About the Organization


How many employees does OSAAT have?
OSAAT is not a facility-based organization, and as such does not have any employees. It is run entirely by a core committee of volunteers who meet, plan and execute all functions necessary. Other volunteers support the organization during events and various phases of a project, be it a site-visit to check the progress of a project or a meeting with the chosen school.

Is OSAAT trademarked and registered as non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation?
In the USA, OSAAT is a registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, tax Id: 20 2043649.
OSAAT trademark is registered with US Patent office bearing serial number: 85121815.
Here is the OSAAT Trademark Statement of Use

OSAAT Educational Charitable Trust (herein after referred to as OSAAT (India), was incorporated in 2012 with the sole objective of working with OSAAT (USA) for the smooth execution of school building construction/renovation projects being funded by the latter. OSAAT (India) was granted charitable status (80G) in 2015.

How many volunteers do you have in OSAAT(India) and what do they do?
We have many dedicated volunteers in India and the number keeps increasing. They play an active role in being our eyes and ears before, during and after a school is chosen. They meet with the school’s board and/or staff, check the physical and financial conditions of the school, verify that the information provided by the school to us in the Request for Proposal (RFP) is accurate, develop partnerships with other charitable organizations in India, and also monitor the progress of the reconstruction from start to finish.

Does OSAAT collaborate with other organizations (educational or cultural) and NGOs (eg: Rotary Club)?
Most certainly. We believe that all individuals and organizations with a passion to make a difference are great partners. Their skills and strengths compliment ours and help in our mission. As an example, from to time we leverage the volunteer base of other organizations, and vice versa. Networking with NGOs like Rotary Club allows us to execute our projects much more efficiently without interference from local city or state governments.

Why is OSAAT doing this?
OSAAT’s work needs to be understood in terms of the fundamental issue of education of underprivileged kids in rural India. Most rural schools are in a state of utter disrepair, having been built many years ago. The “school” typically is an old, decaying structure with crumbling walls, collapsed roof, dangerous and hazardous to the health of the kids. Lacking even the most basic amenities such as clean drinking water and toilets, the school cannot provide an environment for the kids to learn and thrive. The poverty-stricken parents and the local community are both helpless, and the kids are vulnerable to be pulled out of school and exploited as child laborers. Lack of toilets for girls is especially terrifying to parents, and a key reason to stop sending them to school.
India is the largest democracy on earth with over 1 billion people. A significant percentage of this population is rural, spread across many states, many languages and many socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The needs of the poorest of the poor are many, and varied – education, employment, housing, and healthcare, to name a few. No single organization is large enough or diverse enough to serve them all. Children’s education is so important that they need a helping hand to stop the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Their needs can only be served with many helping hands and by employing many creative solutions. OSAAT is proud to be one such helping hand and one such creative solution.

Are there other non-profits doing the same thing? If not, why not?
Infrastructure rebuilding is capital intensive and manpower intensive. As a result, most charitable organizations hesitate to take on the task of rebuilding schools. OSAAT’s organization structure and method of operation are quite distinct. By putting rigorous processes in place, OSAAT keeps its administrative costs down to an absolute minimum while maximizing volunteers’ time and talent.

Why OSAAT? Aren’t there other non-profits doing the same thing?
It is very simple. India is the largest democracy on earth with over 1 billion people. A significant percentage of this population is rural, spread across many states, many languages and many socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The needs of schools serving this population are varied and no single organization is large enough or diverse enough to serve them all. Their needs can only be served with many helping hands and by employing many creative solutions. OSAAT is one such helping hand and one such creative solution. While OSAAT’s mission and goals may be common with other organizations doing similar work, OSAAT’s organization structure and method of operation are quite distinct.

Can you explain the key functions and procedures OSAAT has in place?
The following is a list of key functions and procedures followed. While all of them are followed with due diligence, the order in which they are carried out depends. Most tasks are run in parallel where necessary for efficiency.

