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Philanthropy in (not to) India

April 5, 2010

Rohini Nilekani of Infosys, one of Forbes' Heroes of Philanthropy

Last week saw a lot of coverage about philanthropy in Asia and in India specifically.  As the title of this post indicates, the coverage was not really about philanthropy from North American to India, but rather about giving among wealthy Indians themselves.  Priyanka covered a bit of this last week when she wrote about the Economic Times article on wealthy Indian philanthropists.

Asian Philanthropy Forum featured Arpan Sheth of Bain & Co’s recent report on the “state of Indian philanthropy”.  Among other tidbits, I was most surprised to read this:

In the US, individuals and corporations are responsible for 75% of charitable gifts. In India, individual and corporate donations make up only 10% of charitable giving. 65% comes from India’s central and state government and the remaining gifts are provided by foreign organizations.

I encourage you all to check out the report – Sheth hypothesizes about why giving remains low and says that philanthropic markets take “50-100 years” to mature.  I think that number sounds right and applies not only to India but to South Asian givers in North America as well.

Also, Forbes magazine released its annual “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” list last month.  We’ve covered the list in years past since there are generally a number of South Asians who make the cut.  This year, in an interesting twist, all four Indians on the list are female!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 3:20 am

    The Bain & Co. report is a wonderful start but it fails to mention the key element in advancing every country’s philanthropic market: professional fundraising. In fact, the term fundraising is never even mentioned, even though one major distinction of the US third sector marketplace is the army of tens of thousands of professional fundraisers who act as the salesforce for their organizations’ missions. The net effect of continual cultivation and solicitation is that the public begins to see nonprofit activity as distinct from government programs and begins to recognize that individual support is required to sustain it. As Indian charities continue to expand their fundraising efforts, more individuals will give and larger donations, which occur years after philanthropic relationships have been established, will also begin to occur. In short, since organizations which ask for more and ask more often raise a lot more money than those who do not, what will ultimately determine the financial success and independence of Indian charities is how quickly they begin to raise private support.

  2. asridhar permalink*
    April 6, 2010 5:05 pm

    Thanks, Jay! Those are excellent points. Venu and I both have professional fundraising experience and working with South Asian donors is part of what inspired us to launch the South Asian Philanthropy Project. I find that even here in Canada, where we do have the AFP, professional fundraising is not as mature as in the US. Definitely a key factor.


  1. Philanthropy: Cash or Cows? « The South Asian Philanthropy Project
  2. Bain & Co. Report on Philanthropy in India « The South Asian Philanthropy Project
  3. More wealth in India leads to more giving « The South Asian Philanthropy Project
  4. International philanthropists to watch – Azim Premji « The South Asian Philanthropy Project

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