Thursday, November 13, 2008

An innovative way to answer your ISR

There is an innovative way of answering your ISR (Individual Social Responsibility) now. Better The World, an organisation with a vision for creating the most innovative fundraising tool in the world, is just about to launch one such platform.

The organisation plans to raise $ 1 billion for environment, health and humanity by just appealing to people to surf on the Internet. Seems simply stupendous?

"In our model we do not ask you for donations or for your time and it can always be turned off if you no longer wish to participate", says Ken Rowbotham Partner, Chief Financial Officer, Better The World.
Too good to be true? So, in order to find more and join the same click on the adjoining link

Friday, October 31, 2008

Donor Stewardship Demystified

The power of individuals donors in bringing about social change is immense. The non-profits can create long lasting individual partnerships to sustain their programmes till the time they are needed.

Often, you would have heard people saying that Donor Stewardship is a way of keeping donors for ever and ever excited about your cause. Quiet true, but have you ever wondered what does Donor Stewardship actually mean?

Well the words are plain English and each one of us can explain it in our own way. Gordon Mitchie and his team from Relationship Marketing, UK asked several practitioners around the world the question.

The results are out. A comprehensive report that lucidly explains the concept.

Gordon has identified at least three distinct types of stewardship in this report- passive stewardship, active stewardship and proactive stewardship.

Passive stewardship is pretty much customer or donor care – making sure letters are address correctly and donors are thanked on time, that sort of thing – and is very DM-oriented.

With active stewardship, fundraisers begin an interactive, personal relationship with donors.

Proactive stewardship is very much like traditional major donor fundraising (detailed research on donor and one to one cultivation).

The full copy of the report is available at

PS: Just in case this link does not work or you want to know more about Stewardship, please write to

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Should non-profits work with corporates?

Well the non-profits who partner with corporates, often have this question crossing their minds. Obviously, this thought never crosses the ones like GreenPeace who do not partner as a philosophy.Therefore, my first statement and what follows below is more for non-profits who do partner with corporates.

There are many reasons for questioning the rationale of corporate partnerships. Some of the ones that I have heard include:

- inability to understand the developmental nuances
- expectation to see results as of yesterday
- donor and donee kind of relationship rather than partnership
- wanting too many reports and visits
- the need to publicise it immensely
- corporate or CSR objective driven programming than need based

All the above are valid to some extent. But does that mean we stop working with corporations?

Well obviously not. And this not for the resources they bring in. This is also not for the leverage they could provide. Even not for the well meaning employee group power they bring.

I feel the biggest reason to partner is, to sensitise corporations on the above issues. I think a better mutual appreciation results from sitting and discussing these on the same side of the table.

End word: Yes and yes let us partner with corporations!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Urban Generosity

This survey is getting difficult to search on the web, although it is just a week old on CNN-IBN.

It provides an interesting peek into the Indian generosity.

A good indicator that the new age Indian is greatly inclined to answer ISR- Individual Social Responsibility. Although, the survey is about the urban Indian population but even that is also a big chunk, given we are a billion plus nation.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Please tell me if I am ethical?

(This article has originally appeared at MSN India website)

Have you thought about this question, once or often? If yes then what follows may make sense to you.

I hear people saying that they are socially responsible. They support community causes, volunteer and campaign for them. My question to them often is "Are you ethical ?" Since being ethical is an integral part of being socially responsible.

Now the question of being ethical can be baffling. I am sure it baffles you. It certainly baffles me.

The reason is that the word Ethics in itself is so flexible. Infact Ethics is your ethics like myMSN page.

Ethics is your belief about what you think is right or wrong? Right or wrong is further dependent on your personal experience, education, family and religious backgrounds.

Then how do I know I am ethical?
The key here is to demonstrate Integrity to your beliefs. If you do that then you are ethical.

An honest answer (and not a survey-monkey response) to 4 key questions may help you in knowing that:

1. Do you make decisions based on what is good for greatest number of people?

2. Do you promote individual self-interest as long as it does not harm others?

3. Do you make decisions with a belief that everyone has a fundamental right that should be respected and protected?

4. Do you make decisions that treat everyone fairly and consistently?

The debate on ethics can be intense whenever done. What the above does is provide a simplified check-list for people who want to be ethical and hence socially responsible.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do You Know Your Social Responsibility?

(This article originally appeared at MSN India website)

Increasingly, Individual Social Responsibility, ISR for short, is finding takers like CSR, the much talked about corporate variant.

