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About The Unniti Foundation
Mission and History


The Unniti Model of Giving


Mission and History

The Unniti Foundation provides grants to individuals, projects, and organizations in India and Nepal. The Foundation serves to fund work directed toward the alleviation of poverty through the enhancement of skills and opportunities for productive endeavors. Its special focus is on helping women and girls and on building the institutional and management capacity of voluntary organizations.

The Unniti Foundation was incorporated in Washington, D.C., in October 1989 as a charitable, non-profit organization. It has a Federal income tax exemption as a private foundation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations made in the United States are tax-exempt.

The Foundation is also duly registered under the Societies Registration Act as per the rules and norms of the Government of India. All donations made in India are exempt under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act of 1961.


Unniti is a relatively small private foundation, with the desire to work as an equal partner with its grantees at the core of its mission. A critical part of our grant giving philosophy is that our grantees should be moving in the direction of attaining self-sufficiency, and that this should be reflected in their programs and/or local fundraising efforts. In a culture where many NGOs subsist on a diet of grants from foreign donors, Unniti believes that in order for NGOs to grow and be able to independently put forth initiatives they must be as self sufficient and/or locally funded as possible.

Most NGOs will always be dependent on donors to a certain extent and may find themselves forced to tailor projects and initiatives to fit the interests of the international donor community in order to survive from year to year. We understand that, as donors, we cannot know and understand the grantees' communities as well as they do. However, as a local foundation, we are able to visit and understand our grantees in a way larger and/or foreign donors often cannot.

We at Unniti believe that the more locally funded our NGO sector is, the more power will be in the hands of those who truly understand the situation. In addition, there is great value in the realization that, as a community and nation, we can fund our own local efforts at development and social entrepreneurship. There is pride in knowing that we can in fact be micro-philanthropists, giving not millions of rupees but instead important amounts as needed to groups and initiatives that we believe are important, helping NGOs to be both more locally self-sufficient and accountable.

The Unniti Model

The Unniti Foundation is a grant-giving organization, but its support goes far beyond financial assistance. Without interfering in grantees' projects, the Foundation aims to provide technical assistance and guidance to build organizational capability, sustainability, and to encourage local fundraising in the community.

Depending on the proposed project, Unniti initially provides grants for a period of one to two years. Grants are awarded in twice yearly installments, with progress reports due before each new installment in released. It is hoped that this transparency ultimately helps to strengthen civil society. Consistent reporting allows for follow up not only on implementation, but also on the impact and potential continuity of each project upon its completion.

Ideally, seed funding for one or two years is sufficient for project development and implementation, and for identifying other sources of funding or income generation. Because of the close relationship Unniti maintains with its grantees, we can assist with this development. When the initial grant period finishes, grantees are encouraged to secure at least partial local funding for the project's budget, and often Unniti is able to provide a matching grant to cover the rest. Even projects that are well planned and managed, and that are having a tremendous positive impact on their communities, sometimes take time in becoming self-sustaining. The Unniti Foundation understands this process and is uniquely placed to advise, monitor, and evaluate grantees.


Synopsis of Jazba

"Jazba" captures a collage of emotions through the eyes of a few shining individuals whose lives were transformed forever, by the Unniti Foundation.

It narrates the amazing stories of change, hope and new beginnings .

It also gives the background on Ravi & Kaval's passion and personal dedication to help organizations working for women and children.

Simple, moving and full of inspiration, Jazba leaves with you a wonderful feeling of positivity.

"Jazba" is a beautiful , poetic Urdu word which simply means 'from the heart' . It evokes a magical feeling which expresses true sensitivity, compassion and empathy from the core of ones heart and connotes a deep determination 'to reach out'.

The film starts by saying ," Dreams are to be lived………… not just dreamt" and Jazba is a film about two such dreams that have come alive. One is a dream, dreamt twenty one years ago by RaviKaval which is being fulfilled now.
And the other is a ongoing dream seen by hundreds of eyes…girls and women….let us live with their dreams…… experience their stories through this film.

The story of Amita Rawat is one of determination and success .Her father is a driver . With his encouragement she studied at Delhi University… did a professional course in Accountancy ,and is now employed in a Multi National Company as Assistant Manager Accounts drawing a handsome salary. Unniti Foundation helped her in her journey….. and a motivated Amita wrote her own destiny. Today she walks with her head held high …. And so does ,her entire family. Amita feels she has not done anything special……. There are hundreds of girls like her, who only need determination and the jazba to be able to attain their dreams.

Vimla Kaushik's
husband was an alcoholic . She was a young school teacher but due to the violence at home she moved for protection with her two small children to the house of her brother in law. There too she was ill treated and often she and her kids went hungry. One evening the situation became so bad that she walked out of the house with her children in the middle of the night ….. and no one in the family stopped her from leaving in such distress , totally penniless.

Vimla returned to her father's village where with a small grant of Rs 30,000 from Unniti Foundation she was encouraged to start her own school….. which she did successfully with just six children. Soon her school had over 500 children and she felt so 'rich' that her 'Jazba" was to give back the grant money to Unniti in order to help someone else in dire need to attain economic independence and self respect as she had done. To-day , her daughter is doing an MBA and the son has graduated with top honors.

Chinu helps to sow dreams in eyes where sight is fading. With the help of an Unniti grant, Dr Shroff 's Charitable Eye Hospital in Delhi is giving training to low vision girls to become Vision Technicians so that they can help those who have low vision.

Now lets talk about the other dream which was seen by Kaval and Ravi……. Which got reflected in hundreds of eyes.

If colour is taken away from life……. It becomes tedious and lusterless and looses its momentum. Ravi and Kaval realized this……… they wanted to share the colours of their lives with others. They felt fortunate that they were doing so well in their respective careers .In 1989 Ravi took early retirement from the World Bank and Kaval from CEDPA ,and they founded the Unniti Foundation. They wanted to use their surplus funds to give small grants to women and children for their growth. Very few are able to give help and support and change the lives of those who are less fortunate than us .

Kaval came up with the new concept of "microphilanthropy"….. she believes that even if you give a small amount…….. give it from your heart……. truly empowering others. Kaval and Ravi felt fortunate that they could help to bring a new dawn in peoples lives.

Naaz is an organization which supports children who are victims of HIV Aids. Anjali Gopalan runs a home for them, to give love and care they deserve and sends them to school for education. Unniti has been giving grants to Naaz for a library and for schooling . But, Anjali specially appreciates its Block grant which she says was unique in her experience of charity.

Karm Marg began work for runaway children at the New Delhi railway station. Many children had special needs but funds were limited . Unniti supported them to get these children trained. To-day , Veena, the CEO-founder, says they have a home which provides them with loving care and also imparts training to make them self reliant.

The organization Prerana has been active in the area of health, employment and education and has also received grants from Unniti including a Block grant which helped to form NavAbhiyan.

Kaval feels deeply …that you have to give from your heart with the right jazba (sentiments).There are many who are rich but give nothing ,while there are poor people who give a lot and make sacrifices to help.

Navya is another new organization which has been helped by Unniti to get started in a poor slum area. They believe that if you improve the life of a woman, it changes the lives of the entire family.

We are happy when we are content…….. and we get contentment by bringing smiles on the faces of others.

Unniti's aim is not only to give funds but also technical assistance for organizational development and for strategies that promote self-sustainability.

Kaval thinks that Unniti is fortunate in that it helps organizations which do such good work for others. Unniti gives thanks to these groups for their dedication and honesty. Their compassion has the strength to show us the right path.

" Give ………. But give from your heart "