FAQ's

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about Sewa International. If you don't find the information you are looking for, please contact us at 708-872-7392 or info@sewausa.org.

What is Sewa International?

Sewa International is a 501(c) (3) Hindu faith-based, non-profit, humanitarian service organization. We specialize in disaster relief and rehabilitation, aiding local communities, and offering opportunities for and training in volunteering. Sewa International is part of the social service movement started in India in 1989 and which is spread across and active in twenty countries.

What are the guiding principles of Sewa International?

We follow ten guiding principles (see https://sewausa.org/Guiding-Principles). In a nutshell, Sewa International serves humanity irrespective of race, color, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, or veteran status.

What is the mission of Sewa International?

Sewa International's mission is to serve humanity in distress, support local communities, run development projects for the underserved, and assist people in transformational change through the power of innovation by mobilizing partners, donors, and volunteers. We accomplish this mission by focusing our efforts on Disaster Recovery, Family and Child Welfare, and Promoting Volunteerism. Sewa has forty-three (43) chapters across the US spread across twenty-five (25) states.

Where are the Sewa International chapters in the US?

Sewa has 43 chapters across the US in 25 states. See map (only major chapters are represented).

Does Sewa International only serve particular communities?

Sewa serves humanity irrespective of race, color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

In what countries does Sewa International serve?

Sewa International is guided by the Hindu principle that the world is one family – "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam". Sewa has served, since its inception, in thirty-two (32) disaster recovery projects like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey, California Wildfires, and US COVID Relief 2020. See Sewa's American Dharma Report on how Sewa with its partner organizations raised and disbursed $50 million just in the US for COVID relief in 2020. Other than serving in the US and India, Sewa (which means ’Service above Self' in Sanskrit) serves and has served in Bangladesh, Colombia, Guyana, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Japan, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad & Tobago.

When was Sewa International started in the USA?

Sewa International was founded in India in 1989. Outside India, the Sewa movement took root in the UK in 1991, and it has now spread across 35 countries around the world. Inspired by the international Sewa movement, Sewa International USA was started as an independent entity with an autonomous board in 2003. Sewa was registered under the Internal Revenue Code 501(c) (3) as a humanitarian, non-profit charity organization in 2004. Sewa has 43 chapters across the US in 25 states.

Where is the Sewa International Office in the US?

As a modern non-profit organization, Sewa has developed a unique model of a geographically distributed, volunteer-based management approach. Using the Internet creatively, with fluid groups and social networking tools, Sewa International leverages Web resources (online conferences & meetings, social media, Zoom/Teams, etc.) and manages the proceedings with only two physical meetings per year through non-COVID times. Our Accounting Office (donor receipts / reimbursements) address is: Sewa International Inc., PO Box 820867, Houston, TX 77282-0867.

What recognition has Sewa International received?

A snapshot of the accolades Sewa has received include consecutive scoring as the top-most, 4-star rated charitable organization for the past four years from Charity Navigator – the premier non-profit rating agency in the US, as well as earning perfect scores in the "Financial Stability" and "Accountability & Transparency'' categories – one of only eleven organizations that have been ranked so in the international category that included over 23,000 organizations. Charity Navigator has recognized Sewa International as the number five among the "10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions." In addition, Sewa has the highest rating in GuideStar (Platinum), BBB (Better Business Bureau), and Great Nonprofits (Top-Rated Non-profit). The Mayor of Houston, Hon. Sylvester Turner declared April 13 as Sewa International Day. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States.

What is your administrative overhead and costs?

Sewa International's administrative expenses were 4.8 percent in 2019, including credit card processing and office administration expenses. Sewa International has one of the lowest administrative overheads in the non-profit sector. Thus, for every dollar a person donates to Sewa International, beneficiaries receive 95.2 cents worth of services and goods.

What is Sewa International's revenue, and how do you raise funds? Can I see your Annual Report to know how you raise and disburse resources?

Please see our Annual Reports. In this link you will find our Audit Reports.

Who are your Board of Directors / Trustees?

Please see our Annual Report

Are Sewa’s Board of Directors / Trustees paid?

No, they are not paid. In keeping with the norms and culture of non-profit organizations in the US, the Board of Directors and Trustees offer their time voluntarily and freely.

Who is Sewa International's President, Vice President, and the Executive Team Members?

Please see our Annual Report

How much are Sewa’s President / Vice Presidents / Directors / Executive Team Members paid?

