Philanthropy in India is rapidly gaining momentum, yet relevant research remains scarce. Therefore, the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University launched a research fellowship in 2020 aimed at building this field, strengthening research capacity, and creating high quality, rigorous outputs.


So far, CSIP has mentored two cohorts of research fellows- Cohort of 2021 and Cohort of 2022. This call is for all interested researchers and scholars to apply for CSIP’s Cohort of 2023.


Beginning February 2023, a cohort of 10 fellows will spend 9 months conducting research on a topic related to Indian philanthropy and giving trends. The fellows are expected to undertake primary research, attend monthly calls, and participate in three online workshops to develop their skills in background research, literature review, data collection methods, analysis and writing.


The Research Fellowship can be conducted digitally with primary research undertaken via computer, tablet, or phone. At the end of the fellowship, fellows are expected to produce an 8,000-word high-quality working paper to be published on CSIP’s website.


The total fellowship amount is INR 9,00,000 per fellowship, which includes stipend and research expenses.


Research Areas

The broad areas of research for this year are as follows:


  1. What does philanthropy in India look like?
  • How do we define philanthropy in India?
  • What kind of philanthropy exists in India? Why does it look the way it looks? What are drivers of philanthropy and giving in India? 
  • What does the philanthropy and giving landscape look like outside of the main metros? Do practices differ across geographies, and urban and rural locations? 
  • How is philanthropy diversifying out of traditional sectors towards topics such as climate change, scientific research and mental health?
  • Does philanthropy fund movements, and if so, how? Do we see philanthropists joining forces to fund bigger causes?
  • How do different civil society organisations approach philanthropy in India? What are their fundraising strategies?
  • What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the philanthropy ecosystem in India?


  1. What do different kinds of giving look like in India?
  • What does individual giving look like? Who gives, for what, how and why?
  • What does community-based giving and volunteering look like in different communities? 
  • How do family offices give?
  • What are practices associated with giving in kind? 
  • Non-formal giving (not giving to an institution but to a family member, employee or similar)
  • How do people decide how much to give – norms on level of giving. Is it about who asks? 
  • How does giving in India differ compared to other countries? What are specific incentives and traits that affect the way giving takes place in India compared to other countries?
  • How does the diaspora give in India?  What are different drivers of giving among the Indian diaspora? Does diaspora giving to India differ to how diaspora give elsewhere? 
  • What are the different non-traditional forms of giving in India? 
  • How does online giving and crowdfunding work in India? What are the incentives or barriers to give through such platforms?


Candidates must be based full-time in India, demonstrate an interest and relevant background in philanthropy, have the capacity to undertake rigorous research during the fellowship period, and be able to produce a working paper of publishable quality (with help from workshops and support). 


For the 2023 Research Fellowship, we seek two types of fellows: 1) individual researchers, 2) individuals working with small grassroots nonprofit organisations in India, who can spend half of their time on the research project. For the second type of fellows, a fellowship may be shared between two or three individuals in the organisation. All applicants will be required to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for their parent organisation. 


Fellows will be selected based on the strength of their research proposal, previous research experience, ability to commit to the fellowship, and ability to produce the desired output. Women, LGBTQIA+, Dalit, Adivasi, people with disabilities and members of other minority and marginalised groups are particularly encouraged to apply.


Research proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the uniqueness of the proposal, its relevance to the research areas identified, coherence, rigour and methodology, and feasibility.

Application Process

Interested candidates should submit the following by November 6, 2022


  1. One-page proposal of your research idea 
  2. CV
  3. One-page cover letter detailing your interest in and qualifications for the fellowship.
  4. A sample of your written work (such as a blog post, paper, article, report and NOC)


Access the application form here


Materials must be uploaded in PDF format.

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by December 6, 2022, and requested to submit a more detailed proposal together with three references by January 6, 2022. Only complete

applications will be considered. Fellows will be selected after a round of interviews and  final selection by a jury of experts. The jury’s decisions will be final.

For queries, please email csipresearch@ashoka.edu.in with subject line Research Fellowship-2023 Query.

Can undergraduate or masters students apply?

No. The individual fellowship is for individuals with several years of relevant professional research experience.

Can a group of individuals apply for a fellowship?

No, we accept only individual fellowships. The only exception is if you and a colleague already work at a grassroots-based small nonprofit and wish to apply as a group.

Who is eligible to apply as a group working for an NGO?