RFP submission:
First and foremost, the schools need to be aware of OSAAT and its processes. OSAAT (India) volunteers spread the word using all means possible (print, facebook and other social media, friends and family, partner organizations).  When a school requires help, a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) must be submitted by the school. Many times, a needy school may not have the proper knowledge or resources to put together the RFP.  Even language and expression may be barriers for RFP submission. The RFP being a critical starting point, OSAAT (India) volunteers help the school get started.  

RFP analysis:
Once the RFP is submitted, a thorough review is conducted by the OSAAT team to determine the eligibility of the school for adoption.

Site visit and assessment of needs:
OSAAT (India) volunteers go to the physical site and meet with school officials, staff, community leaders, parents, and any others that will help determine the eligibility of the school and the eventual sustainability of the project. Multiple visits and meetings are conducted as needed. All visits are documented with pictures and meeting minutes for the entire team to see. The entire team votes to make the “Go” or “No Go” decision, along with how much OSAAT’s contribution will be – for example, the number of classrooms, toilets, whether to improve existing structure or demolish and rebuild.

Consultation and Budgeting:
The project needs are discussed with architects and/or building contractors to get an estimate of what infrastructure improvements are feasible, funds required, time frame from start to finish. The team votes again to finalize the budget and formulate the timeframe.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):
Once a project is decided as “Go”, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is created. The MOU identifies exactly what OSAAT is willing to commit in terms of infrastructure improvements and what OSAAT’s expectations are from the school. The MOU is signed by OSAAT and the school authority.

Funding the project:
Since funds are being received from OSAAT (USA), OSAAT (India) identifies an NGO which has FCRA clearance.  OSAAT (India) signs the MOU with that NGO to assist OSAAT (India) in completing the school construction project. The MOU clearly documents the amount, responsibilities and processes that need to be followed by the NGO in completing the project.

Obtaining clearance:
OSAAT (India) volunteers work with Local and Central Government authorities for any clearance needed, by meeting with them, submitting all documentation according to their requirements, and obtaining the necessary permits and green signal for the project. school construction project. MOU will clearly mention the amount, responsibilities and process that need to be followed by the NGO in completing the project.

Fundraising
OSAAT (India) has obtained IT-80(G) exemption status and is raising funds in India through individual and corporate donations.  Prior to 2012, OSAAT (India) could not accept cash donations in India or reimburse any local service provider. Since obtaining the 80G status in 2012, OSAAT (India) is able to raise funds. Fundraising efforts include both private and corporate donations (Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – grants).

Developing partnerships:
Partnering with like-minded NGOs is beneficial on multiple levels. Partners contribute their expertise and resources in areas where OSAAT volunteers may need help. As an example, a partner NGO may be able to procure the services of an architect or a building materials supplier more cost effectively either as donation or at reduced cost. Partners may help in navigating the process of getting clearance from Government authorities. OSAAT (India) volunteers build and maintain partner relationships. Formal partnership agreements are entered into, and responsibilities are clearly defined.

OSAAT (USA) compliments OSAAT (India)’s efforts by playing a critical role in several aspects that are related to the organization as well as projects. The following is a list of key functions and procedures followed. While all of them are followed with due diligence, the order in which they are carried out depends. Most tasks are run in parallel where necessary for efficiency.

Definition and documentation of processes:
There are specific processes to follow for everything OSAAT does. Whether it has to do with selecting a project or allocating funds, the processes are designed to achieve optimal results with absolutely minimal administrative costs.

