GiveIndia's mission & philosophy

Our mission

To promote efficient and effective giving that provides greater opportunities to the poor in India.

Our vision -

A strong "giving" culture where Indians donate 2% of their income every year to give the poor a chance. A vibrant "philanthropy marketplace" to ensure that the most efficient and effective nonprofits get access to the most resources.

Our beliefs and approaches -

Sacrifice -

we believe that every individual must 'give till it hurts', demonstrating the willingness to share one's fortunes with those less privileged.

Deserve our needs -

We believe that we need to earn our keep, rather than assume it is as a right. We need to give first and then ask in return.

Adding value -

We believe that we add value only when we do something that no one else is currently doing, or when we do it in a better way.

Passion -

GiveIndia believes that working with a 'burning desire' to make a difference, is the greatest motivator to do something meaningful.

First Principles Approach -

GiveIndia believes that we must do things because they make sense to do, and not simply because that is how everyone else does it. Blind faith is the enemy of all innovation.

Focus on the poorest -

All that GiveIndia does is directed towards improving the lives of our 'real customer'- the poorest of the poor.

Transparency and accountability -

As 'trustees' of tax payer resources, we believe in being proactively accountable and transparent in all that we do and to all our stakeholders.

The need for a "giving culture"

Underlying everything Givendia does is the belief that equity or "equal opportunity" is the cornerstone to civilization. Every human being must have roughly the same opportunity to succeed in life, irrespective of where or how s/he is born.

Unfortunately, this tends to not be true. The last two decades have witnessed a widening of the gap between the rich and poor in India. While the poor in India don't get a fair chance to succeed in life (lack of access to decent education, healthcare and livelihood opportunities), the well-off continue to enjoy benefits from a globalising economy- greater incomes, reducing taxes, 100% inheritance, etc. The net result is a ticking time-bomb of growing social unrest.

GiveIndia believes that a caring and sensitive well-to-do section can change this without waiting for the situation to explode. To quote Prof William Sundstrom, "?although the pursuit of distributive justice is often thought to require a political or collective response, we should not allow this to let us off the hook when it comes to personal morality. Each of us could probably afford to give much more to private, charitable efforts to alleviate poverty and suffering. Indeed, given the failure of our political leaders to provide anywhere near an adequate response, private action has become indispensable."

Two aspects of a "giving culture" contribute to making a difference-

[a] Greater sensitivity and caring
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Giving promotes heightened sensitivity among the givers. It forces us to be aware of the existence of the poor, acknowledge our own good fortune and creates a sense of duty towards those less fortunate.

[b] Availability of resources
If Indians gave back to society in the same proportion as Americans do, we could be donating Rs 60,000 crores a year to help those in need! As against this, all reasonable estimates of giving in India vary between Rs 1,000-5,000 crores p.a.

Rs 60,000 crores a year exceeds the government's own allocation of resources to education and healthcare.

The role of a "philanthropy marketplace"
Several studies indicate that people give more if they are convinced that their contributions are making a difference. To create a sustainable giving culture, one would therefore need to ensure that the donations are channeled efficiently to the most effective organizations. GiveIndia hopes to catalyze the creation of a "philanthropy marketplace" in India that will ensure that in the long term, resources do reach the most effective organizations in an efficient manner. Our Operating Model explains how we see this happen.

Footnotes: -

1 -

The Gini coefficient is a recognized metric to measure economic inequality. In a society where everyone is equal, the coefficient is 0, and where all the resources are held by 1 person, it will be 1. India's Gini coefficient has gone up from 0.32 in 1980 to 0.38 in 2000 (World Bank data). The NCAER Indian Market Demographics Report 2002 confirms that "During the post-reform period the rate of growth in the upper-income categories was much higher, compared to the corresponding decline in the size of the low-income class."

