February 16, 2017

Impact India 2017: Why Indian Nonprofits are Experts at Scaling Up

Illustration: Pierluigi Longo

India’s social sector works in an environment where the magnitude of need and scarcity of resources create a crucible of innovation that can produce insights for the world. In light of this, our second issue of Impact India looks at how successful Indian nonprofits have mastered scaling up their programs and offerings to increase their impact. We also invite you to download a PDF of the full magazine or explore our first edition from 2015


Why Indian Nonprofits Are Experts at Scaling Up

Indian NGOs Experts at Scaling Up

There might be no better laboratory than India for studying the challenges that nonprofits face in trying to scale up when resources are scarce. And there might be no better guide than Indian nonprofits for how to successfully overcome those challenges and become effective agents of social change.

Water Is Power

Water is Power

When is a water and sanitation program more than just a water and sanitation program? A project undertaken by Gram Vikas shows how efforts to solve a particular social problem can have a far-reaching impact on an entire social system. Indeed, it can open new ways to reduce deeply entrenched forms of inequality.

Photo Essay: The Many Faces of Learning

Many Faces of Learning

One of India's biggest assets is its youth. It boasts the largest population of young people in the world. But along with that comes the challenge of educating a population that is not just large, but also diverse.


Cutting Costs to Increase Impact

Cutting Costs to Increase NGO Impact

Focusing on reducing costs can be the key to unlocking results at greater scale. nonprofits in India and the United States provide important lessons for NGOs around the world on just how to do that.


A New Approach to Gender-Lens Grantmaking

New Approach to Gender Lens Grantmaking

India provides particularly fertile ground for the gender-lens movement, which is beginning to fund culturally tailored efforts to transform underlying beliefs that systematically disempower females.


Spotlight on Sanitation

Fixing India's Sewage Problem

Sewage treatment systems are being built that are simpler and less expensive.

Engaging Citizens to Improve Sanitation

The Aga Khan Development Network is empowering communities.

Fostering Sustainable Sanitation

Gramalaya combines community mobilization with education and microfinance.

The Power of Women's Collectives

MHT helped launch a community-driven initiative to improve sanitation.


Rohini Nilekani

Two decades of giving have taught philanthropist Rohini Nilekani the value of pursuing unconventional approaches to tackling social problems. (For more about Rohini Nilekani, explore her Remarkable Givers: India video interview series.)

Ratan Tata

Since becoming chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata has shifted the Trusts' focus from charitable work to programs that seek to transform lives. (For more about Ratan Tata, explore his Remarkable Givers: India video interview series.)

Case Studies


Arghyam, a grantmaking foundation, takes a data-driven approach to helping transform India's water and sanitation systems.


Hindi for "friend," the Saathi Internet program enables women in rural Indian to help other women improve their lives and livelihoods.


Creating a Social Business

How Jaipur Living developed a global rug business, one weaver at a time, and lifted thousands out of poverty.

From the Ground Up

Top-down development doesn't work. What's needed is a "pull model" created by locals, funders, and government agencies working together as equals.

Scaling with Evidence

When monitoring and evaluation are in an organization's DNA, as they are at SNEHA, it's much easier to create partnerships with government agencies and NGOs.

Deploying Technology

Technology alone is not the innovation. Rather, the innovation lies in how technology is deployed.

Further Reading