As we strive to rebuild from the aftermath of the pandemic, it is imperative for India’s philanthropic community to a new era of giving think about how we, as a society, are caring for our most vulnerable populations and make an intentional shift in funding organisations that work with the most marginalised communities – especially at the intersections of caste, class, ethnicity, disability, and gender – who have the greatest chance of falling through the cracks.

While unlocking greater family philanthropic capital in India is critical, it is not enough. Amid the ever-widening inequality gap, further orchestrated by Covid-19, the need for families to deliberately engage and approach giving in a way that enables dignity, equality and social justice for the most marginalised communities across India has never been more significant. Grantmaking practices need to be reflected and improved upon. The discourse and direction of mainstreaming family philanthropy should put social justice at its core. This means that families must start reflecting on their privileges and acting towards shifting the power dynamics that adversely affect communities on ground.

Towards unleashing a strategic philanthropy movement anchored by families, leading philanthropists in India and Dasra have launched GivingPi12 – India’s first and exclusive invite-only family philanthropy network focused on growing the philanthropy circle to ensure a transformed India, where a billion thrive with dignity and equity. By 2030, the network aims to be India’s largest family philanthropy network of 5,000 members, annually giving US$1 billion to social causes in India towards the audacious goal of #ABillionThriving.

The network is committed to creating a vibrant community of family philanthropists by supporting them in their giving journey, nurturing collaboration and growing family philanthropy for a developed nation. The network will provide philanthropy-focused offerings such as connections to credible NGOs and trusted philanthropy advisors, peer networking, theme-based learning, and collaborative funding opportunities while also mainstreaming the narrative around family philanthropy in India.

Through the last 22 years of experience in the Indian development sector, below are the insights and recommendations for families to rebuild a stronger, more equitable India.

Invest in building institutional resilience

Families must provide flexible capital to support partner organisations for strengthening their institutional backbones. Offering non-financial assets such as capacity building opportunities, resilience-building tools and advisory support are essential ways that can help build grantees’ organisational resilience.

Adopt a strong GEDI lens

This lens can be adopted in terms of funding decisions with grantee partners and increased incorporation of the GEDI lens within the culture and principles of grantmaking institutions.

Engage in “proximate giving” to support rural, localised, community-led efforts

Funders need to expand their focus beyond large, well established, city-based nonprofits to support more grassroots organisations that have the greatest proximity to vulnerable communities.

Participate in collaborative action

There is a fast-growing realisation that the magnitude and complexity of India’s development challenges necessitate large-scale collaborative action amongst multiple stakeholders. Joining forces with various allies to drive collective impact provides family philanthropists the opportunity to deepen their impact by leveraging greater resources, a wider network and more diverse skill sets.

Fostering listening as a core value

There is a growing need to analyse the status quo of practices followed by funders in India with regards to “listening” and building feedback loops with NGOs/communities. While we are witnessing some families being more intentional about putting their ears to the ground, we need to continue the upward momentum.

Unleashing an inspiring and audacious movement for strategic philanthropy led by families continues to be at the core of Dasra’s approach. As a sector, we need to focus on building a community of empathetic philanthropists who understand the needs of the most vulnerable communities, are willing to adopt bolder and newer approaches to giving, lead by example and learn from each other’s giving journeys. Families have a real opportunity to play a catalytic role in accelerating our progress to achieving the SDGs that can usher India on a new growth trajectory.

Excerpted with permission from “Transforming the Ways Families Give: How Dasra is steering family philanthropy towards building a stronger, more equitable India” by Neera Nundy, from A New Era of Giving: Reflections on Philanthropy for Social Justice, ISDM Centre for Philanthropy for Inclusive Development.