Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility in South Asia and the US
The South Asia Institute at Harvard presents – “The Use of Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility for Social Change in South Asia and the US”.
Harvard South Asia Institute Special Event. November 18, 2014. Harvard University
Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson, Arghyam; Author of Uncommon Ground: Dialogues between Business and Social Leaders and Stillborn
Geeta Pradhan, Associate Vice President for Programs, The Boston Foundation
Chair: Alnoor Ebrahim, Associate Professor in the Social Enterprise Initiative, Harvard Business School
Cosponsored by the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Center for Public Leadership
0:00:36 Speaker 1: My name is Alnoor Ebrahim. I am on the faculty at Harvard Business School and it’s my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the South Asia Institute as well as the Hauser Institute at the Center of Public Leadership. My work focuses on performance measurement and accountability of organizations in the social sector, so whether those are non-profits, social enterprises, corporations with a social interest or even public agencies. We’re here to really talk about the changing landscape of philanthropy globally, and we have two wonderful speakers with us with a great deal of experience in this area, and I think their experiences will enable us to draw comparisons also between the United States and India.
0:01:30 S1: So we’re gonna start with Rohini Nilekani who’s right here next to me. And she is the founding chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation that she has endowed herself that funds work on safe and sustainable water for all. Created about 10 years ago, this foundation supports projects in water and sanitation across India and also is very instrumental in a portal that’s used by public as well as non-profit organizations, The India Water Portal, which is a really critical resource. But her philanthropy is also beyond sort of water and sanitation, in independent media, education, and research and topics of accountability and governance. And then, we’ll go to Geeta Pradhan who is Associate Vice President for Programs at the Boston Foundation. So, a local organization that attracts attention nationally. In her Head as VP for Programs, she’s responsible for overseeing the foundation’s overall portfolio which cuts across many sectors. So, these include education, health, jobs, neighborhood, and the arts. If you’re interested in urban poverty and urban planning, you’ll be particularly interested, I think, in her work around the Fairmont Corridor which is trying to use public transit developments as a vehicle for social development and poverty alleviation particularly in low-income neighborhoods.
0:03:09 S1: She’s been with the foundation for over a decade, but active in philanthropy and community development for 25 years. Again, with the foundation she created what’s known as the Boston Indicators Project, something that many cities have actually begun to take on in terms of developing indicators that bring in communities to talk about what the health of the city might look like, as well as an initiative on the digital divide in Boston and give you a sense of her infrastructure building also involved in creating the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, which is the state association, many states in the country now have one as well as many others.
0:03:58 S1: So, I’ve asked each of them to actually initially speak just for a few minutes on two questions. One is to give us a sense for their own personal trajectory within the social sector space but then to talk specifically about the philanthropic model that they’re advancing within their own organizations. So, five minutes on each of those questions, roughly 10 minutes for each of them, and then I’ll pose a few more questions for them to reflect on that maybe we’ll be a bit more comparative between the US and India and then we’ll open it up. So, we should have at least 45 minutes of Q&A from you all which I know that both of them are very keen to engage on. So with that, we’ll start with Rohini.
0:04:44 Rohini Nilekani: Thank you, so thank you all for coming. Namaste everyone. It’s good to be here in the Boston area and especially at the SAI and thank you for Hauser as well. Actually, my journey as a philanthropist began about, I would say, 13 or 14 years ago and nowadays to be a philanthropist in the modern sense, you also have to have money. Otherwise, the original idea of the word philanthropy meant just love of human kind and whatever you could do in terms of giving your time and resources was philanthropic in nature. But today the word philanthropy is really acquired a meaning where big wealth is poured into causes. And so, if I were to talk about that, I began in 1999 in the education sector in India, doing a lot of hands-on work in my state of Karnataka through an organization called Pratham which some of you might have heard about and we were working to ensure that every child is in school and learning well. From that, emerged Pratham Books, which I co-founded and funded, and we became India’s largest non-profit children’s publisher and we can talk about that later.
0:05:54 RN: Around the same time, we came into some money because of a smart investment I made a long time ago in my husband’s company called Infosys and suddenly, we found ourselves with money that, you know, we really we had no need for in our personal lives and it took me a long time to adjust to that idea, but eventually, I realized that this was an opportunity to use that wealth responsibly especially in a country like India. I think re-defining what wealth is meant for in societies became something that was very important to me and I started engaging not just in doing more philanthropy on my own but also also getting very interested in the philanthropy sector in general. And for the past few years, I’ve been very actively involved in growing the philanthropy sector in India.
0:06:45 RN: So I would like to say that in the last, apart from my own philanthropy, which we can talk about later, I think what’s happening in India is that since the liberalization in the ’80s and ’90s, a lot of the original philanthropists of India who worked in India were outsiders, a lot from this country, the four of the Rockefellers, bilateral agencies from Europe and elsewhere doing a lot of the kind of society building work human rights, inclusion, governance… A lot of those environments, stewardship, etcetera. And in the last few years, we have seen them receding for various reasons both political and because of their own needs to really money was shrinking, there were political reasons. It appeared as though India had enough wealth on its own and there was also a political backlash. So, lot of those agencies have stopped doing the kind of work that they have been doing for almost 60, 70 years now.
0:07:46 RN: And in the meantime, the Indian wealthy had begun to do new kinds of philanthropy, but there is still a vacuum left by the organizations that are receding, that I believe, has not been filled. So, some of my work is to really draw new Indian philanthropic capital into some of those spaces such as the environment, such as rights, such as children. A lot of Indian philanthropy today goes into areas like education primarily and not so much in the other areas. Traditional Indian philanthropy as many of you might guess or might know, was really about neighborhood, temples, or direct charity type of work. But in the last five to eight years, we are seeing a sea change, more young people are getting wealthy thanks to the technology boom, some other sunrise industries, pharma in India, and these younger wealthy people have decided that they need not wait till they’re very much older to start giving back or start giving forward and that is a very exciting new landscape because… And like, Alnoor here, they want to see impact, they want metrics, they want to see things happening now. They don’t want to wait. So there’s a new urgency, a new creativity, and it’s really great fun to be part of the philanthropic landscape now.
0:09:10 RN: My own approach has been a little different. I think that the new wealth comes from people who have benefited from the market economy and have strong faith in markets. I tended to be a little more to the left of the political spectrum, and I never ran a company in my life and couldn’t if I had to. So, my work really focuses on the non-market, non-profit side of things and a lot of the work on is built on my sense that it is only when we build out a very strong society or what we call a Samaj in India that you can have accountable government and accountable markets. So, if we don’t do that work and that work can only be supported either through direct action by civil society activists or through philanthropic support. So, I spend my philanthropic capital on doing a host of things that help build out people’s institutions, contextual collective action, and stewardship of this idea of strong Samaj which is able to resist the potentially oppressive forces of the state and the market which is, I think, the biggest lesson from the last century’s history that both state and markets can get oppressive unless there are sufficient checks and balances in society. So, my work very broadly is in that category, and I’d love to hear more about that sort of work in this country as well. Thank you.