An Internet search will show several people talking about ISR. But how does one practice ISR? In other words what do you do to fulfill your Social Responsibility.
Is it only about donating to a cause of social importance? Yes it is partly, but not fully. ISR also means your contribution as an activist, campaigner, volunteer in taking up and supporting causes outside your personal sphere.
If you are doing the above you are fulfilling your social responsibility to an extent. Wait there is more.
Here comes the most difficult part. Are you ethical, honest and display integrity in all your actions that affect the community?
True, there is no perfect human being, but the challenge is to be as Socially Responsible one can. Believe me it is infectious. Small efforts can become Everestine.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lots of people in India are already talking ISR

ISR has been on the minds of people from different walks of life for a while now. A look at their views is a definite revelation in the process of defining ISR. Please go on to read the 7 view points that are interestingly so similar.

1. "India is happening....(one of the) 5 worry lines that concern (me) is needless CSR. ISR or Individual Social Responsibility, is a much better way of giving back to the community. Get employees to go to the field and work with NGO’s. Time, not money is needed". Harish Bijoor, “Bharat - Ek Sach…What is Real India?”, “The Horizons ’07 Blog”, IIM-K’s Annual Management Conclave. For complete reference

2. "Yet, I intensely admire individuals who engage in philanthropy. I was deeply moved by Warren Buffet’s selfless gesture when he gave away all his wealth to Bill Gates’ foundation. I agree with Andrew Carnegie that to die rich is to die disgraced. If it is immoral to spend the company’s money, it is businessmen’s duty to spend their own money on charity (from after-tax profits). It is a theft against Reliance’s shareholders if Reliance Industries builds a hospital, but it is Mukesh Ambani’s duty to do so. Hence, Tatas do their charity work through their trusts, from dividends received from Tata companies. CSR should thus be relabelled ISR, Individual Social Responsibility, and each of us ought to feel the need to give back".Gurcharan Das in “Private virtue, public vice”, Times of India, December 17, 2006. For complete reference

3."These are the self-actualising consumers who like to think that the product they drink is politically correct and that their contributions to the brand actually help contribute at large to the society they live in. This is vicarious Individual Social Responsibility (what I call ISR activity). Indirect social responsibility activity, even! This is quite like indirect taxation". Rohit Balakumar in “Being responsible vicariously”. For complete reference

4."Now, what could be the first commitment one can make under ISR? A very simple one! One need not throw money (pick up the coconut). It must be the commitment of demonstrating one’s integrity and honesty in every walks of life and being not very selfish! This is something which is absolutely in one’s hand and one need not look out on external materiallistic things on which we do not have any control. There cannot be a greater commitment and contribution to the society by an individual than this little one as Individual Social Responsibility! Once this basic commitment is fulfilled, then, perhaps an individual can think of higher commitments and then go on to the commitment of corporate social responsibility. If the ISR becomes a way of life, then perhaps, there would be hardly any need for CSR, because by fulfilling the commitments of ISR, every part of the society, including the corporate would have made a strong foundation on which the whole society operate in a much better way". Suresh Govindarajan in “Individual Social Responsibility”. For complete reference

5."Today, we are all talking about Corporate Social Responsibility. We need to start thinking about ISR - Individual Social Responsibility. CSR refers to an organization's responsibility to give back to the society. What about that of an individual? Though every citizen has a social responsibility to his fellow human being, the society, the country, we have conveniently forgotten it. Government is responsible but only in part. The major slice of the responsibility lies on us, the citizens".
Shravan Kumar, “Why only CSR, why not ISR?- Individual Social Responsibility”, in MSN India, Saturday, May 31, 2008. For complete reference

6."We all blame politicians for the pathetic conditions of India. To a certain extent that is true. But, what about the individual social responsibility? The individual life is complete only, if you fullfil all the 4 roles- Personal, Professional, Family and Social. Most of us do our duties ok in the first 3 areas. But, we neglect the 4th one. Why? We all need to question ourselves. We are all too selfish to think about or do good for others. We do good only for fame or sense gratification. We suffer because of this. We are all greedy about making more money, investing in stocks, career growth etc., we don't devote any time for others. There are 10 million rich people in this country. If each one mentors/supports 100 poor/needy people before he die then our country problems will solved. We can solve unemployment, povery, health, literacy etc., issues". Suren Poruri in “Social Responsibility”. For complete reference

7. "All said and done, ISR boils down to identifying day to day activities which could cause marginal if not significant improvement in processes, attitudes, work styles and cultures thereby improving our progress on the growth trajectory and the quality of life in general. If each one of us takes similar initiatives, I believe all of us will benefit in some way or the other. So, what are you waiting for? Have you set your ISR Goals?" Ajay in "ISR . . . The New Reality???". For complete reference

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Understanding ISR-Individual Social Responsibility

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has been the buzz for a while. Several attempts have been made to define, practice and document CSR. But increasingly and from diverse and independent pockets in the world people are talking about a different and more basic social responsibility. ISR-Individual Social Responsibility has all the takings of being a high impact change maker. This article tries to build understanding on the subject by studying these various points of view.

