BACKGROUND AND PRESENT OPERATIONS VISION AND OBJECTIVES Action Village India (AVI) is a small, UK-based charity that fundraises for Indian NGO partners to deliver programmes that will best assist the poorest and most marginalized sections of communities in rural India. AVI supports campaigns for social justice and equality on Gandhian principles of nonviolence. AVI’s key objectives are:
(a) To develop and strengthen AVI as an organisation and enable more people to be actively involved.
(b) To develop non-funding support for existing partners and their networks.
(c) To maintain funding for existing partners’ projects and AVI’s activities.
(d) To broaden understanding in the UK of development issues in India through our relationships with our partners.
The first meetings of an India interest/development education group were held in London in 1988. The focus was on ASSEFA’s work in India. The group took the name Friends of ASSEFA (FoA) and in 1990 decided to take on a limited fundraising role and asked ASSEFA for a suitable project. ASSEFA chose Vadugapatti, a village in Tamil Nadu, where weavers needed looms. Two years later, FoA was asked to take on another ASSEFA project in Tamil Nadu, co-funded by the UK Government. The decision to take on ASSEFA’s Lathur Project led to FoA becoming primarily a funding agency.
In 1994 FoA started funding NBJK’s grassroots groups’ capacity building project in Bihar and CRUSADE’s women’s development/micro-credit project in Tamil Nadu. To support that work, it started serving food at WOMAD. In 1995 AVI started funding KGSN’s organic farming programme near Trivandrum in Kerala. In 1997 FoA became Action Village India (AVI) in recognition of its new partnerships. In 2002, Ekta Parishad was adopted as the sixth partner.
AVI works with partner organisations on the following themes:
Disability Rights - through Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra (NBJK), 30,000 people living with disabilities in Bihar and Jharkhand were reached through a DFID-funded project and now AVI has Big Lottery Fund support to enable 45,000 people to access their basic rights, including enrolment in school.
Girls Education - NBJK, with our support, enables 200 girls per year to go to schools thereby affording them with more opportunities in life. Lakshmi Ashram is a women's centre and runs a boarding school for girls in Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Land Rights - Ekta Parishad (Unity Forum) has mobilised thousands of landless people, tribal and dalits, in long marches in the struggle for land and social justice. This has resulted in major changes on land policy at national and state level. AVI currently supports its activists in Odisha.
Supporting Grassroots Groups – Through NBJK AVI supports six small organisations to reach communities suffering the most disadvantage and where government resources are non-existent, such as in Naxalite affected areas of Bihar and Jharkhand.
Economic Development - Rural India accounts for 65% of the total population. AVI is funding ASSEFA to increase farmers’ productivity in Tamil Nadu reaching 4,000+ families
Organic Farms - For 60 years KGSN has been promoting Gandhian values, especially in Kerala's villages, the overall aim being to take the life of each village a little closer to the ideal that Gandhi envisaged. KGSN is supporting over 2500 farmers with their organic farms
Women’s social, economic and political development – CRUSADE has enrolled over 7,000 women in microcredit groups in northern Tamil Nadu and is now enabling them to develop plans for the development of their villages with their village council representatives.
Women and children’s health – Since the 2004 tsunami, ASSEFA has worked with fishing and farming communities on Tamil Nadu’s coastal belt. AVI supports a project covering women in 35 villages to reduce infant mortality and the proportion of low birth weight babies.
AVI currently has a staff of 3 part time workers: Administrator, Director and Partnerships & Projects Manager. The governance of the charity is carried out by the Management Committee of up to 16 Directors). There are currently 8 Directors: two co-chairs, a vice-chair plus 5 members). The positions of Company Secretary and Treasurer are currently vacant.
Management Committee (MC) Constituted:
The Directors, also known as Trustees or Management Committee members, are elected from amongst the membership for a term of three years, which can be renewed. There can be up to 16 MC members. The officers: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Company Secretary are elected annually from amongst the MC members.
Determine general policy of AVI and take decisions on:
how the aims of AVI are articulated and translated into strategy/approach
AVI’s role as an interest group in pursuing UK-based activities
relationship with, and membership of, other organisations (eg. BOND)
any other items which it considers to be important
Under the M&A, the MC meets 4 times per year. Current practice is to arrange these as 4 MC meetings (usually on weekend afternoons or weekday evenings in January, April, June and September with the AGM in October or November. Other special meetings may be called.
All members of AVI are entitled to be invited and may speak
Only MC members may vote. However, efforts will be made to reach decisions by consensus before taking a vote
The MC draws on special skills of its members to advise/input to AVI’s work.
Management Committee members Individual members of the MC are expected to play an active role in the work of AVI. They are expected to:
keep abreast of management and constitutional issues
attend at least half of the 4 MC meetings during the year (Skype is an option if necessary) and to inform the Chair if they cannot attend. MC members are encouraged to send comments and other inputs to meetings if they are unable to attend.
Understand the roles of the MC, the officers and staff.
Help promote AVI by using their skills, time and contacts to further its work and its partners in India. This is especially important in the areas of publicity, fundraising and information.
Trustees should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the board of trustees reach sound decisions. This may involve scrutinising board papers, leading discussions, focusing on key issues, providing advice and guidance on new initiatives or other issues in which the trustee has special expertise.
Take part in one or more sub-committee as needed. Currently there are sub-committees for Human Resources, Fundraising and Finance, and Communications
The following officers are elected annually by the MC Members after the AGM: Chair, Vice-Chair, Company Secretary and Treasurer.
Chair – chairs MC meetings, ensures that the organisation abides by agreed policies and priorities, and that the Director and Partnerships and Projects Manager are maintaining satisfactory relationships with AVI’s partners.
Vice-chair (optional) – chairs MC meetings in the absence of the chair and assists the chair (on request) with any of the chair’s core activities
Company Secretary – takes minutes at MC meetings and AGM. The secretary has responsibility for AVI’s membership including reminders and ensuring that records are up-to-date. The secretary also has responsibility for the AGM (jointly with the Coordinator), including ensuring that meetings are held as per AVI’s Constitution – 21 days notice to all members with an agenda, report and accounts distributed in good time, etc.
Treasurer – ensures that AVI’s accounts are kept up to date, liaises with the auditor and prepares final report and accounts, Liaises with the Director to prepare annual budgets for agreement by MC and presents financial data to the MC to enable it to monitor AVI’s finances.
AVI appointed a Director in early 2015 to manage the Projects and Partnerships Manager and the Administrator.
The Director (0.8 FTE) is responsible for AVI’s:
Management of staff and volunteers
The Projects and Partnerships Manager’s role (0.4FTE) is to:
Ensure regular communication with project partners including progress reports
Support partners in developing and submitting new project proposals
Members and volunteers Members join by paying an annual subscription, currently set at £20 per annum (£8 for concessions). A special membership/AGM mailing is sent to the whole database in the autumn prior as the first notice of the date of the AGM. Volunteers do not have to be members, but are encouraged to become so.
Members are entitled to attend the AGM and all MC meetings and express points of view, but they cannot vote at MC meetings. The Chair is the ultimate point of reference for members if any problems arise.
Volunteers undertake agreed work in cooperation with the staff under the terms agreed in AVI’s Volunteers’ Policy. Volunteers are recompensed for basic expenses. There are volunteer opportunities with partners in India for people with appropriate skills and knowledge.