In the last two decades, Dasra has helped many families, foundations and philanthropists build their giving roadmap, acknowledging that every giver is unique in the impact they seek to create and the philanthropic journey they want to undertake. What is common is a set of questions that remain key for each giver to reflect upon and identify their unique path. Get started with the Philanthropy Roadmap- a handbook created by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Dasra that shares these fundamental questions along with insights from philanthropists giving to India.
This article elucidates questions from the Philanthropy Roadmap through the case of one philanthropist investing in India’s development- Pravin Gandhi, a venture capitalist and the Founding Partner of Seed Fund.
Question: What are the key motivations behind your giving?
Pravin Gandhi: I was brought up in a Gandhian family that emphasized that if one was managing money, it should benefit society. Thus in 2001, I branched out from being a venture capitalist and began impact investing.
My philanthropy stemmed from similar values but the main impetus was the chance to solve a key problem. Through my association with White board, a strategic advisory platform that mentors NGOs on achieving short and long-term goals, I had closely witnessed how the work of NGOs is deterred by the struggle to raise funds. And while there were multiple NGOs working in an area, the impact was significantly limited due to duplication of efforts. I therefore wanted to find ways for organizations to collaborate and sustain their collective work in an area.
Question: How did you define what you wanted to achieve and set your goals?
Pravin Gandhi: I began with the broader vision of wanting to facilitate collaborations among NGOs. The idea was to remain sector-agnostic but I had to start somewhere. I narrowed down the focus to a few NGOs working in select sectors like health and education. I did research and involved intermediaries like Dasra to give me a better understanding of various models and joint programs in the sector, and how I could contribute towards scaling them up.
Of the three NGOs that we shortlisted, I decided to make an exploratory grant to Naz Foundation to scale up one of its community-based collaborative programs, and through this learn more about the potential of the model as well as how it can be achieved.
Question: What is your planned approach to realizing your philanthropic vision, and what do you see yourself bringing to the same?
Pravin Gandhi: While my approach is still evolving, I am clear about going the route of building collaborations among non-profits to scale impact. To execute this vision in the case of Naz for instance, I have committed to both funding and non-funding support. The latter would include helping Naz Foundation build an efficient partnership strategy and conduct diligence to select the right partners. I also firmly believe that technology can act as an effective enabler for partnerships, shared learning and collaborations, and am working towards setting up a shared services platform that would provide support to all collaborations happening in the sector.
4. Donors often run the risk of funding “successful” programs that may not make an actual difference. It may be early days, but have you thought of measures to assess the impact of your philanthropic investments?
Pravin Gandhi: Since this grant will help pave the way for me to fund and scale other collaborative efforts, I plan to build strong quantitative and qualitative measures to assess the impact of my investment and leverage the learning to modify my future approach.
5. When and who do you seek to collaborate with in trying to realize your philanthropic vision?
Pravin Gandhi: I enrolled my friends and family to pitch in where required as well as used professional networks to ensure efficient execution of my goals. In the future, the shared services platform will also become a strong tool to facilitate collaborations between and for NGOs.
Like Pravin Gandhi, an increasing number of philanthropists are adopting a more structured and strategic form of philanthropy. There is wide recognition of the opportunity to impact a billion lives, and therefore of the need to make the most catalytic use of philanthropic capital if India needs to get on the road to sustainable, equitable development in the next 11 years.
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