Conservation Research in India – Gaps and Opportunities

Conservation Research in India – Gaps and Opportunities

– By Shrutee Ganguly and Arnab Mukherjee

India, in addition to being a land of incredible biodiversity, is also the second most populous country in the world – housing ~18% of the world’s population with only ~2.5% of global land share. Increasingly, this rapidly growing population coupled with a push for strong economic growth, leading to increased demand for resources, has placed tremendous stress on the natural ecosystems of this country.

Conservation research is essential to enable science-based management of the environment in its myriad forms such as freshwater availability, efficient use of natural resources, air pollution and biodiversity. Research not only impacts the immediate choice of conservation methods but is also expected to influence government policies which in turn has a longer-term impact on the ecosystem.

The Union Government along with NITI Aayog provides the necessary legislation and lays down the thrust areas for conservation research and related initiatives in the country. Relevant line ministries (such as Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture etc) draw up missions, schemes and programmes along the lines of which specific projects are conceived and funds allocated. The state governments also allocate funds for conservation related initiatives through relevant departments such as the forest department and water resources department. Together, the Union and State Governments provide the lion’s share of financial assistance for conservation effort in the country.

Yet, for NGOs looking to conduct research in conservation, this source of funds remains largely inaccessible.

There is a growing perception in the NGO world that the government metes out preferential treatment to the autonomous institutes and central universities, given that they are funded by the government. Government officials however deny any such preference and point towards various factors such as quality of proposals, NGO capability and so on as the key reason for this apparent bias. Hence, international grants from donors such as US Fish and Wildlife Service, Rufford Foundation, IUCN, GEF and others continue to be the lifeline of most NGOs.

Increasing number of corporates are looking to fund environment projects, largely in areas such as waste management, rainwater harvesting and funding flagship government schemes such as Namami Gange. Conservation efforts however continue to remain low on the priority list of most corporates hence meagre amount of CSR funds are allotted to it if at all. There are some notable exceptions such as Godrej, DHL, NSE and Jet Privilege. In addition, corporates prefer quicker returns or visible validation of impact and hence focus more on implementation projects as opposed to research.

Our view is that allocation of CSR funds for conservation research requires a shift in corporate vision from immediate or short-term returns to a more longer-term strategic perspective where a study on a specific aspect of conservation is followed up with on-ground implementation.

The situation, however, is not as desperate as it appears for NGOs. Through extensive research and client engagement, Sattva recognises the following areas that can be leveraged to function successfully within the existing conservation ecosystem.

Fig 1. Five levers to create competitive advantage in the conservation research space

Sattva, through its experience in the environment space has emerged as a trusted advisor for corporates and organisations. Over the years, Sattva has developed multiple models of engagement to support sustainable solutions on the ground for maximum impact.

Fig 2. Sattva models of engagement

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Sattva has been working with various corporate clients to help them define their social impact goals and maximise the return on social investment. Our focus is to solve critical problems and find scalable solutions. Several corporates have been a partner to many such collaborations where effective CSR programmes have strategically aligned with business and have provided meaningful solutions to social issues.

● To read more about our work with CSR, check: https://www.sattva.co.in/our-work/
● Talk to us: impact@sattva.co.in

Scaling Social Impact through Organisational Capacity Building

Scaling Social Impact through Organisational Capacity Building

The discourse around social impact organisations, more often than not, includes the need to achieve scale. One side of the coin is the denominator or the scale at which the social problem exists, and the breadth that needs to be covered to solve the problem. The other side of the coin is the organisation’s capability – both in terms of quality and quantity – to achieve the requisite scale. Simply put, scaling up both programmes as well as organisations to achieve the desired impact in the ecosystem go hand-in-hand.

Non-profit leaders will concur that scale means different things to different organisations. It depends, among other things, on the problem they are trying to solve, the geographies where the problem persists, and the beneficiaries they are focusing on based on their theory of change. Accordingly, the pathways to scale differ as well. There can therefore be no cookie-cutter approach to scaling up for impact.

Sattva’s decade-long experience of engaging with non-profits of different sizes and maturity levels has however, helped us identify a key tenet – organisational capacity building – which when customised, can enable an organisation to become ‘scale up ready’. There are multiple components to this exercise, and our experience says that every non-profit that wishes to scale requires one or more of these.

Sattva_Insights_ScalingSocialImpact

  • Re-alignment of Mission and Vision: Before embarking upon the creation of a scale-up strategy, non-profits caught in the throes of growth need to relocate their North Star. This holds true even for large scale mature non-profits who have been in the ecosystem for ages. For instance, Sattva helped a 40-year old organisation working on child welfare to re-create the mission of the organisation in the context of the larger vision, which then enabled them to focus on depth of impact, instead of spreading themselves too thin to achieve breadth alone.

