From Strategic to Structured Philanthropy – Highlights of Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2018


The 2017 report highlighted the growing importance of individual givers in India’s philanthropic landscape and defined what constitutes “strategic giving.” The 2018 report, developed in collaboration with Dasra, goes a step further to explore how philanthropists can give more effectively to increase the impact of their giving. But more importantly, it marks an inspiring stage for philanthropy in India, where an increasing number of philanthropists are joining the cadre of structured and strategic philanthropy, irrespective of their quantum of giving.

Giving in itself is a noble act regardless of the motivation or approach. It can be one of the most personally rewarding experiences. However, the seriousness, scale and complexity of India’s social problems require philanthropists to go beyond personal satisfaction.

Between 2004 and 2015, India recorded 2.24 million crimes against women, and 1.08 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2017 alone. These ongoing problems underscore the need for individuals not only to contribute greater resources but also to ensure that their contributions are strategic enough to have a marked effect on key social development indicators.

Fortunately, a growing number of philanthropists in India are beginning to act upon this need. This report focuses on the philanthropists who have already begun their giving journeys and are now strategically exploring or revisiting questions such as: How has my giving made a difference? How can I achieve the desired change? Whilst there is no single right way to give, philanthropists can achieve their full potential by contemplating those questions and seeking a path to answering them. This report attempts to uncover lessons and best practices to help them on their path.

In-depth interviews with more than 30 philanthropists revealed four key mindsets that, if embraced, can help givers realize their full philanthropic potential. The report begins by breaking down these four mindsets, articulating steps each donor can take to strengthen these mindsets and illustrating real-life examples of philanthropists who have successfully done so.

It is worth noting that the philanthropists profiled in this report are newer to philanthropy than those showcased in the 2017 report. They are often first-generation givers who make their own decisions about their philanthropy. Most of them have chosen to give to existing nonprofits in India and are in fact investing in multiple organizations simultaneously.

The report highlights the insights of this new cohort with case studies in the hope that many more will be inspired to take the leap into giving in an ambitious yet strategic manner and to contribute towards a transformed India, where 1.3 billion Indians can thrive with dignity and equity.

Current landscape: Understanding the mindsets of strategic givers

This edition showcases interviews of 33 Indian donors to understand the behaviors and mindsets that allow givers to move forward in their philanthropic journey. This group includes philanthropists at different stages of their giving journey, mostly involved in entrepreneurial or family ventures.

The majority of donors interviewed contribute on average USD 15,000 to 75,000 per annum to philanthropy, with some contributing more than USD 765,000. This spectrum was chosen deliberately to highlight examples that are relatable to givers who are only beginning to think about or practice strategic philanthropy.

The interviews revealed four mindsets that, if adopted, can enable full philanthropic potential:

  • Embracing not only a “today forward” approach but also a “future back” lens to planning one’s philanthropic journey;
  • Appreciating the importance of both the heart and the mind in making philanthropic decisions;
  • Focusing not only on inputs but also outcomes to assess the effectiveness of one’s philanthropy; and
  • Going beyond a funding-only role to becoming an active and collaborative investor.

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