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The key to effective philanthropy

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-06-2017 Staff Writer

Mumbai: In a country like India, which has a high degree of inequality, marrying passion and talent is key to a sustainable and effective way of carrying out philanthropy, said a panel of experts at the Mint Wealth Creators Summit.

This is extremely critical at a time when the world has set itself steep targets to eradicate poverty and tackle other issues that ail a significant part of the global population. People who have created wealth by building successful businesses need to bring their business skills to the table to ensure that the act of giving is effective and efficient.

“Never in history has poverty reduced so significantly, as it has in the last 50 years. So much so that the United Nations and the governments of the world came together to launch the sustainability development goals—which essentially says that we will do away with poverty and hunger by 2030,” said Vineet Rai, founder, Aavishkaar–Intellecap Group, which is into early-stage investing.

It is an audacious and remarkable goal, he added.

To achieve such goals, one needs to bring together talent and passion.

“One of the things that we have been working on is to help philanthropists not just look at passion, but to also bring their business skills to the table. It might seem odd but a lot of times you see that people who have built successful businesses, when it comes to philanthropy they forget about all the big problems surrounding us, how they can bring their business skills to the table to solve them and they start thinking about how they can build their legacy, have their name on a building,” said Deval Sanghavi, co-founder at Dasra, a philanthropic foundation.

People from the corporate sector can help philanthropy in a big way by bringing focus and efficiency and a data-driven approach.

“The balance that you can bring when you have people who can marry talent and passion, is quite immense. One of the things that people like us can bring to this sector is focus and efficiency because we come from that mindset. And the sector definitely needs help in being more data-run, evidence-based. And our ability to think through that with empathy is something that we can do when we have talent and passion,” said Vidya Shah, chief executive at EdelGive Foundation, philanthropic arm of Edelweiss group.

Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd uses its employees to engage in philanthropic giving, not only for money but also their time, she said. “And that balance that a lot of people have brought by using their abilities, their skills, to make effective change possible in the non-profits that they work with is an example of how you can balance the two,” added Shah.


According to Archana Chandra, administrative director, Jai Vakeel Foundation, for corporate professionals to bring their skills to the philanthropic world and merging it with passion, is easier than what many think.

“We all can marry passion with talent, each one of us can do it. At Jai Vakeel, 33% of my senior management are volunteers, like myself. Our model is to have the best in class, but through a model of volunteering and it’s working beautifully,” said Chandra.

However, to ensure that work creates sustainable impact, accountability is needed, which is a factor that is missing in most philanthropic endeavours, said Zarina Screwvala, founder director at Swades Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on empowering rural India.

“It is missing in the way we evaluate ourselves, it is missing in the way what we demand from our partners and above all we are not making our community accountable. So, we work very hard to make our community accountable. That is a sort of corporate thinking and I feel that philanthropy needs it—desperately,” she said.

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