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Not just businesspersons, professional CXOs are also joining the road to philanthropy

Business families and entrepreneurs regularly feature on giving lists. But what is noteworthy is that professional CXOs are also on such lists now, as wealth through corporate earnings increases.

The Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2023 released recently showed that AM Naik, Chairman Emeritus L&T, was one of India’s most generous professional managers.
He has donated over Rs 150 crore.

Naghma Mulla, CEO of Edelgive Foundation, says there have been some professionals who have inspired by committing to causes dear to them. From Prashanth Prakash of Accel to Amit Chandra of Bain Capital, she has seen professional CXOs and business leaders take their philanthropy commitments very seriously. “I have seen them earmarking capital for causes they believe in for many years, some starting early in their journey of giving. One common factor they share is that they are comfortable with fluidity even if they do not have complete visibility on possible outcomes and timeline. They fund a range of issues, but with agility,” she says.

The underlying reasons
Venkatesh GB, Senior Vice-President, WalkWater Talent Advisors Pvt Ltd, says professional CXOs often find fulfilment in philanthropy and in giving back to society. For many, a sense of living is in giving.

Engaging in philanthropic activities gives them a sense of contributing towards the betterment of society and fostering compassion, which can positively influence their interactions with people both in and outside the workplace. Philanthropic activities can help develop empathy, broaden perspectives and provide a sense of purpose and optimism, he says.

“From a business perspective, philanthropy can offer insights into market needs, especially among the underserved population. Balancing professional success with a commitment to social responsibility can lead to a more holistic and compassionate approach to people’s leadership and life,” adds Venkatesh.

Learnings from the report
The report said that Indians donating Rs 100 crore and above have grown from 2 in 2018 to 14 in the current year. Not just that, 119 people donated more than Rs 5 crore in FY 2023, a number that went up from 11 last year.

Naghma Mulla says Indians have always been giving quietly. But earlier, people spoke about charity and the ways of giving were more informal. She says Covid has accelerated a systematic approach to giving.

For example, she shares that preCOVID, they had done a dipstick survey to understand the attitude of people towards giving and at that time, many had said they wanted to first make more money and then give back to society later.

The CEO of Edelgive Foundation says initiatives like the Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy List can provide a non-judgemental role model for people who want to give. With wealth creation accelerating over the last 2 decades, she sees professional managers eager to commit both time and money.

The average age of philanthropists in the report was 68 but some of the givers were much younger.

Areas of giving
Naghma Mulla and her team are betting on more people joining the giving side — and not just in the big cities, but also from smaller towns and cities. In terms of areas of giving, education and health have been favourite causes for many. Now, climate has become an important area.

She draws attention to how some prolific givers such Shiv Nadar and family prioritise arts and culture, an area often ignored and yet critically important for our society. The Nilekanis (Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and spouse Rohini Nilekani) have been prolific in investing in ecosystem development through their lens of “samaaj (citizen), sarkar (govt) and bazaar (markets)”.

However, some areas such as mental health, solutions for differently-abled and gender equality remain less explored, says the CEO of Edelgive Foundation.