  • Development of Fundraising Strategy: The ability to create impact is contingent upon the non-profit’s ability to stay in business and scale, which in turn is largely dependent on the availability of funding. A robust fundraising strategy is therefore very important for any non-profit. Sattva has worked with diverse organisations across various sectors, and some as old as 20 years, to develop a deep understanding of what makes fundraising strategies work. It often starts with conducting fundraising diagnostics to understand past performance, which feeds into new fundraising strategies that define target funder segments, key value propositions and critical success factors. This is then further reinforced by building fundraising capacity of the organisation across people, processes, messaging and networks.

  • Restructuring of organisations (Systems, Processes, People) and Change Management: As organisations grow to scale their impact, their people and processes need to accommodate the changes that come with scale. Sattva has encountered examples of large organisations which have scaled to 400+ districts in India while holding on to centralised decision-making structures, resulting in bottlenecks across the organisation. The solutions in such instances have included developing a second line of leadership to decentralise decision-making, organisational restructuring to create new departments and restructure existing ones, developing standard operating procedures for old and new processes, developing capacity building plans for people, and creating change management plans to help these changes percolate across roles and ranks within the organisation.

  • Developing Scale-up Blueprints and Products for Programs of organisations: Growing an organisation and its programmes requires various strategies and levers. Sattva has demonstrated that standardising blueprints for scale and developing innovative products can enable organisations to implement their programmes at scale. Designing programmes and processes, building monitoring and evaluation frameworks for measuring effectiveness and efficiency of programmes, and using technology as an enabler to scale programmes have been some of tried and tested ways in which we have enabled organisations to scale their programmes and impact, the most shining testimony of which has been an education non-profit which grew its programme from 4 to 13 states in the country in 3 years.
  • Since the need of each organisation on its pathway to scale is unique, the solutions have to be customised as well. Programme and organisational diagnostics to understand the gaps that need filling, custom-made strategies to address the specific requirements of an organisation, and implementation support on an organisation’s scale-up journey are, therefore, all integral cogs for enabling an organisation to achieve the scale that is necessary to create the intended impact. While externalities like regulatory environment and availability of funding may limit the growth of organisations at times, organisational capacity building can help overcome some of the challenges associated with becoming ‘scale up ready’.

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    Sattva has been working with various non-profits and organisations to help them define their social impact goals and optimise their capacity building efforts. Our focus is to solve critical problems and find scalable solutions.

    ● To read more about our work, check: https://www.sattva.co.in/our-work/
    ● Talk to us: impact@sattva.co.in

    CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: A (NON-CLICHE) PRIMER

    CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: A (NON-CLICHE) PRIMER

    Sattva_Insights_CSR-Primer1

    It has been six years since the 2013 CSR law mandated certain companies to start spending a stipulated amount towards social responsibilities. While compliance and implementation have been getting streamlined with each passing year, there are many questions that are asked by the curious: Which corporates have the most impactful CSR programme? What is a typical CSR cycle, from genesis to completion? What makes a good CSR programme? Why do some programmes fail? What has been the impact of India Inc. CSR in the last 5 years? Who are the biggest beneficiaries of CSR? Where are the biggest gaps today in CSR in terms of demand and supply?

    Since 2009, we at Sattva have worked with 70+ corporates on their CSR programmes in a multitude of capacities: To define the CSR strategy of a company, to on-board the most relevant partners, to measure impact of existing CSR programmes, to audit programmes, to design employee volunteering programmes and to be strategic advisors and partners to the CSR unit as a whole.

    As an organisation that has been in the space for the last ten years, what have been our biggest learnings? And how are those learnings helping to shape our CSR practice this year?

    1. The range in the CSR maturity cycle is large: While some have set systems and are pivoting towards innovation in their programmes, some still don’t have their focus areas/strategies defined.
    While mature, corporate giving organisations such as the Tata Group, Reliance Industries and L&T have developed internal processes and standards to execute corporate giving, the ecosystem by and large is still in the process of developing standard practices and processes to execute effective CSR. Even today, many CSR functions share resources with other functions such as Legal, Finance, Marketing or HR. Many companies still lack a dedicated CSR team. Institutes like Indian Chamber of Commerce have started courses on CSR. However, in our view, knowledge is yet to be standardised across organisations, systems and programmes.

