In January 2019, The Life You Can Save’s Executive Director, Charlie Bresler, visited India to facilitate Effective Giving Workshops with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Managers, Indian philanthropists, and High Net Worth Individuals.
Introducing High Impact Philanthropy (HIP)
These events mark the launch of High Impact Philanthropy (HIP), a partnership initiative between The Life You Can Save and Samhita Social Ventures, a leading corporate social responsibility organization in India. Samhita provides guidance to companies on effective strategies that further their responsibilities to invest a certain percentage of their profits in social and environmental development.
The mission of High Impact Philanthropy is to engage and empower Indian corporations, foundations, and individual donors to support evidence-backed, highly effective interventions and nonprofits. High Impact Philanthropy differentiates their approach from their peers by emphasizing the incorporation of evidence and research into giving, in addition to examining the credibility and capacity of nonprofits.
This initiative has the potential to be hugely impactful. Philanthropic ecosystems are thriving in India. A 2017 report found that the total funds contributed to the development sector there has grown by nine percent in the last five years, with private donations making up 32 percent of this total. In a country with 28 percent of the population under the poverty line, these factors, combined with a regulatory climate obligating a percentage of corporate to charitable giving, make the role of High Impact Philanthropy in promoting effective giving a timely and much-needed initiative.
Alongside the High Impact Philanthropy team, Charlie and the High Impact Philanthropy Team conducted philanthropy education workshops in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad. The events were organized in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the US India Strategic Partnerships Forum, the Confederation of Indian Industries, and Social Venture Partners.
The workshops introduced and encouraged participants to apply the core principles underlying impactful, informed and intentional giving, presented how these could be incorporated into the exercise of CSR strategy, introduced effective charities which have funding gaps, and collected feedback on Giving Games to inform future corporate engagement. Sessions began with Charlie speaking about his experience in applying business acumen to the nonprofit sector and the advantages that can be gained by approaching charitable giving as a strategic investment with social returns. He aspired to seed the concepts of cost-effectiveness and use of data and evidence in poverty program design, and the drawbacks and consequences of the Overhead Myth. Giving Games were then run, with participants learning about and comparing the relative merits of Development Media International, Village Enterprise, and Playpumps International.
As mentioned above, a core objective was to solicit feedback from participants on refining and tailoring content for future workshops to suit an Indian audience, specifically CSR Managers, philanthropists, and High Net Worth Individuals. When designing the program, the team contextualized several aspects of the framework to the Indian philanthropic ecosystem. Non-profits operating primarily outside of India were selected to increase the potential of neutrality in preferences based on participants’ previous experiences in the non-profit sector. We featured two effective charities and one ineffective charity and encouraged participants to cast a preliminary vote to highlight how one’s perceptions may change when given further information on a nonprofit’s work and impact. Facilitators found that participants ultimately voted for the most effective charities from the featured organizations.
The majority of participants already had an understanding of development interventions and the philanthropic ecosystem in India. Their expertise led to discussions on how cost-effectiveness and evidence of impact intersect with personal motivations for charitable giving, the importance of an organization’s scalability, what value should be placed on the existing reputation of a non-profit in the philanthropic ecosystem, and efficient program design. This highlighted to our team the need to clarify in our Giving Game materials that cost-effectiveness and a solid evidence base are part of a bundle of considerations with varying degree of weight in decision-making processes.
In the coming months, High Impact Philanthropy will develop an India-specific portfolio of effective interventions, organizations, and their existing funding gaps. They will follow up and, as requested, provide advisory services to the corporations which engaged in this round of workshops. With collaboration and consultation of the Giving Games team, High Impact Philanthropy will additionally tailor Giving Games to engage stakeholders within companies, educational institutions, and philanthropic foundations. We are also exploring collaborations with stakeholders based in institutions in India who focus primarily upon youth-based education, in recognition of the role the young play in business management. For any questions, please contact [email protected].