Only staff already working with small grassroots nonprofit organisations are eligible to apply for a shared fellowship as part of that nonprofit. Staff should have several years of working experience.

Can individuals from multiple NGOs apply together?

No. You either apply as an individual for an individual fellowship or as a member of staff of a small grassroots nonprofit organisation.

Can I apply if I already have a job or am a faculty / doctoral student /postdoc?

You may apply provided that you can make at least 60% of your time available during the workweek for working on the project AND your employer/university provides us with a No Objection Certificate (NOC) before taking up the fellowship. (NOC is not required at this stage).

Will you respond to all applicants that have applied?

No. Unfortunately, due to the expected large number of applications, we will only respond to successful applicants that go through to the second round.

Will you let me know if my application is not complete?

No, we will only consider completed applications and will not let you know if your application has not been completed. Please read the instructions carefully. Please also note that you need to put “Research Fellowship 2023 Application” as the subject line for your application. If you don’t, we cannot guarantee that we will see, or consider your application.

Will you cover research costs on top of the monthly stipend?

No, we expect fellows to cover all costs within stipend.

Should my proposed research topic cover both philanthropy and giving?

No. The list of themes is a guide as to what areas that are of interest to us this particular year, so you don’t need to cover all themes. Pick one from the list that you would like to work on.

I have an idea that is not included in any of the relevant list themes – can I submit it instead?

The shortlisted topics were drawn up after careful consideration and align with our priorities this year. It is unlikely that a topic that does not closely link to the list of themes, will align as well with our priorities.

Do you have an upper or lower age limit?

No, we don’t.

Can I live anywhere in the world?

No, you need to live full-time in India and have the right to work in India.

Are the workshops optional?

No, the workshops will be mandatory.

Can you complete the research fellowship in a shorter period of time?

No, we expect fellows to be part of the fellowship for the full duration.

What will I get at the end of the fellowship?

You will get a certificate from CSIP and your working paper will be published on our website.

Will you actually respond to all email queries?

We will respond to all queries that have “Research Fellowship 2023 Query” in the subject line. We cannot guarantee that we will see and respond to other messages.

How much is the fellowship amount?

The stipend will be INR 1 lakh per month per fellowship, for both individual and group fellowships. When two or three persons share a fellowship they also share the INR 1 lakh stipend.

Research Topic:

(Re)Defining Philanthropy as Ethical Responsibility: A Gandhian Perspective



Bhakti Patil



About Bhakti

Bhakti has spent the last 7 years working with non-profits in India with a focus on organisational development, fundraising, strategic partnerships, and grant management. She is currently affiliated with Trayas, a regulatory research and policy advisory organisation. More recently, she led business development at the Adhyayan Foundation and Centre for Civil Society (CCS). She serves as Guest Faculty with the Indian School of Public Policy coaching students and young professionals in fundraising and grant management. Bhakti holds a Master’s and M.Phil degree in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. She has been a DAAD Research Fellow (Germany) and Smith Fellow (Atlas Network, USA), and a graduate of the Asia Institute of Political Economy (The Fund for American Studies/George Mason University, USA). Her research interests include Gandhian thought, lōkavidyā and non-eurocentric knowledge systems, and ethics and alterity in contemporary philanthropy. 






Research Topic:

Diaspora philanthropy and transnational giving among the Mappilas of Kerala


Mufsin Puthan Purayil




About Mufsin

Mufsin is a PhD Candidate in Public Policy & Management at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, India. His doctoral research focuses on the job search and migration strategies of the Mappila community in Kerala, India. He has qualified for the UGC Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and has been a DAAD Fellow to the Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Germany. His work has appeared in Global Change, Peace & Security, Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, Sociological Bulletin, Decision, and The Diplomat. His research interests include labour migration, social networks, immigrant entrepreneurship, work and organisations, and public policy in contemporary India and the Persian Gulf. 








Research Topic:

Disruptive Fundraising through Donation Based Crowdfunding



Safoora Zargar



About Safoora

Safoora Zargar is a research scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is currently pursuing her MPhil from the department of Sociology. Her thesis is titled ‘Socio-Spacial Segregation Among Muslims in Delhi- A case study of Ghaffar Manzil Colony’. Through her work she seeks to understand the dynamics of segregation in a largely upper middle class muslim colony in Delhi, often egregiously labelled as a Ghetto. 


As part of the CSIP Fellowship she seeks to explore emerging trends in fundraising by way of an in-depth qualitative analysis of ‘donation based crowdfunding’ which is understood to be disrupting the fundraising process. She aims to understand the changing form and content of ‘giving’ in India, the changing motivations that condition giving behaviour and how far donation-based crowdfunding is democratising fundraising in India.