0:10:43 S1: Wonderful, thank you.
0:10:44 Speaker 3: That’s so great.
0:10:50 S3: A lot of very thought provoking. Of course, I’ll start with a very fact that I still hold on to the old definition of philanthropy not having any personal wealth. [chuckle] So I think that is still… And I think that’s still an option, and actually, a growing option particularly when you look at the nature of philanthropy and civil society in this country. So, just to step back a little, just to tell you a little bit about my own journey, I grew up in India, in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. Through my growing up, I witnessed first hand the intensity of poverty in India. And I think as all of us was sort of a little socially minded, well, I also happen to be a lot on the left of the spectrum [chuckle] that this was something right through my growing up always bothered me, and I think in my education as an architect, that I studied architecture in India, I tended to focus on the social aspects of city planning, of architecture, of design, working with craft, craftsman, and always sort of had this community development bent. I came here as a graduate student at The School of Design at Harvard.
0:12:04 S3: And when I was done, my husband was still a student and I decided that I needed to work here for some time, but I wanted to work on third-world issues. I went and spoke to my dean and he said well, “The closest thing you’ll come to is inner city America.” And I have to tell you that once I got into community development work, working on inner city America, I realized that, I sort of had an encounter with poverty here and what it meant and it was actually a very interesting sort of an observation because my first reaction to poverty in the United States was, “Oh, what you would call this poverty, when people are living in public housing, and you’re living, you have food to eat, you can afford to eat at McDonalds. You have access?” It’s not about deprivation, that it was much more about the sense of hopelessness over here.
0:13:03 S3: And I think that encounter with the nature of poverty in the United States actually really captured my imagination. And I have been working in community development for the past 25 years in Boston, and it’s actually really specifically in Boston. So, the advantage of working very specifically in the places that you actually get to know everything really well, you know the nature of issues right from, you know the nature of government, you get to know the individuals who are encountering poverty and you get to see the sense of, again the sense of… Like when I looked at poverty in India, it was about desperation. When I look at it over here, it’s about desolation. It’s about isolation. It’s about violence. Complete sense of hopelessness.
0:13:50 S3: And I will never forget this one, the first time, sort of this really hit home to me, was that I was on the train going from my house to my work, and I heard this bunch of young kids, they must have been 14, 15 that age, and they were bragging to each other. They were bragging about violence, “My uncle got shot.” “Your uncle shot, my brother got killed.” And it was, they were one-upping each other on violence and this was around the time when there was a lot of conversation about the fact that young black men in America do not expect to live beyond the age of 25. Their own life expectancy is that they will probably get shot or killed before they have turned 25. And I think that kind of violence and that kind, it is a function of poverty. So that work has sort of continued. I worked in government for about 10 years on housing and community development and then I took over program for the city called Sustainable Boston. And I had this wonderful opportunity of working with hundreds of people. I’ve been, probably several thousand people on this project that Alnoor talked about called the Boston Indicators Project. And we were sort of trying to develop a vision for this city that was rooted in social justice, in economic equity, in environment and civic engagement.
0:15:19 S3: And I guess over the years just picking up things, reading stuff and all you come across the fact that actually, this country had… In the 1800s, there was this French philosopher and historian called Alexis de Tocqueville who traveled the United States and he observed a couple of things about this country. The two things that he observed; one was that country was very, was very religious in nature and the second was the importance of civil society that this country placed in itself. And if you think of it, you know, often religion does put you in that direction of contributing, of giving, of treating people equally. Different religions have basically come down to the same set of principles.
0:16:12 S3: And I’m gonna share a few statistics with you which I think are really quite both interesting and alarming. I was actually, despite being in philanthropy for so many years and community development, I was shocked to hear that 95% of American households give, they donate to charity, or they are philanthropic. One in every six Americans actually volunteer, so 64 to 65 million Americans actually volunteer on a regular basis. The total giving in America is about $335 billion which is about 2% of the GDP and of that, individuals like Rohini are amongst the biggest givers. So, it’s a something really important thing to sort of keep in mind as we look at future trends and what implication this has on philanthropy, particularly as you realize that individual givers are they tend to be far more focused on the impact of philanthropy versus charity in general, particularly the younger population.
0:17:25 S3: About yeah so 72% is individual giving, about 15% is foundations, and only 5% is corporate giving. And if you know corporate giving in America, a lot of corporate giving is marketing, it’s not really giving, it’s marketing. You market your own product. I’m sorry to pick on Microsoft but that’s a philanthropy that I tend to know well. If you give out your product, you’re actually, you’re pitching your business. So they also do a lot of other wonderful things, so I don’t want to just negate their giving. But the nature is about the coming together of the marketing departments and the community relations is what they’re mostly called, is where the nexus is.
0:18:16 S3: So, I think I am going to sort of hold with that. I’ll just add one more statistic which I think is interesting which sort of ties back to one of the things I said, that in terms of who receives the money, about a third of the money actually goes through religious institutions. And it’s interesting that as I’ve gotten to know the faith-based giving in Boston, faith-based giving actually does redirect a lot of that giving out into the community. There are a lot of really interesting ministries that work on youth violence. In fact, in Boston, the biggest chunk of work on violence happens through the faith-based community. So, the second area is education and then the third is human services. So, it’s interesting in the area of education, this again gives you a sort of a peak into the nature of the givers right now which who tend to be the baby-boomers largely. About 60% of their giving, of the $15 billion that goes out from philanthropy into education, 60% of that goes to alma mater naming rights at universities, hospitals, and the like.
0:19:34 S3: So with that, I think I stirred up a couple of things about the nature of giving in the US, and the fact that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity at the same time because if you look at the transfer of wealth that is going to happen by 2050, about 55 trillion is going to transfer from the baby-boomer generation to the millennial generation. And so it will be interesting to see how that pans out, because the giving patterns of the young are very similar to Rohini, your observations, about the giving patterns of young people in India.
0:20:09 S1: So thank you very much Geeta for this as well. There’s a couple of trends that the both of you have begun to point out. So one being that philanthropic giving… So aid from foundations and corporations is very, very small in terms of the bigger picture, right? So in the US of the 330 billion, we’re looking at maybe 50 billion from foundations. And so, it’s a small piece. Individuals collectively end up being the bulk of it. But that is generally speaking, not institutionally done. It’s done through individual motivations. So that’s one sort of pattern that we see. The other that you pointed out Geeta is this projected transfer of wealth. A third that Rohini pointed out, is the fact that particularly young wealthy individuals coming up through tech or biotech, or pharmaceuticals, seem to be interested in measurement and impact. And perhaps bring a different kind of an approach to the way that philanthropies and themselves as philanthropists might make their decisions. So that’s sort of three things.
0:21:30 S1: The fourth which we haven’t sort of raised, is the sort of the change in the CSR environment in India with sort of the new requirements for corporations to contribute some percentage of their income to charitable causes. And so we’re seeing all of these things with the potential to really change the landscape. Would each of you say a few words about where you think philanthropy will have the greatest leverage, given this changing landscape?
0:22:08 S3: Do you wanna take it? Take it.
