Cambridge University gets new centre to evaluate Indian philanthropy

Aditi Khanna

London, Jun 24 (PTI) The University of Cambridge Judge Business School on Wednesday announced the creation of a new centre to examine the strategic philanthropy within and from India, as well as the world’s other high-growth markets.

The new Centre for Strategic Philanthropy is timed as the role of welfare-oriented charitable giving in building social and environmental resilience is seen as increasingly essential.

It aims to become the world’s leading hub of actionable knowledge to catalyse even greater philanthropic impact from the fastest-growth regions of the world, through a combination of rigorous research, executive education and the convening of diverse stakeholders.

“Today, well over a trillion dollars of private philanthropic capital, more than triple the annual global development and humanitarian aid budgets combined, is deployed every single year,” said Badr Jafar, Founding Patron of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.

“The evidence is also overwhelming that India and the world’s other emerging economies are becoming an increasingly powerful source of philanthropic capital and social innovation. With the impending generational transition taking place around the world, it is crucial to properly understand the diverse approaches to philanthropy that exist in these markets, and the local and regional factors that have shaped them,” he said.

Jafar believes transparency, technology and evolving attitudes toward wealth are reshaping donors' approaches to giving worldwide.

“We will likely fail to address the myriad of challenges on the global agenda over the next decade without making a much greater effort to connect, exchange ideas and partner with strategic philanthropists from India and the world’s fastest growing regions,” he added.

The new Centre will work with relevant institutions and practitioners across Asia, Africa and the Middle East and other regions in order to encourage collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and insights.

India already has a strong tradition of giving, as noted by the ‘India Philanthropy Report 2019’ from Dasra and Bain & Company, which found that private funding grew at 15 per cent between the 2014 and 2018 financial years, higher than the 10 per cent growth seen in public funding.

Professor Stephen J. Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “Our planet faces growing challenges. Climate change – threats to water and food supplies, threats to our ecology and biodiversity – growing political division, war and infectious disease.

“Global philanthropic capital must be used effectively and for maximum impact to improve our society, and the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy is very well-positioned to champion these efforts.” The Centre has announced that one of its first research projects, expected to be completed in autumn 2020, is examining responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by philanthropists and foundations in India and other high-growth markets.

Specifically, the study will consider whether there has been a measurable shift in focus and investment towards specific geographies, such as low-income countries, and towards specific sectors, such as healthcare, in response to the pandemic.

It will also consider the extent to which donors have increased or decreased the size of their donations, or made changes to the typical length and conditionality of their grants – including moving to unrestricted funding – over the same period.

“The Centre will aim to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners in philanthropy. We hope to be able to offset the significant dearth of research in this field and help improve the transformational impact that philanthropy can achieve, when at its most creative,” said Dr Kamal Munir, the Centre’s Academic Director.

The Centre’s other research projects that are underway include a comprehensive analysis of existing research related to philanthropy in the world’s high-growth markets to understand what is already known on the subject, and a practical needs assessment being conducted in direct consultation with philanthropic practitioners, academics and other stakeholders on the ground in the world’s fastest growing regions. Clare Woodcraft, Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy, added: “Around the world, philanthropy is mobilising to fund measures against Covid-19. Such efforts are more important than ever with the pandemic threatening to wipe trillions off the global economy.

“But faced with such wicked problems, funding, while necessary, is just the starting point. Global giving needs to be effective, measurably impactful, and scalable if entrenched global problems such as pandemics are to be successfully tackled.” Strategic philanthropy is a term used to describe any form of impact-driven giving that is evidence-based and uses creative planning, agile execution and diligent follow-through in order to achieve intended results.

It encompasses a wide range of practices from traditional grant making through to newer models for generating impact such as venture philanthropy. PTI AK RUP RUP