. Well then, what about those children who aren’t even sure of getting their next meal. This particular fact drew me to support Akshaya Patra’s cause because their effort ensures at least one nutritious meal per day. That’s why on every special occasion like my birthday, my parents anniversary or during festivals I make online donations for NGO.”

And, before I could process all that she was saying, my colleague scrolled down the page and said, “When you donate to Akshaya Patra, you also become eligible for 80G deduction on your donated amount. This means the amount you donate becomes eligible for tax exemption, a benefit that you can utilise at the time of income tax filing.”

That evening, to find answers to the innumerable questions popping in my head, I read up on the humongous task that Akshaya Patra is doing. In the end, I realised that maybe I can never bring down my grocery bill, but I sure can ensure nutritious meals for children for an entire year with an amount less than my monthly grocery expense. And convinced with Akshaya Patra’s endeavour, I took my first ever step towards contributing charity!

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50% Tax Exemption under Section 80G of Income Tax Act

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in addressing various socio-environmental issues such as illiteracy, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, climate change, pollution, and the like. The operational success of NGOs can be attributed to their focussed and strategized functioning towards a particular issue or a set of related issues. For instance, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in India aims at countering the twin problem of hunger and illiteracy by providing mid-day meals to children at government schools. No matter what causes a particular NGO is focussing on, all NGOs create a platform and welcome the participation of all of us. And, one of the many ways to get involved with a cause is to offer charity.

tax exemption benefit

Aside from the satisfaction of doing a philanthropic act, offering charity can also benefit you financially. Yes, by donating towards an NGO you can avail tax exemption under 80G deduction. As a move to encourage people and business establishments to support various causes, the Government of India introduced Section 80G to give tax exemptions on donations made towards charitable organisations. However, you will be eligible to avail this tax benefit only if you are donating towards certified NGOs and charitable institutions. By certification, it means the NGO or Trust must have a 12A Certificate along with tax exemption status under Section 80G, Section 80 GGA, and Section 35AC (i & ii, i & iii) of the Income Tax Act of 1961.

The limit of deduction is either 50% or 100% of the donated sum depending on the charitable organisation you have chosen. This is in view of the segregation made by the Income Tax Department wherein certain Trusts and NGOs can offer 100% deductions to their donors and some can offer 50% deductions on the donated amount. Well, one such registered NGO in India that provides tax benefits for your donations is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Akshaya Patra is a mid-meal NGO serving school lunch to children in government and government-aided school across 12 states of India.

  • The Foundation is registered as a not-for-profit organisation under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 (Reg. No. 154).
  • It is registered under Section 12A (a) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • The Foundation is also registered under Section 6 (1) (a) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA Reg. No. 094421037).

As per the revised tax exemption act, effective 1 April 2017, donations above Rs. 500 to Akshaya Patra will be eligible for 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of Income Tax Act. But, you must note that a cash donation of above Rs. 2,000 is not applicable for 80G certificates. The benefits of 80G deduction are applicable only for Indian and NRI donors (Indian citizens, holding an Indian passport). To know about tax exemption for foreign donors, click here.

By contributing to Akshaya Patra, you will help in providing school lunch to millions of children who come socio-economic background. The school lunch helps such children to continue schooling by countering classroom hunger. The education and nourishment they receive through the Mid-Day Meal Programme empower them to grow up to be skilled and resourceful citizens of the nation. This means by donating towards the mid-day meal cause, you are supporting zealous, young lives thereby contributing to nation-building. And, simultaneously, you are also benefitting from income tax exemption, making it a win-win situation for the cause and you!

Well then, go ahead and begin the ripple effect of charity by choosing to donate online to charity or offer an offline donation. Your charitable contribution will potentially create a healthy, educated, and responsible generation.

Why Children Need a Wholesome Meal

What makes the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme significant? It’s because it feeds the children with wholesome meal. This kind of meal aids in growth of their body and mind. During their childhood, children are more prone to develop at least one of the micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc or folate. They must be given a wholesome meal in sufficient quantity to ensure their body develops with their age.

