Indian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have received Rs 42,200 crore from foreign donors in the last five years, more than what the central government had spent on the world's largest social security scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 2009-10.
The global economic recession does not seem to have had an impact on foreign contributions as funding increased from Rs 6,700 crore in 2004-05 to over Rs 10,900 crore in 2009-10.
But, the developmental NGOs claim that their international funding is on the decline. "Since 2003 when the Indian government rejected international aid funding for voluntary organisations in the area of tribal development or primary education," said Rajesh Tandon, head, Society for Participatory Research in Asia.
So, who are receiving the international funding?
The government data shows that religious organisations such as Sathya Sai Central Trust, Maa Anand Mai Trust, Tamil Nadu-based World Vision of India, an arm of international Christian humanitarian have seen an increase in funding.
The exception in the top list is the Rural Development Trust of Andhra Pradesh, which provides education to Telgu migrant labourers and on average has received more than over Rs 100 crore every year in the last four years.
World Vision's funding has increased from Rs 133 crore in 2004-05 to over Rs 220 crore in 2009-10. Sathya Sai Central Trust showed similar trends.
An official with World Vision of India said the money has been used for sponsoring education of poor children. "The success is our programme is the reason for high donations," he said.
Educational and health institutions, including private profit making bodies, are registered as trusts and can receive international funding under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2011. "There is a need to look into where the money is actually going," Harsh Jaitli, office-bearer of Organisation of Voluntary Network Association of India, an umbrella body for civil society organisations.