We live in a humane society- striving to be just and equitable. More and more successful people throughout the world want to leave a legacy and do something that will make a difference. Philanthropy is a growing profession which builds meaningful partnerships to make this happen. It provides transformational support for amazing projects in areas as diverse as finding effective treatments for cancer or malaria in the areas where a normal person cannot get the access.
Indian philanthropy, especially individual philanthropy, is at a critical juncture. According to Bain’s “India Philanthropy Report 2017”, India’s philanthropy market has “matured” considerably, particularly when it comes to contributions from individual philanthropists. Indeed, the report finds that the amount of funds coming from individual philanthropists has grown six fold in the past five years. Contributions from individual philanthropists have also grown faster than those coming from any other source, such as foreign aid, or from corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
Over the last decade, philanthropy in India has grown rapidly. There has been healthy growth across corporate, ‘retail’, and HNI-led philanthropy. The Giving Pledge, changes to the Companies Act (CSR), and crowd-funding opportunities have all provided impetus to the sector. At the same time, there is a sharper focus on innovation, scale, sustainability, and accountability in the social impact sector. New areas of thematic interest, such as governance, scientific research, and independent media are emerging.
These developments in the philanthropy and social impact sectors have been accompanied by a growing ecosystem of support. Even at its relatively nascent stage, the ecosystem encompasses a range of service providers across domains such as legal, compliance, strategy, talent, fundraising, communication and incubation.
What is Philanthropy?
Philanthropy is a critical part of a democratic society. It is different than charity, which focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems, while philanthropy focuses on the elimination of social problems. It supports projects and endeavours from which we all benefit, such as libraries, museums and scientific research; and it also supports efforts that may be too unpopular or controversial to gain the widespread support of the general public or the government.
Why a shift towards Philanthropy?
This question comes up often in the general discussion about plans after graduating college, and rather more often when you’ve got a bachelor’s degree in any of the field and are pursuing a job in development/foundations/non-profits. But it’s also something that’s critical to a job search in the philanthropic sector. Understanding why you want to do something helps inform your reviews of the job search boards, makes interviewing a bit less scary, and allows you to talk concretely to your network about what you’re looking for. So – to answer the question, personally: Philanthropy isn’t something you do once and never again. It’s a way of life, a continuous desire to use your time, talent, and treasure to make the world a better place. The philanthropic sector is a place where your passion can really make a difference. It’s also a field where you can have a hand in changing the way things are into the way things ought to be. You can be part of building community resources, of bringing people together to talk about issues, of working collaboratively to solve a variety of problems in a community. It is believed that it’s just part of how to intend to go about changing the world. The problem-solving, process-oriented approach to the work gained from a technical or any other degree makes you organized, efficient, creative, and thorough.
Where to start
If you’re considering working as a philanthropist, here are some steps that you can follow
Get non-profit experiences
Working and volunteering in the non-profit sector will allow you to see what you like and dislike about organizations and positions within those organizations. You might connect with a certain social issue, movement or organizational function. You will learn important factors about both the field of philanthropy and yourself, and gaining that experience will benefit your future career, especially if you’re a role that involves grant seeking.
Demonstrate passion about an issue
Maybe you have a specific type of philanthropy work in mind – improving the public education system, or getting clean water to communities often forgotten. If there’s a certain cause that moves you, pursue that, this will surely help you in your career.
If you’ve always entertained the idea of living in another country and are searching for an opportunity to launch a career in philanthropy, now could be the ideal time to make that move. Working abroad will give you global experience that many philanthropies value.
Consider internships and fellowships
Although not a full-time job, internships and fellowships can be valuable opportunities which provide hands on experience within organizations. You can build relationships, learn about the field, and possibly land a full-time job. Whether by taking courses online, at a college, reading online, or attending lectures, it is important to expand your existing knowledge of the role philanthropy if you plan on working in the field.
