Two hundred people in one room to discuss philanthropy! A few years back this would not have been considered possible. But the third of Dasra’s annual Indian Philanthropy Forums, held in Mumbai on 21 March, continued to build on previous successes.
And what a day it was! The topics ranged from making toilets aspirational to the challenges facing adolescent girls, skill development and rural artisans, ending with human rights. The previous evening saw 41 of India’s social entrepreneurs graduate from Dasra’s Social-Impact programme. This was the sixth time this programme had run. These graduates were trained to build sustainable organizations that will have deep social impact.
The day started off with Neera Nundy and Deval Sanghavi, co-founders of Dasra, describing the state of strategic philanthropy in India and developments over the past year. This was followed by a discussion on the changing face of Indian philanthropy with Aditi Kothari (a Dasra Giving Circle member), Charly Kleissner (K L Felicitas Foundation) and Jayant Sinha (Omidyar Network).
The panel discussions were of particular interest, since the speakers outlined the status of their sectors and an NGO in each of these sectors could possibly get funded over the next year through new Dasra Giving Circles. Jack Sim (of WTO – World Toilet Organisation) stole the show early in the day – first with a short movie and then with his talk, with loads of humour, about how we need to get people to use toilets by making toilets sexy. He talked about why people have to be charged for it: if toilets are given free, people do not value them. The discussion on enhancing youth employability reflected the debate on who funds the skilling programmes in India – industry, government or students. The panellists discussing empowering adolescent girls talked about sex education, child marriage, violence against women and other gender biases that affect the ability of young girls to decide their own futures.