Strategic Philanthropy | March 06, 2020

Domestic philanthropic capital invested in the most vulnerable populations, sectors and geographies can accelerate India’s sustainable development

Mumbai, 29 February, 2020: Today, renowned philanthropists and development sector experts Gagan Sethi (Janvikas and Centre for Social Justice), Srikanth Viswanathan (Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, Trust), Apar Gupta (Internet Freedom Foundation), Rohini Nilekani, Paresh Parasnis (Piramal Foundation) amongst others presented a case for focusing on vulnerable geographies, populations and sectors to accelerate India’s performance on global Sustainable Development Goals index (SDG index) at Dasra Philanthropy Week 2020 . They along with XX government representatives, academics, funders, corporates, development sector professionals participated in the eleventh edition of Dasra Philanthropy Week 2020. The gathering hosted by Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organization, focused on climate change, urban transformation, technology and adolescents empowerment spotlighting the need to reach the furthest behind first.


Making the case for Vulnerabilities


“Philanthropic efforts have been critical in improving India’s performance on multiple development indicators. However, when we go deeper and move beyond national averages, it is clear that significant pockets of vulnerable populations still require support. By focusing on these populations and driving work at a systems level, a massive untapped opportunity exists for philanthropist to transform India where a billion thrive with dignity and equity,” said Deval Sanghavi, co-Founder of Dasra, a strategic philanthropic organization.


The India Philanthropy Report (IPR), co-created by Bain & Company and Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organization, indicated philanthropic funding in India has grown from INR 12.5K crore in 2010 to INR 55K crore in 2018; with the share of individual contributions growing from 26% to 60% of the total private funding. The report identifies segments that pose deep-rooted systemic challenges on the following dimensions of vulnerabilities


  1. Investment in vulnerable geographies
  2. Investment in vulnerable population
  3. Investment in vulnerable sectors


IPR 2020 makes a case for philanthropy to focus on the most vulnerable by considering the need and opportunity for investing in Aspirational Districts (Vulnerable Geographies), Adolescents (Vulnerable Populations), and Sanitation (Vulnerable Sector). 


Vulnerable geographies – Investment in the aspirational districts




Enable success of the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme’ (TADP) that improves the performance of 117 districts by focusing on five parameters: health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure.




So far, approximately 60% of aspirational districts have shown 0.5% to 4% higher growth in per capita income.

(Early indications of social and economic returns on investment, combined with government support towards India’s aspirational districts, make a case for philanthropy to invest more catalytic capital for systemic and sustainable development of India’s vulnerable geographies according to India Philanthropy Report 2020)


Vulnerable population- Investment in the education of adolescent girls




INR 11K crore investment annually for all out-of-school girls in the 11-18 age group to complete secondary education




5X boost expected in GDP per annum


Vulnerable Sector- Investment in the sewage water treatment




INR 8-12K crore investment in sewage treatment over the next five years




An estimated INR 237K crore addition to the annual GDP through improvements in health and other indicators


Collaborative Action for SDGs 2030: An urgent necessity


Pritha Venkatachalam, Partner, Bridgespan Group  said, “We have been studying various collaboratives in India at Bridgespan. We need to drive collaboratives which can help to scale, amplify impact and provide risk capital."


According to SDG Global Index 2019, India faces challenges in achieving almost all SDGs and ranks 115th among 162 countries in terms of SDG performance. NITI Aayog’s SDG India index also reveals significant regional and sector specific challenges in critical SDGs related to poverty, hunger and gender inequality. The sheer scale of challenges faced by India, in terms of achieving SDG 2030 targets, demands collective action.


“The social sector has a unique advantage by way of cross-learning from other models – whether they are models of healthcare or community engagement– in order to take a more holistic approach to the same problems. It is important to recognize that you're not the only one facing these challenges, and others could have solutions to the same challenges,” said Aakash Sethi from Quest Alliance which is a part of 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative (DAC), a high-impact platform that unites social organizations, funders, technical experts and the government to empower and positively impact the lives of millions of adolescents.  Aakash further added, “We are witnessing a rise in collaborative platforms that bring together funders, government, non-profits, foundations and researchers in order to accelerate developmental outcomes in specific social issues.”


The report ‘Collaborative Pathways’ with insights and learning from multi-stakeholder collaboratives was also launched at Dasra Philanthropy Week 2020. The report co-created by Dasra and Bank of America Meryll Lynch (BAML) documents learnings from the creation of 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative (DAC). Collaboratives can be one way to accelerate India’s SDG performance as country’s developmental challenges cannot be tackled by one organization alone.


About Dasra

Dasra, meaning ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, is a pioneering strategic philanthropy 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, non-profits, social businesses, government and media). Over the years, Dasra has deepened social impact in focused fields that include Adolescents, Urban Sanitation and Democracy and Governance, and has built social capital by leading a strategic philanthropy movement in the country. For more information, visit

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