Indian-American Diaspora Giving on the Rise: Could Dwarf U.S. Aid to India

11/09/2015 |


Indian-Americans are expanding their philanthropy from giving to family and community to giving to broader-based social causes aimed at addressing India’s most challenging issues 

Contact: Liz London
Director of Media and Conferences
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Mumbai—November 9, 2015—New research released by The Bridgespan Group reports an expansion in U.S. Indian diaspora philanthropy from giving to family and community to more broad-based social causes and organizations focused on addressing India’s most challenging problems. Approximately 3.5 million Indian-Americans and their children are living in the United States. The India-born population is a rapidly evolving and fast-growing diaspora group. According to Bridgespan’s research, this population has the capacity to give to India at levels that could dwarf official U.S. development aid there

Said Rohit Menezes, a Bridgespan partner who leads the organization’s India office and co-author of the article in which the research is featured, “The Indian diaspora in the United States is positioned to help now more than ever before—Indian immigrants have fared well and amassed significant wealth. It is our aim to encourage donors to give more to India and to do so more effectively.”

The article reports that Indian-headed households have a median annual income of $89,000 (compared to a U.S. median of $50,000), and 27 percent of Indian households earn more than $140,000, putting them in the top 10 percent of earners nationally. The combined annual discretionary income of Americans of Indian origin is approximately $67.4 billion. If their philanthropic contributions were consistent with those of other U.S. households in similar income brackets, and they directed 40 percent of their philanthropy to India, $1.2 billion per year would flow from Indian diaspora donors to Indian causes, as compared to current U.S. foreign aid to India ($116.4 million in FY 2014). And it represents over half the entire amount of annual official development aid received by India from all countries—$2.2 billion, on average, from 2005 through 2013.

The report also points to significant nonfinancial assets the diaspora community has to offer. “Indian-Americans are highly educated and well represented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions, in technology and entrepreneurship, and increasingly occupy roles of political and social influence in the U.S.,” said Menezes. “This achievement, combined with familiarity with Indian culture and communities, positions Indian-Americans well to increase involvement in building the capacity and professionalism of India’s civil society organizations and the philanthropic entities that support them.”

To showcase this trend and highlight other issues related to social impact in India, The Bridgespan Group, Stanford Social Innovation Review and Dasra ( announced today the launch of Impact India, a collaborative publishing effort, with support from the Kiawah Trust and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to release November 9 at a conference on strategic philanthropy in India, hosted by Dasra. The special magazine charts trends in giving from Indian-Americans back to India, and the impact of these funding flows, unearthed in the Bridgespan study. Many other experts on this trend are also featured in the publication, including an article on impact investing in India and Q&A’s with prominent Indian-American technology entrepreneurs-cum-philanthropists such as Ram Shriram and Desh Deshpande with case studies of social ventures they have funded.

According to Dasra’s Smarinita Shetty, “Social innovators in India are achieving improved outcomes at low-cost per client, using a diversity of business models and at an overall scale that provides lessons to social entrepreneurs around the globe.”

In discussing Impact India, Eric Nee, managing editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review said, “Effective philanthropy is one of our core areas of interest and philanthropy in India is redefining effectiveness via community engagement and cost considerations in ways we all can learn from.”
About Stanford Social Innovation Review
Stanford Social Innovation Review ( is an award-winning media group that covers cross-sector solutions to global problems. SSIR is written for and by social change leaders in the nonprofit, business, and government sectors who view collaboration as key to solving environmental, social, and economic justice issues. Published at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, SSIR bridges academic theory and practice with ideas about achieving social change. SSIR covers a wide range of subjects, from microfinance and green businesses to social networks, and human rights. Its aim is both to inform and to inspire. 

About The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group ( is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. We collaborate with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. We work on issues related to society’s most important challenges and to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Our services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights. The Bridgespan Group has offices in Boston, Mumbai, New York, and San Francisco.

About Dasra
Dasra ( which means enlightened giving in Sanskrit, is India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation working with funders and social entrepreneurs to create large-scale social change. Dasra creates research on high-impact organizations and effective giving, provides capacity building support to non-profits and social businesses, and facilitates cross-sector collaborations and funding. Dasra works on a range of priority challenges in India that affect people living in poverty including empowering adolescent girls and sanitation. Over the past 16 years, Dasra has directed $50 million to the social sector in India, published 46 knowledge pieces, and helped scale 660 organizations.  
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