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Monday, June 14, 2010

Giving Journeys: The Path Less Trodden - Asian Philanthropy Forum

Priya Viswanath, is a philanthropic consultant based in Delhi, India. She was formerly the CEO of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India and is on the governing council of Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, (APPC). Priya has written and published extensively on corporate, diaspora and local philanthropy. Her book, Diaspora Indians: On the Philanthropy Fast Track, provided ground-breaking research on the Indian diaspora in the US, UK, Far and Middle East and their contributions to India's development. In the post below, Priya reflects upon the recent trends in Asian philanthropy and the need to work with local organizations.

Last week while writing a tribute to my friend Elizabeth Vatsyayan of AAG, I was reflecting on the life of a non-profit leader who spent a life time in true “service”, but struggling to keep AAG alive every year of their existence. Earlier this week I met an interesting economist who had recently set up a trust in memory of her son, Ali, who had passed away 10 years ago. She was seeking some advice and counsel on activities of the Trust and building an institution, yet another one! Both these meetings and reflections led me to think more deeply on small charities led by folk with great passion and engagement; doing extraordinary work, but finding no support from the folk with the money or the power of collective thinking.

The last few years I had the privilege of learning and seeing first hand the powerful work of smaller charities – their joys and struggles included. I was inspired by the passion and commitment of their leaders, their acceptance by the communities where they operated and the target groups they assisted and empowered. Post the devastating tsunami my colleagues and I spent many months working close up with several small charities in the South and were quite taken aback with their power to leverage with a wide cross section of donors and the partnerships they had with local governments. Our grants and initiatives opened doors wider for these groups and a range of corporates extended support through CAF India where I then worked. The charities provided relief and opportunities for communities devastated by the disaster… but it ended there. For companies and indeed many foundations their aspirations were met and projects were closed out to the satisfaction of many. We each went our way, but often my thoughts drift back to those amazing leaders and groups and wonder what the recession and the drop in charitable dollars has meant to them and the projects they nurtured and supported.

Read more:Giving Journeys: The Path Less Trodden - Asian Philanthropy Forum

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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