Importance of social media presence for an NGO

NGO Social Accounts

First it was the internet, and now it’s social media that has altered our lives to an extent none of us might have ever imagined. We have attached such a kind of reputation to social media that your absence from it labels you as being an unsocial, outdated, or old generation.

Until a decade ago, social media was mainly used as a means of communication. But now, it is a platform to introduce and market businesses. For instance, when Facebook was first launched, we all used it to connect with friends and families. But, now Facebook is used more to market businesses and engage clients. If you visit the official website of any brand or business you will find Facebook as one of the ‘connect with us’ options, and the same is true for other social media platforms as well such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. The need for social media presence is not only felt by the business sector but by the not-for-profit organisations too.

Since, not-for-profit organisations or NGOs need the support of the civil society, it becomes a prerequisite to reach out to the mass. Here, social media plays a very significant role. If tapped well, social media can generate tremendous support for NGOs by spreading the cause in a limitless manner. Most NGOs – national and international, have realised the power of social media, and hence uses it strategically and creatively to garner support from the mass. One such NGO in India is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. It is a mid-day meal NGO headquartered in Bengaluru with operational units in 36 locations across 12 states. Currently, the Foundation is providing mid-day meals to more than 1.7 million children on each school day.

Akshaya Patra stepped into the social media arena around 2012. Currently, it is present on several social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

With over – 10,000 followers in Twitter

1,700,275 followers in Facebook

More than 15,000 followers in Instagram

2,790 subscribers in YouTube

The Foundation uses these platforms to share NGO news and events, share videos and photo albums, run campaigns, update supporters of recent developments and the like. The Foundation also uses blogging as a means to involve supporters with its cause. The NGO blog includes various organisation -specific topics such as events, interviews, organisational highlights etc.; child-centric topics such as food, education, health, skill development; along with global topics such as environment, child labour and the like. By far, social media presence of Akshaya Patra has helped the organisation to get identified easily, interact with supporters present across the globe, run campaigns successfully, and garner tremendous support.

In conclusion, social media has opened up numerous channels for NGOs to reach out to people. If NGOs approach the social media avenue in a planned and strategic way, it has the potential to expand its cause manifold.

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5 Advanced Technologies Adopted in Akshaya Patra Kitchens

Kitchen technologies

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a mid-day meal NGO in India. It has been in the service of children since 2000. The Foundation has been recognised as the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme. It runs the programme in a Public-Private Partnership model receiving aid from Central and various State Governments including help from Corporate and individual donors. The NGO aims to provide unlimited food for education and is aware of its responsibility in providing nutritious, hygienic, and clean food to children. Typically, a centralised Akshaya Patra kitchen has the capacity to cook up to 100,000 meals and to increase efficiency and productivity, the Foundation has adopted various technologies in the kitchen operations. Several Corporate partners have helped the Foundation in the endeavour of introducing technological intervention in the kitchens. Here are five main technologies adopted in the kitchens:

1. Roti-making machine – Since roti (Indian flatbread) is a staple item in the North Indian menu, the North Indian kitchens are equipped with roti making machines, with the capacity to roll out up to 200,000 rotis from 6000 kilograms of wheat flour. This enhances hygiene and efficiency since the whole process is mechanised and there is minimal human intervention.

Roti making machine

2. Hot insulated vessels and vehicles – The Foundation makes use of hot insulated vessels and vehicles to pack and deliver cooked meals to schools. The use of insulation technology ensures that the meals remain fresh until it is consumed by children. To aid this, State Bank of India, one of The Foundation’s Corporate partners have recently contributed INR 88 lakhs for the procurement of insulated vessels.

Insulated vessel and vehicle

3. Conveyor belt – In order to increase efficiency during the loading process, the kitchens are equipped with conveyor belts. After packing, the containers are sent on a conveyor belt that gets loaded into customised insulated meal delivery vehicles.

Conveyer belt

4. GPRS in meal delivery vans – The Foundation has incorporated GPRS technology in its meal delivery vehicles to ensure safety and on-time delivery of meals.

Mid day meal van

5. Eco-friendly interventions – Aside from regular technological interventions, the NGO has also adopted green technologies such as biogas plant, briquette boiler, and solar power in some of its kitchens to reduce carbon footprint and operational cost.

