India’s domestic philanthropy is gaining importance as the nation approaches its 100th year of independence in 2047. Despite strong economic growth, India still has long strides to make in achieving its UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To accelerate progress, it is crucial for philanthropists to shift their focus beyond well-established nonprofits in major cities and conventional sectors like education and health care. Instead, they should support grassroots organizations that are close to vulnerable communities and underserved causes.
According to the India Philanthropy Report 2023, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is expected to reach $6.4 billion by FY 2027. Family philanthropy, which has grown by 12 percent in the last five years, reached $3.6 billion in FY 2022. However, the report reveals that Indian Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNIs) have the potential to increase their philanthropic contributions significantly. By aligning their giving practices with their counterparts in China, the UK, and the US, their contributions could multiply 8 to 13 times.
To shape a more impactful philanthropic landscape in India, several approaches need to be adopted. Firstly, philanthropists should adopt a strong Gender-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion (GEDI) lens, prioritizing funding for organizations that serve marginalized communities at the intersections of caste, class, ethnicity, disability, and gender.
Secondly, there must be a focus on underfunded sectors and localized, community-led efforts. This involves expanding support beyond urban, well-established nonprofits to include grassroots organizations working on causes such as waste management, animal welfare, wildlife conservation, mental health, sports for development, arts and culture, artisan livelihoods, and climate issues.
Another crucial aspect is investing in strengthening the infrastructure for philanthropy and social impact. Philanthropic capital can be catalytic in building the necessary frameworks for effective giving and impact. This includes supporting nonprofit leadership and organizational capacity building, establishing investment-ready vehicles, funding research, data, and technology for monitoring and evaluation, and fostering innovation.
Furthermore, philanthropy needs to evolve its giving approaches. This involves adopting a systems-change mindset, making long-term commitments, and engaging with stakeholders to address root causes rather than surface-level symptoms of societal challenges. Philanthropy can also provide patient capital, reducing risk and fueling social innovation. Additionally, philanthropy should collaborate strategically with government institutions to strengthen public systems and amplify its impact.
Collaborative giving models are also gaining prominence. These include pooled funding vehicles, building institutions and centers of excellence, forming collaboratives, promoting philanthropic pledges, and establishing philanthropy networks. Such collaborative approaches enable funders to tackle critical challenges collectively, foster excellence, and create lasting legacies.
Finally, trust-based giving and listening to NGO partners are essential. Philanthropists should embrace flexibility, considering local contexts and the expertise of implementation organizations that are closest to the needs of vulnerable communities. Open communication and active listening can lead to more effective partnerships and impactful solutions.
As India moves toward its centennial milestone, philanthropy’s role becomes increasingly critical. To expedite progress and enhance resilience, philanthropy needs to address complex challenges, foster innovation, and strengthen public systems. By adopting bold and innovative approaches, philanthropy can realize its potential and contribute to India@100.
Source: India Philanthropy Report 2023, published by Dasra and Bain and Company