How to sail corporate social responsibility in India in COVID times

corporate social responsibility in india incovid

Corporate social responsibility in India has been in limelight for the past couple of months for the right reasons. As per various news reports close to ~6000 Crores have been spent or committed by companies big and small for fighting against the pandemic. This not including the contribution made by employees of the organisations like you. It’s a great achievement, especially in such a short turnaround time.

To put this number in perspective, it is just short of the Kerala Health budget for this year. Since we are in Kerala, it deserves big applause for its actions, leadership and empathy in combating COVID-19. I am sure there is an HBS case study in future.  

The annual Corporate social responsibility (CSR) spend in India for the past few years has been ~Rs 12,000 crore. So that may mean that half the usual amounts are available for spends. Of the spend available generally, companies like to continue to support the NGO projects which they have been supporting for a year or so. So in all likelihood, the amount available to CSR managers and heads would be about 25% of what would spend. This may vary depending on the appetite of each company to take on new projects year on year.

So does that mean NGO projects will get 1/4th of what they usually get for the work they are doing? 

It’s not really 25% 

If you as an NGO have gone through the cycle of interaction with a new CSR supporter ,submitting a proposal for a new NGO project and the subsequently it going through or not. You will realize that your proposal may constitute probably not more than 30% of the company’s CSR spend. So effectively you might be pitching for the same way as you did before. However organisations may end up choosing a few out of many proposals, So whatever NGO projects you have come up with, you would have to pitch to more organisations.

So what sectors may get funded under CSR

Well, there is a higher likelihood considering the tenor of conversations in public space that the 30% remaining may go to strengthening public healthcare. The question will be whether companies would resort to donating the sum to govt hospitals or building resilience to handle potential waves of COVID-19. Since lock-down is an unusual time for a lot of us, mental health, addressing domestic violence would also take precedence. This could mean support for rural development project ( which includes healthcare ) and women empowerment projects may go up too.  

There is also a tendency for companies to support flagship govt projects like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan project or directly funding hospitals in need which could be routed through relief funds of state and central govt too. So If you work in that space it would be good to showcase this work to your current and potential donors.

So online is the way to go?

I am not on rolls of any e-learning company so have nothing to gain or lose by promoting one over the other. Many of you may have seen children in private schools use some form of online solution. Unfortunately, many communities which NGOs work may not be in a position to access these solutions. The reasons could range from smartphone not available, internet not available, insufficient balance for data usage, charging issues, parent/caregiver not available to provide these solutions. Also since COVID-19 cases are still rising it would not be feasible to assemble in a community center safely to have sessions. Although govt dept is talking about shift wise classes when they open. A key element has to be can learning continue in some form ( curriculum completion cannot be the only yardstick, since many cases they are not the same in many schools).


This would be key as people start working with communities. Making all the stakeholders, beneficiaries, NGO staff and even donors on how are you ensuring safety and stopping the spread. It may mean smaller batches of youth being trained, providing protective gear for all people involved, sanitizing the spaces involved. 

 I am not a sage especially not after the recent haircut ( resemble more like a villain’ 3rd sidekick). So I may be completely off with this, after all I am just a greying 39 yr old who runs occasionally.

Do let us know what you think about it , and if you like it do share, like and comment in social media platforms you use.