2 -

India has a zero inheritance tax, whereas most countries have taxes ranging from 7-60%. Inheritance taxes are an important aspect of any egalitarian society as it attempts to provide a "level playing field" to those who are not born in rich homes. For a comparison of international tax rates on inheritance, see


Also see "No death taxes for Lodha" at

3 -

4 -

The average well-to-do person in India is not just lucky to be "born in the right place", but is often subsidized by the poor!


See Who actually Paid for my education?- Atanu De for more.

5 -

Americans donated $250 billion in 2003, or 2.5% of their GDP. Bill Gates has given away more than 50% of his wealth already, and Warren Buffet has gone on record saying that he will give away more than 99% of his wealth.


6 -

A research by AC Nielsen, commissioned by Sampradaan ICP estimated individual giving in the range of Rs 1,000 crores p.a. A recent study by PRIA in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University also estimates it in a similar range. A "back-calculation" of total giving attempted by an accounting firm in 2001, based on exemptions claimed u/s80G and 35AC estimated the giving at Rs4,800 crores.

Operating model
The fundamental premise of GiveIndia's operating model is that the donor is an "investor" looking for returns of some kind (most commonly the satisfaction of knowing that their money made a difference to someone else's life). While it is possible that there are people who give without any expectations, our efforts are targeted at the rest.



Has surplus funds

Has surplus funds

Wants to generate "financial returns"

Wants to generate "social returns" or some other benefit

Not inclined to start own business enterprise for a variety of reasons (inadequate capital, low risk-taking ability, not skilled,...)

Not inclined to help those in need personally, for a variety of reasons (no time, unable to quit career, not skilled,...)

Has own criteria of what constitutes a "good investment"- safety, returns, sectoral preferences, etc.

Has own criteria of what constitutes a good social investment, and also sectoral preferences (education, health,...)

Identifies specific "good investments" using references, research and market mechanisms


Investing is a vicarious way of participating in the company

Donating is a vicarious way of participating in the activities of the organization

While financial investments have occurred from time immemorial, the greatest fillip to them came from the evolution of financial markets. GiveIndia believes that a similar evolution of "philanthropy markets" will create the necessary conditions for a sustainable giving culture to thrive.


The constituents of such a market are: -

Financial institution

Mutual Funds

Venture Capital Funds and Incubators

Rating Agencies

SEBI/SEC (Regulatory bodies)

Information Database and Research Cos.

Portfolio Management Services

Stock Exchanges

Philanthropy equivalent

Aggregating nonprofit intermediaries

Social Venture Capital/ Social Entrepreneurship organizations

Accreditation/ Rating Agencies


Nonprofit databases and research orgs.

Charity Portfolio Management

Charity Exchanges

Current institutions & trends

CRY, Helpage, Concern, etc. serve are the nonprofit equivalent of Mutual Funds. They raise small contributions from individual donors, aggregate them and make onward donations to nonprofits. Some of them are like "sector specific funds", e.g., CRY works only with children.

Ashoka, the Acumen Fund, the Skoll Foundation are some examples. In India, Aavishkaar works for social goals but with a profit motive as well.

GiveIndia has been one of the first organizations to provide an "assurance mechanism". Several initiatives are currently under development by corporate rating agencies like CRISIL, ICRA, etc. to evolve rating instruments for the nonprofit sector.

While there are regulators for the Acts under which nonprofits are constituted in India, there is no clear regulatory body that oversees either their working or their governance, etc. The Credibility Alliance has been recently set up by some nonprofits as an effort at self-regulation. GiveIndia has been an active member catalyzing this initiative.

Some attempts at building rudimentary databases have been made (,, etc.) but these barely contain contact information and a few descriptive paragraphs. In the US, has made significant progress.

GiveIndia's Corporate Client Services attempts to address this need by helping companies develop a philanthropy strategy aimed to meet its own strategic social investment goals.

GiveIndia's efforts in Internet Giving are designed as charity exchanges. Other online charity exchanges include,

GiveIndia has, in the last few years, attempted to meet the "unmet gaps" of institutions needed to constitute the nonprofit "philanthropy marketplace".