I’ve written about Sankara Eye Care before. I think this Indian network of community eye hospitals is one of the most impressive non-profits I know. Sankara runs the world’s largest programme of community outreach to find and treat people suffering from cataracts and unable to afford the surgery. Each year they identify and operate on 150,000 people across India and save them from a life of blindness. Surgeries are extremely high quality (they probably have the world’s most proficient cataract surgeons) and the whole organisation is a model of efficiency and excellent patient care.
Sankara do this, not largely with charitable donations but by running world class for-profit eye hospitals whose profits fund the free surgeries. This means that they are 97% self-funded.
Sankara do, however accept private donations to support their work. Here, too they are leaders in their field. Every person who donates the equivalent of £15 receives, as standard, a letter back with the name of the person’s whose surgery has been paid for with that donation, the data of the surgery and a photo of the individual taken after their operation. I know of no UK charity that gets close to this level of donor feedback.
You can do more than fund eye surgeries at Sankara. For my mum’s birthday I thought it would be nice to sponsor something in the name of my dad who died 2 years ago. At Sankara you can pay for the meals that the free patients receive when they come in for their surgeries. For a couple of hundred quid you can pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner for four or five hundred people. Which seems like a good deal to me.
I emailed Sankara and agreed that I would sponsor meals on the day before my mum’s birthday.
Here’s what I got back, on the specified day.:
- A letter of thanks signed by the Founder of Sankara telling me exactly what they did with my donation
- Photos of the meals, showing the sign they put up in the dining hall (above) and pictures of the patients having their meals.
It was all very simple, no one would win any photography awards for the pics but it was relevant, timely, warm and very personal.
D’you know what, this donor might even give again.
Now UK charities, why can’t you do that?