A new demand for investment via money, talent and time in social impact work- the future of philanthropy

Organisation:  Bhomik Shah

Based on the report Á Philanthropist Guide to the Future’

Posted On:  12 May . 2017
A new demand for investment via money, talent and time in social impact work- the future of philanthropy

A new demand for investment via money, talent and time in social impact work; understanding the future of philanthropy in the Dell way

The philanthropy sector has gone through rapid changes in past few decades and those who are willing to fund an idea or project should consider funding fresh ideas from the social entrepreneurs.  According to the report Á Philanthropist Guide to the Future’, released by The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), the traditional funding as grants for programmatic interventions have struggled a lot to make huge impacts on world’s development problems.

In an attempt to explore what works best in philanthropy, how to make impacts that help in addressing world’s most challenging problems, and where the philanthropy sector is heading for, the Foundation surveyed 697 social impact professionals including NGOs, government officials, leadership teams of NGOs and other experts.

The report brings out a few crucial points that will help many organizations and individuals who are looking at making an impact through philanthropy.

Since its inception in 1999 the Foundation has committed close to USD 1.3 billion in grants and loans in the U.S., India and South Africa. The Foundation has added USD 1 billion more to continue their support to make impacts and to solve development problems. One of the key aspects of MSDF’s funding is impact investment in social entrepreneurs.

The report brings out that more than 60% of respondents think social entrepreneurs are crucial to develop the next wave of effective solutions to major development problems. 53% respondents believe that it’s the non-monetary support in the form of volunteering, strategic support and guidance by the mentors (meeting with decision makers) that is needed in terms of philanthropic support rather than monetary support.

The report mentions: A new demand for investment via money, talent and time in social impact work implies that there is no monetary prerequisite or price of entry for contributing to the landscape. Many of the sector professionals we interviewed stressed the need to challenge people’s assumptions about how they can contribute to a cause.

The report highlights that impact practitioners need to go to the root of the problem to understand the challenge before setting on the journey to find solutions. To keep it straight, peripheral solutions do not help in solving societal problems.

When it comes to seed funding innovative ideas with some risk involvement, philanthropic foundations are better equipped when compared to large nonprofits, public institutions or any similar entity because all but foundations have a set of stakeholders whose interest can hamper or block innovations.

When it comes to collaborations, 80% of the respondents believe that building partnerships is critical for effective social impact work. This partnership can be business-nonprofit, government-nonprofit or business-government.

One important perspective that underlines crucial aspect of social impact sector is information sharing, especially, the failures and missteps in the interventions. Almost 76 percent of the respondents indicated that it is most useful for organizations to share their failures and pitfalls in achieving impact.

When it comes to the duration of the engagement between philanthropist and entrepreneurs, most of them believe that the engagement has to be for long term, till the initiative is self-sustaining.

The Foundation has released a set of principles, The Dell Social Impact Principles, based on the analysis and outcome of the survey. These eight principles (as mentioned in the report) are:


The only way to solve the surface-level challenge is to address what’s happening underneath. Use your passion and skills to dig deep and find the roots of the problem.



Our greatest challenges require doing some things differently. Push the boundaries and be willing to take risks where others won’t.



Behaviors change slowly. Time is often the most important investment you can make. It’s going to take more than one try to make an impact, and it’s going to take more than one success to make a difference.



Money doesn’t solve problems, people do. A combination of talent, ideas, resources and execution is the only way to create solutions that last



Collaboration among unlikely partners amplifies impact. Find people who challenge your thinking and invest in them.



Evidence is the only way to know whether you’re making a difference, but not all data is created equal. Always measure, but be smart about what you measure, and how.



Your outcomes, both good and bad, are opportunities for others to learn and do better. We all win when we learn together.



No one ever said that creating lasting change was easy. The work ahead is incredibly challenging. When you see the real-world impact your work has made, you’ll know the effort was worth it.


(Bhomik is the co-founder of NGOBOX and CSRBOX and has been closely involved in business-nonprofit engagement for past seven years. The article is based on the recent report released by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation)
He can be reached at bhomik@ngobox.org




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