Research Topic:

How has the changing landscape of philanthropy shaped the queer movement and formation of queer identities in India?






About Shwetambera

Shwetambera is a development professional with 15 years of experience in rights-based interventions and policy advocacy. She currently manages TRANScend, an initiative by The Humsafar Trust, India’s oldest and largest LGBTQ+ organisation. TRANScend aims to enhance inclusion of transgender persons in India through research and intervention into socio-economic needs of the communities, capacity building of transgender community organisations and sensitisation of corporates, educational institutions and other stakeholders. She holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from University of Manchester.









Research Topic:

Mapping Philanthropy in Juvenile Justice Social Work



Sheetal Devasthali



About Sheetal

Sheetal has extensive experience in the area of Criminal Justice System including researches  on the issue of burking of crime in the police system and way forward towards citizen friendly  policing, the issue of human trafficking in India, journey of women offenders in the Criminal  Justice System. She has been involved in implementation of programmes on Juvenile Justice  System and gender based violence. She possess education in Law from Mumbai University  and Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.










Research Topic:

Freecycling in India: Mapping an emerging community-driven giving model



Saritha Sudhakaran



About Saritha

Saritha is an experienced urban designer professional, currently working at rePurpose Global as a Senior Impact Manager. She has over 13 years of experience working in architecture. urban design and sustainable development. Saritha also curates the Waste Less Project – an initiative promoting conscious consumerism and a less waste lifestyle. 











Research Topic:

Feminist funding in India – history & origins vs practice


Taranga Sriraman



About Taranga

Taranga Sriraman is a professional social worker, a feminist and a socialist. She has been involved with social movements since childhood, and has worked full-time in the social development sector for over 15 years. Her areas of interest & expertise are gender, sexuality, gender-based violence response interventions, large scale programme design, work with State systems, and organisational development. She is interested in the political economy of feminist work in these areas, and enjoys teaching-learning through training & academic engagements. Her key work so far has been with the MHRD as National Consultant to Mahila Samakhya programme (2008-12) and as Strategic Coordinator at the Resource Centre for Interventions on VAW, TISS (2012-2021). Since October 2020 she engages in perspective building & capacity support work with a range of organisations as an independent consultant. 






Research Topic:

Building People’s agency: The role of the growing due of philanthropies and social impact start-ups



Prachi Singhal



About Prachi

Prachi is a recent Chevening Scholar and an MSc, Public Policy Graduate from SOAS, University of London. Passionate about the bottom-top policy building approach, she resonate with active citizenship, progressive feminist politics, diversifying our political and civic arena and to contribute create a thriving support ecosystem for policy, politics, systemic, and behavioural change. 


Passionate about inclusive development, she currently leads  Gender Integration in the Powering Livelihoods,  a $3 million initiative by Council  on the Energy, Environment and Water and Villgro to transform India’s rural economy with clean energy solutions. Prior to joining CEEW, she worked at Zone Startups India, an international joint venture between Toronto-based Ryerson University and the Bombay Stock Exchange. At Zone Startups, she led multiple social impacts and corporate innovation programs, including launching and leading India’s first tech accelerator for supporting women entrepreneurs  and a global capacity building program for energy entrepreneurship, focussed solely on women entrepreneurs, in partnership with Shell Foundation. Through her work, since 2016 she has engaged with over 300 women entrepreneurs since, directly supporting around 90 of them to scale up their ventures and access funds worth $1.5 million. Her efforts have led to the creation of over net-new 500 jobs for women.





Research Topic:

Practices of Giving and Sharing in North Malabar of Kerala



Sasikumar Velloth Kuniyil



About Sasikumar

Sasikumar has submitted his PhD thesis at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University recently and completed his M Phil from the same Centre.  Previously, he completed his MA Anthropology from the Hyderabad Central University.  Before joining higher studies, Sasikumar had been associated with theNational Alliances of Peoples Movement (NAPM) as Delhi Coordinator.  Sasikumar had been doing his fieldwork in North Malabar of Kerala for his PhD thesis, ‘Money, Exchange and Modernity:  Metamorphosis of Gift Economy in North Malabar of Kerala’.  He is interested in Anthropology of Gift and Money, Anthropology of Debt, Economic Anthropology, Political Economy, Political Ecology, Ethnography and Cognitive Anthropology.