Dana-Asia (a tax deductible Asutraian NGO) has partnered with Nourish Bangladesh (NB) to fundraise for our implementing partner, Bidyanondo, a NB vetted educational voluntary organization registered and operating in Bangladesh. Since Dana-Asia is a tax-exempt NGO in Australia, donors from Australia will receive tax deductions for their contributions.
The Nourish Bangladesh, Dana-Asia, and Bidyanondo Partnership:
In addition to being perhaps the most cost-effective and most successful dry food relief focused NGO in Bangladesh, Bidyanondo has an incredible reach, operating in all 64 districts of Bangladesh. Unfortunately, Bidyanondo is not registered in Australia which means the Australian donors to Bidyanondo are unable to get tax deductions when they donate to this wonderful NGO. This is where our partner, an Australian tax-exempt NGO, Dana-Asia steps in. Dana-Asia has graciously agreed to pass on the funds we raise in Australia to Bidyanondo with a minimal operating fee of only 5 percent. In return, the donors are able to claim tax deductions for their contributions made to Bidyanondo here. Nourish Bangladesh continues to ensure and track how the funds are used by Bidyanondo. Bidyanondo has gone thorugh the rigorous vetting process that all Nourish Bangladesh vetted NGOs go through. We have a memorundum of understanding with Dana-Asia which includes the stipulation that they offer tax deduction to our donors and gives Nourish Bangladesh full control over how and when the funds are used by Bidyanondo.
Who is Dana-Asia?
Dana Asia has been serving marginalised communities in Asia since 2011. They are a global leader in social business, guiding the design and launch of sustainable businesses led by empowered local people from marginalised backgrounds. While furthering social business is one of their most successful endeavors, Dana-Asia also takes part in other relief operations in different parts of South and Southeast Asia.
Who is Bidyanondo?
Bidyanondo Foundation is a non-profit organization registered under the Bangladesh Department of Social Services. Founded by Kishor Kumar Das (a Peru-based Bangladeshi social activist and corporate professional), the organization takes a holistic and innovative approach to helping disadvantaged people make better lives for themselves. Bidyanondo started its journey in 2013 with a handful of student volunteers, and has since grown to eight branches nationwide with hundreds of active volunteers. Their established projects include a primary school, two libraries, several orphanages, and an elderly care home. Bidyanondo has become most well known in Bangladesh for their pioneering One Taka Meal program (just over 1¢, given approx. 60 BDT = 1 AUD), which allows the extreme poor to purchase meals at a remarkably low cost.
Bidyanondo oprates in all districts of Bangladesh and is currently focusing on the hunger crisis related to Covid-19 and cyclone Amphan. Their work is notable for particularly effective use of funds, as they directly purchase food from importers and distribute it themselves. For every donation between Tk. 480 to 600 (about $8 to $10), they can supply a family of four with about a week or 10 days' worth of dry food. Most of their staff are volunteers themselves, allowing the organization to maintain a remarkably low overhead cost (around 3%). Our donations to Bidyanondo can therefore go a very long way, reaching even more people than we could help otherwise. Their operation is externally audited, to help ensure transparency.
Responses to Vetting Questions
These are the responses we were provided by Mr. Kishor Kuar Das, founding chairman of Bidyanondo, with regards to Bidyanondo's general activities and their plans for using the funds donated through our fundraising campaign. We researched and asked the same set of standard questions to the other NGOs we vetted as well.
Question: With our donation, what is the geographical spread of the relief recipient (e.g. Dhaka city, rural Mymensingh, etc.)?
Response: We work across Bangladesh in all divisions. Our current operation handles multi-million dollars of donations within a single month. Our dry food delivery program is in place all over Bangladesh but our cooked food program is limited to three locations, Dhaka, Chattogram, and North Bengal.
Question: With our donation, which groups will be helped (e.g. LGBTQ community, Transgender community, street children, Garo indigenous population, sex workers, gypsy community)?
Response: We help poor people including all communities.
Question: With our donation, will you reach out to the Rohingyas?
Response: Currently no, but we have a project on the Rohingya camps.
Question: Can you give us a price breakdown of how much money is spent towards food relief (e.g. with 1000 taka we offer lentils, rice, onions, and potato for a family of 4 for two weeks) or how much cash is handed to each household (e.g. 1800 taka for each adult in a household)?
Response: We have two food package prices: 1. Cooked food per family- 101 BDT (one meal a day) and it's Dhaka, Chattogram & North Bengal based. 2. Dry food baskets across Bangladesh - 480 to 600 BDT (7 to 10 days food items for a family). This includes 8-10 kilos of rice, lentils (2 kilos), and flour. Additionally, we include oil, salts, sugar, and etc..
Question: We prefer our donations be used for cash transfers or food relief. Nonetheless, what type of other services, if any, other than food relief or cash transfer will be provided with our donations?
Response: We are working to help 4000 families to be self-developed. We are giving boats & nets to the fishermen, cattle to farmers, sewing machine to the poor widow & housewife and such others.
Question: Can you ensure our donation money is spent only on food relief or cash transfer? If not, can you provide a list of services our fund will be used for?
Response: Yes, we can. Our food project is a year long project and our "One Taka Meal" is the most popular project in Bangladesh
Question: Are you able to customize your food relief or cash transfer efforts based on what we want the donation to be used for?
Response: We do charity based on our donation. There is no target limit for our work. So, we can maintain the contribution part properly.
Question: Do you have any mechanism to ensure transparency of exactly where our money is going?
Response: Yes, we do. We are one of the volunteer organizations who do external audits in Bangladesh.
Question: Can you give us an estimate of what percentage of our donation is used up in overhead cost i.e. if we donate 1000 AUD, what fraction of that will go directly to the poor?
Response: Our operational cost is below 3% since our volunteers do not get any kind of payment; none of us are on a payroll. Since we don’t have a main office, donation money is directed towards the projects, not paying for offices. Our organizers work from kitchens and living rooms. When we transport food, it is counted with the reported cost of the food. For example, if we say the food costs 480 taka, 20 taka goes towards the transport. Other costs include a 15 taka packaging cost and 3 taka for the loading because it is done by paid laborers, which usually total around 30-40 taka. But keep in mind that we buy our products directly from the importers which keeps our costs very low.
Question: Is your organization secular or religiously-affiliated? Does this affect who you serve?
Response: No, we do respect all religious communities.
Question: Can you give us a very brief history of your relevant past efforts that makes you uniquely suited to carry out relief efforts in the face of Covid-19?
Response: We have already shared dry food for more than 2,60,000 families across Bangladesh and more than 6,00,000 cooked food packets during Covid-19. The Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, BGB, Coast Guard and around 80 renowned local organizations including Jaago Foundation are working with us as distribution partners.
Question: Do you have any mechanism in place to ensure that you are aware of which households are getting help from the government, so as to avoid overlapping coverage with government efforts?
Response: We do have approval from the home ministry and Bangladesh police & Bangladesh armed forces are working with us. The armed forces get guidance from the government about which areas to go to. Volunteer organizations get guidance from the same local government which helps to prevent overlap.
Question: Do you have any results from non-profit assessment organizations (i.e. Givewell)?