Recently, the Foundation inaugurated its hi-tech mega kitchen at Kandi, Telangana. This is the largest among all the existing kitchens. The Infosys Foundation, one of the NGO’s Corporate partners have funded the construction of this mega kitchen. Some of the salient technologies in this kitchen are:

  • Silikal Industrial Flooring – It is a completely non-porous, seamless, sealed surface thereby reducing the colonization by microbes and bacteria and contributing to better hygiene. It is skid resistant and prevents accidental slips and falls, plus it has a long durability with limited maintenance and lower lifecycle cost.
  • ReFlex Reverse Osmosys System – It is a water purifying system to make water more potable. Flexible operation and resistance to scaling and fouling greatly improve the reliability of ReFlex RO systems.
  • COMBLOCK Boiler for Steam Generation – It is the latest in Boiler Technology which combines the best of Integrated Furnace Boiler and Hybrid Boiler. While increasing efficiency by up to 85%, it can also reduce carbon footprint by up to 40%.
  • ANDICOS Waste to Energy Generation System – It is a technology to treat a combination of solid waste generated in sewage treatment process and organic kitchen waste generated in the kitchen.

To know more about the technologies used, visit: Kandi Kitchen

The ReFlex Reverse Osmosys System and ANDICOS Waste to Energy Generation System are the first of its kind technologies in India. Aside from the above-mentioned technologies, this NGO in India has also adopted Kaizen, Continuous Improvement Projects, and Six Sigma methodologies as an integral part of kitchen operations.

By taking these measures Akshaya Patra is continuously improvising and enhancing its role as a mid-day meal NGO. And, these features are solely being adopted in Akshaya Patra kitchens to enhance hygiene, increase operational efficiency, reduce cost, reduce carbon footprint, and most importantly to provide nutritious and safe meals to over 1.7 million children across 12 states of India, on every school day.

An NGO in India has adopted Kaizen technology

Akshaya Patra Kitchen

In pursuit of continuous improvement, several Industries and businesses across the globe have adopted Kaizen as an integral part of their operational processes. ‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese word meaning ‘improvement’. It is a Japanese philosophy referring to activities for continuous improvement of functions and processes of an organisation and personal efficiency too. Implementation of Kaizen philosophy is a regular sight in various manufacturing industries, logistics companies, and the like.

Cognizant of the improved efficiency and productivity, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in India has adopted Kaizen in its processes. Akshaya Patra is a mid-day meal NGO serving school lunch to 17,12,460 children in 36 kitchens across 12 states of India, every day. For this, the NGO operates centralised kitchens in urban and semi-urban areas, and decentralised kitchens in remote areas. The centralised kitchens have the capacity to cook up to 1 lakh meals each day and serves meals to schools located in its area and neighbouring areas, whereas decentralised kitchens concentrate in providing meals to located within its immediate reach. In order to enhance its efficiency and increase its productivity, Akshaya Patra implements Kaizen in its kitchen operations. This method is followed in each kitchen unit to innovate, rethink, and reassess work, and implement efficient procedures.

To appreciate and encourage the use of Kaizen philosophy, the Foundation regularly recognises and rewards innovative practices. Here are some of the improvements from across different kitchens of this NGO in India:

Lid steriliser at Vadodara kitchen, Ahmedabad 

Lid-steriliser-at-Vadodara-kitchen,-Ahmedabad

Tool shadow board at Vasanthapura kitchen, Bengaluru 

Tool-shadow-board-at-Vasanthapura-kitchen,-Bengaluru

Increase in per hour roti production batches at Ajmer kitchen, Rajasthan

Increase-in-per-hour-roti-production-batches-at-Ajmer-kitchen,-Rajasthan...

Air powered grease gun at Bellary kitchen, Karnataka

Air-powered-grease-gun-at-Bellary-kitchen,-Karnataka

The above-mentioned were just a few mentions of the many Kaizen interventions in the kitchens of Akshaya Patra. The Foundation is a recipient of Indizen Award, CII National Food Safety Award, Lean Six Sigma Award, Quality Mark Award, and Asian MAKE Award by CII. Aside from Kaizen, this NGO in India also adopts Six Sigma methodologies and undertakes several Continuous Improvement Projects so that resources can be maximised, productivity can be doubled, quality can be enhanced, and service to children can be multiplied.

