If you are a CSR professional, you have a really tough job of choosing a CSR project in India. The reason is no right way of doing it and someone else in your organisation can always argue for some other CSR project is better off.
While that will keep going, we feel there are 2 ways of looking at it.
So what are the 2 ways I look at it? Well location specific and location-agnostic projects.
Location agnostic projects
No matter what activity you do there would be some change will have to be done at ground level. It can be language, delivery of content / messaging and even timelines. So where do we make point of difference? It comes down to are trying to do similar activities in multiple locations with similar outcomes in mind.
Let’s take the case of one of our curated projects which focuses on treating blindness caused by cataract. This has been undertaken in multiple states of India. It follows a similar methodology and has resulted in similar outcomes. This makes sense for CSR/ philanthropic donors who are tied to a particular social issue and want to address the same issue in multiple locations. One could also look at Govt’s Swachh Bharat project through the same lens. It works to achieve similar outcomes and doing probably similar activities but the people involved may be different, the size of washrooms, where they would be placed and how the community will react to it will be different.
This type of project allows organisations to learn from different locations and help tweak the approach for future projects.
These are types of activities one engages in keeping the needs of one specific location. So typically these type of activities would continue for a few years addressing different needs of that area. You can look at from a view of a school any donor may want to engage with. It might start off as addressing infrastructure needs like repairing walls, constructing toilets etc. The next it might be looking at plugging in learning gaps say in Maths, science, English. Post that one could move to areas like teaching them life skills, exposing them to potential careers they want to pursue ahead. One may also decide to expand the location by covering the community say to address issues like open defecation or any other health issue.
The underlying thought is to work in a particular location and try to address multiple issues. This makes a lot of sense where a CSR /philanthropic donors rooted in a particular region because of its business, cultural reasons or even association of founder of the organisation. This approach gives enough time for NGOs to trial and error with such projects.
Which of these would you choose? One can argue for both cases with equal passion, eventually both kind of reach a similar social impact.