Sunday, April 27, 2014

Altruism, Philanthropy and Development:

Altruism, Philanthropy and Development:

Data needs for enhancing the poverty impact

Abusaleh Shariff, Ph. D
Executive Director and Chief Scholar,
US-India Policy Institute, 110 Maryland Av NE, Suite 508, Washington DC, 20002.

Key Note Presentation at the Opening Session of the Global Donor’s Forum – 2014:  ‘Celebrating Philanthropy in Emerging Economies’; held at Gaylord National Resorts and Convention Centre, Washington D. C.

April 14, 2014

Altruism with a purpose to build communities through production of public goods is a philanthropic idea leading to national development. Philanthropic spending puts additional pressure on the government to do the right thing. Philanthropy therefore must focus attention issues and sectors that matter to alleviate poverty and improve human security. Philanthropy must undertake successful pilots which are often not undertaken by the government systems; thus help in building expectations form the electorate.

Altruism – a virtue and a traditional value and Generosity is an obligation. Altruism with a purpose to build communities through production of public goods is a philanthropic idea leading to development.  While altruism may limit or favour kin or close community, philanthropy goes beyond borders and recognizes local problems around the world.

Philanthropy aims for lasting change as opposed to Charity which focuses on immediate relief, although there is certain degree of overlap. Philanthropic investments in social infrastructure promoting education such as through public libraries, computer education, legal education; health such as through maintaining water bodies, preventive care; diversity and human rights.

Wealth Creation in new hi-tech sectors is promoting new types of mega-philanthropy at earlier ages, creating large foundations. Yet major share of philanthropic funding may come from modestly rich people for example, a recent study has found that about 4.2 per cent of annual income is given in philanthropic donations amongst those with annual income of over $100,000/year. Better still; those with annual income of less than $100,000/year contribute much higher share of their income.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. In fact it is the only thing that has…’  Margaret Mead

Virtuous Coalition for Poverty Reduction
Government: Provisioning of public good, safety, security & human welfare
Business:    Investments for private good, focusing on material prosperity
Philanthropy: Private Initiatives for public good with a focus on quality of life

Case Study – Modern India:

Philanthropy is not new to India:

a.       Corporate philanthropy:  The Tatas    vs    The Birla is most discussed. Over 100 year journey. They are differentiated through the approach ‘Neighbourhood Development’ Vs. Construction of Mega Temples. Can we call it White Vs.  Black Philanthropy?
The mechanism of moving around large amounts often unaccounted for through religious (temple) trusts and religious endowments are most prevalent.

b.      In India, giving to the poor in general Vs. giving to poor kith and Kin

c.       The left hand should not know what the right hand gives – principle often generates humility but precludes evaluation and measurement of development impact.

d.      In the modern context the legal bottlenecks galore. The Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCNRA) emerged out of a fear against conversions, especially the rich missionary tempting the poor Adivasis kind of arguments.

e.       New age philanthropy: Azim  Premji’s focus on education; Rohini and Nandan focus on sanitation. Such philanthropies are amenable for measurements and evaluation and therefore transparent and generate durable impact. In India, in the health sector for example, philanthropic funding is less than 1 per cent of the total government spend. Other sectors attract little and there is lack of information and data. 

f.        Philanthropic spending puts additional pressure in the government to do the right thing. Philanthropy must focussed attention to the right issues and sectors, undertake successful pilots which are often not undertaken by the government systems; and help in building expectations form the electorate. The most recent examples are the way philanthropic funding forced government to recognize the existence of  HIV AIDS and enhance allocations for its containment. Another example is the contribution of philanthropic donates in eradication of Polio from the face of this earth.

g.       Philanthropic funding must therefore build successful pilots which can be scaled-up and replicated.
Data Needs for Evidence Based Policy Making:

Decentralized Approach will lead to better targeting, coverage and efficiency
      Community groups
      Sample household
      Civil society institutions

Ideology: promote economic value generation while being
  Pro poor
  Pro business
  Pro self-employed

Understanding Demography & Geography of markets. 
    Market segmentation; local, exclusive
    Global - all encompassing
    Modern methods, tools – IT enabled online, advertisement based and futuristic and youth
Organize occupation based production systems. 
Networking disparate entities to achieve a common goal useful to all - is one way to establish inroads to modern markets.  Can bargain investments, infrastructure, credit and assured returns to marketable goods and services. 

Turning donations
- in to jobs
- in to networking & 
- in to enrolment  & education
- woman  & child health
- into economic opportunity
- into Smiles ;)-

Collection of Information 
  * Data, records, talk to people, case studies
  * Newspaper reports 
Opinion making - debates, discussion groups 
Policy Influence - review, lay out future directions, negotiate policy directions
Review Budgets on time and even before budget presentations. Address the issue of 'where is the money'. Be a Watch Dog : consistent monitoring of policy performance. Galvanize community to be watchful. 

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