    2. Six years into the law, many CSR teams are looking to make data-based portfolio strategy and fund allocation decisions, to ensure highest impact from their CSR investments.
    Based on Sattva’s analysis and projections, the market for CSR has the potential to unlock more than INR 30,000 crore by 2021. As companies grow and become compliant under the law, the need to identify focus areas and regions, and subsequently, to find implementation partners for their CSR programmes will increase. But the existing ecosystem does not support effective matchmaking between NGOs and corporates based on their CSR focus. Companies are also struggling to identify what sectors to focus on that align well with their strengths – in terms of the products and services they provide.

    According to the annual State of CSR report by KPMG,44% per cent of the companies have reported a delay in implementation or exploring opportunities as their reasons for not being able to comply with the law, or having spent less than the prescribed amount on CSR in 2017-2018.

    3. There is an increasing focus on outcomes and impact created, along with compliance to spend the required amount by the CSR law.
    Though the law does not mandate reporting of numbers of people benefitted, it is heartening to see that more and more companies have started to report on people impacted in their CSR reports.

    Sattva_Insights_CSR-Primer2
    (Source: IDR Online)

    However, companies are often still confused between output and outcomes. It is not merely enough to evaluate the success of their CSR programmes on the basis of number of people impacted, but it is also important to know what kinds of change their programmes created on -the ground, in the mid-term and long-term.

    How can Sattva help?
    • As CSR cycles are maturing, the focus is now on making programmes more efficient. We are excited to announce that Sattva has developed its technology platform SHIFT, that we envision to be the fulcrum of our CSR advisory services. We have channelled years of CSR experience advising clients on their programme design, implementation, management and evaluation into this innovative technology platform to help corporates and NGOs translate their intent into real on-ground impact. We will cover SHIFT in more detail in our next volumes of this CSR compendium.

    • Sattva’s proprietary CSR framework has been developed to address this lacuna. Over the last 5 years, we’ve used this framework to help 30+ clients define their CSR strategies, focus areas and programmes thereof [We will cover this is in further detail in our next volumes]
    Sattva_Insights_CSR-Primer

    • India Data Insights (IDI) is Sattva’s in-house data visualisation platform to guide corporates make informed decisions while building programmes – a snapshot from the IDI platform below:
    Sattva_Insights_CSR-Primer3
    (Source: India Data Insights – Geographies and CSR Spend v/s Poverty Rate)

    This is a foreword to a 24- part annual compendium that will be published over the course of the next 12 months.

    Sattva has been working with various corporate clients to help them define their social impact goals and maximise the return on social investment. Our focus is to solve critical problems and find scalable solutions. Several corporates have been a partner to many such collaborations where effective CSR programmes have strategically aligned with business and have provided meaningful solutions to social issues.

    ● To read more about our work with CSR, check: https://bit.ly/2G9g2UZ
    ● Talk to us: impact@sattva.co.in

    Giving Tuesday India

    Giving Tuesday India: Insights into how India gave during Giving Tuesday 2018

    #GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that was brought to India in 2017 by GuideStar India, as a celebration during DaanUtsav. In the span of a year, the amount raised through #GivingTuesdayIndia grew seven times to INR 9.03 crore.

    The global #GivingTuesday team, GuideStar India, Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University, and Sattva Research have collaborated to create data-driven insights on the nature and patterns of giving during #GivingTuesdayIndia.
    Sattva_GivingTuesdayIndia
    The effort sought:

  • To derive actionable, data-driven insights on the nature of participation during #GivingTuesdayIndia
  • To understand the impact of data collection and sharing on boosting the #GivingTuesdayIndia movement in the country
  • To compare #GivingTuesdayIndia’s data collection and sharing capabilities with those of #GivingTuesdayUSA to recommend ways forward for India
  • Click on the DOWNLOAD link on the left for the full report.

    To explore and better understand the behaviours of India’s givers, contact us today at impact@sattva.co.in.

    A Billion Givers

    Sattva Research is unveiling “Everyday Giving in India”, a first study on the everyday giving ecosystem in India, with the support of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a participatory dialogue on 24th April from 5pm to 9pm in Bangalore.

    A Billion Givers: Harnessing the potential of India’s everyday people for impact, will feature interactive installations and panel discussions on “Strengthening our citizenship muscle: Everyday giving in a participatory democracy” and “Innovation and growth potential of the formal everyday giving market in India”.

    To RSVP, contact Aashika Ravi at aashika.ravi@sattva.co.in

    IT spent Rs 5,091 crore on CSR between 2014 & ’17

    Education is the most favoured choice of Indian IT cos, followed by central govt schemes that get about 14% of CSR money.

