We have got a pretty decent start to Pick A Fight. We made the Pick a Fight website live on 15 May, and have been making continuous updates on it since then. We have been covered by MyBangalore.com, Bangalore Mirror and Deccan Chronicle as far as media coverage goes. More than 20 people have volunteered to join our team to help with Pick A Fight activities. We have started working with a few fights and on-the-ground activities / campaigns will start soon.
Having said that, giving and philanthropy in India is still in the very nascent stages. The world leader in philanthropy is US which contributes about 2.2% of its GDP whereas India only contributes 0.6% of its GDP to philanthropy. Most of the philanthropy in the west is from individuals while individual contribution is just 10% of India’s. So why has giving not picked up in India? What are the challenges before us? Can our philanthropy standards keep pace continuous economic growth?
The way our government and bureaucracy works, there is a lot left to be desired if you consider the effectiveness of work happening. Many of the laws and regulations are outdated. Taking permissions and certificates is a slow process and can take up to a year in many cases. Add to them the problem of corruption and this hampers the intentions of people even if they are willing to help otherwise.
Apart from our families, we have a very small circle of trust. Especially when it comes to matters of money, we tend to see everybody with suspicion rather than trust. Most of the giving today is facilitated by government agencies and NGOs and other agencies in the non-government sector, where unfortunately, the levels of corruption is too high for anybody to feel trustworthy donating to them.
Officers and people holding offices in our government and bureaucracy are rarely held accountable for their duties. It is very easy for them to go back on their promises and duties without fear of any penalty, loss of pay or punishment. This kind of attitude further discourages people and organizations to give their money and resources to philanthropy.
Measuring Social Impact
If we somehow ignore the above three factors and consider all the work which is happening in the social sector, it is very difficult to measure the social impact of philanthropic efforts of India. There are no set standards or benchmarks to compare to. It is very difficult to measure how many households have come out of poverty, or how many people have improved their standards of living due to a particular philanthropic effort.
Considering that Pick a Fight and other philanthropic efforts have to work in an environment consisting of the above four factors, it is surely going to be a challenge. Getting the trust of people, and holding ourselves accountable for whatever tasks we take up is going to be the key for creating a sustainable giving movement in India.
We will also need to devise ways of measuring the social impact we are causing. The work we do might have social, economic and environmental impact but measuring them is very important for them to be properly acknowledged by one and all. “What can be measured can be improved” goes a popular saying. Knowing how well you are achieving your objectives can help you plan better for the future. It also highlights the importance of the work we do, to our partners, customers, staff and volunteers, donors or to a government agency.
Although it is not easy or well defined how to measure social benefit, its importance should be evident to all. Only by constantly making efforts in this direction keeping in mind the interests of our various stakeholders will help us in creating a new culture of giving and promoting philanthropy in India.