How Akshaya Patra is Contributing to Development of Society

NGO for children

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme for the past 17 years. The very establishment of this NGO was based on the vision, ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’, implying that food and education are vital for the proper growth of children; and healthy and educated children are a sign of a progressive society.

Akshaya Patra commenced the Mid-Day Meal Programme from Karnataka’s Bengaluru location in June 2000 by providing school lunch to 1,500 children in five government schools. Over the years, the Foundation has strategically expanded its reach across the length and breadth of the country, impacting millions of young lives.

The impact of the NGOs’ school lunch programme becomes evident in the conclusion of many studies done in association with third-party research agencies. The impact studies conducted at regular intervals indicate that the mid-day meal has significantly increased school attendance and enrolment, decreased drop-out rate, improved health, as well as enhanced socialisation among children. This has also been acceded by school teachers and headmasters of beneficiary schools across the country. Appreciating the Mid-Day Meal Programme:

ismail-malik-principal-gujarat-school

Ismail Malik, Principal, Antti Kumar Prathamik Shala, Padra Taluk, Vadodara, Gujarat said, “The mid-day meal has brought a tremendous decline in the student drop-out rate. In the primary school, the increase in attendance is nearly as high as 60% to 70%. The numerous awards that now decorate the school office are a testimony to this.”

 

g-ranganath-policy-colonyG Ranganath, Head Master, Government High School, Policy Colony, Karnataka said, “The government, by partnering with organisations like Akshaya Patra have ensured that children receive tasty and nutritious meals. The programme has been successful in reducing child labour and improving school enrolment and attendance.”

In an effort to ensure overall development for children, this Indian NGO has also taken various ‘beyond the meals’ initiatives alongside its core school lunch programme.

Akshaya Patra Initiative

This NGO in India has seen the tangible result of the Mid-Day Meal Programme and to multiply its impact and benefit more children:

mid-day meal objective

Presently, Akshaya Patra provides mid-day meals to 17,12,460 children studying in 14,173 schools in 36 locations across 12 states of India.

Akshaya Patra ReachThe Foundation aims to increase this reach to millions more. A humongous task indeed, but possible to achieve with the support of everyone! There are many ways by which you can transform young lives: sponsor a child, become an Akshaya Patra Ambassador, volunteer with the organisation, be an online mascot, be a CSR partner, celebrate special occasions with the organisation, and spread the word about the Foundation’s cause.

In conclusion, by providing a meal per day to each of the 1.7 million children, Akshaya Patra is nurturing young individuals who are cognisant of their current unfavourable situations and have all the willpower and zeal to make their future better. It is creating a sustainable change for the whole society by developing generations of abled and dependable individuals whose resolute will take the society and the nation in the path of progress and prosperity. By associating with Akshaya Patra you too can be a strong link in the chain of change-makers.

Choose to sponsor a child. Choose to support their meal. Choose to uphold determined dreams.

5 ways an Indian NGO is empowering children

Empowering children

NGOs address a wide range of social, economic, and environmental concerns. But, every NGO has its own core area of work and influence. Similarly, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an Indian mid-day meal NGO focussing on providing nutritious school lunch to government school children to counter classroom hunger and promote education. The NGO began its service way back in 2000 by serving meals to only 1,500 children in five schools of Bangalore. Over the 17 years of service, this NGO in Bangalore has progressed to become a nationwide movement to promote education and health among children through the Mid-Day Meal Programme.

By implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme in schools, Akshaya Patra wants to provide nutritious food to children, encourage uninterrupted schooling, improve health, and provide an avenue to explore aspirations so that children grow up to be confident and reliable citizens of the nation. In simple terms, Akshaya Patra is empowering children to be the future leaders of the nation.

Mid-day meal benefits

Broadly speaking, the Mid- Day Meal Programme has had a significant impact on the education sector of the country. Studies report that there has been an increase in enrolment and attendance rate, improved health has been observed among children, and there is a decrease in the drop-out rate. This programme has proved itself to be a supporting pillar in bringing and retaining children at school. Working in a Public-Private Partnership model, Akshaya Patra is extending the mid-day meal benefits to children right at the grass root level. Currently, it is providing mid-day meals to more than 1.6 million children on every school day across 34 locations in 12 states.

