About Us







Who We Are  

Our administrative work is done by volunteers, chiefly the Board

Who We Help  

We support strong local organizations

How We Choose  

We foster self-help and self-reliance

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How We Choose Our Projects

As a fiercely independent non-profit society, CIVA’s guiding principle is to foster self-help and self-reliance. We believe we can best do this by supporting local initiatives in rural India which are supported, nurtured, developed and implemented by strong local organizations.

To this end, we collaborate with like-minded Indian non-governmental agencies and organizations (NGOS for short) working in the fields of community development, education, health care and the environment.

The program or project activities we encourage our Indian partners to become involved in are rural sustainable development activities that are development- rather than relief-oriented, and are preventative rather than primarily curative—i.e., they deal with causes rather than merely symptoms. Activities should respond to the expressed needs of the local community, who should also be involved in the planning, implementation and support of these activities through the supply of funds, goods and services in kind.


These activities normally fall into the following categories:

  • community development
  • agriculture (food production), fisheries and social forestry
  • education skills and training population and health
  • provision of clean water and associated public health
  • environmental protection and renewal
  • credit/savings schemes, co-operatives, and small business development
  • appropriate technology, particularly upgraded and alternative sources of energy


Programs or projects CIVA supports should:

  • Be environmentally sound
  • Have an impact of women, youth and the community
  • Be sustainable
  • Be consistent with the overall economic and social development of the particular group or region affected
  • Contribute towards greater self-reliance within a reasonable period of time, with planning and management to be assumed by local people as quickly as possible.
  • Involve only those construction costs that are absolutely necessary to the success of the project or program and which can be maintained entirely by local contributions.


CIVA expects its Indian partner NGOS to have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • They should be rooted in their communities and involved the members of their communities in the process of identifying the needs to be addressed through programs or projects, and in setting the priorities for satisfying these needs.
  • They should be formally organized non-profit organizations, accountable to an identifiable membership/constituency which preferably selects its Board of Directors (or equivalent).
  • Members of the Board should be sufficiently knowledgeable and committed to provide effective direction to the organization.
  • They should have all necessary operating approvals from the Government of India and other statutory bodies (if any).
  • They should have a sustainable development mandate clearly identified as part of their charter or mission statements.
  • They should have a stable base of financial support, effective operating and financial controls, and an independent annual financial audit.
  • They must have appropriate management systems in place to enable effective program or project planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation.
  • They should have staff capable of effectively planning, implementing and managing programs or projects.
  • They should have financial control and reporting systems which provide clear audit trails and ensure that funds received are used only for mutually agreed upon expenditures.
  • They must submit annual audited financial statements and statements of project funds budgeted, received and expended.

Naturally this is a description of an ideal partner; few Indian non-profit groups can marshal all these resources or meet all these criteria (nor, as more than one Board member has pointed out, can CIVA itself!).

Our standards must be as flexible as possible to accommodate as wide a range of projects as our budget will permit. We are, after all, looking for local solutions to local problems, and our partners range from the relative sophistication of a CHIRAG to the dedicated efforts of an isolated group of Carmelite nuns.

It is for this reason that, whenever possible, a director of the society will visit in person to assess the potential of a project or a group.