Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

is the process of allocating a set amount into a coordinated
investment dedicated primarily to social improvement. We spoke to
different grant makers to understand how grant making has changed
over the years. 

vs Grants

Donations and
grants are a form of giving resources that differ in many aspects and
cannot be used similarly. Donations are usually solicited by simple
informal appeals and often come with no strings attached.
Grants are funds
given by a specific party, particularly the government, corporations,
foundations, educational institutions, businesses, or an individual.
To be able to receive a grant, “grant writing,” usually referred
to as either an application or proposal is required. Grants are
contractual in nature with clear and specific terms, conditions and
We asked NGOs
if they were in favour of donations or grants?
is an organisation working on education,
child rights and responsibilities. Their CEO
Pramod Nigudkar,
says, “Having unrestricted financial resources always provide
opportunities for their dynamic utilization for attainment of the
goals. Donations often give an organization that breathing space.
However, as an NGO we also see some advantages of grants. The idea
behind the grant is predetermined and hence well thought of. It
brings more accountability in terms of time and outcome. The benefit
grants sometimes bring along is the expertise of the grant making
organization. Donations do not take precedence over grants.”
Ghosh, Executive Director of
Foundation for the Arts

adds, “We don’t have a
preference because both are manifestations of the desire of the giver
to make a difference in our society and their faith in us to do so.
In both cases, we must be accountable to that desire and faith they
show in us. So we do detailed reporting (albeit different in format
in each case) for both for 2 reasons – one of course is so that they
know how we are spending their funds and secondly because we believe
this makes for more sustainable longer relationships with people who
support us.
Changing Proposal
grantmakers, are passionate about the societal issues they want to
solve. Some are willing to take risks, if it means results. And yet
others want to do more than make grants – make an impact! Many
of today’s grantmakers are more than cheque writers; they are
change agents—people who learn by doing – bringing themselves and
their grantees to new levels.

Mishra the Head of CSR at Cipla

Ltd who has also worked for USAid, Pragya Foundation and Seva feels
this has given him a good insight of NGO needs and the issues they
grapple with on a day-to-day basis. “We work directly through NGOs
and we worked with some of our partners. We do a baseline study first
to determine the needs and issues in the locality we are situated in.
In Sikkim we found that drug addiction is a serious problem as well
as maternal health, whereas in Raigad District building skills in the
youth and awareness of youth related issues is a problem. Once we
identify the issue we want to work on, we then identify the
non-profits who work on that issue. It is critical that they should
demonstrate a local footprint. CIPLA also found that in various areas
infrastructure was an issue and we realized that since we managed to
put up world-class facilities we could assist by using our own staff
or vendors to help us in the local community. In Sikkim therefore we
used our engineers and other people to help build school buildings
and toilets. 

support also translates into grantmakers looking for Return
on Investment (RoI)
making a social investment. For an overseas perspective we spoke to
Mark Sidel, Doyle-Bascom
Professor of Law and Public Affairs at University of
, and
who earlier was also program officer at Ford Foundation in India
“This differs significantly
by donor. It’s a very important conversation to have with a potential
donor, since this is an area in which donors may have very different
understandings from each other.” We also asked if grantmaking how
he would differentiate grant-making in the USA to grant-making in
India? “What I see is wide diversity in grantmaking in the U.S. and
wide diversity in grantmaking in India. And we should celebrate that
diversity. While we want donors to make reporting clear and
straightforward, at the same time we should also want them to express
their values and philanthropic preferences in their grantmaking,
celebrating that diversity among them.” 
Strategy and Flexibility
we also see more a definite strategy to any grantmaking. Is
it just a fad, a buzz-word or real? If grant-making is truly
strategic, why do we still see the persistence of social injustices
in newer and different, often more virulent forms?

explains, “Grantmaking strategy is not a fad — it’s at the core of
what makes good donors good. That we continue to see so much
injustice and inequality despite more strategic grantmaking is in
large part, in my view, due to massive and systematic economic,
political and social gaps and inequalities that even strategic giving
finds very hard to combat on a sustained basis.” 

are some grantmakers not willing to fund causes such as music, arts,
sports within their strategy for granting?
supports practice, research and education in the arts in India. We
queried Arundhati
if there are enough grantmakers willing to support the Arts or is it
difficult? How is the gap filled at the moment? “It is very
difficult to find support for the arts. Given the diverse areas of
inequality and injustice in this country one could say that ‘roti,
kapda, makaan’ becomes the first three things that get support. Then
then is health, environment, education etc. So the arts hardly finds
a mention even in the support agendas of those who give. So we
struggle…and keep struggling. We thank the few foundations, trusts,
corporates whose CSR has recognised the arts as a sector for support,
and individuals who give to the arts. They are few certainly, but
their passion is strong.”  

can provide great benefits to the communities they fund by
implementing flexibilty within the grants but many are often bound by
the criteria. While most NGOs feel that corporates can be rigid,
Anurag Mishra differs.
“For our corporate foundation while we do have a structure for
reporting it allows for a certain degree of customisation.
We also look at how
efficiently they respond back but we give leeway to organizations
especially when they are small or have not been working for many
years since we realize that they may not have sufficient
administrative resources initially to manage this aspect. We want to
ensure our money reaches the last milepost being the direct
beneficiaries. We have a Board who believe that since we run a 5 star
company we should also have a 5 star CSR programme.” 

Sustainibilty & Accountability

In grantmaking, is there such a
thing as a reasonable time-frame of the cycle or easy exits.
Regardless of why the grant cycle ends, there are reasons to invest
in managing transitions carefully. Firstly, you want to leave the
grantee in a better position than where it was prior to your support.
Facilitating a smooth transition can ensure that your previous grants
were not in vain. A well-executed and clearly communicated transition
can reflect your commitment to sustainable results.

and accountability is always expected out of the donee. What about
grant-maker’s accountability and transparency? ​
experience says, “This is very important consideration that often
gets lost in the dynamics of power sharing between Donee and Donor.
The donee and donors should be partners in what they have jointly
decided to accomplish. In this spirit the donor should be transparent
in terms of their commitment to the cause. Hence as the getting in to
the partnership is well thought of process, getting out of the
partnership also should be well decided and communicated. For some
transparency related issues the donors could be governed by the law
of the land.” 
From a
corporate point of view Anurag
discloses, “CIPLA Prior to the CSR legislation coming into place as
per SEBI guidelines the top 100 listed companies had to publish a
Business responsibility report and our first one was for the year
2013. These are available on our website and for 2014-15 we will be
putting up a full CSR report as per the legislation requirements. Our
policy is also available on our website”

concludes, “This is
a very important area that few talk about. I think a grantmaker
should have clear, written policies of what they support and why in
the public domain. The relationship between a grant maker and a donee
should be based on mutual trust, faith and respect for each other as
equals in the process of making a difference. Only then can there is
true partnership and collaboration.”
 (from our Interaction column
 CAP’s quarterly newsmagazine ‘Philanthropy‘ Q1 April – Jun 2015 )

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