Beyond Money
A catalyst for social change

Dasra works with philanthropists and social businesses to bring knowledge, funding and people to institutionalise social change in India. Dolly Mirchandani reports

When a New York-based venture capital firm decided to launch a $1-million project to strengthen the NGO sector in India, Deval Sanghavi was hired to manage the venture. This was India’s very first venture philanthropy fund that provided funding as well as non-financial support to charitable organisations. They selected eight NGOs—among them were Magic Bus, Villgro, Akshaya Patra and Anjali—for funding commitments for three years. These NGOs went on to become leaders in their respective fields.

The knowledge and experience Mr Sanghavi gained on this assignment helped him understand the scalability parameters of social work. Thus began Dasra, a foundation that works with philanthropists and NGOs to help them grow and strengthen their impact and outreach.

Dasra is now India’s leading strategic philanthropic foundation. It was founded in Mumbai in 1999 by Mr Sanghavi, formerly an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in US. Dasra helps philanthropists and social entrepreneurs connect with each other and provide NGOs with strategic and networking support.

“Traditionally in India, donations are generally given to individuals or religious institutions. There is mistrust for the large, ungoverned non-profit sector,” says Mr Sanghavi. “One of our major challenges is building trust and convincing philanthropists that by giving to good organisations they can help more people. Another challenge is persuading people to support NGOs to grow and improve their efficiency.” Donors often restrict their donations to programme costs and this can negatively impact the effectiveness of an organisation’s work. Dasra’s challenge is to ensure that funding is long term.

Mr Sanghavi believes that if philanthropists and social entrepreneurs get the required skills, support and networks, their efficiency and effectiveness can be enhanced. “The key task is to connect the right people, so that maximum social impact can be achieved which can then be scaled up using effective models,” he says. Before providing funding to an NGO, Dasra looks at how the NGO is managed. It also looks at the organisation’s plans, existing model and its long-term sustainable goals. Dasra has worked with a large number of NGOs like Aangan Trust, Magic Bus, Educate Girls, Mann Deshi, Prerana and Sabras.

Dasra is registered as a Section 25 company in India; they have a centre in the UK and the US as well. In India, it runs two key programmes: Dasra Social-Impact—an executive educational programme for NGOs—and Indian Philanthropy Forum (IPF)—a networking platform for philanthropists. An individual can be a part of Dasra by joining either of these or by joining the fellowship programme.

Dasra Social-Impact was launched in 2008. Thirty organisations were selected for the course that helps organisations to develop business and financial plans, funding strategies and ensure their implementation. IPF was launched in March 2010. Dasra provides IPF members with the latest information on NGOs and social businesses. The annual membership fee of IPF currently is Rs20,000 which will be increased to Rs50,000 starting March 2011. In October 2010, the first Dasra Giving Circle was launched which focused on urban education. Ten IPF members chose one NGO eligible for a grant of Rs3 crore over three years; 10% of this will be disbursed to Dasra each year for providing 250 days of management assistance to the organisations.

Members of Dasra’s Giving Circle are anonymous donors. Many are young professionals with successful careers looking to get involved in philanthropy at a relatively early age. Earlier, most of Dasra’s donors were philanthropists and overseas foundations. However, with the launch of IPF, many private and corporate donors have shown interest in Dasra. Donations to Dasra are exempt under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.

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Food inflation up at 11.49%; inflation to ease to 7%: PM

Terming high food inflation as a matter of concern, prime minister Manmohan Singh in Lok Sabha said the situation has improved and expected the situation to improve further

New Delhi: After declining for two weeks food inflation inched up to 11.49% for the week ended 12th February even as prime minister Manmohan Singh exuded confidence that price rise will moderate and overall inflation will decline to 7% per cent by the end of next month, reports PTI.

Food prices moved upwards on account of rise in prices of eggs, meat, fish, milk and vegetables, according to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data for the week ended 12th February released today.

Food inflation had dropped to 11.05% in the first week of February from 13.07% previous week, which was also a decline from the numbers for week ended 22nd January.

