Candid, a non-profit that tracks and analyses global philanthropic funding, has been following Covid-19 relief over the past year. A report released in March 2020 found that more than $20 billion was pledged to pandemic support in 2020.

In 2021, it expanded its focus to look specifically at India, launching a Philanthropy in India database in partnership with Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University in February. In addition to tracking dollars donated, the database has also aggregated stories of giving and need in India.

After successful mitigation of Covid during the pandemic’s first year by social distancing and lockdown measures, India began facing a horrific second wave this April.

The country’s death toll has surpassed a quarter-million by official tallies, and currently accounts for 30 percent of Covid-19 deaths worldwide. On Tuesday this week, the country recorded the world’s highest daily death toll with 4,529 deaths according to authorities. Experts believe that the true number of deaths and infections in India is even higher than reported.

For foundations within India facing the crisis, philanthropies have been moving swiftly to respond. According to Natasha Joshi at Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, their foundation has told partners they can repurpose grants to meet the physical and mental well-being needs of their communities. The EdelGive Foundation in Mumbai has offered similar flexibility and support to their grantees.

Tata Trusts in India have been working extensively through the pandemic to support Covid relief, ranging from assistance for healthcare to migrant workers to remote education. According to Candid, Tata Trusts was one of the biggest Indian funders of Covid relief in India last year – with grants from Tata Trusts and the Azim Premji Foundation making up half of total funding pledged in response to the pandemic in 2020.

Azim Premji, the philanthropist behind the eponymous foundation, pledged to donate $3 million every day during India’s lockdown – so far he has given over $1 billion and earned the title ‘most generous Indian’ from a number of publications.

There has also been a surge of organised, community-driven relief work, both for individual, corporate, and philanthropic giving. Venture philanthropy fund Dasra and NGO Indiaspora, together with Indian organisations, have been raising funds for relief work – so far $2.9 million has been donated.

Read the full article about philanthropic response to India's COVID-19 crisis by Elika Roohi at Alliance Magazine.