Tapping into CSR funds: A two-day capacity building session for social organizations

The landmark Companies Act 2013 that mandates companies to spend 2% of their profits on CSR has the potential to channelize about ₹ 18,000-22,000 crore into the Indian development space. The question arises if social organizations have the capacity and wherewithal to absorb these funds and translate them effectively into social impact.

To address this challenge, Samhita Social Ventures organized a two-day capacity building workshop on April 29-30, 2014 – ‘Tapping into CSR funds’, for NGOs and social enterprises. This training program covered the entire life cycle of corporate engagement covering an array of topics such as reaching out to companies, creating partnerships, co-designing and co-implementing programs, ensuring impact, monitoring and evaluation and reporting impact.

The first day consisted of six intensive modules, delivered by experts from Samhita coupled with experiences from corporate and social sector leaders. The trainers from Samhita were Priya Naik, Founder and Joint Managing Director, Abha Rai, Manager, NGOs and Programs, Santanu Bhattacharya, Senior Manager, Communications and Anushree Parekh, Manager, Research.

For the first two modules – Accessing Companies and Writing Proposals, Siddharth Ramalingam from IDFC and Vanessa D’souza from SNEHA provided a fair picture of what constitutes a successful partnership by sharing personal experiences from their own partnership. The speaker for the following modules on Designing Programs and Co-implementing Programs was Rajshri Sai from Swayam Shikshan Prayog, who shed light on the various challenges of a corporate-social organization partnership. The session on Communicating Impact was delivered by Meghna Rakshit from Teach For India, through interesting videos and stories. The last session offered insights into the various forms of employee engagement programs that a social organization can utilize to implement or complement their CSR projects.

On the second day of the workshop, 20 social organizations were given hands-on training on pitching ideas to companies. Social organizations prepared and presented 5-minute pitches to a panel of 5 CSR representatives from major companies such as HDFC Life, HSBC, Capgemini, Axis Bank Foundation and Tata Communications.

The two-day workshop was beneficial for NGOs and social enterprises alike. In addition to giving deep insights into the Companies Act 2013, the workshop also encouraged interactive and healthy discussions among peers. It provided them with an effective platform to explore potential partnerships. In response to the positive feedback and the enthusiasm of the attendees from the social organizations, Samhita is hoping to conduct such similar training sessions in the future in other Indian cities as well.