The Madras Seva Sadan was founded in 1928 by Sir & Lady M. Venkatasubba Rao with their personal initial contribution of Rs. 10,000/- and further contributions on a continuous basis. Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao was the Founder-President and Lady M. Venkatasubba Rao was the Founder Honorary General Secretary and Treasurer. It was founded as a Home for grown-up girls and young women who were poor and destitute, such as deserted wives, helpless widows and orphans, with a view to impart to them such education and training as would make them fit, in course of time, to look after themselves and be thoroughly self-supporting and self-reliant.
Its unique feature might be called its ideal of “Creative Reconstruction”. The Madras Seva Sadan recongised that “The world is a world and not a charitable institution” and steers clear of one of the gravest dangers that beset organisations for relieving the helpless viz., a passive purposeless charity which has a degrading and deadening effect on its recipients. Initially, The Madras Seva Sadan sought to reconstruct the broken lives of young women and not allow them to drift into oblivious inaction. It, therefore, made provision for literary training as well as instruction in arts and handicrafts, so that young women, after a stay in The Madras Seva Sadan, could go into the world equipped to live an independent, self-supporting life. It still continues to follow the pattern laid down by the Founders.
In course of time education and other facilities have been offered to boys and men as well. A further step has been to include the wealthy as well as the indigent into the fold of the Sadan.