Terming high food inflation as a matter of concern, the prime minister in Lok Sabha said the situation has improved and expected the situation to improve further.

"I will be the first one to admit that inflation in the last 18 months has become a problem. There were reasons beyond our control. First of all, there was the drought of 2009 and there were natural calamities which affected the production of important products such as vegetables and onions," he said.

Mr Singh, however, exuded confidence that the overall inflation will come down to 7% by March-end on the back of steps being taken by the government.

Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has also said food inflation will come down to single-digit by March end.

On the rising prices of cereals, Mr Singh said India has sufficient accumulated stock of the commodity.

As per the WPI data, there was an uptick in the prices of cereals and rice during the week ended 12th February.

Inflation in cereals was 2.07% and rice stood at 1.65% on an annual basis. At the same time, prices of eggs, meat and fish rose by 14.79% while milk was dearer by 16.99%.

Vegetable prices continued to pinch the pocket of common man as it rose by 15.89% in the week under review, despite a 9.72% decline in potato prices.

During the week, prices of milk rose by 5%, mutton 2% and barley 1%. Among fuel items, furnace oil and naphtha grew by 2% each.

"I think this is not a trend. Going ahead, food inflation will come down," said Crisil chief economist DK Joshi.

Currently, fuel and fibre prices are witnessing a high trend," Mr Joshi said.

Fuel prices can see further rise in the coming weeks as crude oil prices are hardening due to political crisis in the Middle-East, experts said. Crude oil prices hit a two-year high of $99.10 per barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

As per the data, inflation in primary articles was 15.77% and non-food articles 31.58% for the week ended 12th February.

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Nano ranks last in customer satisfaction: TNS

In the '2010 four-wheeler Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS)' study by TNS Automotive, Maruti Suzuki's best selling model Alto topped the entry-level small car category, while Omni and the once bread-and-butter model M800 followed the list

New Delhi: Tata Motors' Nano has been ranked last among entry level small cars in terms of customer satisfaction, reports PTI quoting market research firm TNS.

In the '2010 four-wheeler Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS)' study by TNS Automotive, Maruti Suzuki India's (MSI) best selling model Alto topped the entry-level small car category. Omni and the once bread-and-butter model M800 followed the list.

"The customer expectations even at the bottom end are rising. The owners of Tata Nano expect more in terms of design and Maruti 800 owners expect better servicing as the years go by," the survey said.

While Alto scored 91 points, Nano got only 70 points thus being placed last, it added.

The Nano has been having issues following fire incidents with six reported cases since its launch in 2009. Tata Motors had offered to provide additional safety measures free of cost as a precautionary measure, although it claimed that the Nano is absolutely safe.

In the higher priced cars segment, the survey reflected the Indian consumers respect for value even if the price is higher.

The study pointed out that car owners in northern India are relatively less satisfied compared to those in other parts of the country, primarily because of after sales services as the age of the car grows.

"At the national level, customers in relatively larger cities are more satisfied than those in the smaller cities.

"This may be a reflection of the growing expectations in smaller cities. The manufacturers will do well to understand those," TNS said.

Apart from the entry-level compact car segment, MSI's Zen Estilo and A-Star jointly topped the premium compact car category in customer satisfaction.

Volkswagen's (VW) Polo and MSI's Swift together were number one in the upper premium strata, MSI's Swift DZiRE was ranked as the numero uno in the entry-level mid-sized sedan segment.

Other models that topped in different segments are Toyota Corolla Altis in the premium mid-sized sedan, VW Passat in the entry-level luxury sedan, Toyota Innova and Mahindra Scorpio jointly in sports utility vehicle and multi utility vehicle and Honda CR-V in premium SUV categories.

"In a year of high growth and long queues at the automotive dealerships, auto manufacturers maintained their poise and managed their processes to keep their customers satisfied," TNS Automotive executive director Pradeep Saxena said. The survey covered 9300 car buyers, opting for 56 models.

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