A visionary philosophy

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Sydney charity Vision 2020 is committed to transparency in its fundraising for the less fortunate

Sydneysiders have never shied away from lending a helping hand, be it for natural disasters, unforeseen emergencies or when people in distress do not know who to turn to for help. They have reached deep into their pockets and have lent a shoulder whenever they are called upon to do so.

Foremost among the many not-for-profit organisations is Vision 2020, which has an enviable track record. They have organised two charity fundraising events each year since 2007, one an outdoor event, the other an indoor event usually held close to Diwali. The organisers have successfully raised well over $130,000 to support over a dozen projects in South Asia and East Africa.

A small group of committed people initiated Vision 2020 on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday in 2002, and resolved to make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate in the developing world. In the process they found an additional dimension to their own lives by raising and funding projects that are a worthy cause. All projects funded by them so far have been identified and suggested by their members and friends. Their team has carefully scrutinised every project and seen to it that the funds are used as projected.

In a recent interview with founding member and, until recently, the President of the organisation, Mr S. Nagarajan, he said the voluntary body aimed to have membership open to anyone who wants to sponsor or make a contribution to the betterment of the community.

The Vision 2020 team choose to make their activities completely transparent with the objective of ensuring 100 per cent of the charity proceeds go to the projects they sponsor. Their treasurer explained the prohibitive administrative costs of some high profile organisations were disappointing members.

Vision 2020 is registered with the Department of Gaming and Racing as an approved charity for fundraising. To ensure that they comply with all the requirements of a voluntary body, they have appointed an independent auditor who certifies the accounts and works on a voluntary basis like all other members of the team.

The organisation is also committed to ensuring that all its activities are free from any form of discrimination. It is free to transcend geographical boundaries. Projects chosen for sponsorship are for those definitely in need of help, and the recipients must be willing to help with evaluation of how they use the funds until project completion.

It goes without saying that the activities of Vision 2020 have gained momentum in the community as they have an ‘open door’ policy to new participants, and they welcome suggestions from members as long as they fall in line with the unwritten charter of helping the needy.

Charity work is primarily based on reason not emotion. Since Indian origin people are the dominant group among the members, it is natural that most of the projects funded by Vision 2020 are based in India, although they have also supported the Sahara Children’s home in Nepal and have extended their assistance to Somalian Disaster Relief with a contribution of $7200 through the UNHCR Somalia Relief Appeal.

Among the causes that Vision 2020 has supported are aged care homes, orphanages and institutions for the destitute. They have also ensured good health care is provided for children with muscular dystrophy and children with cerebral palsy, autism, brain damage or other mental impairments.

It was a policy decision made by Vision 2020 to fund one-off infrastructure projects where the organisation could see tangible results and monitor the quality of the project outcome. Wheelchairs, electricity generators, disabled-friendly vehicles, building ramps, toilet blocks, class rooms, and hostel buildings are some examples of solid, sustainable projects that they have funded so far.

It is unsurprising that their most recent endeavour was a sterling effort; a “Vision Walk” in May at Parramatta Park aimed to raise $16,000 towards construction of an eye care vision centre to be undertaken by Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra in Chouparan Block in rural Bihar (details available at www.nbjk.org). There were about 170 enthusiastic participants and judging by the response, it was another feather in the cap of Vision 2020 whose members and supporters have been involved in charity work for some years now.

Vision 2020 have also created a new opening for people with a charitable slant. They have introduced a ‘Gift Voucher Scheme’ whereby willing donors are able to buy the vouchers in various denominations from $10 to $100. There are several social invitations that specifically suggest charitable donations to substitute gifts at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other special events. Given the great work of Vision 2020, this would seem to be a most appropriate alternative.

For details visit their website: http://vision2020.org.au/