0:22:11 RN: Yeah, sure. Well to me it is… If you want me to comment on the new corporate social responsibility law in India, that requires companies be of a certain size and profitability to give 2% of their profits to certain, somewhat according to me, narrowly defined areas called Social Responsibility, they seem broad like poverty reduction, but when you get down into the clauses, it’s kind of a limiting framework on what you can and cannot do with that 2%. Personally, I have been opposed to it, because it seems like a tax by alternate means. It also seems like government trying to outsource governance to the private sector. And when corporations already from their own, either because it was an extension of their business and today corporations need to be legitimate in their communities, so they have to do things in their communities. And that’s not such a bad thing, provided again people have to be aware of motives whether of the state or the corporation. But this forced kind of social responsibility is already creating some perverse incentives in India. And we have to wait and see what happens but it’s going to be something like 15,000 crores, how much is that in dollars? Someone do me a calculation, which is going to come out on an annual basis.
0:23:40 RN: And we really have to see where that money goes, and what impact it can possibly have. On the potential for philanthropy, I think again Indian civil society movements for the largest part until now, have come from either a left-of-centre of a combination of sort of Marx and Gandhi. And that has been a very different civil society action than the kind of stuff that new philanthropy wants to fund. Okay? So today’s new philanthropist will take are more problem solvers, impact measurement focused. What worries me in that trend is that sometimes if you take that lens and that prism, then you leave aside a lot of things which need to be done but cannot be measured. You cannot measure a society’s sense of self, you cannot measure inclusion, you cannot measure the rights of many people left behind, and whether they have voice in the system or you can have very mild proxies for these things.
0:24:53 RN: But you can’t really measure them. And the danger is, when you’re coming so much from a market’s focus, that markets will solve most social problems in the world, you tend to leave out some of these things that are really below the market. And often things like say for example, in a village in India, the Dalits or the minorities will be left behind. Today many of our villages are getting emptied of young-able bodied people, so the old, the very young, and the women are left behind. Now what kind of… Nothing there is attractive to the market. Okay? And that is exactly where the state is completely inefficient or not even able to reach.
0:25:35 S1: Give us a concrete example from your work.
0:25:37 RN: So for example, from my work, so say water resources which is something that I’m involved in. If you are in… My foundation could have focused on giving everybody a water filter, say “Okay, I know you guys have terrible water quality, so here are some filters, and we’ll give you a new ones every three years, and have fun.” We don’t do that at all. What we do is we say, “In your community there’s this, why has your water quality gone bad? Why is your state, which is a public authority that is supposed to be managing your water supply for you with you, not as though you were automatons, but with you…
0:26:12 S3: What is happening to your water resources? Are you yourselves polluting that water? Is there some behavior change you need to do in the community? Is there some leadership transformation that is needed? Is there some institutional gap that there might be, okay? Now these are not the things that markets can come in and execute. These are not the things that the state knows how to do well. The state knows how to scale up certain kinds of solutions very well, right? The political class in India finds it much easier to engage in patronage and brokerage rather than system transformation. So, who is going to do, what kind of backing can philanthropy give to enable these kind of processes? So in that case, if that community is unable to look at it’s water resources, to find it’s solutions, to push back on the system to say we need better and efficient delivery of public services, then you have something sustainable left behind which eventually you don’t need philanthropy to support, hopefully.
0:27:08 S1: Could you frame it the same way? .
0:27:10 S3: Yeah, I mean, I would actually pick on the one problem that I think Rohini has also talked about, which is that when you invest in issues, there are things that get left behind and that is what actually leads to a lot of apathy and the lack of a political voice is what then… In communities where you don’t have a political voice, you will see that there is not the public investment. And I’ve seen that first hand in my work in Boston, in particular, if you look at the neighborhood of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan largely African American, high levels of poverty, average 20% to 25% poverty, childhood poverty rates of 43%. And there isn’t a political voice, there hasn’t been political representation, there hasn’t been political voice and what has happened as a result of that was a lack of investment.
0:28:06 S3: And in fact, the transit corridor you talk about was actually a really interesting example because there was these, there was this train that used to go through the neighborhoods that actually had 13 stops on it, in its heydays, uptil the 1950s when all the wealthy white and Jewish communities lived in those neighborhoods, actually started to close out as African Americans and Latinos and immigrants moved into the community to the point that in the… By the 1990s, they had decided to close down that line and it took advocacy, it took philanthropy funding advocacy, and building a political voice and making investments in community to lift up the power of those communities and a lawsuit against the state that got the state to reverse its decision and build four new stops and that led to a whole movement of investment in all of these communities.
0:29:09 S3: So, I think, you cannot understate the importance of political voice and if you’ll think about the issue of poverty which in any event, is a very isolating factor. I mean think about it, when you are stressed out, when you’re depressed, what do you do? You hunker down. And think of people whose lives are like that day after day after day after day, think of what it does to their spirit whether they are in Africa or India or in the United States. The nature of poverty is very similar in every place, and I think it is you have to give it voice, you have to invest in those issues that government will not.
0:29:46 S3: And I think when I look at the US context, one of the things that has happened since I think the ’60s and the ’70s, is what is called the devolution of government which I think people have probably heard about government backing out. It started with the federal government used to provide a lot of the services in the community. They handed down that power to the states, the states devolved that power and handed to cities, and now cities are finding that they actually cannot really meet the needs of people in their communities. And who is stepping in? It is the social sector. What is really interesting in my mind is that if you look at the newer trends in philanthropy, the areas of impact investing, social impact, bonds, pay for success contracts, where the private sector is actually raising the capital for the public sector to provide the services, for non-profits to provide the services and if they are successful and they meet the goals, the government pays the non-profits. So, private sector is putting their capital at risk, which I think, is a very interesting move.
0:30:53 RN: Sorry, within what services?
0:30:55 S3: This is very recent, this happened… This effort on social impact bonds or pay for success bonds was started in the UK with particularly with incarceration. So, they found that, that incarceration versus services to rehabilitate people actually led to increased recidivism where people would were be back again in jail and the cost was prohibitive and actually, if you know, in the US, the US actually, there are more people in jails than anywhere else in the world. And the cost is amazing. I was shocked to find out last year that the state was investing a billion dollars in building more prisons but they were cutting back services for rehabilitation of prisoners. So, you know, there’s something very wrong with old structures that never are held accountable. And, you know, that’s the other value of the political voice or the civil society work that, Rohini, you were talking about is who holds government accountable? If there isn’t any voice, that there are only vested interest, that’s where government is going to make its decisions because it is by nature, political, they have to win their votes, they have to legitimize themselves. So, it’s something that will just happen by default.
