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Why Institutional Endowing in India can be “Better, Together”

INSTITUTIONAL Giving is not new in India. Large corporate residences like the Tatas have been pioneers in setting up organizations and structures for doing philanthropy at scale decades before CSR[1] regulations made it obligatory for qualifying corporates to consume a percentage of profits every year. While most do the minimum as required by regulations, there are a few businesses that go above and beyond.

Part of this was due to the nature of the regulations which imposed a short term, shortsighted view on the spends. But equally most organizations, other than the largest, did not have the scale, structure and bandwidth to channel money into aquarobics programmes. As a result, despite tens of thousands of crores of rupees being spent over the years, real needle movement in India’s Social Development Goals performances has been dismaying.

Reasons for optimism

There are two new trends that generate optimism in breaking through this mystery.

First, the recent endorsed/adopted changes in the CSR[2] regulations are more amenable to longer term programmes; provide greater resilience for capacity building, design, and evaluation and encourage focus on measurement of impact.

Second, a bunch of programmes where multiple contributors/funders and delivery organizations came together demonstrated the benefits of scale through a collective design of solutions. Besides, the advantage of resources and effectiveness of consumes through robust governance also enabled quick adaptations – even during the stress test situation of COVID.

Another two examples of long term sustainable expansible programmes worth noting are the quality education bond (QEB) put together by British Asian Trust and the Haryana government’s education guarantee programme organized by Social Finance India were relatively large education initiatives with multiple donors and delivery and evaluation partners.

In both of these cases, the full model was turned upside down because of COVID. And yet, the programmes continued full steam ahead with radical changes in the implementation models – demonstrating the power of collective governance for versatility and flexibility.

The way ahead

I believe we are entering a phase where institutional charity will increasingly be focused on thematic programmes which are created by intermediaries (consultants, platforms), anchor funders and delivery partners. These will then be scaled and leveraged through multiple better funders and delivery partners.

The size of the programmes will be almost large, have clear emphasis on impact and not just activity. Robust governance models will not only drive flexibility but also agility and adaptability and will be multi-phased building on the success of initial phases. As a result, consistency in the theory of change and perseverance in the target areas and beneficiaries should hopefully create uninterrupted positive impact. This is being “Better, Together”.

That is the notion behind youngstersvoice focus on institutional giving. Youngstersvoice has the unique capability of providing all the four critical elements required to make institutional giving ‘better, together”:

  1. On an advisory capacity, with the resources to co-create and ensure cause resonance
  2. Tech platforms which include legal structures to be compliant under different regulations
  3. The ability to leverage ideas through an extensive network of donors and delivery organizations
  4. The ability to drive impact assurance through robust monitoring and governance

As India picks up the pieces post pandemic, developments in the humanitarian landscape such as reimagination of institutional giving can only be a good thing and should be welcomed by all.


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