STRENGTHENING CIVIL SOCIETY

Towards promoting social justice NFI has been strengthening hundreds of civil society organizations (CSOs) for over 25 years. Within the framework of social justice, the thematic focus of NFI encompasses Governance and Inclusion. These themes are integrated in our grant-making as well as our technical support to CSOs and individuals. These themes are at the foundation of the dialogues we convene, and the leadership we strengthen..


Governance


Within its social justice framework, governance has been a core concern for NFI, especially around civic engagement, responsive policy-making and social accountability. Given the steep power asymmetries that hinder access to rights, NFI has on the one hand supported civil society organizations to strengthen citizen participation across sectors. On the other hand, NFI-supported technical assistance has benefited public policy actors such as elected representatives and state officials.



Civic
engagement

NFI supports the participation of communities in local government, and the voice of civil society in the policy spaces.

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Towards deepening democracy, NFI promotes citizen participation in urban local governance as equal stakeholders. NFI supports CSOs to facilitate neighbourhoods and ward committees thatbuild their capacities to systematically take up their issues with theUrban Local Bodies. NFI’s support enables creation of platforms for dialogue between municipal officials and local communities that amplify the voice of the urban poor.
NFI has also played a significant role in strengthening civil society voices in policy arenas, such as budget analysis and gender responsive budgeting. Converging two strands of work, NFI supported civil society groups to use a gender-budget lens to analyse urban budgets for sanitation across four states.
Towards budget transparency, NFI has supported CSOs across several states to disseminate simplified budget analysis on a regular basis. This in turn strengthened capacities of elected leaders and the media to engage in informed debate on budget issues.Concrete outcomes include socially-conscious budget allocations in many states, such as for Scheduled Caste Sub-Plans and Scheduled Tribe Sub-Plans.
NFI has developed capacity-building tools and materials on Gender-Responsive Budgeting towards promoting CSO engagement. NFI promoted a platform for dialogue among the women’s groups, feminist economists, state actors and the UN Women by incubating the Feminist Policy Collectivethat advocates for gender-transformatory policy-making and financing in India.

Responsive
Policy Making

NFI provides technical assistance to public officials and strengthens media to play an active role.

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NFI has provided technical assistance to elected representatives and public officials to promote implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030.
NFI supports capacity enhancement on integration of the SDGsso that the goals can be integrated into state plans and the budgeting process. NFI directly engaged with state Planning Departments/Commissions and training institutions in six states across the country.
Providing a platform for dialogue, NFI organized two National Conclaves on the SDGs in 2017 and 2019 in collaboration with the NITI Aayog, that enabled exchanges amongofficialsfrom almost all state governments and Union Territories as well as civil society and research institutions.
NFI aids capacity enhancement of elected representatives on nutrition (SDG 2) and health (SDG 3) across under-resourced states of central India.NFI supports CSOs and media to disseminate information targetingelected representatives towards strengthening their role in responsive governance on these crucial issues.
NFI encourages the media to play a key role in responsive policy making by highlighting the most critical development issues. NFI’s media awards for over 250 print and photo journalists have provided recognition and mentoring opportunities especially for those working in peripheral areas.

Social
Accountability

NFI promotes community ownership and builds capacities to ensure access to public services and entitlements.

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The crucial public services around health, nutrition and social security entitlements are often inaccessible to individuals and communities disadvantaged by gender, class, education or social group. Pioneering work by civil society organizations in India has demonstrated ways to enhance the agency of these disadvantaged groups and make public services more accessible and accountable.
NFI supports CSOs across several states to build capacities of disadvantaged communities so they are informed of their entitlements. CSOs strengthen community institutions like elected local bodies and women’s groups to monitor and claim the entitlements.
CSOs engage with line departments and elected officials, to promote transparency and improved quality in both public and private sector services. The outcome is stronger appellate and grievance redress mechanisms. NFI promotes use of innovative tools including information technologies.
Through its grant-making, technical assistance and capacity enhancement inputs , NFI makes a difference in the lives of thousands of such people towards better access to basic public services around health, nutrition and social security.

Inclusion


Since its inception, NFI has strongly focused on social, economic and regional inclusion within a social justice framework, given the extremely diverse nature of our society and the differences that persist. Currently NFI reaches out in 24 Indian States and Union Territories, supporting those initiatives that work on especially difficult issues in hard-to-reach terrains, often with the most marginalized communities. NFI provides flexible funding approaches that enable them to respond to local needs and priorities. The rich learning from the field helps to devise context-specific strategies.