0:32:23 S3: I wanted to also sort of respond a little bit to the other question that you had asked, about the young people giving and the nature, again, of giving… So it’s interesting, I think the nature of younger people is that focus on accountability, that focus on impact, but it is also very, very individualized and it’s far… There aren’t opportunities for collective impact. And so, all of us could be giving to our own little causes and it may be very nice and refreshing right now, but at some point, it’s going to have an impact because in the end, you do need to bring these things together. I think, in my own work, the conclusion that I’ve come to after 25 years of working on issues of urban poverty in America, is that poverty is a very complex issue. It needs multiple solutions. You need to act on multiple levels. There is always room for the individual interactions that you do maybe providing that filter has a place, but it is not the only solution. You have to look at systems change. So, in the work that we do at the Boston Foundation, which, interestingly, is not a foundation that was created by an individual, it’s a community foundation, and I’ll talk about that a little bit because it’s a very interesting concept that I’ve always thought should happen in India.
0:33:47 RN: It is, actually.
0:33:48 S3: It is already. I know there’s one in Bombay.
0:33:50 RN: Bangalore.
0:33:51 S3: Yeah, Bangalore too, that’s great. So…
0:33:54 S1: Explain the concept of a community foundation.
0:33:56 S3: So, the concept of a community foundation is that basically it is the wealth of many individuals, people who want to do philanthropic giving. You could contribute, you could set up a fund with $10,000 and you could set up a fund for $10 million, but basically, people accumulate their giving in one place. And the interest… So, for instance, the Boston Foundation has about, I think a thousand named funds. So, individuals, families, corporations, place their philanthropic giving at the Boston Foundation, we invest that money on their behalf, and so, it increases their philanthropic capital but it also creates a vehicle for people to leave as a bequest their money, if they want to, for the good of the city and the region. So, we have, for instance, a permanent fund for Boston, we are a 100-year-old institution, actually, next year we will be 100 years old, and the idea is that our endowment will be there for the good of the community for the long haul.
0:35:04 S3: And it is not controlled by any individuals, it is controlled by a board of trustees who are the community leaders. So, our board is made up of philanthropic leaders, of business leaders, of community leaders, so it’s a real mix and it really creates an opportunity to have some really deep and important conversations about the future of the city and the region, and then figure out where investment need to flow. And so, there is a very robust, data-focused conversation that actually our board is having right now about what we should be looking at for the next five years.
0:35:49 S1: If I can, let me ask one more question to the both of you, and then we’ll open it up, and this is to ask you to reflect on what can be learned for philanthropy from looking at the other contexts. And so, Geeta, you just mentioned that the community foundation concept might be really useful for India. What is it that you’re seeing in philanthropy in India that you think might be useful for the US context? And vice versa? So, why don’t we start with Geeta this time, and then we will continue with Rohini.
0:36:19 S3: Okay. So, it’s actually really interesting. Actually, several years ago, the Deshpande Foundation had brought together 12 of the large non-profits including Pratham, and others, I forget the names, but that are doing work in India. And they came here to actually learn, and it was… [chuckle] It was a very humbling moment, I have to say, because they went out and they met with a large organization in the Boston area, and they came back and very sheepishly said, “You know, I thought the US was… That we had a lot to learn. I think they have stuff to learn from us.” And that was really true. And I think the biggest thing that American non-profits and American philanthropy has to learn from places like India and Africa and Latin America is the scale of impact. I am so impressed by the scale of impact of organizations that work in other countries.
0:37:25 S3: And here, I think one of the biggest issues is that the cost of transactions is very high, the sector has become so very professionalized. So, it’s become a job sector in itself. So, for instance, when people… When… And I guess I’m partly guilty of having committed this sin, I did a study on the health and vitality of the Massachusetts non-profit sector, it was a report called Passion and Purpose. Every time I mention that report, people think I’m talking about some steamy romance novel, [chuckle] but actually it’s not. The point is that this is a sector that draws people with the… The social sector draws people with immense passion, they bring their passions to the work and they want to create change in the world, but they are funded by resources that would have otherwise gone to government, for government services, so the tax-exempt nature. So, they have a purpose, they have a public purpose that they have to fulfill.
0:38:37 S3: But it was interesting, in the course of looking at that research, I recognized that there were three major value propositions that the sector has. It’s, of course, the civic engagement, and the civil society creation is a big one. The second one is that it’s become a safety net and particularly in the context of the US with devolution of government, the nonprofit sector actually provides most of the services on behalf of government, so it tends to be the safety net. And the third is that it’s the economic engine, and if you look at the fact that the US has 1.5 million non-profits, there. They have trillions of dollars in assets and they hire about 10% of the country’s wages and salaries come from the sector. I know in Massachusetts itself 14% of the Massachusetts’ workforce is in the non-profit sector. That has become a real problem because it’s become a job industry and it is losing what I thought was really wonderful, the civic volunteer nature, that people just gave out of the goodness of their hearts, they did things out of the goodness of their hearts. I think that is something to watch for.
0:39:55 S3: The one thing that is something that the Indian philanthropic sector, the social sector can learn from the US is that the US government has really created a lot of enabling infrastructures, so that giving is very easy. I don’t even have to think, I can go give so long as I have documentation, I just put it in my tax form and I can take a deduction. I don’t think it’s that easy, in India, at least I haven’t come across it as easily, because when I’m trying to give, it is much more complicated. Which organization has X percent, some organizations have 75% that is deductible, some have 100%, so it is complicated. And I think that making it easier so that people can give, would be really a benefit to the sector. There are a lot of other enabling ways in which giving in the US is counted, which in India, I know just from my own family’s experiences, I know people give a lot but there is no way of capturing or measuring that, there is no data, there is… And data actually leads to a lot of accountability. For instance, whether you gave clothes to Goodwill Memorial or old toys or household things, you can actually take a tax deduction for that, it becomes a way, just creating a lot of enabling ways for people to give.
0:41:26 S3: I wanted to actually take a moment to also say something about the CSR issue, the corporate social responsibility issue, because it’s an important factor, the corporate law actually requires the company to maximize profits for their stockholders. So actually requiring giving is something that I know in US corporate law would not be cautioned, it wouldn’t be right. But I think Rohini, you mentioned that as well, that a lot of corporations are starting to realize that environmental and social responsibility is beneficial to the corporation and giving is increasing because of those issues, I think is a good thing to sort of highlight and build up.
0:42:14 S1: So let’s turn it over to Rohini and then we’ll open it up.
0:42:17 RN: Sure. So I think it’s a good question. What can we learn from each other? I can certainly say that from America, there has been a lot to learn, a century of philanthropy in this country, of many kinds. I would put it in three easy words, one is just generosity, personal generosity is something you can learn from this country. A lot of the wealthy give without necessarily much fanfare, give consistently, give well and that’s really something that we have to learn. The second thing I would think is transparency. In India, we don’t really know who’s giving what, to whom and where it is, what it’s all adding up to. I think it’s just beginning to happen. The public pressure on wealth is beginning to happen and that’s important, but that’s something I would learn from this country, how to create a transparent regime around giving.
