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Leveraging technology to maximize potential of CSRs

The development sector brings with-it far-reaching impact on the lives of beneficiaries through a multipronged approach. The success is seen through empirical evidence in baseline and endline evaluation of projects across sectors and geographies. However, several areas may need a little support from experts. One such area is the grant process may appear smooth upfront, but while applying the theory in practical life the process can be complicated and cumbersome especially for CSRs to navigate the process and while the job of a CSR looks like offering grants to organizations, the work of a CSR doesn’t end but begins there. When CSRs have multiple projects to manage, tracking different all of them, homogenizing compliance throughout different organizations, tracking social impact across multiple locations an,d tracking the financial aspects can be pretty tedious.

To support the CSRs in managing grant cycles Dhwani RIS has created mGrant. mGrant is a web-based solution enabling organizations to manage CSR life cycles. From releasing and advertising RFPs to disbursement of funds as per the approval status to tracking of funds and projects it is a one-stop solution.

The founders Swapnil and Sunandan started working on digitizing the operational processes of grassroots organizations as part of their assignments at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). Post-graduation they approached Aga Khan Rural Support Program where they worked on a project in South Gujarat that covered 150 villages, while they were working for Aga Khan, they saw how little technology was adopted by social enterprises and non-profits. They immediately realized that there was a gap in tech adoption and hence Dhwani Rural Information systems were founded to provide affordable and accessible tech solutions.

Since then, Dhwani has been creating tech solutions as well as leveraging existing technologies, such as data collection and monitoring tools. Dhwani has also been able to cater to very specific problems within the social sector space: one of those problems was grant management. In discussions with different stakeholders, Dhwani found out that there is no existing software that caters grant management needs. For example, Dhwani’s MGrant has been able to create impact dashboards and compliance systems that help in creating reports which are as per the government alignment.

In fact, cited below are success stories of how the CSR wing of one the largest Indian multinational conglomerate, headquartered in Mumbai, the Mahindra Group. The Mahindra Group spends over Rs. 250 Cr on CSR projects every year on 100+ CSR projects. Due to the substantial amount of money invested in CSR, a centralized integrated IT system was always required. Having each company track its CSR projects in its own system makes it impossible for CSR Council to get a holistic picture of CSR programs' impact. In order to support CSR across all Mahindra Group companies, there was a need to implement a robust, cutting-edge, Integrated IT System. In fact, a platform for employee volunteering platform was also created.

MGrant is being used by the Mahindra Group as a centralized IT-enabled platform for all Mahindra Group CSR projects, to manage budgets, and grant management processes, collect real-time project data from NGOs, and collate last mile impact across projects and locations, thereby enabling cost and impact efficiencies, through data-driven analysis. The Integrated IT System for CSR has digitized the entire CSR Lifecycle through an end-to-end solution that would bring all workflows and critical operations in managing a CSR project onto a single platform.

The features and functionalities that Dhwani has developed over the years have been very extensive, for example for mGrant we have developed a comprehensive Dashboard View of the mGrant Application to gain insights into the potential and existing impact on the project. Moreover, it has provided ease of access wherein in one place everything can be compiled is related to grants, for example, CSR can float RFPs, can check compliances, monitor, and allocate resources among different subsidiary organizations, etc.

Following is the features list of MGrant:

One of the biggest advantages Dhwani has been able to build over the 7 years of its operations is having a deep understanding of the problems in the social sector as well as building a team that is dedicated to solving those problems.

RIS team has been providing constant tech support to all the clients which makes it easier for clients to use technology. Moreover, they have been constantly innovating with our technology, which has been their strength in creating tech for the social sector.

Author

CSRBOX

CSRBOX.org is Asia's largest CSR platform with an in-depth CSR portfolio of over 1050 companies and 10000+ CSR projects. The platform works as a bridge between the development sector, and business community, government agencies and academic institutes to bring together opportunities on one platform and create a knowledge base for thematic interventions. A few of our clients are UNICEF India, IBM, BOSCH Ltd, HCL Foundation, Genpact, Diageo, Bajaj Foundation etc.We have projects, platforms and partnerships (3Ps) based approach for social impact in India