Food for children

The mid-day meal programme run by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO that has kitchens across India. One of them is in Surat. From their state-of-the-art kitchen in Surat, the meal is supplied to various schools in and around Surat.

The NGO is feeding the children in Surat as part of its nation-wide programme that’s run in collaboration with the Government. This programme lays emphasis on the wholesomeness of the meals because these meals directly impact children’s growth. The NGO, that began operations in the year 2000, works in active collaboration with the government and government-run schools in order to feed the children.

In Surat, the school children are especially excited as they are getting their favourite meals every day served by the NGO’s volunteers. As part of the Hunger Action Month, the NGO is trying to take mid-day meals to more schools in Surat and other parts of Gujarat.

The contributors or donors to the NGO get the benefit of 80G deduction in income tax. That way more donors are encouraged to contribute and help in feeding the children. However, it’s not just the 80G deduction that encourages people. Many people in the city take out time to volunteer in the kitchen. They help the staff in cooking the meals and serving it to the children.

The kitchen of this NGO in Surat especially uses pulses such as Toor dal, fortified soy dal, green gram whole, Urad dal, peas, Moong dal, cow pea, green gram sprouts, soy products like- chunks, flakes, Gram dal, Bengal gram whole, channa dal etc. while preparing the meals. Since the menu is already in place, the meals are always healthy and wholesome and benefit the children.

Feeding the children with wholesome meals is significant today if we want our children to experience a healthy growth. You can join us this month as we observe Hunger Action Month and attempt to eliminate hunger among children in India.

Three Important Reasons Why You Should Give Back

The word ‘Give’ in the context of ‘Giving Back’ has a very interesting meaning to it. According to Etymonline, “The Middle English noun yeve (Give), meant “that which is given or offered; a contribution of money,” often as tribute, or in expectation of something in return.”

giving-back-has-its-benefits

‘Giving back’ usually supersedes with the word society. Ever since, people realized that humanity could make a great difference, the race has been helping communities by empowering them. Similarly, Akshaya Patra has been feeding the children in India to ensure they do not experience classroom hunger.

If you have been thinking of giving back to society, now is the time! We collated three important benefits of giving back and here they are:

You will help someone grow

As an individual, you may want to give back to society by paying someone’s school fees. Many families who come from difficult background are burdened by their children’s schools fees and unable to pay, they choose to send them on work. This could be your chance to give back.

beneficiary-of-akshaya-patra

Giving back will not only help the child be a part of school system, but will also help you grow as a person. To understand the issues deeply and to step up to correct them is our responsibility and by giving back, you will have contributed to the growth of an individual, their family, and their community.

You will build stronger communities

Among many activities, Akshaya Patra regularly organises Health Awareness Programmes for school children with the help of corporates; these programmes include discussions and hygiene kit distribution.

jp-morgan

Kit Distribution

When we as a community go out to help another, it transforms and structures their living standards and also contributes to their health. This includes helping a community with a nursing home, a school, awareness programmes and basic infrastructure. For Akshaya Patra, a children’s charity, registered under section 80G of Income Tax Act, providing a mid-day meal is one way to empower a network a students.

And finally, you will spread happiness!

This is probably the most important reason for the giver and the receiver; happiness. The experience of giving back to society keeps you content! The inner joy of having transformed a life, without expecting returns, is a feeling that words cannot describe.

hello-new-shoes

Shoe Distribution

To experience this joy, go out and do your noble act that you’ve always wanted to do. Try visiting a school, buying stationery for a child or maybe even a pair of school shoes. The simple things in life tend to leave a curve on your face. Happiness is contagious and so is an act of giving back.

As you call it a day, think of reasons why you should give back to society and when you do, Akshaya Patra’s children will be waiting for your help.

Sponsor a child today!