    IT firms have spent over Rs 5,091 crore in corporate social spending between 2014 and 2017, said Sattva, a startup that looks at data to measure social impact by companies. Tata Consultancy Services led the spending with over Rs 1,091 crore in the period.

    The government mandates that firms should spend at least 2% of their average net profits made in the preceding three years on CSR. The trend, in terms of geography of spend by IT services firms, differs from the overall trend.

    After pan-India projects, which is the highest in every category (in case of IT firms accounts for half their CSR), overall CSR spend by corporates is concentrated in the Western region.

    In case of IT firms it’s concentrated in the South (1/3rd of their CSR). Education is the most favoured choice of Indian IT companies, followed by central government schemes that get about 14% of CSR money.

    In the category of ‘startups’ (tech/innovation, etc), Sattva found only Chennai-headquartered Zoho Corporation contributing any significant sum to CSR. Zoho has reported CSR spend of Rs 25.5 crore on Zoho University.

    (This article was originally published in Economic Times. All pictures and images, courtesy the publication.)

    The Government is serious about CSR Compliance – Are you?

    Introduction

    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) suggests that the responsibility of the for-profits operating within society, is to also contribute towards its economic, social and environmental development and well-being. The core objective of enforcing a CSR mandate is that businesses cannot succeed in isolation, especially when society at large fails to prosper. The Companies Act, 2013 is therefore, a landmark legislation that made India the first country to mandate and quantify CSR expenditure. This move was an attempt by the government to partner with business houses on the national development agenda.

    The Story So Far

    It has been close to 5 years since the government mandated that corporates with :
    ● a net worth of INR 500 cr. or more
    ● or a turnover of INR 1000 cr. or more
    ● or a net profit of INR 5 cr. or more

    in a given financial year, must spend 2 percent (to be calculated as per Section 198 of the Act) of their average net profits on socially relevant projects as defined in Schedule VII of The Companies Act.

    However, even today many corporates eligible for CSR do not contribute to development projects and therefore run a risk of being sent notices for non-compliance and non-conformance of CSR norms.

    While a large chunk of eligible corporates have adopted the mandate as an opportunity to further their corporate citizenship and not just as a tick box activity, there is still a large share of eligible companies who are yet to deploy their CSR funds.

    SocialDisruptors

    SocialDisruptors

    Three years after the law came into existence, that is till 2016-17 – close to half of 19,933 eligible companies have not spent any money as part of their CSR obligations (~9468 companies) and as many as 15,422 companies spent less than the prescribed CSR amount during the same period. In addition to the above citations, there are examples of companies as well who have spent upwards of four times of their prescribed CSR budget in the financial year.

    However, as we see non-compliance has reduced year-on-year. A recent survey published by NGOBOX (
    http://ngobox.org/full-news_CSR-Outlook-Report-by-NGOBOX-analyses-top-359-companies-NGOBOX_22359) revealed interesting insights on CSR compliance among India’s biggest 359 companies which together account for 3/4th of the total CSR spend:

    ● CSR compliance among these companies stood at 93% for the year 2017-18 up 2% points compared to previous year.
    ● Metal, mining and mineral (138%) followed by Oil, Drilling, Lubricants and petrochemicals (104%) sectors emerged as the highest CSR compliant industries followed closely by Auto and Auto ancillaries.

    Government Initiatives/ Steps Towards Compliance

    Things are looking up. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has also stepped up its effort to encourage corporates to comply with the CSR provisions by setting up:

    ● National CSR Data Portal –The National Corporate Social Responsibility Data Portal is an initiative by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India to establish a platform to disseminate Corporate Social Responsibility related data and information filed by the companies registered with it (https://csr.gov.in)

    ● National CSR award – The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has instituted National CSR Award (NCSRA) to recognise CSR for inclusive growth and sustainable development. This Award seeks to recognise the companies that have made a transformative impact on society.

    Along with the initiatives mentioned above, the ministry has also taken a few steps to increase compliance by:

    ● Reconstitution of a high-level committee on Corporate Social Responsibility 2018 (HLC-2018) under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to review the existing framework and guide and formulate the roadmap for a coherent policy on Corporate Social Responsibility.

    ● Centralised Scrutiny and Prosecution Mechanism (CSPM) to promote enforcement of CSR provisions. CSPM has been tasked to start with examination of records of the top 1,000 companies mandated to spend on CSR. The CSPM team of inspectors are issuing show cause notices and prosecution proceedings against non-compliant companies.

