INCREASED SOCIAL SPENDING SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY STRONGER MONITORING AND EVALUATION

In order to streamline the philtanthripic activities and ensure more accountabulity and transparency, the Government of India made if mandatory for companies to undertake CSR activities under the Companies Act, 2013. These CSR obligations intent to help remediate poverty and social problems in India. Companies are subject to the CSR requirements if they have, for any financial year in India – a net worth of atleast Rs. 500 Cr., a turnover of at least Rs. 1000 Cr., or net profits of at least Rs. 5 Cr. The CSR clause applies to approximately 16,000 companies in India.

Due to the clause, the last two years have seen a significant increase in CSR expenditure by firms. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said companies are expected to pump in as much as Rs 14,000 Cr. for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in 2014-15. The actual estimated spend for 2014-15 is around Rs. 5000 Cr. and the amount will be significantly increasing in subsequent years.

Not too much emphasis has been placed previously on how money spent on development projects is creating an impact or even ensuring that the money has reached intended beneficiaries. Due to the increase in the amount of CSR spending, impact based CSR program conceptualisation is becoming increasingly popular. The introduction of the clause lays down a compulsion for CSR reporting and producing Annual Reports which should highlight impact and the scale of CSR work and funds, by companies.

The non-profit sector in India has also been growing at a rapid pace, with increased needs for contextual project management and field data tracking.

The statistics on health, education, employment and other social progress indicators of the country, highlight the inefficiencies in programs undertaken by NGOs, social enterprises, CSR foundations, Government bodies and Multilateral international organisations. One of the main concerns is the serious disconnect between strategy, implementation and evaluation frameworks in the Indian social development sector.

Despite the large amounts being invested in this sector by both philanthropists and corporates, there is little standardisation of reporting and impact measurement across the sector.

We feel appropriate M&E tools, methods and systems should be developed based on ground realities while implementing projects in India – which can be used by field personnel. We intend to make projects more measurable and impact based by using logic models and other Social Impact Measurement tools which would aid the inclusion of M&E in project strategy. We wish to incorporate ICT4D tools and methods into the SIA space in India, to overcome the obstacles faced while implementing projects in the country.

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