EdelGive’s Corporate Philanthropy Approach
In my experience, philanthropy works best when it is a way of supporting people or organizations who have supported your beliefs, life experiences and your vision of the future.
EdelGive has worked to create a philanthropic ecosystem of giving. Populated with NGOs, corporate entities, institutions, media agencies, and committed individuals. EdelGive has garnered the synergies inherent to an ecosystem, to leverage gains over and beyond its investment, both financial and non-financial.
In an Exclusive Interview with BW People, Vidya Shah, CEO, EdelGive Foundation talks about her and EdelGive’s vision of corporate Philanthropy.Edited Excerpts from the interview.
How do you think one should practice philanthropy in today’s time?
In my experience, philanthropy works best when it is a way of supporting people or organizations who have supported your beliefs, life experiences and your vision of the future. When it allows you to practice the values that you hold dear, and when your philanthropy is linked to your passions and interests. Why you do it is as important to understand, as how best to practice philanthropy. In understanding why it is important to examine personal motives for committing large amounts of your wealth to philanthropy. Are you looking to give back to society, do you want to make a difference, enhance your sense of family or individual significance and social legacy, use your entrepreneurial energy as leverage to find creative solutions, or a combination of two or more of these motives.
What is the rationale behind the capacity building work being taken up by EdelGive Foundation?
Besides directly funding NGOs, EdelGive also links our partner NGOs to other funding sources. Over and beyond funding, EdelGive provides NGOs with capacity building based on the needs identified by the NGOs – in terms of strategy and planning, Human Resources systems and processes, and financial sustainability development, etc. EdelGive also provides capacity building to NGOs who are outside EdelGive’s mandated areas (Education, Livelihoods and Women’s Empowerment). One of the capacity building initiatives we undertook was with the Jai Vakeel Foundation. Our team developed a comprehensive Digital Assessment Tool which generates MIS reports and analyses data, and has helped improve the team’s productivity, streamline their processes and the co-ordination between other teams.
Recently, we have started witnessing a gradual shift in the way corporates are spending on their CSR projects. They are increasingly adopting the collaborative approach. What is the reason behind moving towards a collaboration model of funding?
Businesses, when work in collaboration with government and NGOs, have the potential to contribute towards inclusive social development and bring about a collective impact. Collaboration and co-creation have consciously been a part of our ECE programme. As part of our commitment, we are partnering with the Government of Maharashtra’s initiative of improving learning outcomes in the state. It helped us ‘own’ the issue, create a framework of solutions and leverage funding support from the government, implementation support from the NGOs and other foundations. This in turn helped us develop a great template for scale and sustainability.
EGF has partnered with Dept. of Education, Govt. of Maharashtra for an Education Program. How has been your experience of working with Government?
This experience of working and implementing the ECE program with the government has been very encouraging. The Dept. of Education has also been proactive in seeking feedback, performing course-correction, as well as extending solid support on issues of coordination and execution of program activities. As with anything new and collaborative on such a large scale, there are challenges too. We navigate through the rough patches and mitigate risks by building strong local relationships at all levels of the government officials - district, block and beat. We are in the second year of the program and very motivated (by its successes to date) to look forward to building more such collaborations.
What would you suggest to foundations who are apprehensive about working with Government?
As our program spread pan India, we realized that the sheer size and complexity of the problem we were attempting to fix, was beyond our ability. We acknowledged that if we wanted to help achieve system transformation we needed to work with the government to increase reach and to avoid duplication of effort and wastage of resources. So from my experience, programmes or organizations you support can unravel or end up being wasted effort and resources, because you haven’t made the effort to engage with government, understand the entirety and scale of the problem, set common goals and put processes and systems in place. Collaboration between the all funding parties – private and government is crucial to bringing about lasting and sustainable social transformation.
How does EdelGive Foundation look at Employee Engagement?
EE (Employee Engagement) at EdelGive was conceived on the notion that there were skills and lessons within the corporate sector, and more specifically within Edelweiss’s experience that could be of considerable benefit to NGOs, and would also contribute to employee’s personal growth. We are committed to providing employees with meaningful volunteer opportunities and because we did not want it to be just a check-box activity, we took the decision to exclude EE targets from employee KRAs. Edelweiss constantly encourage our employees to volunteer the resources at their disposal be it time, money and/or knowledge and skills. Employees directly interact with the larger community through EdelGive’s partner NGOs, and also directly contribute to putting systems in place at NGOs, based on the NGO’s identified needs