Krsna Seva Fundraising
BY: SUN Staff
Jul 27, USA (SUN) In a world of expanding population, progressive material entanglements, and shrinking resources, devotees engaged in acquisition of funds for Krsna Conscious seva projects meet with increased competition from other quarters. In the U.S., the Christian coalition has been super-expert at raising money for faith-based projects. Christian fund-raising has been propelled forward by the Bush administration’s faith-based initiative as well as by the increasing lean to the far right by the conservative coalition.
In recent years, fundamentalist Christians have raised astounding sums of money specifically earmarked for sending missionaries to India to convert the Hindus to Christianity. Here in America, we see the flip side of that coin, as the Indian population draws increasing philanthropic dollars from India’s high-income citizens, earmarked for spending on “East meets West” bridge projects designed to introduce Indian culture to the West.
Many educated, high earning Indians around the world are pooling resources to facilitate getting western expertise into India to help alleviate poverty, injustice and lack of education. The American India Foundation has raised many millions of dollars from people of Indian heritage now living in the United States, for projects both here and abroad.
Over the last twenty years, particularly in North America, ISKCON has faced challenges at many of its temples, which have turned to the local Hindu community to replace budget dollars that used to flow from the BBT. Following the money flowing in from the Hindu community, complications arise as increased pressure is brought to bear on temples to perform samskaras, observe festivals, etc., that are outside the realm of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and Srila Prabhupada’s plan for his ISKCON mission. We can only expect that trend to increase, as funds are re-directed to the bankruptcy settlement.
While these difficulties must be addressed, the potential for fundraising from the North American India community should not be overlooked. A percentage of this money is directed through Indian NGO’s (non-governmental organizations), but the majority is spent elsewhere and many small preaching programs outside of the temple community are very well suited for such funding streams. In fact, many large Indian donors in the West prefer to focus on smaller Indian nonprofit groups, often choosing those with ties in the U.S. With a population of nearly 3 million Southeast Asians living in the U.S., more than half of whom are college grads, the potential of this donor pool is significant.
India’s Silicon Valley
While we hear that the IT boom in India is beginning to slow down, there are still vast sums of money being made in cities like Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley” of India. One of the premier web portals for India’s IT community, SiliconIndia.com, has a featured section on charities who are appealing to high-income earners. While many of those dollars are spent in India, substantial sums are also making their way to western countries in support of various India-related social, cultural and spiritual projects.
Under the “Charity” button at SiliconIndia.com, you’ll find more than 150 charities listed. Any charitable organization, whether holding 501(c)3 status or not, is invited to submit details about their mission or project. Website visitors can then read and make decisions about who to donate their philanthropic dollars to. More than 50,000 unique visitors go to SiliconIndia.com each day, a high percentage of whom are high-income earners willing to contribute to non-profit organizations working with Indians in the U.S. or India.
Your local temple, nama hatta center or seva project can submit a listing there free of charge, and get invaluable exposure with potential donors. At the present time, we have identified only three ISKCON related projects listed there: The Bhaktivedanta International Charities (Food for Life in South India), the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, and the ISKCON Atlanta temple. Hopefully, they will soon be joined by other Hare Krsna preaching projects in search of financial support.
While searching for funds, don’t overlook the non-Indian donors in the U.S. who place special focus on awarding grants for religious and spiritual projects. In 2002, more than $384 million dollars were given to such projects. For a list of some of the largest U.S. foundations making grants to religious and spiritual groups, download this PDF file from The Foundation Center.
Please share your experiences, expertise and questions with other Sun readers, so we can all maximize our ability to take advantage of resources for Krsna seva.