IITs tap foundations, alumni to drive fundraising efforts-Inspire To Hire

The prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are facing a pressing challenge: a shortage of individuals adept at fundraising from companies and alumni. To overcome this, IITs are looking at the US to secure funds by highlighting their accomplishments in science and technology.

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Mahesh Panchagnula, dean of (alumni and corporate relations), at IIT Madras, said the concept of alumni generously contributing to the institutions is still at a nascent stage in India. “We are strengthening our fundraising efforts in the US and reaching out to more people in India.”

IIT Madras is one of the primary beneficiaries, having received 578 crore in the past four years. In FY23, it had collected 231 crore, one of the highest amounts in recent years. The institute is encouraging alumni to visit campuses as well as project locations and hosting events as it aims to launch more projects at the national level.

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“Fundraising by alumni and corporates is a nascent category in India compared to what US universities have witnessed over the years. Hence, we need to sensitize and create awareness among potential donors via campaigns,” Panchagnula said.

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According to a Mint analysis, six IITs—Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Kharagpur, Roorkee and Kanpur—have received over 1,400 crore in donations from corporates and alumni. The amount will be higher if one includes the 23 IITs in India, but most have not declared funding details in their annual reports.

Globally, endowments are very popular. A 2021 report in The Daily Princetonian said Harvard University got the highest endowment of $53.2 billion among the eight Ivy League institutions, followed by Yale ($42.3 billion) and Princeton ($37.7 billion) for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The lack of trained professionals well-versed in higher education fundraising is a significant challenge. Unlike Western nations, the culture of giving back to alma mater is at a nascent stage in India. It will take us some time to inculcate this culture,” said Kantesh Balani, dean of resources and alumni office at IIT Kanpur. In the past four years, it has raised over 400 crore, the second-highest after IIT-M.

The donations are primarily used to develop the institutes’ research facilities as well as hostel infrastructure. In 2010, IIT-Bombay used the funds to establish the Young Faculty Award, with an aim to attract young talent to replace the retiring faculty.

The other reason why institutes like the IITs might miss out on fundraising opportunities is the primary allocation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for NGOs instead of educational institutions.

To counter this challenge, IITs have set up dedicated teams to engage with stakeholders like alumni, foundations, corporations, and philanthropists to get funds. The institutes are also involving alumni in mentoring students and supporting their startup ventures to get long-term investments. IIT-Kanpur, for instance, said it signed many agreements with corporates for various projects under CSR initiatives and sponsored research endeavours.

“The projects cut across domains, such as health, medtech, drones, energy, environment, and community welfare. The institute has partnerships with IBM, Portescap, Citibank, HDFC Bank, REC, Ansys, JK Cement to name a few,” Balani added.

IIT-Bombay did not respond to Mint’s queries on funds raised over the last three financial years. However, according to a news report, the institution had received 160 crore from an anonymous donor to establish a Green Energy and Sustainability Research Hub in August.

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