Social

NFI supports the active inclusion of those marginalised on grounds of gender and sexuality, class, caste and religion.

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NFI has actively incubated national platforms to address gender justice issues, such as Girls Countwhich works to promote the rights of the girl child, and the Feminist Policy Collective that advocates for gender-transformative financing and policies in India.
NFI provides recognition and opportunities to community leaders and grassroots workers through its annual Community Action and Leadership Awards in memory of the first Chairperson of NFI, Bharat Ratna late C. Subramaniam. Over 150 such leaders have been supported over the last several years includingwomen survivors of violence, transgender persons, and youth who have been rag-pickers or bonded labourers.
NFI encourages youth leadership through its support to youth-led organizations, including technical and institution-building support. NFI promoted youth leadership in campaigns for localized implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals across 12 states, that mobilized thousands of young people from marginalized communities.
NFI has also been encouraging urban students to volunteer during the summer with civil society groups working among the under-privileged in remote rural areas.
NFI has also collaborated with civil society organizations on large national programmes for the rights of the dalit communities and religious minorities in India .

Economic

NFI supports innovative models of livelihood security that help those with very limited resources to live with dignity.

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Our programme has enabled marginal farmers, smallholders, and extraordinary entrepreneurs such as single women and People with Disability to provide additional income of Rs.30,000/- per annum.
NFI has supported CSOs to work among marginalised and vulnerable communities impacting more than 40,000 households residing in difficult areas. These are areas with low reach of government schemes, lack of employment opportunities, poor governance and overall achievement of human development index.
NFI supports capacity building to enhance livelihoods through agriculture and livestock intervention, skill building and employability, market linkages and engaging with stakeholders like government departments, banks, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Universities and NABARD.
NFI-supported interventions around agriculture and allied activities have enabled women, smallholders and marginal farmers to take part in crop planning and enhancing production. Community level organisations have provided a platform to aggregate, build linkages with markets and promote financial inclusion, facilitating timely sale of produce.
NFI also supports skill-building and entrepreneurship, especially among landless women as well as youth from minority, Adivasi or Dalit communities and People withDisability . Capacity building enables them to assess resources, facilitate linkages for skill building and enterprise development. These opportunities have given women, small and marginal farmers and youth to increase access and control over skills, technology, mobility, market and resources.

Regional

Addressing regional imbalances, NFI supports interventions among the Adivasi communities of central India, as well as religious and ethnic minorities in north-eastern India.

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NFI played a pioneering role in investing in the north-eastern states , recognizing them as a distinct geographical region, rich in bio-diversity and diverse ethnicities.
Towards highlighting the unique possibilities and challenges of this region, NFI has organized lecture series and the ArtEast Festival in collaboration with the India International Centre New Delhi, to bring together thinkers, writers and artists for dialogue and cultural action. Promoting a constructive role for young people in post-conflict settings, NFI has given out Peace Leadership Awards to encourage the local youth.
NFI has supported local education initiatives for children in border or post-conflict zones in that provide platforms for dialogue amongsocially marginalised and politically excluded communities. These elementary educational centres serve the needs of close to a thousand children who have been orphaned due to riots, differently-abled children, and children of migrants or religious minorities.
NFI’s support for peace and justice initiatives in the north-eastern and central part of the country attempts to foster tolerance through plural networks. Partner CSOs address systemic exclusion to ensure basic rights of health, nutrition, education and livelihoods for marginalized ethnic groups or minority communities.
SHAPING PHILANTHROPY

We promote thoughtful giving by engaging with corporates, donors, foundations, and individuals, and encourage them to give grants and make long-term investments to grassroot organisations. We do this by communicating to donors the importance of CSOs work on social justice, facilitate a dialogue between CSOs and donors on the importance of long-term investment, and support for capacity building of CSOs. Over the last few years, with support from Rockefeller foundation, we started an initiative to influence philanthropic discourse and practice towards a more pro-social justice approach.

We have partnered with over 200 small and mid-sized CSOs working on difficult issues and in hard-to-reach areas. Our funding follows basic principles of gender equity and participation, investment in institution building of the voluntary sector, and building of grounded knowledge through its grants and programmes.

We provide a platform for the government, civil society, and the private sector to come together and move the debate on corporate responsibility and mobilise support for human rights issues.