None of the leaders and members of Sewa International’s Executive Team are paid. They all offer their time, energy, and expertise freely. Sewa pays neither the members of the Board of Directors nor the Executive Team members -- President, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Chapter Coordinators. All are volunteers, and consequently, Sewa International keeps the overheads low at 4.8 % (2019).

Are Sewa International employees paid for their work?

Our nominally paid Mission-oriented Staff (MoS), handle day-to-day essential services, such as Accounting, Web Services, Procurement, Grants Management, Donor Relations, and Project Management.

Who are the beneficiaries of Sewa International?

People under distress in Disaster Recovery Projects are the beneficiaries. Sewa works at the grassroots level directly through our staff and volunteers. For the international projects, Sewa works with partner organizations to implement the work through a well-defined, audit-proof process. In the US, Sewa International is the leading partner in collaborative work.

What percentage of funds raised by Sewa International goes to US and international projects?

Sewa's goal for the fund distribution is 30 percent in support of US projects and 70 percent to support international projects annually. 'Disasters,' by definition, are unpredictable. Hence, it is impossible to predict any strict distribution ratios since disaster relief/rehabilitation forms a significant portion of funds disbursed in a particular year.

How does Sewa International choose the projects it supports?

Sewa has an extensive network of partner NGOs in the required areas to assist people who have an immediate need for assistance, such as victims of natural calamities, uprooted or estranged populations, and underserved populations in the areas of health or education-related issues. Sewa leverages and uses its volunteers and help from partner NGOs as necessary to spearhead disaster relief and rehabilitation work.

How does Sewa International choose its partners?

Sewa selects partners based on the values of trust, transparency, joint ownership, and accountability. These standards help us choose wisely when investing our efforts in all disaster recovery projects.

How does Sewa International evaluate the projects it supports?

Sewa has developed standards for each project it supports through formative and summative evaluation. Sewa budgets 3% to 7% of the program funds for evaluation and periodic report expectations from the partners it works with.

What are the projects that Sewa is involved in?

As of the end of 2020 we have taken up thirty-two (32) projects since our inception. Disaster recovery is in the DNA of Sewa. Disaster recovery involves three phases: Rescue (0-72 hours), Relief (3-5 months), and Rehabilitation (3-5 years). Covid-19 pandemic is an exception where the first two phases have merged. See the list of Sewa Disaster Recovery Projects below. In addition, Sewa is involved in development projects internationally to benefit children (Sponsor a Child, LEAD, and ASPIRE), women (Toilet for the girl child, microenterprise), environmental protection, and tribal welfare. Please see our Annual Reports. Countries served are India, Bangladesh, Colombia, Nepal, and Pakistan, Sewa chapters in the US are involved in projects such as Health fairs, Food drives, Adopt-a-highway, Cricket-for Charity, Talent-for-Charity, Habitat for Humanity, Inner City Tuition, SAT prep for the needy, Temple/Synagogue/Church cleaning, and other local projects. In addition, we conduct the LEAD program for American youth.

What are examples of Sewa Projects?

Please see the brochures and our Annual Reports.

How does Sewa work with refugees in the US?

Info to be filled in…

What is the Bhutanese Refugee Project in the US?

Sewa adopted the Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment (BRE) project as its flagship project in the US in 2008. This project is ongoing. Under the BRE project, all Sewa chapters focus attention on assisting children and families through education programs such as ESOL classes for adults, standardized test preparation for teens (SAT/ACT), College Prep, Financial Aid (FAFSA), and Income Tax Returns filing assistance. Pesticide-free vegetable farming, hand-loom carpet microenterprise, sewing, and nutrition clubs are some other projects that Sewa continues to support. Sewa continues to plan and strategize to meet the needs of this growing community.

How can I Help?

Your donations can be in cash or kind (car and van donation, furs, clothes, jewellery, etc.). Please click on donate You can donate your contribution via check, wire transfer, PayPal, Credit/Debit Card, Venmo, and Zell.

Can I donate in Indian Rupees?

Yes, you can donate Indian Rupees to our projects in India. Please send your contribution to Sewa International, 49, Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi -110002 India Tel: +91 11 23232850; +91 11 23232850; +91 11 23232850 or 23684445 Email: sewainternationaldelhi@gmail.com

Can I donate my time/talent/expertise?

You can become a volunteer. Contact your local Chapter, spread the word by referring your friends, family members, co-workers to Sewa International. Contact temples and local community organizations and inform them about the service activities of Sewa International. Start a chapter in your region to create awareness and raise funds for the various service projects of Sewa International in India and other countries. Contact us via e-mail at info@sewausa.org on how to start a chapter. Become a volunteer with an existing chapter in your region and participate in meetings and fundraising events.

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