Project related tasks:
The OSAAT (USA) team meets on a regular basis and participates in all critical tasks of a project:
  • RFP analysis
  • MOU with the school
  • NGO Partnership evaluation and MOU with the chosen partner
  • Budgeting and setting milestones
  • Volunteers also conduct site visits and school inauguration events where feasible.
Fundraising:
One of the major tasks OSAAT (USA) is responsible for is fundraising. OSAAT (USA) volunteers deploy innovative ways to raise funds as follows.
  • Signature cultural events that bring the local community together, “NAATYA RAAGA” being a signature OSAAT event since 2006 (Indian Classical Music and Dance contests).
  • Cultural events such as music and dance concerts by artists visiting from India and other parts of the USA
  • Grants from public and private foundations
  • Corporate matching of funds donated by employees
  • On-line pledge campaigns – a significant contribution of OSAAT’s Yuva Shakti team
  • Bake sales and cultural events in schools championed by the Yuva Shakti team.
  • Participation in “Sevathon”, an annual event where all NPOs in the Silicon Valley come together
  • Individual donors hosting private events such as birthday parties and donating the cash in lieu of gifts to OSAAT.
  • Partnering with other organizations that conduct events for OSAAT’s benefit
Fund transfer:
A critical function of OSAAT (USA) is transfer of funds from USA to India. Given that donors demand accountability, the process of fund transfer is conducted with extreme diligence. OSAAT (USA) constantly interacts with OSAAT (India) to ensure there is no unnecessary spending of any kind. Any unforeseen circumstances requiring funds in excess of what is approved for a specific project by the team need to be justified with complete details as to what, how, where, why and when. All deviations are evaluated thoroughly to ensure the donations are used only for the purpose they were intended for.

Governance:
  • All work related to Banking and financial management (deposits, issuing checks, issuing receipts, processing bills and invoices)
  • Annual audit of financial records and filing the tax return with the IRS
  • Regular team meetings, meetings with board members, documentation of minutes
Marketing and PR:
  • Website and Facebook pages fully supported and maintained
  • Radio shows done periodically
  • TV, print and social media for advertising and promotions
  • Newsletter and other collateral published as needed
  • Participation in tradeshows and booths
  • Community outreach utilizing all opportunities and means
Does OSAAT only help schools in Karnataka?
OSAAT is a young organization and was started in 2003 by a few like-minded philanthropists originally from Karnataka, living in the San Francisco Bay area. What started as a private effort on their part to help some of the needy schools in rural Karnataka resulted in many more people getting interested, and ultimately in the formation of OSAAT. There are no restrictions as to the physical location of schools.

How do I know that my donation will go towards a deserving school?
OSAAT has designed a very extensive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Anyone can nominate a school and any school can submit an RFP. Depending upon the information provided to us in the RFP, we will initiate a fact-finding mission and verify all the facts. There are a number of other factors we investigate as well, such as how many kids are being served by the school, what, if any, is the impact if the school cannot be helped, how motivated the school staff is, what kind of support is available from different sources to sustain the school, etc. We ensure that the school has no political or religious affiliations that conflict with OSAAT’s mission and objectives. The same applies to any partner organization we choose to work with. In addition, no one in the partner organization can have any vested interest, be it for financial gain or fame and publicity. We are very focussed on the needs of the school and the kids served by the school. You can rest assured that the school we choose is very well deserving of your support. We post the financial details of every project on our website so that our patrons and supporters can see exactly where their donations are going. One key factor that is worth your attention is that there is absolutely minimal OSAAT administrative cost, to cover fundraising and marketing expenses, thanks to dedicated, talented volunteers.

Donations


How do I donate money to OSAAT?
You can donate by sending a check payable to the address listed in donation page. Fundraising is a constant, continuous effort to help needy schools. You can donate to OSAAT anytime, any amount. Whether you are a private individual or a corporation or a group of friends, you have several options as follows:
Adopt an entire project through our “Adopt a School” program. You can fund the entire amount for a school of your choice from the list of schools OSAAt has screened through the “Request for Proposals” process.
Donate funds for specific portions of a school project – For example, if a school needs 4 classrooms and a library, you can fund for the construction of 1, 2, or 3 rooms or a library or any combination thereof.
Donate as much as you want, towards any school project in OSAAT’s list. Any amount is very welcome! You can donate online, anytime. In the USA, you can donate by sending a check payable to the address listed in the donation page. In India, please contact osaatind@gmail.com for details.
You can sponsor any of our fundraising events. Sponsorship details are published with each event.

Can I get tax exemption for my donation?
Yes. In the USA, OSAAT is a registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, tax Id: 20 2043649. You can claim tax exemption in accordance with the applicable IRS guidelines. Donors contributing $500 or more will receive an official thank you letter from us. In India, please contact osaatind@gmail.com for details.

