CSIP Conference highlights key aspects of Research on Indian Philanthropy and Giving

Wealthy Indians 20 times less generous than American peers; Power imbalance between donors and NGOs impedes social impact; Need for greater investment in knowledge building


New Delhi, May 2, 2022: The Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University, hosted its first Research Conference on Philanthropy and Giving in India. The two-day conference (April 28-29, 2022) was organised to serve as an avenue to inform as well as re-shape discourses towards building a more resilient post-pandemic third sector.

With more than 500 registrations, the conference witnessed nine presentations by Indian as well as international participants, a panel on ‘Research on Philanthropy’ and workshops on research methods for budding as well as aspiring researchers.

The panel comprising of Anant Bhagwati, partner, The Bridgespan Group; Dr Sara Konrath, social psychologist, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Gayatri Lobo, COO ATE Chandra Foundation, deliberated upon the reasons why people volunteer and give to charity, the issues in the nonprofit sector and the how data and research can support the sector in reaching its potential.

Dr Sara Konrath spoke about the reasons that make people want to give or volunteer. According to her findings, ‘egoism’ is a major inward facing factor that prompts people to give. She pointed out that trust in NGOs and altruism were two ‘outward facing’ reasons that lead people to donate.

Gayatri Lobo focused on the power-imbalance between funders and NGOs and how it comes in the way of transformative giving. She pointed out that NGOs are expected to be flexible to donors’ asks even when what the donor wants is not actually what’s most needed to achieve impact. She also highlighted the point that we in India have a long way to go to truly treat NGOs like partners in solving social and social and climate issues.

Anant Bhagwati spoke about the explosion of wealth at the higher rungs of India’s financial elites and underlined the fact that the annual wealth increase of some of the richest people in the country is more than the size of the entire philanthropy sector. Referring to a study by Dasra, he also pointed out that on an average, the wealthiest Indians are twenty times less generous than the richest Americans when it comes to philanthropy and giving.

Mark Sidel, Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison delivered the keynote address on the topic ‘Civil Society in Asia in the COVID Era: A Comparative Look at Key Themes Across the Region’ focusing on the heavy hand of the State in controlling the social sector across many Asian countries.

Elaborating on the purpose of the conference, Ingrid Srinath, Director CSIP, said,

“There is very little reliable research on philanthropy and giving in India. CSIP’s work seeks to address those gaps as well as build the field of social sector research. The conference helps showcase the research being done and encourages more such work.

Speaking about the experience of organising the conference Swati Shresth, Research Director, CSIP said,

“it was inspiring to witness the interest generated by this research conference. We are delighted to bring together current research being done on diverse aspects of philanthropy and understand the critical needs for more research in this area.”


The recording of the paper presentations, panel discussion and keynote address can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voxQ0ui1sSc