0:43:13 RN: And the third is the professionalization on the ecosystem around philanthropy, whether it is enabling public policy, whether it is match-making platforms, whether it… All sorts of services for the sector, an ecosystem that has been developed in this country and the professionalization of the sector, that’s also something that we have begun to learn from this county. There are many things that you have to be very wary that you can learn how you should not to do in philanthropy and that is also something America lets us know. The one thing is, inequity. You all know that so much wealth concentrated in so few hands is a very distorting thing, even if you’re just thinking about philanthropy, however much I like and admire Bill and Melinda Gates, it is a serious problem that they have to give away $4 billion a year and create a huge bureaucracy for that giving and that philanthropy in my mind should question how so much inequity and concentration of wealth happened in the first place. That is something to learn from this country, how not to create that kind of society where the 1% and 99% are so sharply delineated.
0:44:31 RN: The second thing to learn, from this country is when and it’s a corollary to this, that when you have so much concentration of giving power, it has a very distortion field around it. You can, influ… And I’m very conscious of this in my giving. You can have a very… What is the word, imbalanced? Sort of influence, political influence. Your election, two, three weeks ago, was very seriously funded by wealthy individuals. How much of the voice of the result of the election came because of few wealthy people decided what was good for your country and how much came because all of you weighed in, on who should be elected. It’s something that your society needs to think about and we should not go there. It can happen very easily in India because of the kind of concentration of wealth that is happening, I’m part of the very wealthy in India and very conscious of this and whether we like it or not, however, conscious I am of it, wealth has power, right?
0:45:33 RN: And you have to actually dismantle the power structure of wealth to be able to stay. It’s not possible, whether I like it or not, my wealth has power, okay? So, understanding all this and in your philanthropy being very, very conscious of what kind of societal outcome your philanthropy is creating is something that we can learn from America, that perhaps, this is not the way we want to go to. There are a few other points like that, but by and large, I really salute so many of the people in this country for decades having trying to build out the public institutions, I some of my work today owes itself to the fact that, thanks to Carnegie and then to your government, the public library system in this country is really the most fabulous in the world.
0:46:24 RN: I owe a personal debt when my husband and I were here for seven years living out of exact… All our possessions fit exactly into four suitcases because that’s what we could try and that was wonderful I tell you, we should try it again. That’s what we’re doing for these five weeks. I brought four suitcases, it’s great fun. But we didn’t have cash, we didn’t have anything, but we had your enormous wealth of public services and that’s was philanthropy backed, your public transport, your electricity, all those things had some component of philanthropic capital in the early stages of that, especially your library system. And I personally carry a debt for that. So, no matter what critique I have, I also have deep admiration for what has been created in this country, the kind of institutions, the societal base, and so many other things.
0:47:18 S1: So let’s open it up. We have a microphone for questions. And even though it’s a small room, we can hear you, I might ask you to wait for it so that we can record properly. So, I’ll take two or three questions at once and then we’ll ask Rohini and Geeta to respond. So, who is first? So, we gotta question here in the gray sweater and then right next to her in the red T-shirt, and then at the back in the blue. So, we’ll take those three questions first. Please, tell us your name and where you’re coming from.
0:47:50 Speaker 4: Great, thank you. Is this working?
0:47:51 S1: It’s pretty loud. That’s largely for the recording.
0:47:54 S4: Okay. Thank you so much for your comments. My name is Emily and I’m a graduate student, a PhD student in the government department here. I do research on India in the CSR sector civil society and particularly how the work of corporate social responsibility and civil society organizations affects the state’s capacity to provide basic social services. So I’m really interested in a lot of your comments on the role of civil society organizations and the philanthropic funding behind them that can sort of affect state delivery of important basic services. So, one sort of theme that emerged in both of your comments, was the idea that there’s a key role in civil society in holding the State accountable and that’s certainly the traditional model we have of civil societies or the popular conception. But my question is, basically, who can fund advocacy? Right?
0:48:47 S4: When does the advocacy get funded right? Because we have a lot, there’s an emergency particularly in developing countries, but here as well, an emergence, sort of, NGO’s that work primarily in service provision, which you could, sort of, cynically conceptualize as a substitute for good state services, but there’s this other function which sometimes get sort of pushed to the wayside of advocacy and it still happens, obviously, India has very, a vibrant civil society sector, a vibrant social activist sector, but when can kind of professional at scale organizations engage in real advocacy to hold the state accountable and where can that money come from especially in the current political climate?
0:49:23 RN: So may be I can take that because…
0:49:26 S1: Lets focus on three questions and then we’ll proceed to respond to all three. Yes, go ahead.
0:49:31 Speaker 5: Hello, my name is Diane. I’m an entrepreneur, educational technology entrepreneur. I’m an alumni of MIT and Harvard, so Cambridge is my kingdom. I am also for the past eight years, I’ve been a STEM education advocate and for the past five, specifically for girls. I’m particularly interested in economic development within the Boston area. I am shocked and appalled as a native New Yorker with the Massachusetts having an embarrassment of riches in terms of resources, yet and still, there seems to be not be a flow. Well, I’m attempting to ameliorate the bifurcation in terms of information flow, about opportunities that are available right here.
0:50:13 S5: My question, which I think you touched upon in Boston Foundation, and I talked briefly with Travis McCready about this. Merely when you said, oh giving, giving is nice, but giving is not enough. You have to understand about what the intents and the motivations of the particular non-profits are doing. There are a lot of wonderful people I know the non-profit here who are doing feel-good things, but not teaching kids specific things to attempt to address their physiological needs. I’m all for self-esteem and self-empowerment blah, blah, blah, but unless it’s civic engagement or specific quantifiable skills that would allow them to compete in the marketplace so that they can alleviate their physical needs, so then they could start thinking about philosophical and other things. Then for me, it’s waste of time. And I was wondering is there any way in terms of accountability, not merely just because you set up a non-profit that automatically makes you good or it just makes the person who starts the non-profit feel good, but they’re really just it’s sort of more self aggrandizement than specifically dealing with the on the ground, boots on the ground issues.
0:51:28 S1: So at the back, in the blue sweater.
0:51:38 Speaker 6: Leonard Katz MIT. I’m concerned with how one can go into areas that should be and could be government responsibility without simply replacing them in a way with private funds when really the government should have, does have the responsibility. One area that was mentioned was the, was philanthropy becoming the safety net in the United States replacing government responsibility there. We have food banks, homeless feeding, etcetera. Another area that came to my attention was when we had a Buddhist teacher visiting the Divinity School recently, she is an Afro-American woman who goes by the name of Padmavati trained as a Theravadan teacher by a Nepali immigrant to America. And she has a private charity that is trying, that is establishing a school in the Dalit village in India, where the teacher who is paid by the government never comes because he is not a Dalit, and he will not teach the Dalit children. So it seems what we’re having here is instead of political empowerment or activism leading to the government assuming this responsibility in effect, we have, this requires an Afro-American woman who becomes a Buddhist teacher to run a private charity to build a school and employ a teacher in the village in Tamil Nadu.
0:53:30 S1: Thank you. So, who would like to start us?
0:53:33 S3: Why don’t I respond to the first two? Because I think those are more, a little more in my wheelhouse. So I think, on the issue of advocacy, there are actually, one of the problems here is that private foundations cannot fund advocacy. So it falls on community foundations because a community foundation is actually a public charity. So public charities can indulge in advocacy. So we actually fund a lot of advocacy, in fact, our work focuses on…
0:54:04 RN: Sorry, do you want to explain that? So, the think tanks that do advocacy are funded quite substantially by philanthropy. So.