Can I donate money in installments through my bank account or credit card?
At the moment, we do not support such automatic withdrawals from bank accounts or credit cards. We will have that capability in the near future, and will incorporate it on our website.

Do you accept any other in-kind contributions such as cars, books or furniture?
At the moment, we accept monetary contributions only, in the form of cash or check payable to OSAAT.

Can I donate in-kind gifts directly to a school you have chosen?
With Bajegoli primary school, our maiden project, we witnessed a generous outpouring of support from the local community. Donations such as lumber and other building materials were very welcome and put to good use. Depending upon the needs of schools, other practical donations such as benches, tables, chalkboards, pots and pans, water storage tanks, etc., would also be welcome. Since there is no physical facility in the USA or India for us to collect and process in-kind donations, they may be accepted at the actual project site as needed and as deemed necessary and practical. Please contact us if you would like to make such donations.

Do you have any tips for taxpayers making charitable contributions for OSAAT?
In the USA, taxpayers who donate to charities may be entitled to take a charitable deduction on their individual income tax return. Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants every taxpayer to know before deducting charitable donations. In India, please contact osaatind@gmail.com for details.

Getting Involved


I do not live in the San Francisco Bay area but would like to get involved. How can I help?

All you need to get involved is interest, enthusiasm and willingness. You can help us in any of the following ways:

  • Raise awareness of OSAAT among your friends, family, donors and sponsors in your area so that they can donate to OSAAT.
  • Raise awareness of OSAAT in your workplace. Several employers match contributions their employees make to registered 501 (c) (3) organizations like OSAAT. Your contribution, when matched, is twice as effective!
  • Work with local businesses and get sponsorships and donations when we do our fundraiser events
  • Work with your local Indian magazines and publications to get free promotion for OSAAT in the form of articles or advertisements. We will work with you to pull together all the necessary information.
  • Help us grow the volunteer force. If anyone in India would like to volunteer, then please direct them to osaatind@gmail.com. Anyone with expertise in the field of Education, Finance, NGO operations, marketing, etc., are very welcome.
Can kids help in any way?
Kids can help us in many ways! OSAAT’s “Yuva Shakti” (YUVA = Youth Uncovering Values through Action) team was founded in 2013 by a bunch of enthusiastic, highly motivated kids ranging in age from 8-16. The following are examples of what they do:
  • Raising funds by conducting on-line pledge campaigns, bake sales and cultural events in their schools.
  • Helping at our events greeting guests, ushering, answering questions at the front desk and ticket window. Anyone volunteering 10 hours or more will receive a certificate for community service. Many school boards require teens to perform a certain number of hours of community service. Helping OSAAT is a great way to meet this requirement.
  • Participating in community events and speaking on behalf of OSAAT. For many events, Yuva Shakti kids have created their own posters and brochures.
  • Many Yuva Shakti kids have been role models in the sense that they have opted to have guests at their birthday parties donate money to OSAAT in lieu of receiving gifts for themselves!
We appreciate the values these kids are discovering – empathy for their counterparts in India, caring and sharing – along with the joy of friendship and teamwork with their fellow team members.

I can help you from time to time. I am not sure what skills I need to have. How can I help?
When it comes to skills, whether it is graphic design or accounting or public relations, people of all skill levels and from all walks of life can help us. Just let us know a bit about yourself by sending an email to info@osaat.org and we would love to work with you.

School Selection


What are OSAAT’s criteria for selecting a school?
  • It must be a rural school
  • The school must have absolutely no government involvement in the development work
  • The school must have clearance for outsiders to do the development work
  • School must serve a decent number of students and must be adequately staffed
What are some of the guidelines used by OSAAT to manage a school project?
  • OSAAT identifies a project lead
  • A group of people who don’t have any vested interest in development (such as contractors) should be in place before the project begins
  • Any development already underway is viewed favorably since it shows us commitment by the school and the people involved
  • The school, in conjunction with the project team, uses modern cost saving and innovative techniques to build the school