The inaugural First Givers Summit on August 23rd, 2013 in Delhi brought together around 45 members of the club, renowned philanthropists and leading policy makers. The interactions during the summit covered a range of topics from sharing their personal journeys in giving to defining the importance of private philanthropy in today’s world.
The first session started of with Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman and Managing Director-Bharti Enterprises as the keynote speaker. Speaking on why it is essential to give, Mr. Mittal said, “We cannot have islands of wealth. You cannot take this country forward if we are worried only about what we have and what we need for ourselves and our family, and the ecosystem and the society around is crumbling. Our country will not move forward like this.” He also reflected on the initiatives taken by the Bharti Foundation, which was not only signing the cheques, but also being deeply involved in their philanthropic work. “Giving at Bharti has always been part of our DNA; it was always our endeavour to make a difference. At the beginning, in the mid-70s, we were more interested in creating businesses which could impact society at large. In 2000 we set up Bharti Foundation with the sole objective of supporting the youth of India and enabling the underprivileged to come and compete with anyone”, said Mr. Mittal.
The second session was focused on approaches to giving. Evolved philanthropists Ms. Anu Aga, Director, Thermax and MP-Rajya Sabha and Mr. Amit Chandra, Managing Director-Bain Capital shared their approach to giving with the session moderated by Mr. R Sukumar, Editor – Mint newspaper.
Ms. Aga spoke on how her family decides on their giving and how it evolved over a period. She said, “From the family wealth, it’s my daughter and I who decide on things. The bulk of our giving is to Teach For India and Akanksha, but we also give to an institute called Parivaar in Calcutta, which is for the poorest of the poor. In Bihar we are giving to a school run by an ex-police officer for the rat-eating tribe. The underlining thing is credibility. Giving without being involved does give me that little fear, but at the same time I would rather make a few mistakes than mistrust everybody.”
Mr. Chandra shared his way of structured giving and the inspiration behind him taking it up in this manner. He said, “My wife and I were inspired by what Chuck Feeney did. We decided to cap the amount of wealth we wanted to have as a family, and so my wife and I walked into a lawyer’s office, and I transferred how much she thought was needed for her, my daughter, and to support my living, and we said from this day onwards everything else basically goes to charity.”
The evening concluded with a lively panel discussion that presented 3 successful partnerships established between FGC members and NGOs like IIMPACT, Udayan Care and SOS Children’s Villages, which was moderated by Ms. Cordelia Jenkins, a journalist at Mint newspaper. The donors shared their thoughts on the reason behind the decision of choosing the cause, who to trust and which NGO to support. The NGOs spoke about the impact that the donations have had on them and how they can expand on the benefit that they are receiving.
Mr. Ajay Relan, Founder and Managing Partner at CX Partners, set the tone by putting his thoughts forward. “When we set up CX Partners, all of us decided that we’ll contribute 2% of our total revenues towards education. To our minds, it was clear that education, and girl education is going to be specifically, the cause that we support. IIMPACT is run by a credible group of people. Our giving is very much dependent on who are the people behind the organisation.”
Dr. Kiran Modi, Hon. Managing Trustee, Udayan Care shared her thoughts on how the donors and the beneficiaries have mutually benefited from the relationship. She said, “The Genpact employees, find our children, very smartly turned out, studying in good schools, speaking very well, understanding their language and are able to relate to them. The joy that the employees get to see the children who were on the street and was a noone’s child, has an identity; and start getting more and more involved.”