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Directing philanthropic capital towards institution-building of small and mid-sized non-profits in India

Building on our work with clients in India, Social Synergy Deutschland was launched in December 2018, as a not-for-profit charitable organisation ("Verein") under German Law. It has been registered in Freiburg, Germany with the aim to promote Social Synergy’s unique approach to supporting non-profits in their engagement with donors and funders in Europe. Through its legal status, Social Synergy Deutschland is eligible to accept philanthropic capital and either direct it to our portfolio in India through what we call as Fund for Inclusive Growth (FIG) or we can counsel you (donors and funders) on adopting this approach for your portfolio.

Our idea behind FIG is very simple and lies in funding at the margin:

  • Over the years many philanthropists have invested substantial sums in programmes.

  • This transfer of capital, besides achieving programmatic outcomes, has also resulted in organisations that possess an enduring ability to generate impact. Philanthropists can continue to direct capital in these programmes through these same organisations.

  • But there is an additional possibility: leveraging these historical investments to build institutional capital of these same organisations through the smaller but continuous deployment of capital.

  • By funding at the margin, the funds are directed towards nurturing the fundamental abilities of these organisations. Sometimes, it may mean supporting a strategic programme, at other times hiring of persons or building their potential, and still other times running a straightforward organisational development process.


A large number of organisations and donor portfolios we work with possess these common characteristics:​

20+ years of operating history; clear community and geography-specific approach (unlike sectoral); Elements of advocacy, capability-building or grassroots engagement being central to their models; working with issues and questions that are either not of interest to or cannot be resolved alone by governments and/or market forces; solutions based on ideas that are not necessarily mainstream or popular

Our journey so far

Our learnings


More money doesn’t mean better outcomes.


Infusion of technology and excessive formalisation of systems and processes don’t guarantee higher fund absorption.


Many of the things that you can count don’t count, many of the things that you can’t count really count.


Log-frame type thinking: solutions of today only hide problems of tomorrow.


Be careful to not confuse scale (put in more, get more out) with scalability (get more out with less put in).

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