13 lucky Indian NGOs to benefit from the philanthropy of Bezos’ ex-wife Mackenzie Scott
In a year of endless challenges, Wednesday was a time of cheer and joy for Indian non-governmental organizations. It spread on Twitter as several NGOs celebrated billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s grants. A “mind-boggling” amount, as one expert said.
Scott’s recent $ 2.73 billion mega giveaway covers 286 nonprofits, including 13 from India. The money will help post-pandemic relief, small farmers, migrant workers, waste pickers, unemployed youth, female entrepreneurs and several marginalized communities in India at a time of deep post-Covid stress and lack of funds.
The pandemic has exposed public health loopholes in the country, drawing the attention of the global philanthropic ecosystem to India’s development needs, said Atul Satija, Managing Director of GiveIndia and Founder of The / Nudge Foundation . Both are on Scott’s list and the money is already in the bank. It only took 2 weeks instead of the 3 to 6 months that these grants usually take.
“What I hope is to inspire more and more philanthropists to work closely with nonprofits as partners and to change the nature of grants so that they are more confident, faster and better. more strategic, ”Satija told BloombergQuint.
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, is worth around $ 60 billion after his divorce left him with a 4% stake in the e-commerce giant.
In May 2019, she pledged to donate most of her wealth, claiming that she had “a disproportionate amount of money to share” and that she would continue to give it “until the safe deposit box. strong be empty “.
Scott’s philanthropy is marked by diversity, size and freedom, as she details in the blogs that accompanied each round.
In July 2020, racial equity was the cause she invested the most money in, while supporting several others like LGBTQ and gender equity, public health and climate change. “Unless the organization’s leadership requests otherwise, all commitments have been prepaid and left unrestricted to give them maximum flexibility,” she said. mentionned then.
In December 2020, she mentionned his team looked at 6,490 organizations and undertook more in-depth research on 822, before deciding on 384 with “high potential for impact.”
This time she mentionned the focus was on “the categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and neglected”.
Mackenzie Scott. (Image: Scott’s middle page)
At least 13 nonprofits in India are on Scott’s most recent list.
Dream a dream
Mann Deshi Foundation
Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN)
SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Action for Health)
The Antara Foundation
The Nudge Foundation
He represents a good mix of mostly local organizations and a few middlemen, working for quite a variety of causes, Venkat Krishnan, senior administrator of India Welfare Trust, told Bloomberg.
It is probably the largest grant given in a single year by a donor to Indian NGOs, outside of their own foundations, said Amit Chandra, a private investor and philanthropist.
Although the individual amounts are not known, the average per organization is $ 10 million or Rs 74 crore. Digital Green said it would receive $ 15 million unrestricted. “This gives us the opportunity to amplify the voice of smallholder farmers around the world,” Executive Director Rikin Gandhi said in a statement.
Chandra estimates that some Indian NGOs could have obtained up to $ 25 million.
Very few donors give NGOs the flexibility to build their organizations, Chandra noted. One in two NGOs has a revenue base limited to more than 60%, according to Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2021.
I give 100 dollars. Show me that a child received a box of pencils and notebooks worth 100 – that’s how Satija described most of the funding. But, that the books do anything to improve learning is a design process and it comes from the core capacity of the organization. It is rarely funded, he said. India’s CSR law also limits these “overhead costs”, as do recent changes to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
Scott’s money is flexible (if the law allows it).
The other challenge facing India’s social sector is that of scale – the ability to spend large sums in a timely and efficient manner. Only a handful of Indian NGOs have an annual operating budget of over Rs 5 crore, according to the Bain report citing a study by Ashoka University.
This is probably why Scott’s India’s list has many well-established names: experienced NGOs that already enjoy the support of a wide variety of donors, ranging from foreign business foundations and intergovernmental organizations to international organizations. Indian family philanthropies.
“Given that the smallest grant is probably around $ 2 million (around Rs.15 crore), it is only natural that she chose some of the more established organizations,” Krishnan explained.
In fiscal year 2019-2020, private funding to the social sector increased 23% to Rs 64,000 crore, according to the Bain report. But then the pandemic struck.
Already, international nonprofit contributions, about a quarter of philanthropic funding in India, had declined by almost 30% over the past five years, due to changes in the FCRA.
More recently, CSR corpora have largely been diverted to PM CARES and state aid funds.
But the generosity of individual donors more than made up for it.
NGOs involved in Covid relief have received more funds than ever before, Satija said. However, often to the detriment of those who work in other fields.
As a post on Twitter put it, this gift from MacKenzie Scott couldn’t have come at a more important time.