New Delhi: The Mumbai-based online donation platform, GiveIndia, which channels funds from donors to NGOs, will host its inaugural “First Givers Club" summit in New Delhi on Friday.

As the Indian philanthropic community matures, GiveIndia is betting on support from a different class of donor. While the very high net-worth individuals (HNIs)—the likes of Azim Premji, Ratan Tata and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala—have long been reliable sources of philanthropic funds, other high-income individuals are beginning to step into the arena, with smaller, though still very targeted giving campaigns of their own.

“We are looking at donors from the professional segment, CEOs, small and medium business owners, with high incomes who can give a base of five lakhs a year up to 50 lakhs," said Dhaval Udani, CEO of GiveIndia. “We started the club for philanthropists in 2010 and we expose them to different philanthropists to give them the lay of the land, through summits and events and exposure to philanthropic foundations. We then engage with structuring their philanthropic portfolios. Five lakhs is a benchmark we have set so that people get serious about it."

To date, the First Givers Club has channelled 18 crore into projects across a variety of fields (though 50% of giving is still focused on education, by far the most popular cause for Indian philanthropists). It works with around 65 member families and has structured and monitored the philanthropic portfolios of 37 members, 70% of whom, GiveIndia says, are closely engaged with the organizations they support, beyond simply donating money.

The hope is that as givers become more involved in the causes they support, their donations will become more strategic. “The first decision is always emotional," says Deepa Varadarajan, vice-president of HNI giving at GiveIndia. “People will say, ‘Bihar is my home, or I want to give to girl children,’ but we are finding after three years, people are doubling their donations and more than that they are leveraging their networks to champion their causes."

One such family, Ameeta and Sanjoy Chatterjee, both bankers who had lived abroad in London for eight years, before returning to Indian with their two young daughters, personify this kind of engaged giving. The Chatterjees knew that they wanted to give to NGOs involved in girls issues and education, and they knew of some reputable organizations, “but we needed some kind of advice," says Ameeta. “GiveIndia could connect us to the right people, they gave us the channels, but they also provided the basic corporate governance and transparency that we needed. We felt more comfortable if these NGOs had been selected by GiveIndia that our money would be put to good use."

After consultation, the couple decided to fund a project in Worli, near their home. “We committed for five years to sponsor 100 children from 8th and 9th grade until they finished their education, we took care of educational needs and extra curricular activities and bi-annual health check ups," Chatterjee said.

However, after three years, Ameeta decided, while listening to Dr Sai Lakshmi, the founder of Ekam, at one of the First Giver Club events, that she would expand her portfolio. Ekam works to provide medical care to underprivileged children in Tamil Nadu, including surgeries drug support and training nurses. “I was sitting there, listening to her and I was really impressed with the work she did. It occurred to me to start a pilot of Ekam in Bombay. I asked GiveIndia and they said, ‘Yes we can do it,’ so we put in some funds and we got two more philanthropic funds to help out with seed capital, and some other smaller givers. To date, it has benefited 100 kids As we speak, we are talking to corporates for fund raising."

GiveIndia hopes that by launching its giving club in Delhi, many more professionals might follow suit. “People are still giving at way below their potential," Varadarajan says. “Maybe 0.5% or 1% of what they are earning, but the idea of the club is to start to drive conversations around philanthropy."

Mint is a media partner for GiveIndia’s New Delhi summit.