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Unniti Foundation Grants for India and Nepal

Fundsfor NGOs

Activities: Others

The Unniti Foundation provides grants to individuals, projects, and organizations in India and Nepal. The Foundation serves to fund work directed toward the alleviation of poverty through the enhancement of skills and opportunities for productive endeavors. Its special focus is on helping women and girls and on building the institutional and management capacity of voluntary organizations. 

The Unniti Foundation was incorporated in Washington, D.C., in October 1989 as a charitable, non-profit organization. It has a Federal income tax exemption as a private foundation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations made in the United States are tax-exempt.

The Foundation is also duly registered under the Societies Registration Act as per the rules and norms of the Government of India. All donations made in India are exempt under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act of 1961. 


Unniti is a relatively small private foundation, with the desire to work as an equal partner with its grantees at the core of its mission. A critical part of our grant giving philosophy is that our grantees should be moving in the direction of attaining self-sufficiency, and that this should be reflected in their programs and/or local fundraising efforts. In a culture where many NGOs subsist on a diet of grants from foreign donors, Unniti believes that in order for NGOs to grow and be able to independently put forth initiatives they must be as self sufficient and/or locally funded as possible.

Most NGOs will always be dependent on donors to a certain extent and may find themselves forced to tailor projects and initiatives to fit the interests of the international donor community in order to survive from year to year. We understand that, as donors, we cannot know and understand the grantees' communities as well as they do. However, as a local foundation, we are able to visit and understand our grantees in a way larger and/or foreign donors often cannot.

We at Unniti believe that the more locally funded our NGO sector is, the more power will be in the hands of those who truly understand the situation. In addition, there is great value in the realization that, as a community and nation, we can fund our own local efforts at development and social entrepreneurship. There is pride in knowing that we can in fact be micro-philanthropists, giving not millions of rupees but instead important amounts as needed to groups and initiatives that we believe are important, helping NGOs to be both more locally self-sufficient and accountable.

The Unniti Model

The Unniti Foundation is a grant-giving organization, but its support goes far beyond financial assistance. Without interfering in grantees' projects, the Foundation aims to provide technical assistance and guidance to build organizational capability, sustainability, and to encourage local fundraising in the community.

Depending on the proposed project, Unniti initially provides grants for a period of one to two years. Grants are awarded in twice yearly installments, with progress reports due before each new installment in released. It is hoped that this transparency ultimately helps to strengthen civil society. Consistent reporting allows for follow up not only on implementation, but also on the impact and potential continuity of each project upon its completion.

Ideally, seed funding for one or two years is sufficient for project development and implementation, and for identifying other sources of funding or income generation. Because of the close relationship Unniti maintains with its grantees, we can assist with this development. When the initial grant period finishes, grantees are encouraged to secure at least partial local funding for the project's budget, and often Unniti is able to provide a matching grant to cover the rest. Even projects that are well planned and managed, and that are having a tremendous positive impact on their communities, sometimes take time in becoming self-sustaining. The Unniti Foundation understands this process and is uniquely placed to advise, monitor, and evaluate grantees.
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