Reaching the Bottom of the Pyramid
In terms of total numbers of comfortable and even quite wealthy people, we in India are not that far behind. India has changed. Our economy is growing and is one of the world’s biggest. There are Indians, millions and millions of them, who could quite easily be donors.
In fact, we might have a larger number of people who can give than in any other country. Recent wealth research reports indicate that India now has more than 1 million people earning more than $2.5 million a year, and the number reeling in more than $1 million a year is too big to be counted. Not to mention our billionaires. Nonresident Indians (NRIs) alone send more than $23 billion as remittances. In spite of such potential, major-gift fundraising is almost absent.
Are we less compassionate than other countries or less generous? I don’t think so. We just haven’t been asked properly. The oldest cliché in charitable fundraising is, “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” And India today is almost a virgin territory for fundraising.
This enormous resource is there, and we are tapping a mere fraction of it. Why? There’s a simple reason. There are almost no professional fundraisers in India. We have few or no professional trainers, and we do not invest in our fundraising as the senior management does not understand it. In other countries, billions of dollars are accessed by fully trained professional fundraisers. These countries have invested, and the wisdom of this investment is apparent.
When will India catch up?
Have we prepared our society to access resources and built up their capacities? Sadly, we have not. The problem is we are trying to give people fish instead of teaching them how to fish. We’ve made our NGOs dependent. INGOs still bring in well more than $1 billion each year, but not even a tiny fraction of 1 percent is used to build up this critical and vital ability.