Indian-Americans donate time, but could give more financially

Indian Americans volunteer at nearly double the national average but give substantially less financially. This means the Indian American community is leaving significant social impact on the table as Indian Americans are among the highest earning groups in the US and have tremendous influence here and abroad. This is stated in the first Indiaspora-Dalberg Community Engagement Survey, which serves as a tool to understand the philanthropic behavior of the Indian American community at large.

The survey paints a rich picture of the motivations and self-reported giving behavior of the Indian American donor community. We find that the community is passionate about social impact, has a diversity of interests, has consistent screening criteria when picking organizations, and volunteers prolifically. An Indian American donor typically volunteers 220 hours each year, far exceeding the U.S. national average of 125 hours annually. The survey’s initial findings will be discussed today during the Indiaspora Philanthropy Summit at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Indiaspora Founder, MR Rangaswami said, “Today, we are discussing what lies next for Indiaspora in our role as a philanthropic catalyst, which is one of the core pillars of our mission. We are in the early stages of strategically planning what we should do to move the needle – which is to say, increase the amount of Indian American philanthropic giving in America and to India, and make it more effective.”

Dalberg Advisors’ Regional Director for the Americas, Joe Dougherty remarked, “At over $3 billion annually, the giving potential of Indian Americans is enormous. To put it into context, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation distributes $4-$5 billion across the entire globe every year. Imagine the kind of impact the diaspora could create if they met their giving potential. We hope that the results of this study help galvanize philanthropic efforts among this important – and influential – community.” 

The results not only show there is a ‘giving gap’ in the realm of at least $2-3 billion, they also show there is a so-called passion-donation gap: the causes the community claims to be most passionate about do not necessarily receive the most donations.

Moreover, women and men do not always rank the same causes in the same order of importance. For example, 59% of women listed gender equality as an area they are passionate about (tied with education as their top passion area) whereas only 26% of men said the same (only 6th on their list of passion areas). Finally, the community tends to view its business and investment activities as being almost entirely independent of their philanthropic engagements. 

We also find credible evidence buttressing the pervasive notion that Indian Diaspora donors often lack trust in the philanthropic organizations they might wish to give to. In other words, donors harbor a “trust deficit”. 

Today’s event includes keynote remarks from senior U.S. government officials and inspirational philanthropic leaders from India, such as Sunil Wadhwani, and various parts of America. Additionally, we will have panel discussions on collaboration among philanthropic organizations, on-the-ground philanthropy in India, and social impact investing. Over 150 philanthropists, industry leaders, non-profit heads, government officials, academicians, policy experts, elected officials, students and members of the media have registered to attend.


Twenty-eight non-profit, community organizations helped Indiaspora disseminate the survey to their constituents.

The study was designed and implemented by Dalberg Advisors with input from academic advisors Dr. Devesh Kapur (Johns Hopkins University) and Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan (University of California Riverside).

Indiaspora ( is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization established to transform the success of Indian Americans into meaningful impact worldwide. Their members, who are influential Indian-American and Indian leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions, form an impactful network. Indiaspora aims to increase visibility and influence of Indian Americans, to create a platform to help shape successful U.S.-India relations, to connect with the global Indian diaspora and redefine the philanthropic model to promote more effective and sustainable giving by Indian-Americans.

Dalberg Advisors is a strategic advisory firm which brings the best of private sector strategy, skills and rigorous analytical capabilities with deep knowledge and networks across emerging and frontier markets. They work collaboratively across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to fuel inclusive growth and help clients achieve their goals.

For questions, please contact Gabrielle Trippe, Indiaspora Philanthropy Initiatives Manager, at, or Swetha Totapally, Dalberg Advisors’ Associate Partner and San Francisco Director, at swetha.totapally@dalberg.comAREAS OF EXPERTISE: 

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