Philanthropy Revisited - Strategic Giving in Asia

Event Recap: Philanthropy Revisited - Strategic Giving in Asia

(L-R) Ruth Shapiro, Ajay Piramal, Jamshyd Godrej, Hari Menon

On Thursday, 9 August 2018, Asia Society India Centre hosted Mr Ajay Piramal, Mr Jamshyd Godrej, Ms Ruth Shapiro, and Mr Hari Menon for a panel discussion about strategic philanthropy and private social investments in India. The conversation discussed the inaugural Doing Good Index 2018, drafted by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, or CAPS, Hong Kong.

Ms. Shapiro began her presentation by saying that throughout Asia, there is a profound trust deficit, especially in India, which is discouraging the flow of philanthropy. She added that India has the highest number of non profit organisations per capita but only 59% of these organisations have board members with corporate experience, and that regulations and laws are confusing and difficult to understand. Since the tax benefit for non profits is only 50%, companies that do not qualify as per the CSR law are barely incentivised to contribute to philanthropy.

Mr. Piramal said that he felt a palpable change in the growth of philanthropy, and that the CSR law had a tremendous impact. Both Mr Piramal and Mr Godrej spoke about the the culture of philanthropy that they were born and raised in, and how that has inspired them and driven them to philanthropy. Mr Godrej added that he has witnessed a lot of young people today interested in philanthropy, which is unprecedented.

While drawing on their personal experiences, Mr Piramal emphasised working in partnership with the government to effect change right from the grassroot level, across primary sectors like health and education. Mr Godrej pointed out that we often overlook CSR’s role in conservation, sustainability, and the environment, which is essential in order to maintain balanced growth. He further added, that there has to be a business case for companies to encourage them to invest in philanthropic activities.

In closing, when asked why they personally practice philanthropy, Mr Godrej said that it stems from the inner belief that you can make a difference, and Mr Piramal spoke about the satisfaction that changing lives gives you. Mr Hari Menon concluded the discussion by adding that institutions which can enable the growth of philanthropy must be supported, and that knowledge platforms are required for philanthropists to learn from each other.

Watch the full programme here:

As reported by Aditi Mukund, Programme Intern at Asia Society India Centre.