CSR Over the Years At An Eight-Year-Old Nonprofit— Sowmya Nandan

July 4, 2016
By Rang De Team

Rang De has partnered with leading corporates and individuals from all walks of life — see award-winning musician Raghu Dixit’s vote of confidence for an example


Rang De has had a long history in terms of CSR involvement with corporates in India.

Even before the update to the Indian Companies Act came in 2013, small organisations used to partner with us because they believed in our cause.

The CSR act also specifies that projects that corporates pick to support must be involved with livelihood, women empowerment, health, education and we fit into all these different categories in various ways.

For a lot of people, they have been exposed to the traditional format of being associated with non-profits where you spend a day teaching kids or you step out and plant some trees.

Rang De, on the other hand, has been an exciting alternative as we give an opportunity for interaction with the individuals that employees choose to invest in and offer a lot of transparency on the website.

We are a beautiful concept that combines the traditional side of social responsibility as well as online involvement.

We currently operate in 15 states across India

Most corporates have been able to appreciate the fact that you can go to a dashboard and see with a lot of clarity how many states have been impacted, how many lives have been changed and a lot of other data that otherwise people would have to call and ask the non-profit organisation to get.

We also respect the fact that organisations would need a quarterly report which has all the data they require coupled with some powerful stories from the field that meets the criteria or the mandate of the CSR act.

People who are remotely located can also get involved.

Given the pan-India nature of our operations, there is always an opportunity for any employee to get involved.

Usually, CSR departments drive the engagement in-house to get employees to sign up and invest in knocking out poverty by picking any of the hundreds of borrowers on the Rang De platform.

Experience with CSR over 8 years

There are certain things that we have formalised well over the years.

Consider an email marketing campaign that we carry out in-house at a given corporate.

It starts with email teasers that are sent out to employees which talk about the myths in the sector — people have always believed that underprivileged people prefer donations, for example. Otherwise, people might also think that after a year, these loans would be written off.

Our experience in this sector has consistently proven this wrong. Even women who have challenges repaying have ensured through their self-help groups and community of repayment. If there has been a natural calamity then they have asked for a holiday period of one or two months but they still repay back on time.

The final email we send out usually informs individuals about Rang De which sparks their curiosity. We conclude everything with a Rang De story session wherein Ram and Smita, co-founders of Rang De, share their journey and our mission to empower communities across India.

Three months after the money gets invested, we can also carry out field trips for the employees so they get a deeper insight of the impact of their social investments.

We have diversified our approach considerably over the years.

Employees can involve themselves with Rang De through a tweetathon or learn the local cuisine or other cultural aspects of the individuals that they have invested in across India. We have also seen instances where organisations have instructed their employees to become followers of Rang De across social media so that they can spread our message wider.

Certain corporates collaborate with Rang De more on the technology front such as HasGeek events where programmers brainstorm solutions that might help us. Other organisations have given us access to their products.

Apart from CSR funding, corporates have tied up with us in various different ways such as GeekTrust certifying us as ‘An Awesome Company’ in May

Connections have also been forged from the most unexpected places, many of them online.

Once, we were connected with a person on LinkedIn and had a quick meeting. He was a senior person who wanted to understand Rang De better.

We were given the go-ahead and the employees were gathered for a meeting the following week. Even though big corporate offices have challenges in terms of carrying out transactions on their premises, our contact quickly gave a heads-up that would typically have taken any other company significant time to approve.

There have been meetings with senior personnel that have been so positive that business leaders have asked to join us as Social Investors immediately after the culmination of the meeting! They have also personally worked hard to inspire employees to come onboard with us as Social Investors.

There have even been employees who have signed up as social investors through our CSR work and as they moved from one company to another, they wrote in asking for their email addresses to be updated so that they can continue to be involved with us!

Some of our own chapter members — people who are our changemakers in various cities — have been championing for us within organisations and trying to spread the word and starting CSR conversations.

Corporate employees can talk directly to any of the borrowers that they choose to invest with one click of a button

We actually had a very passionate volunteer from one of the big corporates in Mumbai. Every year, the organisation mandated that if an employee volunteered for a certain number of hours, they would give out Rs 60k to the NGO that the employee was associated with. Consistently, this individual has always talked about Rang De and the work we do.

Moving beyond the norm for employee acknowledgment

Corporates across the country have done a lot of walkathons, marathons and events related to fitness and charity but with Rang De, they can think of partnering with our efforts in novel ways.

We always brainstorm with corporates to come up with unorthodox ideas.

For instance, a 500 member-strong organisation had signed up with us for Diwali wherein they gave us a Rs 500 worth gift voucher for every individual who came onboard as a social investor and made an investment.

Many corporates have been pleased with Rang De gift cards as an option that makes their Rewards & Recognition program more meaningful, especially given the overuse of retail shopping vouchers.

Rang De gift cards do an excellent job of rewarding employees while indirectly giving them a chance to impact someone else as well.

Whether it be Independence Day or Diwali, people from various parts of the country are always excited about giving and are happy to contribute to the development of the country through the Rang De platform.

We are actively looking for corporate partnerships with all types of corporates so do drop us an email and we hope to give you a wholly digital and modern CSR experience.

Sowmya Nandan is our Chief Belief Officer and can be reached at sowmya@rangde.org for any further queries.

Our CSR brochure can be downloaded at the following link.