Providing support and direction to the vital work being done by small and mid-sized NGOs across India, the Edelgive Foundation is an embodiment of the ‘Nexus of Good’
I had heard about the remarkable work being done by Nand Kumar, the then Secretary Education, Government of Maharashtra and his committed team of officers to bring about improvement in school education in the state. He was leveraging public-private partnerships to foster this change. Hence, I was keen to learn from what was happening in Maharashtra. It was not long before I took over as Secretary, School Education, Government of India in 2016 that I visited Mumbai. In the day-long interaction, I got to learn about the phenomenal role being played by the NGOs in transforming school education in the state. I also got to know about the remarkable support being provided by the EdelGive Foundation to several NGOs.
EdelGive Foundation was set up in 2008 by Vidya Shah to provide strategic direction to the philanthropic activities of Edelweiss and its employees. The motivation and learnings to create the Foundation were derived from Edelweiss group while she was serving as its CFO for seven years. While engaging with ad-hoc requests from non-profits, she realised the ground reality, organisational scale and planning gaps in the sector. Besides funding, she also identified capacity building was a significant criterion that needed addressing. The best way forward to address this was to raise engagements from within the Edelweiss ecosystem. The capacity building thus became the bridge between the corporate and the Foundation, which is still maintained.
Over the last 12-years, EdelGive has emerged as a leading grant-making organisation, supporting small and mid-sized grassroots NGOs across the country. This approach has enabled the Foundation to be a go-to partner of choice for Indian and foreign funders wanting to engage with the Indian development ecosystem. Consequently today, EdelGive functions as a philanthropic fund manager and advisor between grant-makers and credible NGOs.
Intending to support vulnerable communities through targeted and impact-oriented programmes, EdelGive seeks non-profits that are smaller and younger organisations that do exceptional work at the grassroots level. EdelGive Foundation has so far influenced commitments of over Rs 330 crore, having supported over 150 organisations working across 111 districts in 14 states of India. On average, these organisations have seen a growth of 65 per cent in their annual budgets. EdelGive's support to NGOs is across three broad portfolios, quality education for children; building resilient livelihoods and promoting the social and economic empowerment of women.
Across the 12-year journey of the Foundation, a collaborative philanthropic approach has driven several interventions and programmes of EdelGive. The Foundation is currently hosting or participating with six collaborative initiatives.
EdelGive launched 'The Collaborators for Transforming Education in 2016' to support the Government of Maharashtra in addressing persistent gaps in learning outcomes of children in government schools. With a modest beginning in four out of 36 districts in Maharashtra, the programme has expanded to seven districts, with seven funders and three non-profit organisations (NPOs), reaching over 1.3 million children in four years. Furthermore, the Government of Maharashtra signed an MoU with EdelGive Foundation for the next five years with the provision to expand to all districts of Maharashtra.
Driven by EdelGive's conviction in the systems thinking approach, The Coalition for Women Empowerment was initiated by the Foundation in 2019, bringing together funding organisations and grassroots organisations as stakeholders, united by a common mission of addressing deprivation and discrimination faced by women in India. It focusses on providing 360-degree support to grassroots organisations through enabling funding for critical rights-based programmes that are often under-invested, and by investing additionally in institution building for improved effectiveness and efficiency.
The learnings from both ongoing coalitions encouraged and enabled EdelGive Foundation to become a core partner to the India Climate Collaborative, a first of its kind initiative bringing together India's top philanthropies to address the increasing and pressing climate crisis in India. In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, EdelGive also became strategic partners to the Migrants Resilience Collaborative which is a multi-stakeholder collaborative of non-profit, philanthropic, and private sector actors focused on ensuring safe and responsible recovery of migrant families and their livelihoods in India post COVID-19. Similarly, EdelGive joined the 'Pay-What-It-Takes' initiative, a multi-year initiative working towards awareness building, strategic guidance, and engaging NGOs to get their inputs on building a resilient non-profit sector.
More recently, The GROW (Grassroots Resilience Ownership and Wellness) Fund is an initiative developed and promoted by EdelGive Foundation with the aim towards building, supporting, and sustaining 100 grassroots organisations across India, over 24 months. In the context of the challenges posed to these organisations by the existing pandemic, the Fund will be used to create sustainable and resilient organisations by funding capability building needs, funding core costs and important functions, and funding future-readiness.
Additionally, through the course of the pandemic, EdelGive has once again put its NGO partners at the core of all its functions ensuring minimum disruptions to their programmes and enabling flexibilities in grant-making. Apart from commitments of over Rs 10 crore in the first quarter of Q1 FY21, EdelGive also influenced over Rs 22 crore in 16 weeks of the announcement of the lockdown to further efforts of grassroots NGOs across India. EdelGive was also founding signatories to the 'Common Charter for Indian Donor and Philanthropic Community', signed by leading philanthropies across India, pledging to provide effective support and strengthen civil society partners by introducing flexibilities and undertaking measures in grant-making and monitoring mechanisms.
An early understanding of stakeholder capitalism guided the evolution of EdelGive Foundation into the organisation it is today. A decade later, EdelGive has charted a course of investing in social transformation, armed with knowledge and expertise through an extensive network of partners, foundations and NGOs. This collaborative philanthropy model has helped the Foundation grow steadfastly in scope and scale and will build the credibility of the organisation in the years to come.
Edelgive Foundation presents a wonderful example of the 'Nexus of Good'. It has encouraged NGOs to first establish a proof-of-concept and then enabled them to scale the 'good' work in collaboration with the government.
Views expressed are personal