If indeed charity does begin at home, philanthropy often begins with a lot of homework. And that’s just one difference between the act of a spontaneous and often emotional act of giving, and a sustained and strategic approach to supporting a cause. Along with the prep necessary for the latter is the need for organisational skills, knowhow—and sustained funding.
Both charity and philanthropy are driven by the desire to do good. Charity, though, may be directed towards an individual or a group. Philanthropy, derived from the Latin word for ‘love of humanity’, is typically aimed at the larger public good. The triggers for the two may be different. The emotions that drive charity tend to be guilt (of thriving in an unequal universe), sympathy (for those much less privileged than you) and anger (against the injustice you reckon is being meted out to a certain section of society). Philanthropy calls for more empathy than sympathy, although there may be common drivers for both.
In this special issue on India’s Next Wave of Philanthropy, the Forbes India team dives deep into a new set of super-rich families that are going beyond writing cheques to support causes like education, health and women’s empowerment from the grassroots. We also analyse new trends in giving and new approaches that combine funds and participation. As Radhika Bharat Ram of the KARM Fellowship tells Divya Shekhar, who helmed this philanthropy package, “Philanthropy is not just about giving resources, it’s about giving time.”
From Sarah and Ajit Isaac of the Isaac Foundation and Riah and Rati Forbes of the Forbes Foundation to Jalaj and Vita of the Dani family of Asian Paints, Polyplex founder Sanjiv Saraf’s Rekhta Foundation and the Kamath brothers of Zerodha fame, family philanthropy has spread its wings into newer areas, from climate action to culture preservation. A Dasra-Bain India co-created India Philanthropy Report 2022 points out that family philanthropy is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12 percent to 14 percent from fiscal year 2021 to 2026. If India’s rich and super-rich families were to give as per global benchmarks, an additional ₹160,000 crore to ₹170,000 crore could be unlocked for social causes and can be a significant force to bridge India’s inequities, write Neera Nundy and Jyotirmoy Chatterji of Dasra, a catalyst for strategic philanthropy.
A recent report by the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University points out that religious organisations were the most preferred recipients of household giving. That would be inevitable in a devout society that India is but, as Naandika Tripathi writes, such charity is often clouded in opacity and lack of transparency. For more on how religious philanthropy can help in societal improvement and change, ‘Giving on a Prayer’ is a must read.
The study also suggests that beggars are the second-most preferred recipient of household giving. Which brings us back to the charity vs philanthropy distinction. As Rati Forbes, head of the Forbes Foundation of the Forbes Marshall group, quotes eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to tell Benu Joshi Routh: “Charity is inherently not self-sustaining… philanthropy is a desire to improve the state of humanity and the world.” For more on the Forbes Marshall way of giving, turn to ‘Deep Impact’.
But what if making the world a better place isn’t really your main driver for giving? No problem, if you are giving both time and money. As Luis Miranda and Nimisha Pathak of the Indian School of Public Policy write in ‘People Give For A Selfish Reason: To Feel Good’, “Let’s get comfortable with the fact that people give for a selfish reason… to get that warm glow… so go ahead and give. It will make you feel good.”
Editor, Forbes India
Twitter ID: @Brianc_Ed
(This story appears in the 10 March, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)