    In the latest round, prosecution proceedings against 284 companies and show cause notices against 5,382 companies have already been issued.

    In view of these efforts, it is clear that the government is serious about bringing rigour and strong scrutiny to ensure the CSR law is strictly followed in the near future.

    Current challenges and what Corporate India Can Do

    Corporates often find that they have unutilised funds in the last quarter of the financial year. This could be because of several reasons:

    ● long cycles in identification of impactful projects or/and credible partners
    ● uncertainty on the exact figure of what the total CSR budget may be due to the change in company profit
    ● ambiguity in the legal requirements
    ● difficulties in developing the strategic vision in a multi stake-holder environment
    ● challenges in planning and executing operations through the year

    Some typical avenues that corporate India chooses to disburse its CSR funds are:

    ● Contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund
    ● Contribution to CSOs working in the chosen area of focus by the corporate
    ● Contribution to Corporate foundations setup to undertake CSR activities exclusively (Own or External)
    ● Contribution to multi stakeholder platforms founded to address areas of concern.

    Although last minute, it would be imperative for corporates to consider some key points while making their social investment decisions in order to move from a compliance-led CSR function to a more strategic CSR function:

    ● Recognising CSR as a strategic corporate function : CSR law is here to stay. Recognising the strategic and legal significance of CSR and incorporating it into long-term corporate strategy is imperative.
    ● CSR Vision : Alignment and long term commitment to company’s CSR anchor ( focus area/audience/geography ) is key in creating long lasting impact and corporate legacy.
    ● Measure to improve, not prove: A robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism acts well as the steering wheel required to continuously improve CSR interventions and make timely course corrections.
    ● Outcome first: An outcome led approach as against an input led approach goes a long way in establishing the social impact goals the corporate wants to achieve.

    There is a need to fund projects which will not only impact the last mile recipient of the intervention but also bring the culture of empathy and service within the organisation.

    Sattva has been working with various corporate clients to help them define their social impact goals and maximise the return on social investment. Our focus is to solve critical problems and find scalable solutions. Several corporates have been a partner to many such collaborations where effective CSR programmes have strategically aligned with business and have provided meaningful solutions to social issues.

    ● To read more about our work with CSR, check:https://bit.ly/2G9g2UZ
    ● Talk to us: impact@sattva.co.in

    Urmi Patil

    Urmi is a part of our Consulting Services team in Mumbai, supporting the design and implementation of CSR projects.

    Before Sattva, she worked in southern Gujarat assisting Ph.D. scholars with their primary research and learning different participatory tools of engagement. She has worked in Government Primary Schools in Uttarakhand for two years where she was able to support schools on processes that improved the learning outcomes of children and enhanced participation of the community members. She has also worked with Mahila Mangal Dals, Yuvak Mangal Dals and Self Help Groups for their capacity building through community-based stakeholder mapping.

    Urmi has a Bachelor of Arts, with Economics Honours from Christ University.

    Shrutee Ganguly

    Shrutee is part of the Consulting Services team, Delhi, and leads engagements with corporate and strategic account clients. She manages a team that works with various implementation partners and NGOs to create long term sustainable impact. Her role demands her to manage customer experience, define strategy and create valuable outcomes in the ecosystem.

    Before Sattva she has had 16+ years in diverse corporate domains – banking, product management and consulting. Her key areas of expertise are Operational Excellence; Process Re-engineering, Programme Management, Coaching, Relationship Management & training. She has worked with senior leaders and operations staff to understand cultural dynamics, manage expectations, streamline processes and deliver results. It is her belief that the social sector needs some of these skills to streamline and structure their efforts to create impact and value. At Sattva, Shrutee has worked with the largest education non-profit in India to co-create models to recognise needs of middle management govt officials who are responsible for the policy and implementation at schools. She also worked closely with the client’s programme team to run pilots and gather relevant inputs from teachers and community on teaching practices, child engagement, good practices and challenges.

    Shrutee is a post graduate in computer applications from Madras University and an IBM certified Lean coach.

    Bobbymon George

    Bobbymon heads Assessments in Sattva and is based in our Bangalore office.

    He has delivered evaluation assignments across sectors and with key CSR accounts such as ABG, JPMorgan, ACC, Philips, L&T Infotech, L&T Financial Services, Dell and Fidelity. He comes with over 13 years of experience in the development sector, across programme design, implementation and Monitoring and Evaluation. He has led Programme Delivery, Curriculum Development, setting up Monitoring & Evaluation frame works and tools in non-profits.

    He is also a master facilitator/trainer in Life Skills.