Indian-Americans mark Gandhi Jayanthi with initiatives to scale up giving

ChaloGive, launched by Indiaspora, is designed to work at the grassroots level, seeking individual donations over a week-long period for 21 different organisations in India

Updated - October 03, 2019 07:18 am IST

Published - October 03, 2019 03:04 am IST - Washington

Indiaspora Executive Director Sanjeev Joshipura (left) and other guests during the launch of ChaloGive at Georgetown University’s Copley Hall, in Washington on October 2, 2019.

Indiaspora Executive Director Sanjeev Joshipura (left) and other guests during the launch of ChaloGive at Georgetown University’s Copley Hall, in Washington on October 2, 2019.

“It’s a day of giving,” M. Rangaswami, a software executive and investor, said to a room of people gathered at Georgetown University’s Copley Hall, at one of the several events through the city to mark Gandhi Jayanthi.

Mr. Rangaswami had taken the mic to announce the launch of ChaloGive, an online philanthropic effort centred around the Indian-American community. ChaloGive was launched by Mr. Rangaswami’s Indiaspora — a philanthropic organisation he founded in 2012 to engage Indian-Americans in creating impact, primarily in India, through giving. The platform is designed to work at the grassroots level, seeking individual donations over a week-long period (October 2 to 8) for 21 different organisations in India.

“This year marks 150 years since Gandhi’s birth, and presents the perfect opportunity to highlight the Indian ethos of service and giving to the less fortunate. We hope the diaspora will show their generousity and make this first year a big success,” Mr. Rangaswami told The Hindu prior to the Indiaspora’s annual summit (where ChaloGive was launched).

Mr. Rangaswami said that just a few dollars from each individual, if scaled up across a diaspora of 3-4 million individuals, could create a huge impact. The Indiaspora team had surveyed the diaspora to understand patterns of giving and found some mixed news. On an average, members of the diaspora were more generous with their time and less generous with monetary giving. The reasons for this include the fact that people were sending money to their relatives, came to the U.S. with little money or had a “trust deficit” with NGOs, Mr. Rangaswami said.

Apart from ChaloGive, the summit also marked the launch of the India Philanthropic Alliance (IPA), a coalition of not-for-profits to scale up giving.

“The alliance’s focus is to collaborate at scale, drive a cohesive agenda for a larger transformational impact in India,” Minoo Gupta, vice-chair for the Alliance told The Hindu . “For example, as individual organisations, success in their individual missions in elementary education there will be a need for building soft skills and higher education, while keeping everyone healthy.”

At present the Alliance is comprised of 11 organisations that raise $125 million collectively each year from donations, with over $50 million from the U.S. The organisations impact more than 67 million people with their programmes in sectors such as health, education, livelihood support and so forth, a statement from IPA said.

“These NGOs have been vetted by organisations like GuideStar [a company that provides information on non-profits], so donors who may not be familiar with them can feel confident their dollars are making an impact,” Mansi Patel, a spokesperson for Indiaspora told The Hindu .

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