Developing nations, ours included, are major hubs for philanthropic activity. These geographies are characterized by low levels of average income, poor health, inadequate education, and discernable social stratification. Privately organized charitable endeavors are essential in these regions to supplement government funded programs to eradicate inequality and meet the basic human needs of a growing population.
Diversity within philanthropic work
Philanthropic action might be taken in multiple ways. The most obvious and commonly adopted method is to make a monetary contribution to a cause you support, as 265 million Indians did last year. Another mode of putting your weight behind your chosen cause is to give to it with your labour, time, and influence, which can have the same, or even greater value, than donations given in funding.
The Bain and Co. India Philanthropy Report of 2017, put together in partnership with Dasra, has coined a new term for this latter set of givers: “professional partners”. The median professional partner gives by investing their professional core skills into NGO or NPO work. All organizations need to make use of certain skills, such as writing and editing, financial planning, marketing strategy, and operations management. Professional partners bring to the table their expertise, often in long-term schemes, and make a difference by putting in free labour and volunteering time. 256 million people in India volunteered with charitable ventures in 2016; they are all professional partners.
How to give as a professional partner
It is important for the aspiring professional partner to engage in some self-reflection before they begin to give. This phase will involve research to help identify the cause, and the organization(s) that the professional partner wants to back. When this is done, this category of givers will need to unabashedly consider what skills and competencies they can bring to the organization.
The next step in a first-time professional partner’s journey is to locate gaps in the work plan of the organization they have decided to work with. These shortfalls and the expertise of the professional partner will have to be aligned to drive the greatest impact. To this end, spending time on the ground with the chosen organization(s) before beginning work with them is a good idea.
The professional partner is in a position to incorporate repeatability and sustainability in their philanthropic work. For example, a writer can collaborate with an NGO, or a social enterprise, like a crowdfunding platform or an advocacy center, and forge a lasting relationship with them, and continue to write for them over a sustained period. An operations manager can design a workflow template for one organization that can be customized for another. A lawyer can consider sitting on the advisory board of multiple bodies rather than offer piecemeal advice in isolated bursts. An individual with experience in fundraising can assist a myriad kinds of fundraising agencies with ideas and tips as a long-term adviser.
Professional partnership has as much value as cash donations
It is not unusual for professional partners to underestimate the value of their contributions (conventional and largely outdated thinking tends to believe that donations to charity in cash has greater impetus than labour or time), but this is simply not true. However, to ensure maximum impact, the professional partner should ideally be organized and have a plan for spending time and settling on a degree of involvement with organizations, as philanthropists