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Bold Philanthropy Bold Philanthropy

Bold Philanthropy in India

In 2014, Kris Gopalakrishnan, the executive vice chairman of Infosys, made the largest private investment in neurological research in India’s history, when he established the Centre for Brain Research in Bengaluru. With his commitment of INR 255 crores (USD 38.5 million) over 10 years, he aims to dramatically advance the field of Indian-based neuroscience research and help develop treatment strategies for the millions of Indians suffering from dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. This initiative exemplifies what The Bridgespan Group calls “bold philanthropy.” Like Mr. Gopalakrishnan, a growing number of Indian philanthropists are pivoting from “checkbook giving”—investing mostly in infrastructure projects (such as building hospitals and schools)—to focusing their philanthropy on the nation’s most vexing social challenges. With domestic philanthropic funding streams expanding rapidly, India’s philanthropists have the opportunity—and the wherewithal—to think and act boldly.

The eight initiatives illustrate several unique roles that bold philanthropy can play in surmounting India’s many social challenges. Though identified in the Indian context, these roles are so foundational to the global philanthropic ecosystem that they can be thought of as archetypes of bold giving:

  1. Build innovative solutions
  2. Scale proven solutions. 
  3. Support community-driven development
  4. Strengthen or reform systems
  5. Build a field
  6. Inform public policy

In addition to profiling the initiatives, Bold Philanthropy in India highlights three approaches that are key to amplifying a bold initiative’s impact; we call them the “3 Cs” of bold philanthropy:

  • Collaborate: Work with others who have complementary assets or capabilities
  • Course Correct: Embrace risk, learning, and iteration
  • Change Behaviors: Work with stakeholders, communities, and institutions to inspire change from within

The report also poses three critical questions that aspiring bold philanthropists might ask themselves as they think about designing and executing their own efforts.

  • What is the unique role that my philanthropic capital can play?
  • What measures can I take to increase the likelihood of success?
  • How can my bold initiative sustain impact over time?