How to Start NGO in India

With the worsening state of the society, several enthusiasts are organizing camps, protests, activist functions, and so on, to bring a change in the structure. However, these are not as effective as it should be. A lot of restrictions are especially, especially these protests and campaigns are not organized by any authority and not legalized as per the government rules and regulations. Moreover, these are just a way to spread self awareness and not a crime going on around in the society.

The only one can do it is through a NGO. Being a non-governmental organization, the NGOs work for the betterment of the entire society. All across India, several such organizations have been established. Some work on child education while work hard to stop prostitution and female infanticide. These NGOs usually work to develop the old communities in the country and stop as many heinous crimes as possible.

So, if you are an activist and want to bring some real change in someone’s life, it’s better to start the NGO. However, as easy it sounds, starting the organization and operating is not easy. A lot of legal, political, and societal hurdles are there which every NGO has to face. And hence, without having a detailed knowledge about the startup process, establishing the organization is next to impossible.

It doesn’t matter how good of a businessman you are, setting up a NGO needs enthusiasm, zeal, and eagerness to do something better and not make profits. For this reason, we have compiled an entire helping aid for you so that you can plan your NGO startup, get it registered properly, and draft and submit the bylaws.

What are the basic goals of an NGO?

A non-governmental organization isn’t just meant for stopping the crimes from happening around. Such an organization works for the betterment of the society, be it in terms of political changes, economic changes, cultural changes, humanitarian changes, and beyond.

To understand the objectives of the NGO clearly, here is a little description that you must go through before moving further.

  • Fundraising: One of the major activities of the NGO is to raise funds for various social activities, be it for setting up a preliminary school in a backdated village or for providing sanitary napkins to the women and girls of slums.
  • Campaigns: Another objective which most of the NGOs follow is arranging campaigns. These campaigns are sometimes arranged for spreading awareness while sometimes the volunteers provide aid to the people of that locality. The success of a campaign greatly depends on the efforts of the volunteers and participants.
  • Consultation and advocacy: Some NGOs provide proper consultations to those who need help with a legal or societal issue. These NGOs are mainly formed with lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals having knowledge about law and politics.

What are the requirements to set up an NGO?

Starting the NGO is not an easy task, especially since so many constraints are there. For setting up the organization, you will need a proper strategy which will help you further to decide the goals, objectives, and mission. The strategy should be such that deciding the purpose of the NGO becomes easy. You will need a proper team of workers and supervisors who will work for the cause of the organization and not for profit.

  • Registration is one of the most essential steps that one needs to do correctly to get the government license. With the proper license in hand, no one has to worry any legal lawsuits.
  • For registration, you will need to draw up the bylaws which will describe the entire legal functioning of your organization. The drafting and submission of the bylaws should be done carefully so that in future, you don’t find yourself in any difficult situation.
  • Alongside all these, you will also have to worry about the funds and the sources from where you will get the money.
  • The investments done in the NGOs are often given by sponsors whom you will have to attract.

After all this, you will receive the license, and from henceforth, you will be able to operate the NGO and fulfill the vision and mission.

Step 1: Set up Mission, Vision, and Purpose for the startup NGO

A NGO works for a lot of different purpose with varied goals to complete a mission. Similarly, your startup NGO should also have these three preset information pieces so that at the time of pitching the idea to the government, you will have clarity to offer to the authorities.

The first thing you have to decide is the mission, which is a set idea that you want to accomplish in the long run. The vision is to set the ways in which you will achieve the mission successfully. As for the purpose, it will define the reason for the existence of your NGO. It is the purpose will give you the hope, encouragement, and a new zeal to fight till the mission is accomplished with the visions put into motion.

Step 2: Decide the name for your NGO

Along with mission, vision, purpose it’s important to decide the name of your NGO as per rules. There are strict rules for choosing the name that everyone should be aware of. The name can be derived from any inspiration or it can be of your own creation. But, no matter what the source is, you need to pay special attention to the constraints associated with the naming technique.

  • The name should not contain a single percent of replication of any government’s body or organization.
  • You should follow the Emblem Act, 2005, at the time of deciding the name.
  • If you are registering your NGO under the Society Act, you need to ensure that the name you have chosen isn’t already present under the same act within the same jurisdiction.
  • In case you are registering the company as a non-profit organization, the same rule will be applicable, i.e., the name shouldn’t be similar or equal to some other names.
  • As for trusts, there is no constraint on the naming of the NGO.

Step 3: Decide your Board of Directors

Board of directors / members should be chosen based on common interest. It is advisable to include members from varied fields such as law, finance, human resources and operations for smooth working of your NGO.

Step 4: Register your NGO

Once you have chosen your board members, you are all set to register your NGO. The registration of an NGO involves a lot of complex processes. Therefore we advise to take help of a knowledgable NGO Consultant in your State. There are several ways in which one can get the organization registered.

Types of NGO Registrations in India

  1. Trust (under Indian Trusts Act 1882):
  2. Society (under Societies Registration Act 1860)
  3. Section 8 Company (previously section 25) under Companies’ Act 2013

Since Trust Act requires at least 2 people (as compared to 7 under Societies Registration Act), Trusts are a popular form of NGO. We have covered Indian Trust Act in this article. We have covered differences between Trust , Society and Section 8 Company here.

