My summer has passed faster than I thought, and my personal motto for my last two weeks of work is to hustle as hard as I can to add as much value to my work as possible.
Last Wednesday, Dasra hosted a major annual event in the world of Indian philanthropy: the Indian Philanthropy Forum 2011 (IPF). IPF is an event which puts philanthropists and leaders of nonprofits and social businesses together in a forum setting to discuss philanthropy and giving. It’s a unique opportunity for philanthropists to discuss their philosophies and practices of giving and to learn about the most pressing national social issues. It’s also a way for social leaders and philanthropists to see what they can do to better work with each other.
Professional conventions are usually… awful, but this was actually amazing. The passion in the room was palpable. The forum was friendly but raised the tough questions regarding philanthropy and social work. Most speakers were lively, engaged, and deeply knowledgeable. Issues were discussed in depth and from a variety of perspective. Both the how and why of giving were addressed.
One of the highlights of the day was when Bain & Co. released their annual “State of Indian Philanthropy” report, an important publication which researches current practices and problems in philanthropy and provides sector-wide recommendations based on this. Implicit at the event was the understanding that philanthropy is something that has the potential to create major, society-wide impact in India. The philanthropic tradition in India is at least, literally, 4000-7000 years old (based on when you believe the oldest Vedas were composed). This is perhaps one of the most inspiring things I have seen about the social sector here – where the government and market have clearly failed to provide solutions, individuals have leveraged their vast resources, expertise, and sheer strength of will to create real impact.
The media is picking us up. There was so much Twitter buzz about Dasra and the event that for a day Twitter recommended us on their home page. Legit. I created the audio and visual materials for the event and ran the technology from the tech booth. Power to the intern.
One of my most memorable moments in the day was when I clearly saw that Dasra addressed two of the top three problems facing philanthropy today. My core internship project addresses one of the top two most important issues. When you’re working in an office, it can be hard to see the value of your day to day work. It’s easy to feel disconnected. But when I get to see the sector in a holistic and strategic way, like through the Bain report, I see the truth of it: everyone is doing their part according to their skillset, and the work Dasra does has the ability to deeply impact the sector in a way that few other organizations in this space do.
Getting back to the title of this post, I’m kind of freaking out about having so little time left. I’ve already produced 2-3 solid work products, but I want to do a lot more before I go. So, I am preparing a day-by-day work plan for my remaining two weeks here, and I will be plowing through that to get as much done as humanly possible.