Inter-Gen and Now-Gen givers are green shoots of Indian philanthropy - Hindustan Times

Inter-Gen and Now-Gen givers are green shoots of Indian philanthropy

ByHindustan Times
Jun 26, 2023 04:06 PM IST

Authored by - Neera Nundy, co-founder and partner, Dasra, philanthropic foundation and Jyotirmoy Chatterji, head, GivingPi, family philanthropy focused network.

Philanthropy evolves alongside the social issues it aims to address, with each generation tackling the needs of their time. Family philanthropists have consistently taken big bets, funded the underfunded, and piloted innovative programmes to support the most marginalised.


Given the cascading effect of commodity price shocks, climate-related disasters, and the lingering effects of the pandemic, individuals and communities are fraught with vulnerabilities. This calls for collaborative action from the philanthropic ecosystem, particularly families, to play a catalytic role in building bridges between government, businesses, foundations, civil society, and communities to reimagine a resilient future for India.

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The India Philanthropy Report 2023, published by Bain & Company and Dasra, presents a case study on GivingPi, which reveals two emerging cohorts within family philanthropy - Inter-Gen and Now-Gen givers - who are reshaping the Indian philanthropy landscape by overcoming sector barriers with their disruptive mindsets. Inter-Gen givers comprise the current generation of traditional family philanthropists, while Now-Gen refers to professionals and entrepreneurs who are first generation wealth creators.

These cohorts are shifting towards a bolder aspiration of building a transformed and resilient India where no one is left behind. They are leveraging data, technology, and narrative building to make giving more effective, and are keen to nurture community resilience, strengthen philanthropic infrastructure, and build non-profit capacity. They are venturing into newer sectors of focus in addition to supporting historically preferred sectors such as education and health care.

Furthermore, they are adopting a systems-thinking and field-building approach, increasing the uptake of blended finance instruments and emphasising equity and inclusion in their giving.

Both cohorts are recognising the importance of a robust philanthropic infrastructure in unlocking greater funding for the social sector. Now-Gen donors are leading the charge, with 31% investing in ecosystem strengthening. Aspirations are shifting towards emerging investment areas, including capacity building of non-profits, innovative ways of giving, collaborative platforms, and insightful narratives that can influence social change.

Inter-Gen donors lead the way in applying a Gender, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) approach, with 33% investing in under-represented sectors like mental health and gender equality. Examples include Raj Mariwala’s efforts to make mental health care more accessible through Mariwala Health Initiative, Vidhi Shanghvi's Mann Talks that empowers individuals to take charge of their mental health, Rati and Riah Forbes’ efforts to improve the lives of historically marginalized groups and Sonal Sachdev Patel’s work at GMSP Foundation to support vulnerable communities. This cohort is also investing in emerging areas such as arts, culture, heritage and sports (19%) and livelihood enhancement and skill development (36%) with Sanjiv Saraf's Rekhta Foundation preserving Urdu language and literature, and Jalaj and Vita Dani’s efforts to improve grassroots sports. There is greater recognition of the importance of embedding a GEDI lens in their giving with 17% givers in both cohorts aspiring to make it a part of their future giving goals. Within GEDI, areas such as disability, mental health, focus on underserved communities and gender intentionality are becoming prominent.

Both Now-Gen and Inter-Gen donors are prioritising climate action, with 31% supporting areas such as wildlife conservation, water treatment, and renewable energy. They recognize the adverse cross-cutting impact of climate crisis across sectors and 15% of them aspire to invest more intentionally in climate solutions. Philanthropic families, including Nithin and Nikhil Kamath, Rohini Nilekani, Leena Dandekar and Aditi Kothari Desai are giving more intentionally to different areas within climate action. However, there is still significant headroom for philanthropy to elevate efforts in funding and strengthening the narrative for adaptation and community resilience in a sector that has primarily focused on mitigation.

The India Philanthropy Report 2023 reveals that both Inter-Gen and Now-Gen givers are open to adopting catalytic giving approaches, which are a combination of being open to learning and sharing knowledge, providing unrestricted funding, and collaborating with stakeholders. Examples include Harish, Bina and Amira Shah’s commitment to unrestricted giving, and Ronnie and Zarina Screwvala’s holistic approach to transforming rural villages. More than 70% of givers displayed high or medium catalytic giving potential, indicating a greater appetite for investing in pooled funding vehicles and cross-learning opportunities. Philanthropic intermediaries have a crucial role in building evidence-based narratives and facilitating greater incorporation towards this approach. One such example is ACT Grants, which is forging partnerships between the VC, start-up, tech ecosystems and India’s social impact sector to invest in bold solutions and unlock social change at scale.

In the evolving landscape of Indian philanthropy, it is clear that Inter-Gen and Now-Gen donors are leading the charge in reshaping giving. They are disrupting the status quo with their innovative approaches and focus on inter-connected domains such as GEDI, climate action, and ecosystem strengthening.

While the burden of social sector funding in India is still heavily carried by the government, positive directional shifts witnessed among these dynamic cohorts offer a roadmap for the wider philanthropic community to invest in philanthropy ecosystems through innovation, research, and institution building, deepen impact for the most vulnerable with GEDI and strengthen climate action with a focus on adaptation and community resilience.

With India@100 on the horizon and Inter-Gen and Now-Gen givers leading the way, we have an opportunity to unleash a new era of bold and innovative philanthropy to build a resilient India where no one is left behind.

Authored by - Neera Nundy, co-founder and partner, Dasra, philanthropic foundation and Jyotirmoy Chatterji, head, GivingPi, family philanthropy focused network.

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