Beyond Philanthropy: Towards a Collaborative Approach in India

Mar 01, 2013
  • Description

Family, philanthropy and business are symbiotic in India. With a majority of wealth being controlled by Indian family businesses - India has the highest percentage share of family businesses in Asia, accounting for 67 percent of total listed companies with market capitalization1 of more than $50 million. Therefore, since the turn of the 19th-century family philanthropy is often considered synonymous to corporate philanthropy. In fact, the philanthropic activities of most industrial houses and family businesses continue to be led by family members and funded through a combination of corporate profits and personal donations with limited strategic vision and long-term engagement. However, as many successful Indian family businesses move towards more first-generation firms, in contrast with many family businesses in Europe and the U.S., which are already in their fourth or 2 even fifth generation , there is a growing trend towards greater professionalization and separation between family and corporate philanthropy and the term which has been at the center of much debate more recently, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To better understand the current state of philanthropy in India, it is helpful to consider this evolution through four phases which coincide with key political and economic events that reinforce the close association between family, philanthropy and business; and understanding the legacy effects of these phases on today's philanthropic landscape.