Where is Sarvodaya?

Sarvodaya is the largest and most established NGO in Sri Lanka. Its head office is in Moratuwa, near Colombo. Sarvodaya also maintains 34 district centres and is an active presence in almost 15,000 villages. Sarvodaya USA is Sarvodaya’s legal presence in the United States.

Who Is The Head Of Sarvodaya

Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. You may read his biography and some of his speeches here. Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne is Sarvodaya’s Executive Director.

What is Sarvodaya USA?

Sarvodaya USA represents Sarvodaya in the United States. Originally a small group of volunteers which is now
working hard and growing in order to keep up with a very large movement whose reputation is well established and rapidly expanding. It is a 501 ( c ) (3) tax-exempt and non-profit organisation. Until the Tsunami disaster which required more help, the organisation consisted a small board of directors, friends of Sarvodaya and volunteers spread across the country.

What is Your Plan For Reconstruction and Beyond?

Please read the Tsunami to Deshodaya Planning Document, linked to on the front page.

Where Can I See Your Financial Disclosures?

In the Finance section of the Planning Document, which is constantly updated with new figures. There is also a Finances Category in the Blog.

What Do The Different Donation Options Mean?

Sarvodaya has 2 online payment gateways. The main option is to donate directly to Sarvodaya’s bank account at Sampath Bank. The contents and disbursement of that and all relevant accounts are covered in the Finances section. There is also an option to donate via a PayPal Gateway. This money goes to the Sarvodaya USA Bank account, from which Sarvodaya receives wire transfers.

Does Sarvodaya have a religious affiliation?

Sarvodaya is clearly rooted in Gandhian and Buddhist traditions, but actively engages people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds. Events at the village, district and national levels often begin with non-denominational meditation and invocations from the perspectives of all religions represented.

Sarvodaya builds houses side by side for Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. Peace Secretariat teams are led by Muslim, Christian and Hindu Sarvodaya personnel. The Movement consciously directs its efforts to people of all religious persuasions. Its purpose is not to proselytise but to help participants see their common humanity.

Many people are rightfully concerned about the recipients of relief supplies. We want to assure you that every effort is made to serve Sri Lankans of all religions in all parts of Sri Lanka.

Media Advisory from Sarvodaya

To reach Sarvodaya directly you may contact:

Sarvodaya Headquarters
No 98, Rawatawatta Road,
Moratuwa , Sri Lanka
Phone +9411 2647 159, 5550 756, 2655 255
Fax +9411 5557 972
Email: ssmplan@sri.lanka.net

Sarvodaya USA is the key contact in the United States as the non-profit organization which is dedicated to supporting the work of Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka. To reach Sarvodaya USA you may contact:

Sarvodaya USA
1127 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53715

Email: info@sarvodayausa.org

Where Can I Find Banking Information?

For donors from Sri Lanka

Account Name Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya (Inc.)
Account No Acct. No 1590011920
Account Currency Rupees
Bank Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd.
Branch Moratuwa
Address No.116, Galle Road, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

For Foreign remittance

Account Name Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya (Inc.)
Account No Acct. No 159000 8015
Account Currency – All currencies accepted
Bank Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd.
Branch Moratuwa
Address No.116, Galle Road, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

For tax exemption in the US, please contact Sarvodaya USA. Sarvodaya USA is a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which will provide a receipt for your donation. Sarvodaya USA’s tax ID number is 13-3358148. You may send a check to our Madison Office:

Sarvodaya USA
1127 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53715.

Should I send material goods to Sri Lanka?

Please DO NOT send material items unless and until we provide you with detailed instructions. Currently, monetary donations are what are most needed in Sri Lanka.

Please do not send clothing, medicine, supplies or other material items to Sarvodaya or Sarvodaya USA without official confirmation. Thank you for your good work and compassion.

Can I fundraise for Sarvodaya?

If you would like to organize a fundraiser or raise funds for Sarvodaya in some way, we would be delighted. If you get others to collaborate with you, please share what you know. If you do, please leave a comment on the website or contact ssmplan@sri.lanka.net so we can acknowledge your contribution. Please note that the admin can only link to you from the website, they cannot give you any authorization or advice. For more general questions please contact Sarvodaya directly at ssmplan@sri.lanka.net.

If you have questions about tax deduction, please contact Sarvodaya USA: sarovdayausa.financial@tds.net

What Questions Should I Ask Before Donating?

Laurence R. Simon, Ph.D of Brandeis University has written an excellent set of questions that donors should consider that you can read here. The information following the questions adds detail to Dr. Simon’s original points, specifically addressing issues about Sarvodaya’s role in Sri Lanka and its handling of funds from the U.S. and other countries. The headings “About Sarvodaya” were written by Sarvodaya USA volunteer Rick Brooks.

  1. Has the organization worked in the affected countries before?

    Hundreds of organisations around the world collect funds after major disasters. However, many do not have the on-the-ground experience and personnel that are critical for timely and wise utilisation of the funds. Many show up in devastated nations and are not familiar with local organisations, customs or terrain. They will flounder. The best organisations to which to contribute are those who were operational in the country before any disaster. The exception to this would be specialised organisations like Doctors Without Borders.

