Philanthropy in India on Upswing, Report Finds

According to a recent report from global consulting firm Bain & Company, annual private giving in India grew from $2 billion in 2006 to between $5 and $6 billion in 2010, with corporate giving increasing five-fold to $1.5 billion over the same period, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Last year at the Indian Philanthropy Forum, Bain partner Arpan Sheth presented a report (12 pages, PDF) based on data from 2006 that many members of the country's press subsequently cited as evidence that the country's richest citizens do not give enough to charity. However, Bain's recently released follow-up, India Philanthropy Report 2011 (20 pages, PDF), found that private charitable contributions in India rose from 0.2 percent of GDP in 2006 to between 0.3 and 0.4 percent in 2011, putting it ahead of other emerging economies, including China and Brazil, where charitable giving as a percentage of GDP stand at 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Despite optimism over the report's findings, the authors conclude — based on interviews with three hundred wealthy individuals — that Indian philanthropy has been limited by donor concerns about transparency and accountability in the NGO sector, a lack of donor awareness of charitable endeavors that match their interests, and, compared to many Western countries, an absence of charity-friendly tax laws.

Indeed, Madhur Singhal, a co-author of the report, said he believes philanthropy in India will not achieve the kind of impact it has in many Western countries as long as charitable contributions by individuals, as a percentage of total giving, remain relatively modest. "The culture of each market is different from the other," Singhal told the Times of India. "In the developed markets, the institutions for giving are also much [more] advanced [than] here in India. But the real disparity is because individual donations in India still constitute only 26 percent of all private charitable contributions [compared with 75 percent in the U.S. and 60 percent in the U.K.]."

"Indians Lead Among Emerging Markets in Charity." The Times of India 06/30/2011. Geeta Anand. "Charitable Indians Worry About Accountability." Wall Street Journal Blog 06/30/2011.