The Chinese are not known for it, Americans tend to splurge on it at year-end, and India has taken to it but is reticent about it. We’re talking about philanthropy, of course! Every nation has its own philanthropic identity. While Indians do give to charity, cultural norms have dictated that it be private and unknown to others. Norms like “the left hand should not know what the right is doing” dictated silence on sharing details with others.
The philanthropic sector in India is in the midst of a slow and inexorable churn. There’s been a shift towards discussing philanthropic activities in public, which is a trend we’re very happy about. We give you a bird’s eye view of the changes in the space, with our predictions for 2015!
- Personality and philanthropy come together: The #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the best embodiment of individuals supporting charities through social media in addition to money. Crowdfunding for charities and payroll giving programmes are on the rise in India. Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge has found traction in India, and there’s a lot of soul searching on how to align personal values with charitable ones. Engaging with philanthropy has become more fun and more personalized, and could soon become a necessary expression of one’s identity.
We predict: Whether it’s the local Rice Bucket Challenge, running marathons for charity or Daan Utsav, giving back will become a bigger (and more enjoyable) part of our lives. With the CSR Bill coming into effect from this year, more companies will look for causes they can identify with and support.
- Getting social: Media coverage through shows like Satyamev Jayate have played their part in institutionalizing discussions on showcasing social issues and encouraging people to engage with them. Social media platforms have made it easy for individuals to advocate about causes they care about and share information with their friend networks. In a nation known for sweeping issues under the carpet, these networks made it possible to openly discuss sensitive topics like child sexual abuse and suicide, publicly.
We predict: You can’t put this genie back in the bottle! Now that people are more aware of the issues around them, it should definitely increase sensitivity and motivate people to react to injustice.
- Crossover leadership: Another trend we’re big supporters of! Several leaders from corporate India are rolling up their sleeves and putting considerable weight behind non-profit organisations. We’re not talking about CSR spends, which are mandatory, but voluntary commitments of time, money and expertise. Amit Chandra has not only committed 75% of his income to charity but also mentors organisations and is a member of several NGO Boards. Rohini Nilekani has been involved with building two large nonprofits – Pratham Books and Arghyam over the last fifteen years. Azim Premji’s Foundation now impacts thousands of lives, and has settled itself for the long run.
We predict: Planned philanthropy will rise. Several of India’s richest have established their own mission-driven foundations. Others choose a sector they want to see impact in, and work towards set goals. Charity is about more than writing cheques out at times of disaster. When leaders of industry apply their considerable acumen to solving social issues, change is sure to follow.