A future back, outcome-based pragmatic approach and collaborative investment are key mindsets emerging among givers

Strategic Philanthropy | February 24, 2018

An upcoming generation of strategic givers in India reveal four key mindsets to make giving more strategic and impactful.

Mumbai - February 24, 2018: A "future-back," outcome-based pragmatic approach and collaborative investment are some of the key mindsets that have emerged among givers in India, according to Bain & Company's India Philanthropy Report 2018 - Understanding tomorrow's strategic givers, released today.

The report, developed in collaboration with Dasra, seeks to explore how philanthropists can give more effectively to optimize the impact of their giving and help them reach their full philanthropic potential.

The eight annual report comes at a time when an increasing number of philanthropists are joining the cadre of structured and strategic philanthropy in India, irrespective of their quantum of giving and it brings up some thought-provoking insights.

In-depth interviews with more than 33 philanthropists revealed four key complimentary, yet critical mindsets which, if embraced, can help givers realize their full philanthropic potential. The report begins by breaking down these four mindsets, articulating steps each donor can take to strengthen these mindsets, and illustrating real life examples of philanthropists who have successfully done so.

Anant Bhagwati, partner Bain & Company and co-author of the report said, "Our engagement with the givers revealed that adoption of four key mindsets can make giving more strategic and impactful. We believe that a combination of "today forward" and "future back" mindsets, which is both complimentary and critical, will enhance the effectiveness of the donors in the long run, benefiting the philanthropic ecosystem as a whole. We also advocate applying more structure to the journey of philanthropy, as also to define goalposts, to include inputs, outputs and long-term outcomes for the end beneficiary. Besides, we feel that philanthropists benefit from collaboration by accessing greater resources, building knowledge and learning best practices thereby achieving a wide variety of goals whilst effectively managing their own time and resources."

The four key mindsets that were revealed through case studies and in-depth interviews to achieve full philanthropic potential are:

  • Embracing not only a ‘today forward' approach but also a ‘future back' lens to planning one's philanthropic journey;
  • Appreciating the importance of both the heart and the mind in making philanthropic decisions;
  • Focusing not only on inputs but also outcomes to assess the effectiveness of one's philanthropy;
  • Going beyond a funding-only role to becoming an active and collaborative investor

Today forward" is a step-by-step approach that starts with the status quo and builds incrementally from there. By contrast, the "future back" approach starts with a vision of the future state and works backward. According to the report, several interviewees expressed a strong commitment to certain causes and spoke about their contribution of funds as a key element of their philanthropy. However, only a few went on to articulate a clear and bold vision based on which their philanthropic plan was designed.

Deval Sanghavi, co-founder of Dasra and one of the co-authors said, "Philanthropy is and will always be very personal. It is this emotional connection that drives people to give, and must therefore be preserved. But the complexity and scale of issues in India, the speed at which we need to effect sustainable change, urges philanthropists to go beyond personal satisfaction and think of impact first. It is absolutely possible, and that is what this report highlights through insights from philanthropists who have embraced a more strategic form of philanthropy, early in their giving journey, and have found it rewarding in every way."

The majority of donors interviewed, contribute on average USD 15,000 to 75,000 per annum to philanthropy, with some contributing more than USD 765,000. This spectrum was chosen deliberately to highlight examples that are relatable to givers who are only beginning to think about or practice strategic philanthropy. These set of philanthropists are often first generation givers, owning decisions around their philanthropy. Most of them have chosen to give to existing non-profits on the ground and are in fact investing in multiple organizations simultaneously.

Arpan Sheth, partner, Bain & Company and a co-author said: "In a country where more than 35 percent of the population lacks access to a private toilet, and where 1.08 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2016, there is a need for individuals not only to contribute more but also ensure that its strategic enough to move the needle on key social development indicators. By highlighting insights through case studies of this newer cohort of philanthropists we hope many more will be inspired to take the leap into giving in an ambitious yet strategic manner, to contribute towards a transformed India, where 1.3 billion Indians can thrive with dignity and equity."

On philanthropic vision for 2020, the majority of those interviewed defined it in terms of increasing philanthropic inputs and only 40 percent of responses pertained to scale and impact. The report also found that less than 50 percent conduct a portfolio review at least once a year and only 30 percent do it more than once a year. About 80 percent engaged in activities to amplify philanthropic impact beyond giving.

This report focuses on the philanthropists who have already begun their giving journeys and are now strategically exploring or revisiting questions such as: How has my giving made a difference? How can I achieve the desired change? While there is no "right" way to give, philanthropists can achieve their full potential by actively navigating such questions and following a well-thought out path to answering them. This report attempts to uncover learnings and replicable best practices to help them along this path, along with laying out a practical set of actions to guide their journey towards more strategic giving.

About Bain and Company India

Bain's clients in the Indian consulting practice include large Indian corporates and MNCs across sectors, besides private equity firms. Our project experience includes growth strategy, M&A/due diligence, post?merger integration, organizational redesign, market entry, full potential transformation, customer strategy and profit improvement. Bain's robust analytic tool kit and fact?based approach enables it to deliver innovative and pragmatic strategies that create value. Many of our clients are Indian promoter?led companies and a number of our clients come back to us for further work, given our results track record. We have three consulting offices across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. For More information visit: Follow us on Twitter @BainIndia

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About Dasra

Dasra meaning ‘enlightened giving' in Sanskrit, is a pioneering strategic philanthropic organization that aims to transform India where a billion thrive with dignity and equity. Since its inception in 1999, Dasra has accelerated social change by driving collaborative action through powerful partnerships among a trust-based network of stakeholders (corporates, foundations, families, nonprofits, social businesses, government and media). Over the years, Dasra has deepened social impact in focused fields that include adolescents, urban sanitation and governance and has built social capital by leading a strategic philanthropy movement in the country. For more information, visit

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