Things to keep in mind while registering

  • First, the number of members should be more than one. It can be two, three, seven or even fifty based on the type of registration act you are following.
  • Each member should have proper identification with their addresses, photo, name, and date of birth printed with the government’s seal on it. There are several kinds of ID proofs that one can present except that of the Pan card. This is because the pan doesn’t have the address. Photographs will also be needed, the number varying as per the registration act.
  • Another proof which you will have to procure is the address proof of the office location you have chosen. If you have taken the land on lease, the lease agreement needs to be presented. For those who have bought the land, the sale deed and the land registration papers have to be provided.
  • Memorandum or the bylaws is essential for the successful registration of the organization. This is the legal proof of the NGO’s existence and hence, its important that the trust deed or the bylaws has the government’s stamp of approval.
  • In certain states and cities, one might have to submit a registration fee as per the requirement of the state.
  • You also have to decide the name of the NGO. However, at the time deciding the name, you need to consider the Emblem Act, 2005, to understand the restrictions that have been issued on the choice of the name.

What is Trust Act?

Issued in 1882, the Indian Trusts Act governs the creation of a trust, appointment of the trustee members, and distribution of the assets and resources amongst the trustees. Since a NGO can be launched as a subsidiary of a private trust, you can register the organization within the Indian Trusts Act.

How to register the NGO under the Trust Act?

If you want to register your NGO under the Trusts Act, here are the detailed steps you have to follow for a successful registration.

  • First, you will need a name of the organization which should abide by the rules defined under the Emblem Act, 2005.
  • Proper inclusion of objectives, vision, and purpose must be there in the trust deed. This should be specific and clear so that the idea on which the organization is formed can become clear.
  • For opening the NGO under the Trust Act, a minimum of two members is needed. There is no maximum limit for the members. Each member of the organization will be considered as a trustee except the founder/founders. You may or may not mention the designations of the members and their roles in the trust deed.
  • The identification proof must have addresses and should be issued by the central government and not the state government.
  • As for the memorandum, the bylaws need to be present along with the purpose, objectives, and goals. It should be drafted in a way where the rules of the Trusts Act and other related acts are followed properly.
  • At the time of submission of the memorandum, the settler of the trust deed must be present.
  • There is a legal fee which needs to be submitted at the time of registration. The amount differs from state to state and hence, it’s better to inquire about the fee beforehand.
  • Once all the files with signature/ thumb prints will be submitted, the authority will provide an acknowledgement slip. Once the registration will be completed, you will receive the certification after a couple of days.

What is the Importance of the Memorandum / Trust Deed?

No matter which registration law you will choose, a memorandum or a trust deed is a must. The trust deed can be considered as a written form of your organization and the plan you have in your mind. Starting from the name of the NGO to the name of the founders, trustee members, office locations, goals, mission, vision, objectives, purposes, and so on, are mentioned in the deed.

You can consider the deed as the written existence of your NGO- a legal and government approved document which will explain everything about the organization. The trust deed will also have properly drafted bylaws that will explain the rules and regulations of operating the NGO.

The trust deed that you will draft should have these following information facts without any error:

  • NGO’s name
  • Mission, vision, purpose, objectives, and goals
  • A statement to declare the organization as charitable and non-profitable
  • The office address, registration or lease details, and area details
  • Name of the founder/founders
  • Name of the trustees and their respective designations in the organization
  • A brief detail about the capital investment and stock along with other financial matters related to the NGO
  • Declaration and explanation of the liabilities of trustees, beneficiaries, and the associates
  • Acts on which the NGO is based

Other data points to be included

  • All the member names along with the criteria description of being a member
  • The number of board members of the planned organization, both the minimum and maximum number
  • Member liabilities and responsibilities
  • Structure of the organization, from the lowest to the highest level
  • Committee structure
  • Committee and board member meeting times and durations
  • Responsibilities of every member of the organization

How to decide the bylaws of your NGO?

Content of Memorandum are bylaws. The bylaws is very important since it will describe your organization completely, starting from the role of the members to the working structure, the flow of command, and even the objectives you have planned to achieve. At the time of deciding the bylaw, you need to be very cautious about the rules and policies you will include because those will define the operation of your organization. No matter what legal decision you will take, it should abide by the bylaws.

The trust deed and all other required documents will have to be submitted by a legal consultant in the presence of the settler who formed the deed. Also, depending on the state, the members of the NGO may or may not have to be present at the time of document submission.

Submit the Memorandum

Once every document will be arranged and the bylaws are drafted, you will have to submit the memorandum to the registration authority. You can take help from the NGO counselors who will guide you through the entire trust deed submission process.

Plan your Funding

The last thing which you need to know for starting a NGO successfully is a list of sources for raising the funds. Since the organization is non-profitable, the investment procedure will be different from that of a normal business. Here is a list of all the potential sources from where you can get the required funds for your NGO.

  • Grants provided by the Funding agencies
  • International Funding Agencies
  • Corporate funds governed CSR
  • Academic sponsorships
  • Government schemes
  • Donations and charities
  • Several types of events like social events, awareness programs, campaigns, and so on
  • Seminars and conferences based on a certain cause


Opening the NGO is not easy and certainly not simple. The working of such organizations is based on a social cause such as putting a stop to violence towards women, encouraging girl child education, helping women in becoming self-sufficient, funding the local businesses, raising awareness about sanitation and bathrooms, and so on. So, when you plan to start an NGO, make sure to have a team with members who are passionate about bringing change in the society and rather than earning profit. Rest assured, with the details mentioned here, you can now get started with planning the facts about your NGO.