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The Business of an NGO with Manak Matiyani

Listen to Divya dialogue with Manak Matiyani, Executive Director, YP Foundation on the business model behind an NGO. How an NGO operates, and the challenges faced by NGOs in receiving grants and funding. YP Foundation is a youth-led NGO that focuses on empowering the youth, by incorporating youth leadership programmes to advance the rights of young women and the marginalised sector.

“Everybody is equal and should be treated equally. But everybody is not equal in the way the world functions right now.”

How has the business model of an NGO evolved?

Non-Government Organisation is an umbrella term that has many business models working in it.

Social Ventures

The idea is to bring about social change with a business model that earns from the operations they run. Manak states, “the end goal is to use the market for social good.”

Funded Model

  • YP Foundation is a non-profit organisation. They raise funds from institutional philanthropies and individuals. “A non-profit organisation rests on the idea that it is the responsibility of people to invest in human rights for everyone, because of the privilege they have received.”
  • Non-profits design programmes to pitch for grants. These grants look after the programmes’ operating costs, on-ground research and salary of employees. 

DR Pro Tip: Courses like Development Studies, Gender Studies and Social Work provide formal training to students interested in the social sector.

What are the hurdles being faced by NGOs due to COVID-19?

System Strengthening

Many NGOs that work on-ground have had to scale back their work, including YP Foundation. However, most NGOs will now prepare better, keeping a pandemic in mind. YP foundation works in the sexual reproductive space and will have to deal with many more concerns about health due to COVID-19.

Online Based Engagement

Most NGOs are now trying to convert on-ground work online. The challenge remains on how to spread the access of digital to the more underprivileged section of the society.


COVID-19 is affecting funding drastically. People will invest more in NGOs working in healthcare research and development and might lower the percentage for other non-profits.

Space Restriction

Women who deal with patriarchy, domestic violence, and inequality at home are unable to go out. The little time they had to leave their homes during the day has now been restricted, and that will have more everlasting impacts on their physical and mental health.

How do you filter the Internet when fighting for the ‘Right to the Internet’?

  • Start with the basics. Right to the Internet should be taught in schools and they should impart knowledge on how to correctly use the Internet for learning.
  • All content available should be critically analysed and not be taken at face value.
  • YP Foundation holistically educates the youth through a feminist and a rights-based approach and tries to cut through the noise created by social media content.

DR Pro Tip: To prevent incidents like Bois Locker Room, the youth should be educated to analyse critically and via a human-rights approach.

What is the ‘young men’s’ feminist leadership programme?

YP Foundation runs feminist leadership programmes that teach men to not only give up and share spaces of leadership but also understand the difference between feminism and humanism. It teaches men to understand the history of oppression based on gender and to call out on it today. Many men shared the same thought of feminism but were not aware of it. Therefore, the programmes sensitise them about it.

FYI With DR: Humanism celebrates the value of human reason and thought. Feminism, on the other hand, advocates for gender equality.

Why does the word ‘feminism’ carry such a negative connotation?

“The more you hit at a prevalent system, the more you are hit with backlash.” People assume that feminism means that men should become subordinate to women and give up their power. The idea is to understand that inequality exists and press for equality to be there. That is what feminism stands for and not that women should be higher than men. 

How do you impart your values to your juniors in an NGO? 

An interesting approach that the YP Foundation would take during an appraisal is to ask their employees, “were you able to live with the values of the organisation in the last six months?” A corporate asks the same question about profits or work-hours. Thus, values can also have incentives attached. 

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