CSR – Increased Accountability and Research by Jay Laddha

By Volunteer Jay Laddha, FHI Ahmedabad

There were already voluntary guidelines for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). But, it was on the eve of 1st April 2014, the mandatory provisions for CSR came into force for certain types of companies. India became the first country to legally mandate corporate spending on social welfare. The move was lauded by both industrialists and non-profit organizations. Various benefits were cited including social upliftment and financial inclusion. During my sophomore days, even I had merrily presented a research paper on the significance of CSR. However, in my little experience of working as a Chartered Accountant, I have seen directors frown at the mention of the word ‘CSR’. They cleverly maneuver their way out through one or the other heuristic.

That being said, if there’s any company that genuinely donates funds to NGOs for CSR, it should be really appreciated for such an endeavor. And it goes without saying this will reap considerable positive benefits to our community. Further, in this regard, at the risk of appearing dogmatic, I would like to discuss two desirable changes that might occur at an NGO:-

Increased Accountability

If you’ve seen the Hollywood film whose name I’m forgetting, you might remember the quote, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. While offering a substantial amount of funds, corporates will also demand assurance on its proper utilization. This, in effect, will increase the responsibility of city leaders and volunteers in terms of modus operandi of their events. Every volunteer needs to be proactive and should be aware of the manner in which NGO’s events are going to be conducted and reported.

Opportunity for Research

Many a time, official data don’t show the complete picture and the quality of such data is always suspected. In such circumstances, the pervasiveness of any issue is best understood in compelling cases found in reports made by NGOs and observers over the years (like the Asian Centre for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and People’s Union for Democratic Rights). As it is said, social change starts with the facts. At FHI, we can learn from these organizations and commence our own research at the ground level. As we conduct our events at different schools, for a start, we can talk with children and collect data on which activities they prefer and how they feel about it. This meticulous accumulation and consequent presentation of findings will better help in convincing corporates to offer us more funds.

All in all, it will ultimately depend upon us how well we churn out this investment. As there’s an old adage: “all birds fly, it’s just that some birds fly higher than others.”

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