How “giving” was diversified beyond billions

In 2018 during Daan Utsav, or the weekly festival of giving held across India, a group of six volunteers involved with the event started questioning why India didn’t have anything like the Giving Pledge, under which several billionaires world over had pledged to donate a certain portion of their wealth to charity.

“We questioned why this should be restricted only to billionaires, and why we couldn’t have something similar in India,” Girish Batra, one of the people involved in creating this, told ET. Batra is co-founder, Sarthy Ventures. This led to the birth of LivingMyPromise, where anyone with a net worth of over Rs 1 crore can pledge to donate half, or more, of their wealth to any charitable cause they choose.

In the last few years, several head honchos from India Inc have pledged to donate at least half their wealth towards charity under Living My Promise (LMP). The list of names associated with the initiative include Bain Capital’s Amit Chandra and wife Archana, Pramod Bhasin, founder of Clix Capital and G.A.M.E founder Ravi Venkatesan. Ganesh Natarajan, founder, 5F world and wife Uma Ganesh, founder, Global Talent Track, who are already actively involved in a whole set of charitable activities too have signed this pledge.

“We thought it was a good idea to publicly pledge what we were doing,” Natarajan told ET. He is closely involved with the Pune City Connect, Social Venture Partners as well as the Natarajan Education Trust. “There is a small local community and we recently met to discuss how we were all going about it and the areas we’re all focusing on,” he said.

LMP doesn’t dictate any part of how and when this will be done, but requires the person to make a public pledge of their intent to do so. The community meets annually, and there are smaller city or interest based meet-ups as well for the people involved to collaborate and learn from each other.

“We don’t have an aggressive marketing campaign, but once a person makes a public pledge, there’s a ripple effect in their circle which spreads the word and gets more people to sign up,” said Gunjan Thaney, who currently manages LMP as its Giving Manager. The causes selected and whether the promisors want to donate the funds during their lifetime or after is left up to them. They do keep LMP informed as and when they do something.

While the Giving Pledge has a few pledgers from India like Azim Premji, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, the entry threshold is a barrier to most. Living My Promise has even attracted a few people in their thirties who say that they feel comfortable enough about where they are to be able to publicly make this. The community is still relatively small – 104 promisors in India – but the vision is to grow this to 10,000 people in the next two decades.

Originally published in the Economic Times on May 15, 2022.


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