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SAPP Profile: Aditya Jha, Indo-Canadian philanthropist

December 8, 2009

Many of you may know that the South Asian Philanthropy Project conducts regular interviews with South Asian philanthropists and nonprofit leaders across North America – to collect their stories and to enlist their advice about how SAPP should have an impact.  We are hoping to analyze these interviews and make our findings available to all of you eventually.

Aditya Jha

Today I had a wonderful conversation with Aditya Jha, prominent Canadian philanthropist.  Originally from India, Aditya focuses his philanthropy on education, entrepreneurship, and aboriginal communities in Canada.   He has founded the POA Educational Foundation, which makes grants in these areas and works to raise the profile of these issues in Canada.

As we’ve discussed before at this blog, South Asian giving in North America is often for religious or educational causes.  I was initially interested in Aditya’s philanthropic giving because of how non-traditional it seemed for an Indo-Canadian to focus so intently on financial support for aboriginal causes in Canada.

I highly recommend the foundation’s website and some of Aditya’s speeches about philanthropy and his personal giving philosophy.    While Aditya shared a great deal of wisdom in our conversation, one theme was of particular interest to me – the importance of giving locally in one’s home country and community.  Here are some excerpts from a September 2007 speech that touches on this theme (emphasis mine):

  • Be active with the cause that you give to – where you are actively involved with your money, time and talent and to a cause that you are passionate about there will be multi-fold impact than the paternalistic mode of giving where you just cut a cheque. Your presence and involvement allows stringent control, oversight and the cause benefits immensely from your insight that you have accumulated  by virtue of being so successful.
  • Philanthropy of affluence has given rise to a new business, that is, Business of Philanthropy, which in many cases leads to wastage akin to running large bureaucratic type of organizations and in the long run, harms the cause of philanthropy…
  • Before I become active with ‘giving’, I looked at giving as charity to others. Now, I see giving as charity to myself. You are giving to your expanded self, your passion, your talent to make change and to your obligation to payback to the favorite social circumstances so that those circumstances are sustainable for yourself, your kids and for all, that you care about…
  • Last but not least, I would like to make a case that we should support mainstream Canadian philanthropic projects in a major way, and international projects as well as Indian projects with a lesser portion of our total giving. Most of the successful Indo-Canadian professionals and entrepreneurs here have done relatively better than those who have been in Canada for generations. We have become successful by delivering mainstream services to the mainstream people. Then why should our giving be mainly to ethnic causes? There could be the logic, that Canada is a rich country; but let’s look at the plight of the unfortunates in Canada, and the need of philanthropic dollars to support our universities, hospitals, opera, museums, environmental causes, etc.
4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2009 3:34 am

    Fantastic, I didn’t know about that up to the present. Thanx!!

  2. ADJ permalink
    December 14, 2009 9:38 pm

    thanks for the summary. Aditya also does a lot of work in India, Thailand and Nepal. Fantastic project.


  1. Interesting links – on Pratham, Sheela Murthy and more « The South Asian Philanthropy Project
  2. Interesting links – emotional giving, Rajiv Shah, nonprofit boards and more « The South Asian Philanthropy Project

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