0:54:11 S3: Right, but it’s sort of a, they can fund not direct advocacy, they can fund public education. So advocacy and lobbying. It’s more of a lobbying issue.
0:54:22 S1: That same would apply to the Boston Foundation?
0:54:25 S3: No, we, because, we are private-public, we are a public charity. We actually are not bound by the same rules as private. See the…
0:54:33 S1: You can fund lobbying?
0:54:34 S3: Yes, we can fund lobbying, and we actually have lobbyists on staff. We do a lot of lobbying. We’ve worked on the education reform laws here, healthcare reform, we work on a lot of housing reform. So we do a lot of public policy work ourselves. And the intent of that was actually good because the intent was that privately funded foundations, which is, the nature of a private individual or a family controlling a certain amount of wealth, putting it for charitable purposes and using it for their own self-interest focused policy agendas. That was the reason why this was put in place. But it does create a problem. However, there is a form of non-profit that many large organizations like Home For Little Wanderers will have a C4. Typically, there are 501c3 that are public charities, those organizations can actually get involved in lobbying and advocacy and you have to fill in, you actually have to report your activities to the IRS and it’s called, sort of an H election. You elect to do a certain amount of lobbying and certain amount is allowed, but if you go beyond that, you’re sort of, you can be held accountable for… They take a look at your IRS activities and see what share of your overall work is lobbying and advocacy.
0:56:16 S1: Though I think, broader question is… So, technically, as a C4 might be able to fund advocacy. But my understanding of your question was, given that a large chunk of philanthropy and especially impact investing is going into services.
0:56:32 S3: Yeah.
0:56:33 S1: There’s a huge gap. So, how can that be filled? Is that…
0:56:39 S4: Yeah. And so what are the barriers too. If you think that Civil Society plays a key role in holding government accountable, civil societies particularly in an apparently rationalized political planning in the both countries now where, sorry, where a small organization is not gonna make much of an impact unless you have sort of a larger force behind it. When does that work get done, sort of what kinds of areas does that work get done, funding advocacy and what areas are sort of faltering and where most of the funding is going into service provisions leaving a big gap?
0:57:09 RN: So, the intricacies of this in America, I really need to study this to understand how it can, in the light of what I said about the election funding, with this needs to be really understood. But in India, certainly, today there is a demand for more evidence base for decision making, for policy, so a new host of think-tanks are being set up, funded with philanthropic capital that are building out evidence for public policies. So that’s a kind of indirect advocacy platform. But in India, because decision-making in our rather noisy democracy at the political level, is made in many, many ways and not just one way. Many even small organizations have been very highly effective in doing policy advocacy based on fairly small sample sizes of their own work and effectiveness. And that’s really for example, right to information or the right to work in India came out of the work of two or three organizations that have done work at say a district level scale. And were able from there to take up very strong advocacy positions and successfully implement their work as public policy which was then nationally rolled out.
0:58:25 RN: So in India, in fact, there are many advocates of all kinds, and sometimes, you can be very effective even without much philanthropy capital backing you because the system is open based on sometimes just individuals, sometimes courts, you can get a lot of stuff done through the justice system in India, so it’s very different from here, as I can tell.
0:58:52 S3: And in fact, actually here too, for instance, the recent minimum wage law that was passed in Massachusetts, the universal healthcare in Massachusetts, all of that advocacy and lobbying actually was done, it was very grassroots in nature. It was the faith-based industry, the unions and community-based non-profits that actually advocated and it was a lot of door knocking and collecting of signatures and things that actually led to some major changes. So, I think there’s a lot of advocacy and lobbying that happens, but it happens in different ways. It could be called education, it could be called enabling, creating the enabling infrastructures and all, but it happens.
0:59:37 RN: But, since we are talking about philanthropy, I think the important thing is that when philanthropy capital is being deployed for advocacy, there should be some transparency mechanism so that you know, again my same point, big money advocating a certain position, society needs to know why and the intent. So that’s where I think…
1:00:01 S3: And I see a lot of think tanks are actually funded…
1:00:04 RN: Yeah they are.
1:00:05 S3: By powerful interests.
1:00:07 RN: Absolutely.
1:00:09 S3: So getting to your question about the economic development and the issue of STEM and girls, and where non-profit should be investing their… Like I said earlier that poverty is very, very complex. So, I think the self esteem is probably one of those enabling factors for a child. If you are feeling, if you don’t feel good about yourself, you don’t learn as well. If you’re not, if you’re hungry, you don’t learn as well. If you’re not stably housed, you don’t learn as well. So, I think there’s a lot of complexity and I do think that by and large, I think a lot of non-profits are filling those little niches. You know I don’t think that there are scaled attempt and systemic attempts as trying to create the change and sort of what you really bring up for me is the issue of equity. The way I define equity is about fairness and justice. It is about giving a leg up to those, who for no fault of theirs, got left behind. Whether it was because of their zip code or where they live or because of their race and whether it is poor white and rural or it is African-American in inner city, I think the nature of a just society should be that we give those who for no fault of theirs got left behind a leg up.
1:01:40 S3: And I think when you look at it from those perspectives, I have for instance, we advocate very heavily for investing in African-American and Latino populations because, for two reasons, one is of African-American in particular because of a historic injustice that was rooted way back in slavery and the way civil society was structured and when you look at future projections, it is where the workforce is going to be and those populations are actually getting left behind, so it’s an economic competitiveness thing as well.
1:02:12 RN: So, I think, I agree with you. I think you are talking about ensuring that everyone has a clear access to opportunity. And so while we’re talking about things like self-esteem, we also need to make sure that the real work, to make sure that every child is in school. So for example, a good school and is achieving the learning outcomes that she needs to be able to go ahead. So I would say that even though I said earlier that it should not all be about outcomes and impact assessment, I think these things are important. So, I would like to give example, a lot of the focus in India today is on learning outcomes, because all our children are now enrolled in schools, we realize they’re falling behind, year on year, a citizen survey tells us that one out of two children in the fifth grade cannot read as much as a second grade child should able to. And when I say that sometimes people say, “Oh you’re talking about America, aren’t you?” So, it’s clearly a global problem.
1:03:08 RN: But attention is getting focused that if you don’t, for example, in India, 60% of our population still has to open, has to do defecation in the open and the country seems to have made up its mind that we are going to change that and is possible to change it in a fairly short period of time, and that’s something that you can measure. So, I agree. An access to a toilet, an access to safe and clean water, an access to a school which is actually allow me to learn. These are not things that you should leave behind while we are waiting for other things to happen. So, I agree with you on that.
