February 7, 2024

Philanthropic Collaboratives Will Fuel Greater Social Impact in India, New Bridgespan Research Finds

Collaboratives, which support enduring social and environmental change, are expected to represent 10 percent of philanthropic capital by 2030, up from 2 percent now.

MUMBAI—February 7, 2024: The number of philanthropic collaboratives in India has grown threefold since 2020, and capital invested in them has grown sixfold, a new report by The Bridgespan Group found. Philanthropic collaboratives—which Bridgespan defines as initiatives co-created by three or more independent actors, including at least one philanthropist or philanthropy—are also expected to represent 10 percent of philanthropic capital in India by 2030, according to the research.

“Ninety percent of survey respondents felt that their collaborative’s work equals or exceeds their expectations of reaching the intended outcome goals, and 81 percent believe that benefits of collaboratives exceed their costs,” said Pritha Venkatachalam, co-author of the study and co-head of Bridgespan Asia and Africa. “The projected growth of collaboratives is an exciting development, as we have found that they pool varied resources to tackle ambitious social change.”

To develop a deeper understanding of factors driving collaborative action, how collaboratives can create disproportionate impact, and the challenges they face, Bridgespan surveyed 74 stakeholders and conducted field visits over five months. Bridgespan interviewed leadership teams, funders, and key operating partners of major collaboratives and CSR organisations that have invested in collaboratives. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents said that collaboratives enable more effective systems change work in society. Organisations engaged with collaboratives also cited many benefits, including:

  • Lower costs: Because collaboratives often have several partners working closely with communities of interest—and pool their resources and capabilities—investing through collaboratives provides funders with a more efficient route to reach communities.
  • Common knowledge base: Collaboratives leverage the unique capabilities and experiences of partners, philanthropists, and CSR organisations to develop their understanding of communities of interest and the most effective approaches for supporting them. This prevents the duplication of efforts and becomes especially valuable when philanthropists seek to enter new geographies, demographics, or thematic areas.

Philanthropic collaboratives gained significant momentum in India during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sparked the coming together of diverse NGOs and funders to reach vulnerable communities. These entities pursue a shared vision and strategy for achieving social impact, using common resources and agreed-upon governance mechanisms. While healthcare and education represented most of the 15 collaboratives Bridgespan studied in 2020, sectors such as climate, rural transformation, and rights-based issues have since become a focus.

“Philanthropic collaboratives not only respond to a crisis, but also collectively address complex social challenges like poverty, social injustices, climate change, and more over the long term,“ said Anant Bhagwati, Bridgespan partner and co-author of the report. “Additionally, we found that several large CSR foundations plan to fund or partner with other entities on women’s economic empowerment, climate and agriculture—a positive development, given how rapidly CSR is growing in India.”

Read the full report at https://bspan.org/3Sya6IQ.


About Bridgespan

The Bridgespan Group (www.bridgespan.org) is a global nonprofit that collaborates with social change organizations, philanthropists, and impact investors to make the world more equitable and just. Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting and advising, sourcing and diligence, and leadership team support. We take what we learn from this work and build on it with original research, identifying best practices and innovative ideas to share with the social sector. We work from locations in Boston, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, and Washington, D.C

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The Bridgespan Group would like to thank the JPB Foundation for its generous and ongoing support of our knowledge creation and sharing work.