Observing the impact of the school meal programme, Akshaya Patra aims to feed 5 million children by 2020. Indeed a humongous task, but is achievable with a concerted effort from all of us. Hence, Akshaya Patra has provided an online platform to contribute to the cause. You can opt to donate online, start a campaign, sponsor a school or kitchen equipment, or just spread the word about Akshaya Patra’s cause. Your involvement will enable this NGO to empower more children across the country. So, be a part of nation-building by getting involved with Akshaya Patra.

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.

A sneak-peek into Akshaya Patra’s mega kitchens that feed millions of children

Akshaya Patra Kitchens

Imagine 100,000 meals being cooked in a single kitchen under strict norms of hygiene and quality control. Akshaya Patra’s state-of-the-art centralised kitchens process these meals on a daily basis. Due to their standards of hygiene and technology, they have been featured in National Geographic Channel’s India’s Mega Kitchens as well.

The kitchens follow the six sigma methodology with a pre-scheduled menu and equipment that’s relevant to the specific region. For instance, North Indian kitchens have rice and dal cauldrons with roti making machines while South Indian kitchens have rice and sambar cauldrons.

Ensuring quality every day

The NGO’s kitchens ensure quality all through its centers in India right from the procurement of the raw material. The quality inspection, storage and preservation of raw materials follow the standards set by Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA); the rice is supplied by the Food Corporation of India (FCI); all the kitchens follow First in First Out and First Expiry First Out methods while using the raw materials for cooking.

All the vessels used during cooking are of stainless steel 304 food grade material. Well-trained cooks and supervisors ensure quality control during the cooking for these kitchens run by the top NGO that’s on a mission to feed the children.

Here are few photographs that give you a glimpse of our kitchens:

Big couldrons

Big Couldrons

Centralised Kitchens

Centralised Kitchens

Chopped Vegetables

Chopped Vegetables

Roti Cutting Machine

Roti Cutting Machine

The NGO also conducts training programmes for the cooking staff in various parts of India to make them aware and conscious that since they are feeding nutritious meals to the children, they need to be strict about personal hygiene. Akshaya Patra’s newest kitchen opened recently in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The kitchen has the capacity to cook mid-day meals for 50,000 children. About 28,000 children from 57 government schools In Bhavnagar will be benefitted by Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals in the area. Now Akshaya Patra, as one of top NGOs in India, has 28 centralised kitchens and two de-centralised kitchens across India. The Akshaya Patra Foundation operates in 29 locations across 12 States in India feeding over 1.6 million children.

How do NGOs leverage social media to promote their causes?

NGO social media Banner

Techreport surveyed more than 4,000 NGOs last year across 153 countries about how they were using social media. Turns out, 92% of global non-profit organisations had a website and a Facebook page, 78% of these were mobile-compatible, while 72% used Twitter.

This report alone is proof that NGOs are targeting millennials and Gen-X that are more open to online donations or online fundraising campaigns. Donors now have a wide variety of choices to select a cause they feel most strongly for.

This blog lists some ways that are actively being used by global NGOs as they leverage social media and online channels for charity purposes, online fundraising and other such activities. We have taken the example of a global NGO in India called Akshaya Patra that’s on a mission to feed school-going children with a wholesome lunch every day.

Make success stories sharable

NGOs around the world now understand the impact of stories on social media. And since they are often involved in causes related to human rights, they often have great stories to tell. Akshaya Patra loves sharing Hope Stories that are easily sharable on social media. This encourages visitors to check their website for details such as online fundraising, sponsoring a child or sponsoring a school.

Write linkable tweets on other platforms

NGOs have learnt to leverage attention beyond their own websites and social media pages. They make themselves heard on other prominent platforms such as Forbes, The Huffington Post and others. Akshaya Patra has a small microblog on the online edition of Forbes with the Twitter icon, so that it can be easily shared. Such initiatives have helped people around the world associate mid-day meals with Akshaya Patra.

Sharing history to add credibility

NGOs are quite forthcoming these days about sharing their history and background. They choose compelling storytelling methods to talk about their history to encourage donors for donating to charity and building trust. Akshaya Patra has an interesting history that’s not only presented beautifully on their website but is often shared on various social media platforms in digestible chunks of content.

