Indian philanthropists launch network to catalyse giving

GivingPi aims to have 5,000 families directing $1bn annually to social causes in India by 2030.

Leading Indian philanthropists have come together to launch a network to encourage more and better family giving to help accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GivingPi - an invitation-only network for families giving at least US$64,000 annually - is looking to foster peer learning and engagement, support innovative investments, and catalyse funding to sharpen the impact of Indian family philanthropy.

It plans to do this through masterclasses, convenings, networking sessions and a digital magazine, to inform and inspire givers, and create trusted connections with NGOs and other nonprofit actors. Members can be based either in India or abroad, but only those committed to supporting causes in India are eligible to join.

The network, which is being incubated as an independent initiative by Dasra, an India-based nonprofit social change accelerator, has also received seed funding from Ashish and Manisha Dhawan, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Skoll Foundation.  

“The pandemic has signified the need for the reinvention of Indian philanthropy, focused on flexible and quick funding through creative approaches,” explained Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani, a GivingPi Founders Circle member.

The other Founders Circle members are: Nisaba Godrej, of Godrej Consumer Products; Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of Zerodha and True Beacon, tech entrepreneur Rajan Navani, US-based philanthropist Sunny (Gurpreet) Singh, and Tara Singh Vachani, of Max India Foundation.

"The pandemic has signified the need for the reinvention of Indian philanthropy."

Rohini Nilekani, Indian philanthropist

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India has 142 billionaires, but poverty and social deprivation rates remain high. Photo: Getty Images.

"We are on this journey together to accelerate and bring in the change that we wish to see."

Rajan Navani, Indian philanthropist

India currently has 142 billionaires and nearly 7,000 Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) and thanks to economic growth in recent years, the country is enjoying much improved levels of human development.

But many challenges remain. Malnutrition rates are high (more than one third of Indian children are stunted), educational outcomes are low (less than half of children in grade three can read a grade one text), and millions still live in slums with limited access to basic services such as sanitation and healthcare.

Indian family philanthropies already give generously to support social causes across the country and the government has recently tightened legislation mandating all companies to allocate at least 2 percent of their average net profits towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

GivingPi says it wants to build on this generosity to deliver the most impact possible. It wants to leverage the power of patient family capital to take on systemic issues and tackle under-resourced problems, regions, and communities, which are often overlooked due to being higher risk and slower to show results.

By 2030, the network says it wants to be India’s largest family philanthropy network with 5,000 members who together give $1bn to social causes in India every year.

“Families are powerful constructs for driving social change and their giving gets overshadowed by CSR,” explains, Neera Nundy, Co-Founder, Dasra. “It has tremendous potential that once unleashed can be transformative for India’s development.”

GivingPi, Founders Circle member, Rajan Navani, founder and CEO of JetSynthesys, a leading digital entertainment and technology company, added: “It is the need of the hour to grow India’s giving pie and we are on this journey together to accelerate and bring in the change that we wish to see.”

Since the network launched in July 2022, some 120 families have signed up. Jyotirmoy Chatterji, associate director at Dasra and head of GivingPi, said the aim of the initiative was to “unleash the power of family philanthropy towards shaping a poverty free and inclusive India where no one is left behind”. - PA