What is ISR?

Individual Social Responsibility (ISR) is about an individual becoming responsible in his/her actions that have affect on communities outside his/her immediate circle. The immediate circle being family and friends [1].There can be an argument about also including family and friends, but it would be rather pertinent to include them as part of Individual Personal Responsibility.
Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (WCIF), Bulgaria, describes ISR in its position statement on Social Responsibility as,
"The individual social responsibility includes the engagement of each person towards the community where he lives, which can be expressed as an interest towards what’s happening in the community, as well as in the active participation in the solving of some of the local problems. Under community we understand the village, the small town or the residential complex in the big city, where lives every one of us. Each community lives its own life that undergoes a process of development all the time. And everyone of us could take part in that development in different ways, for example by taking part in cleaning of the street on which he lives, by taking part in organization of an event, connected with the history of the town or the village or by rendering social services to children without parents or elderly people. The individual social responsibility also could be expressed in making donations for significant for the society causes – social, cultural or ecological. There are many ways of donating, as for example donating of goods or donating money through a bank account or online".

Is ISR only about philanthropy?

ISR is not only about:

1. Committing acts of charity
2. Working for the communities where you have material interest.

These only form part of ISR, which is a broader concept that can be manifested through action as below:

1. Philanthropic behaviour of an individual [2]
2. The campaigner, volunteer and activist instinct in the individual that picks-up and supports issues affecting the society [3].
3. The above two coupled with an individual being ethical (integrity, honesty)[4]in his/her outward dealings

ISR vis-à-vis CSR

1. ISR is at the roots of CSR, because a corporate comprises of individuals and hence determines the social responsibility culture it follows.

2. As CSR is being increasingly viewed as a tool to push wares a greater need for ISR is expected [5]. The example of in giving people the power to empower is a big indicator of the shift.

3. If ISR becomes way of life CSR may be an automatic end result.

4. “The social responsibility of business is to make a profit,” famously said Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winner. He explained that in making a profit a company creates thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly through suppliers, distributors and retailers. It imparts valuable skills to its employees. It pays crores in taxes. It improves the lives of millions of satisfied customers with its products and services. This is an enormous service to society. If some shareholders get rich on the way, so what? Companies should focus single-mindedly on their competence, providing goods and services better than their competitors, and not get distracted by extraneous activity. A company’s social responsibility is to make profits legally, not to harm nature, and uphold the highest standards of governance.
It is then left for the promoters of the corporations to practice ISR from the profits received above to really answer Social Responsibility.[6]

Is ISR practical?

Yes, it is. The successes of ventures like that empower individuals to bring sustainable change are case in point. Furthermore, the advent of Web 2.0 and social networking has fuelled Individual activism, campaigning and giving.
But there is still a long way to go. According to The Harris Poll ®#57, June 18, 2007[7], when it comes to individual social responsibility, two-thirds of U.S. adults have "Good Intentions" – they believe that social responsibility is a good idea, and they do what they can in terms of volunteering, but they do not sacrifice huge amounts of time or money. At the top end of the spectrum, 8 percent of U.S. adults "Practice What They Preach" and for this group, individual, as well as corporate, social responsibility is extremely important. One-quarter of U.S. adults, however, follow a philosophy of "To Thine Own Self Be True" and, for this group, social responsibility has little consequence in their lives.
On the other hand the trends show that the biggest growth for big charitable organisations in the world is coming through individuals and not through corporations and governments [8].
The aspects of ethics, honesty and integrity surely need further consultation.


1"ISR is here, watch-out CSR!” by Anup Tiwari at

2Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (WCIF) position on ISR at

3Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (WCIF) position on ISR at

4Suresh Govindarajan in "Individual Social Responsibility" on

5"The End of Corporate Social Responsibility", posted by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore on

6”Private virtue, public vice” by Gurcharan Das,December 17, 2006, Times of India,


8” The Inconvenient truth about corporate fundraising” by Sean Triner in

ISR-Individual Social Responsibility, ever heard of it?

ISR may not be as well known as CSR but the power and reach it brings is truly amazing.

It is truly the more altruistic version of Social Responsibility. Please click on the link below to know more

I am trying to build a paper on Wikipedia, but it needs on-line consultation, so please follow this link to edit and fine-tune.

Cheers, power back to the people!