Use Youtube for visual recall

Youtube is a social channel that’s quite democratic when it comes to widespread reach. Akshaya Patra often shares video stories about important launches, events, its state-of-the-art kitchens and other aspects of its school lunch programme. Recently, noted author Rashmi Bansal’s book launch event had received considerable attention on Youtube. Her book –God’s Own Kitchen – is traces the Foundation’s journey.

Partner with others

A non-profit organisation cannot work alone. It needs like-minded partners. Akhaya Patra partners with startups and enterprises to scale up at various levels. In one such initiative, it partnered with Innovative Alchemy, which helped the organisation to develop an innovative kitchen design that helped scale up its kitchens. Partners like these often share this kind of content on their own social media platforms that further expands the reach of NGOs like Akshaya Patra.

NGOs today are more aware and tech-savvy and are clear about their target audience. This clarity often helps them increase the scope of their causes and source necessary means to implement schemes.

Have fun fundraising with Akshaya Patra!

School bell!
Children rushing inside the gates of the school!
The shouts and cheers at the playground!
If all these bring back some great memories, you have had a great childhood. Yes, school is that important and that memorable.

Our Reach Make an Impact

Akshaya Patra, the NGO that’s working to provide wholesome meals to school children in India, wishes that school remains a memorable part of every child’s life. It’s on a mission to bring the dropped-out children back to school by serving wholesome lunch in government schools.

Ask any Akshaya Patra staff and they would tell you that serving meals to children is most fulfilling. For that matter, any charity related to children is often transforming for donors, volunteers and staff. So as we urge people to join our mission of serving mid-day meals, we also encourage them to have fun as they do. You don’t need to always donate cash or kind to charity in order to make a difference. You can simply involve yourself in online fundraising to make your valuable contribution.

You may create your own online fundraising campaign, give it a personality that you want, share your thoughts about it and inspire your friends, relatives and even strangers. For instance, a volunteer Mr M Shiva Krishna raised Rs 15,000 in a simple campaign that he called ‘Hungry for School.’

You can share your thematic campaign and our website links on your social media handles and invite millions of people in a cause that you believe in. You may post some of our pictures, do your own posters with a message and inspire people to donate to charity.

We genuinely want you to understand the meaning as you engage in this online fundraising since after all our goal is to spread smiles, laughter and joy among school children. Start your campaign today.

Taking the Leap to Fight Hunger: Expanding Footprints in India

The cause of ‘food for education’ urgently needs a boost and Akshaya Patra is expanding its reach across the country to achieve this. With its mission – ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ – the Foundation is marching ahead to erase classroom hunger in India. The role of NGOs in India – to bring about social betterment – is fulfilled by the Foundation in partnership with State and Central governments in India. Its current reach of over 1.6 million beneficiaries, who receive a wholesome mid-day meal every day, is set to take a big leap.

In 2016, the Foundation established its presence in Maharashtra by launching its very first kitchen in the state in Nagpur. In Andhra Pradesh, it added two more kitchens – at Kakinada and Mangalagiri. In neighbouring Telangana, Akshaya Patra laid the foundation stone for its first high-tech mega kitchen at Khandi in Telangana. Come the next academic year, this kitchen will feed more than 1,00,000 children in the region and its construction cost will be borne by the Infosys Foundation, which has donated for education in India by making a contribution of Rs 18.03 crore towards the Foundation for this project.

our-reach

December 2016 also saw the Foundation set the stage for a major expansion in Uttar Pradesh. It will set up 11 new kitchens in the state in the districts of Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Etawah, Kannauj, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Rampur and Ballia. Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the same, on December 26, 2016 at Lok Bhavan, New Secretariat, Lucknow. These new kitchens will expand the Foundation’s reach to 13 lakh beneficiaries in UP from 2,11,680 children it is presently feeding, benefitting 10,88,320 more children from the next academic year.

To reach out to millions more children in the country and aid their quest for education via nutritious mid-day meals, the Foundation needs the support of all the individuals committed to eradicating classroom hunger. Join Akshaya Patra in nourishing the health and furthering the education of India’s children by making a donation towards it. These donations also avail donors tax exemptions under sections 35AC and 80GGA of the Income Tax Act.

Help secure the future of India’s children. Support ‘unlimited food for education’!