1:03:41 RN: And on the last, the gentleman’s question, it was very… Yes, it’s quite interesting. It’s quite wonderful though that someone of Afro-American descent who then becomes a Buddhist and then realizes the whole world is interconnected and that her destiny is in a Tamil Nadu village is a wonderful [chuckle] It’s a wonderful story, but I agree with you that that cannot replace public services and the responsibility of the state to deliver those services, but you can’t have it all at once, and rather than wait for that to happen, you have to start working to create the voice in that society. So, I believe in all my work, I’ve seen that as you begin to raise the quality of demand from the citizenry, the quality of supply has to respond. There is no way that the supply side can resist pressure built from bottom up. So, anything that allows that pressure to be built in a strategic way, is absolutely critical, whether it’s because a wonderful Buddhist decided to come and offer herself in a village.
1:04:49 S1: Let’s take the next round. Let’s start on this side. Can you get the mic over here first? .
1:04:57 S1: The mic is just for recording, so you still have to speak up loud enough so we can hear you.
1:05:00 Speaker 7: No problem.
1:05:00 S1: We will take one here and then the gentleman over there and then we will come to you over here.
1:05:04 S7: So I think both of you…
1:05:06 S1: What’s your name?
1:05:07 S7: Amelia Cohen, I’m a lawyer. Both of you mentioned the deforming effect of large donors, especially in a very unequal society such as US and India. But I’ll focus on the US now as you know we have the 1% and one of the things that government needs and one of the things that I think philanthropy could try to bring about, would be a sufficient tax base to be able to implement many social services, many social programs. So what do we do about the offshore addresses, what do we do about a crazy tax code full of loopholes. I imagine you have something similar in India, but I don’t know the details. So how is the philanthropy going to get ahead given the fact that you’re facing the deforming effect of… David Cock happens to, in addition to putting his dark money into all sorts of nefarious causes, he likes ballet. Well, I like ballet too, but I think it should be sort of a more general social decision, what gets funded in the arts, etcetera. So how do you see that problem and how do you think it could be dealt with by philanthropists or by the society as a whole? Thank you.
1:06:21 S1: Just back here, the gentleman with the glasses. Yes and before you speak, one can frame this last question here as one of, “How is it that philanthropists can be accountable to society?”
1:06:32 RN: Yeah.
1:06:32 S1: I think that’s the broader thing in this case…
1:06:35 S?: You’ve answered my question.
1:06:37 Speaker 8: I’m Ramnath I’m a doctor at Harvard Medical School and I also do work in research in some settlements with PUKAR an NGO in Mumbai. So I’ve sort of… This is toward Miss Nilekani I was really encouraged by your words. To my mind, in this shift from the Gandhian Marxist sort of philanthropic background to the current sort of corporate market mindset, sees two problems. One is that people tend to give money to people like themselves. [chuckle] And one problem has been with the rise of social entrepreneurship is almost taking up the entire space in a sense, there’s almost this flow of money amongst, if not social entrepreneurs, the consultants to the social entrepreneurs. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on that because that’s a problem because people who don’t speak English, for example, in India, organizations that run with staff that are not of a certain corporate mindset aren’t seen to be… Don’t seem to be getting the funding.
1:07:29 S8: And the second is, funding going to groups such as human rights lawyers who advocate for Dalits, these sectors that were funded internationally, for a large part and now with the evacuation of that and a corporate sector that won’t fund that, people who want to for example, engage with the government in any way whatsoever which the market mindset doesn’t believe in, how can we address that and what are your thoughts on those problems.
1:07:53 S1: Okay. Let’s take one last question right here.
1:07:58 S9: Vanita Shastri, Rohini a question for you, in your own work in water, could you give us one or two examples of success story, which could then be as a best practice or lesson for the rest of the country? And same for you Geeta, would there be something here, in your work in the last 25-30 years, which could be like a best practice that could be given or transfered to other states in the United States? Thank you.
1:08:25 S1: Rohini you wanna start?
1:08:26 RN: To your question of the tax GDP ratios, it’s a much bigger question than the two of us can address but I do agree that philanthropy can not replace government’s ability to tax and direct that money for the larger public interest. It can’t and it shouldn’t attempt to. Philanthropy is very important but it should not be the only thing, it has a limited though important role to play and sometimes we tend to forget that because of the kind of large philanthropy that is happening around the world. So to your point, I don’t know what more we can say on that because that’s a very long question but it’s a very important question and the thing is, my conviction is that societies will allow… Or governments will allow the wealthy to have a easy taxation regime only so long as society feels that that wealth is being used at least as well as the government would have used it in taxation terms. And when that does not happen there is going to be a backlash. So that’s why the responsibility of that wealth to deploy itself, at least as well as if it had been used as taxation, as tax money is something that isn’t a live question all around the world today.
1:09:51 RN: To your point about, those are the comments I began with, that today, the kind of philanthropic capital that was going into supporting human rights inclusion, equity and non-market solutions is really shrinking. And a lot of my personal work is to demons… Not only to fund that stuff myself, whether it’s access to justice or anything else but also to create a coalition of people. So some of the things that I do is, go around, we do round tables in different cities in India and showcase the very good and innovative work of people who are working for governance, accountability, transparency, justice, independent media, creating voice, etcetera and show how, what kind of impact they are having. And just allow them to meet future philanthropists or current philanthropists. And we’ve been doing this now for the last five years and I believe something’s happening. Because you’re right that you tend to, the wealthy today, do feel like markets are, markets have benefited them and markets are going to benefit Indian society and they put a lot of their philanthropic rupee into that sort of work.
1:11:03 RN: But I think everyone is now realizing at the end of it, no matter what you do, you’re going to hit a governance deficit. And whether you want to work in water or entrepreneurship or anything else, you hit the governance deficit and you’re trying to make the case that you need to invest in organizations that help the government to work better and societies to put pressure on government better. And I think it’s working. And to the last point in water, may give a quick example, so that Geeta can speak. There are many things that I believe we have done that have been interesting. One is of course the water portal and that I think just creating an open resource for the public to use, that it’s a lot of people can put in their knowledge and other people can use, it has been very useful.
1:11:50 RN: The second, I would say, for example because governments have been ineffective in protecting water resources in far-flung areas. I’ll give you just one example of the spring systems in our hilly regions in the Himalayas and in the Western Ghats and in the Eastern hills as well. Government doesn’t reach those communities and their water supply was getting spring, they were usually relying on springs, but those springs are degenerating, and we supported a lot of work, and now, we’ve created a whole sort of knowledge based on typologies of springs renewal in India. And I think that while we wait for the whole system and the grid to turn up in every corner of India, I think allowing people simple gravity-based systems with a little bit of institution building and really you get a sustainable and high quality water resource for people. And that’s the kind of work that I would take.
1:12:49 S3: So, I’m going to respond to the… I actually think that we’ve created a problem for ourselves in the US by, I think, the nature of, or the ineffectiveness of government in many cases that actually led to a lot of private individuals feeling because of a lack of faith in government the need to control your own giving, to direct your own giving, to try to solve the problems of the world because government was not able to do that and I think government fed into that problem by devolving of its responsibility and handing it over to the private sector.
