HSBC India, Dasra join hands to enable India’s non-profit sector to sustain through COVID

Strategic Philanthropy | July 14, 2020

*150 NGO leaders join set of webinars

*41% of non-profits are caught in the twin-problem of low impact and weak resilience, while another ~31% are vulnerable to high exposure unless immediate and sustainable actions are taken


Mumbai, July 09, 2020: HSBC India in collaboration with Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organization, hosted a set of webinars recently, the first of a series, with the goal of providing a community platform to non-profit leaders to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis.

The workshop was designed exclusively for the partners supported by HSBC India. As many as 150 NGO leaders, programme and finance heads from 50 organisations, participated and represented social issues ranging from environmental protection agencies to gender equity and skilling organisations. The series focused on two central themes—building institutional resilience and optimising impact—in guiding the conversation where leaders spoke about the challenges in achieving impact during a deteriorating financial and grant-making environment.

Aloka Majumdar, Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC India, said, “It is clear that the non-profit sector is playing an absolutely critical role during this pandemic. Yet, the sector is also facing its own set of severe challenges. At HSBC India, we work with a very large number of non-profits and therefore felt it was imperative to engage deeply with them to understand their concerns around financials, people, and risks and provide them the tools to navigate this crisis.”

Dasra applied its ResiLens Toolkit to create personalised risk-assessments on key institutional and programmatic parameters for all participating organisations.

This threw up some interesting results. The assessment revealed that ~50% of these organisations were optimizing impact efficiently and working actively to sustain their financial resilience. However, 71% of organizations are heavily dependent on foreign funds and/or CSR funds that are tied to corporate profits and hence likely to reduce on the whole.

“Planning bold steps early is the single most important thing that non-profit organisations and the overall social sector can do in a time of crisis. In order to combat the dual issue of core competency and cost-effectiveness, multiple stakeholders, especially board members, must be in alignment with these bold decisions," noted Anant Bhagwati, Director, Capacity Building and Expertise, Dasra.

As organisations go through waves of transformation, caused by unpredictable circumstances and an ever-changing environment, the ability to navigate these waves requires both an impact equity and non-linearity lens. Real change cannot be achieved without reaching the largest number of most vulnerable populations as efficiently as possible, and ensuring that their critical needs receive the voice they deserve. Although ~80% of respondents believe they have a comprehensive equity lens, only 1 in 3 non-profit organizations feel they have reached non-linearity in their operations.

With these current challenges facing both institutional and programmatic capacity building, speed, agility, and a focus on outcomes is what all organisations need to make part of their DNA so they can be more efficient and effective in these times. Together, HSBC and Dasra suggested specific action plans for non-profit organisation leaders that must be sustained for at least a year or more, so that organisations emerge from the crisis not just surviving, but thriving:

  • Internal alignment with the board and organisation on bold actions, ensuring an element of transparency and communication
  • Setting up a COVID-19 resilience task force
  • Pivoting to weekly review of core financials
  • Clarifying non-negotiables

For more information, please contact:

Kunal Pradhan - Richa Patel -


About Dasra

Dasra, meaning ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, is a pioneering strategic philanthropic organization that aims for a transformed 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, non-profits, social businesses, government and media). Over the years, Dasra has engaged with 500 philanthropists, corporates and foundations, published 22 research reports in diverse fields and directed over US$34 Million in strategic funding to the sector.

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