Careers and Roles:
Most of the peer learning efforts on philanthropy is led by some leading Indian philanthropists and business leaders like the Azim Premji foundation. The platform works as a facilitator and enabler for dialogues and learning on social issues and philanthropy by the privileged in India. You can work as a research analyst where your role will involve a lot of reading across diverse subjects; meeting with diverse groups; thinking, processing and analysing; writing; planning and organizing convening for philanthropists; and some travel. This includes meeting with philanthropists, their families, and their professional teams to understand their needs. You may also be meeting with social organizations and experts from time to time; researching issues, individuals and organizations; designing and organizing different convening, curating content and working on follow-on activities; creating briefs and reports; and coordinating with offices of leaders and external vendors. While this will be a structured role, with the right attitude and capabilities, you will be able to influence and shape the strategic framework of philanthropic efforts in organizations.
These job functions are primarily found at foundations that operate similarly to think tanks and produce their own independent research connected to their grant making priorities.
Program officers figure out the who, what and how of giving out grant money. It’s your job to make sure the right grant gets to the right organization. To be a program officer, you’ve got to be an expert in your area – whether that’s public health, education, poverty or beyond. Program officers usually come to foundations after pursuing careers in academia, public charities or agencies. Foundations hire you because you have deep knowledge and expertise in a particular area.
As a Communications Specialist, you would be responsible for a non profit’s public relations and media outreach. You manage PR staff if you have them, create communication strategies and serve as the spokesperson for your organization. It’s your job to make sure your non profit is publicly seen in the best light possible – and that people have actually heard about your work.
This role involves marketing and identifying new donors and building relationships with current donors for increased giving. You may also write proposals and create presentations to pitch for business development and work closely with other units of the organization, particularly Finance, regional representatives/offices, and the organization’s global alliance to ensure the organization fundraising is represented and positioned appropriately. You also have to be knowledgeable about grantees, regulatory compliance, internal processes and track grants made and grant reports. All this can be done when you are efficient with new technology and databases.
Executive directors are like the CEOs of the non profit world. You would be responsible for identifying scope and opportunities among corporate sector to grow business development work for CSR and Payroll giving, scaling the existing fundraising model. You would also be implementing the business development strategy for financial growth besides innovating, developing and supporting new fundraising products to broad-base the organization’s streams of fundraising.
You may step into a career in philanthropy after any Liberal arts degree from universities like the Ashoka University, Delhi or Flame University, Pune as it gives you a broader mindset to get a quintessential view of systems and processes and how important it is to build an equitable and just society.
You may also get enrolled in MOOC’s and continuing degrees from Universities abroad. Having said that, philanthropy is a mindset rather than just a degree. You can build a successful career in it even when you laterally deep dive into it from another industry like academia.
Some of the universities for a continuing education are:
Richmond school of professional and Continuing Studies, Richmond University
The Institute on Philanthropy (IOP) strengthens the community by educating non profit professionals, volunteers, donors and community leaders in ethical and effective fundraising, marketing and board development strategies. We design our classes to meet the needs of a variety of non profit audiences. Our institutes serve participating nonprofits from Central Virginia and for international students on an F1 visa.
IOP offers coursework and week-long certification institutes in several areas for non profit staff, managers and board members.
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
It offers B.A and M.A, P.HD in philanthropic studies apart from certificate courses in Philanthropic studies. Philanthropic studies provides a theoretical framework and practical knowledge about volunteering and charitable giving, and organizations that support and depend on the giving of “time, talent, and treasure” in society. The bachelor’s degree program offers an opportunity for students to understand the cultural traditions of voluntary action and to practice working with others towards the common good. The curriculum explores the historical, philosophical, and economic “whys” of giving and volunteering as well as the “how to” of working within non profit organizations. Students engage with many disciplines such as anthropology, economics, history, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology. Philanthropic studies is a major designed to educate socially responsive students in the emerging field of philanthropy and non profit organizations in the local, national, and international arenas.
Philanthropy University teaches people working for social good how to change the world. A first-of-its kind, this non profit educational initiative offers tuition free courses taught by leading instructors and professionals. Through lectures, resources, and community, the program will help you elevate your cause and further your reach. You would be learning how to create social impact and build on the essentials of philanthropic strategy.
Therefore, if you wish to carve a career that leaves impact and is satisfying, getting into any of the career offshoots in philanthropy can be very gratifying. You can indeed make a difference, usually in small yet meaningful ways, occasionally in larger and influential ways.
Step in and leave a trail blazer behind…