1:13:27 S3: I think the whole conversation that I started in this country about taxation about, with Warren Buffet taking a big lead in the idea of taxing the rich more, I think, is an issue that I think is going to continue. I do think that we have to deal with some level of taxation because if we continue in the route that we are on, government is going to step back further and further way from its responsibility and then you wonder, what is government’s responsibility? Other than military, police and those kinds of functions. Because I think there are issues of basic constitutional issues of basic rights, right to an education, right to housing, right to…
1:14:23 S3: Right. We don’t have economic rights in our Constitution, but I think there are, actually Massachusetts is right to housing state, but of course, government is not able to meet the housing needs of the people in this state, leave alone the country. So, I think it’s an issue that, I think, needs to be continuously fed and needs to be in conversation because I think if we don’t hold government accountable, if it is going to continue to move in a direction, when I look at… And I actually look at this, this is a big issue if you think that by 2050, about 55 trillion is going to move into the hands of individuals. That huge transfer of wealth and then you look at it and say that what does that mean? I think it also responds to the question that you… What does that mean for the responsibility of government on the one hand or what impact can individuals then have on the shape and nature of society? And also that the thing that both Rohini and I lifted up earlier, which is that individual decisions will have different implications rather than collective action which is something that government as a representative of people was responsible for. So, I think that’s sort of, I think, a key issue, I think that’s a really important thing that we need to keep track of.
1:15:53 S3: So, on your question that you raised, I think one of the things that strikes me about the concern that I had raised earlier about the professionalization of the social sector is that the social sector has become a poverty industry in itself. So what tends to happen is that you… When I look at it from the context of a small community, so people, there’s concentrated poverty in a community, people come in from the outside, provide the services, do the case management, do all of that stuff and then leave. And you have not built any permanent capacity in the community. And so one of the areas, actually a very interesting project that is actually nationally known here called the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative was an effort that was launched by residents. They have actually created a model where they hire from within, they train from within, and they built permanent capacity within the community. Their executive director today is the chief of Economic Development Services for the city.
1:16:58 S3: So, you can imagine as the chief of economic development for Boston who was rooted in a neighborhood, who grew up in that neighborhood, who fought for issues in the neighborhood, I can already see as he’s talking about community development, economic development in the city of Boston, his approaches are actually looking at the issue of social equity, because it’s a lived experience. So, I think, ensuring that as we are investing in organizations, we are looking at who they hire? Who’s on their board? How they provide their services? I think is a really important…
1:17:34 S?: I’m glad you brought that up because a friend of mine is one of the applicants for the Roxbury Innovation Center and that is here, in the Boston public school, and I’m very happy to hear that, and they are members actually from the community and they wanna start an incubator just like you have CIC, Cambridge Innovation Center, you have the innovation district, why can’t you have it? I do see, that’s where I’m very… I said, anything I can do to advocate or support him, I’m on board for that. Just the other frilly stuff, just to make people feel good and makes me crazy.
1:18:07 S?: With all the incredible needs that we have here, right here, and a wonderfully, like I said wonderfully rich state.
1:18:13 S8: So, I’m mindful of the time we have. I just…
1:18:14 S3: I want to respond to Vanita for one quick minute. I want to give you a really wonderful example of a poverty intervention that I… That we’ve been funding in Boston that I think is just amazing. It is, it’s called the Family Independence Initiative and it’s actually in many cities in America as well, but we’ve been sort of experimenting with this model in a place based, in a very focused geography where families actually come together in groups of six to eight. They develop their life plans… And then they support each other, and it’s a phenomenal… It is about the building of more than the issue of poverty reduction, it is about breaking the isolation of poverty, building social capital, and it’s really interesting that these groups of families are now starting to get together, and they are holding the school department accountable for the quality of education of their children. So social capital has a way of building that kind of accountability and voice that low income communities typically would not have. So I think that was one that comes to mind. It’s called the Family Independence Initiative.
1:19:27 S1: So, we’ve got just about two minutes, so a minute for each of you. I’d like to…
1:19:32 S3: Some of your life? [chuckle]
1:19:33 S1: Yes, if you’d like to give us one, leave us with one last thought to ponder as we think about the future of philanthropy.
1:19:45 RN: You want to go…
1:19:45 S3: You go ahead…
1:19:46 RN: So yeah, I think I’ve said a lot of the things that I want to say, I think yes, we want wealth generation, but we want to hold wealth accountable to society for the larger public interest, and I think there is public pressure on wealth now, and I think that has to stay up. I think there’s a lot to learn across countries, many of the wealthy across countries are now much more conscious about having to give back and there’s a lot to learn from each other. I think we need much more strategic collaboration among philanthropists, and as I said, eventually, what you want is philanthropy to be important but to be limited in its influence, because I believe that it must be, that philanthropic capital must be deployed eventually to make itself redundant.
1:20:45 S3: I couldn’t agree with you more. [chuckle] I guess the thought that I want to leave or solve with is that, there is growing inequity, the world over, the world over, it is not an American problem, it’s not an Indian problem, it’s a problem all over the world. Today about 85 of the wealthiest people in the world have net worth equivalent to or greater than 3.5 billion people in this world. That’s an unacceptable thing and I think…
1:21:24 RN: Yeah, I just read the statistics, the top 5% wealthy people have equal to 90% of the population. No, the world population so…
1:21:36 S3: So, I mean, I think that’s a very challenging and a thought provoking question itself, what will it take to create a more equal world, because there are, if you look even very closely at the nature of what that does to a community, to a city, to a region, to a nation, to the world, I think it is, it’s only harmful, it will never help. I think we need to lift back the nature of government. I do think that that’s a big concern and a big issue. I think particularly in America, where we are just seeing individual wealth grow and the distribution of wealth. I think the nature of philanthropy is shifting and I’m excited about that shift. It is going from compassion, which was the very, what is it called, sort of a missionary approach to giving to a passionate approach to giving. So it’s going from compassion to passion.
1:22:49 S3: I like the fact that philanthropy is also shifting from transactional to transformational. So it’s, it’s not that you one time give, it is the, you give and you continue to give and you give more because you’re trying to solve a problem. I think the third thing that I think I really I’m excited about is that this nature of what we called charity is moving to impact. And you know the word charity is a very demeaning word. I don’t want, I don’t want someone’s charity. We all say that, “I don’t want your charity”. Why do we say that? It’s because there’s something about it that kills our souls, it demeans us, it makes us feel less than we are, it puts someone up on a pedestal, it gives them the power what you were talking about, the nature, the power of money, it’s a pity that of all of the values in the world as a society we chose to make money, bigger than everything. Bigger than honesty, bigger than honor, bigger than just love, whatever you call it, all kinds of things. We’ve lifted it, and we made it king of all. So, I think I’m actually excited about the future, I wish I had been born like 20 years later, so that I had that many more years with a younger generation who’s gonna have all the money and the right approaches of giving.
1:24:25 RN: Not to have the last word or anything, but we didn’t talk about joy and how human beings are really wired for giving and sharing and emerging neuroscience work is also telling us that. So I think we should keep that as a prism to look at philanthropy, too. We are wired for giving, and sharing. It doesn’t just have to be money. And I think we should keep that in mind.
1:24:48 S1: With that note, thank you both very much.