‘New Opportunities’ Wait, As Tata Trusts Change Its Approach Towards Philanthropy
India Inc. continues its efforts to create a more suitable environment, legally and socially, for Corporate Social Responsibility practices. Not far behind is Tata Trusts, gathering pace in its attempts too. Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts, mentioned about a shift, as it eyes for a more unified approach in its philanthropic efforts.
A change in the approach suggests that the group companies are focused on “one powerful set of initiatives.” Over the past four years, under the leadership of Cyrus Mistry, the companies were working individually and not as collection or group to carry out CSR activities.
“In the years that I was chairman of the group, I tried to bring our companies together to have a more unified approach in this regard. The last four years have seen the dismantling of that approach and a return to individual companies doing their bit,” said Tata, as reported by The Economic Times.
Tata Trusts holds 66% of share in Tata Sons is aiming to reshuffle the manner in, which it oversees charity in India. The organisation is looking at taking a step ahead by providing “sustainable solutions and bring self-sufficiency to communities, rather than establish long-term dependencies [through grants],” said Tata.
The grants distributed by the trust, 88% of Rs. 3,000 crores between Financial Year 2012-2016, is of huge significance for not only the NGOs but also other institutions. Its sudden change of a strategic plan has caused concerns amongst partner NGOs that relied on financial aid provided by them. “It’s a pity that support was withdrawn so suddenly from us,” said Dr Prasanta Tripathy, Partner of Ekjut, an NGO supported by Tata Trusts’ grant-based scheme. She added her organisation continues to expect support from the trust.
While there are mixed feelings and reactions among the institutes affected by this shift in approach, the Trust remains confident that their decision is a step in the right direction. “We wanted to change the form of our philanthropy from one that was predominantly executed by NGOs to one where we would manage some of the projects ourselves,” expressed Tata.
While increasing in-flow of funds has left the Trust to seek larger and more equipped organisations to foresee operations. Ashraf Patel, Co-founder of Pravah, another organisation supported by Tata Trusts said, “The social sector is by nature different from the corporate sector and is better shaped through grassroots organisations that emerge from their local contexts rather than a centralised model.”
It has come down to the scalability factor, as the potential for impact has widened. “The earlier approach was to give grants. If we need to be part of scalable programmes we need to go directly,” stated Prabhat Pani, Head of Technology and Partnerships, Tata Trusts. The Trusts have already begun work on the proposed new plans, as partnerships with government and corporate houses seem to be the next move going forward.
“I think it’s for the new leadership to decide which model best suits the group. My preference, of course, would be a unified model,” said Ratan Tata. As part of the new plan, the ‘One Tata’ approach of N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, is aiming to bring the group together and provide a more holistic approach to its operations.
According to a report by Tata Group, a roadmap of sorts has been laid out for the group’s participation in terms of business, CSR and philanthropy. The group is aiming to align its efforts with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said the report. The Trust feels, by synchronising its philanthropic efforts with SDGs, they can tap “new opportunities” and “meaningfully impact the global discourse, design and developmental agenda,” said Mukund Rajan, Chairman, Tata Global Sustainability Council.
The CSR Journal Team