  2. About Sarvodaya: An executive of an international NGO (Non Government Organisation) told me yesterday that it could provide ‘massive technical assistance in specific areas of need’, and that its assessment in Thailand showed that their help was not as desperately needed as in other countries. ‘What we are looking for are grassroots partners with the arms and legs,’ he said. That’s what Sarvodaya is about, people whose labour and motivation are their gifts to each other. 47 years of development experience before this disaster and the engagement of millions of people at the village level. Its infrastructure on the ground is its strength.
  3. Will organisations merely contribute your funds to another aid group?

    Constituencies often contribute funds through their own channels which collect and transfer the funds to operational organisations. If you use such channels, be sure that no overheads are deducted for such pass-through grants. Overheads are legitimate when an organisation is directly involved in fielding staff or materials.

    About Sarvodaya: In Sri Lanka there is no other organization with Sarvodaya’s extensive reach across geographic, religious, economic or political barriers. Its roots are in the paddy fields and remote villages. Most ‘Sarvodaya workers’ have been unpaid or only minimally paid for years, so having the funds to cover overhead in even a remotely adequate way has been like a series of miracles. Even this year, close to one third of the districts in the country were operating without any outside financial support. Sarvodaya is a registered charity in Sri Lanka.

  4. Many local and informal fundraising groups have no policies except for good intentions. We strongly insist that any group which publicly identifies with the Sarvodaya name comply with and exceed legal accountability standards. For tax deductibility in America, this includes Sarvodaya USA, which provides the specific documentation for both the recipient and the donor. Therefore, both the spirit of Sarvodaya and the letter of the law are paramount concerns.

  5. Will the organization stay in the affected country after the emergency period

    Many private aid organisations leave about the same time the cameras do. The emergency period is short, but the period for reconstruction is very long and much more costly. It will be years before the millions of people made homeless will be housed decently and their communities and livelihoods made whole again.

    About Sarvodaya: Village Sarvodaya Shramadana Societies are at the core of the Movement’s grassroots approach. Long before this disaster, Sarvodaya’s 5R unit demonstrated the Movement’s uniquely integrated strategies for serving village people affected by the adversities of the civil war, a struggling economy and unreliable rains.

    Those 5Rs: Relief. Reconstruction. Rehabilitation. Reconciliation and Re-awakening.

  6. What experience does your organization have in development?

    Many organizations can provide building materials. But the aim is not to rebuild poverty, but to work with local communities to attain a higher standard of living. Expatriate organizations need to be able to work with local government and communities alike, speak their languages, understand their cultures, and patiently help them plan. The best organizations to which to contribute are those with an understanding of the causes of vulnerability and poverty.

    About Sarvodaya: The comprehensive approach of Sarvodaya has worldwide appeal because it addresses root causes rather than merely the symptoms of poverty. Its attention to social, economic, cultural, spiritual and other concerns supports personal and village empowerment in ways that few ‘programs’ can match. Laboring for the common good involves people of different religions, ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic levels, and taps their strengths. Close to five decades of experience have shown that government and more traditional bureaucratic approaches rarely work as well.

  7. Will your organization permit you to earmark your contribution?

    No matter how small your contribution may be, it is important that you earmark it for long-term development in the affected communities of one or more of the countries. Despite what they say now about the need, the capacity of local institutions to absorb all aid funds quickly is quite limited. Earmarking encourages the aid organization to begin now to make long-range plans. It also lets the organization know that you prefer that your funds are wisely spent over a longer period than hastily spent on efforts that may be duplicating those of others.

    About Sarvodaya: Sarvodaya has received major grants, contracts and other donations from outside agencies and governments for several decades. Project-related funding definitely has its place, and earmarking your contribution can help ensure accountability. Will your contribution be used for its intended purpose? Yes. If you visit pre-schools, vocational training and community centers in almost any district of the country you can see the proof plaques honoring the generosity of donors and partners. Sarvodaya welcomes the opportunity to work with community groups from other countries; to establish interpersonal relationships that endure.

Can I use the photos on the Sarvodaya website?

Yes. All photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License, meaning that you are free

* to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
* to make derivative works
* to make commercial use of the work

Under the following conditions: You must give the original author (Sarvodaya) credit.

There are over 1000 Sarvodaya photos available online. There are galleries on the site, and you may view the archives here:


To find what you’re looking for please use the search function, or browse the tags (which try to describe the content)


To download a photo, simply

1. Click on its thumbnail
2. Click the ‘Different Size’ link to the right
3. Pick the size you want. Sometimes a high resolution image is available.
4. Right Click the image and ‘Save Picture As’

Why is your website broken, missing features, confusing, etc?

Please send all questions regarding the website to admin@sarvodaya.org. Please do not send questions regarding content or Sarvodaya policy to this address. It is strictly for bug reports, and things you like (if you feel nice). For all content and policy questions please contact ssmplan@sri.lanka.net.