Key approaches for success in philanthropic endeavors



Reetu and Suraj Gupta, siblings who run the Gupta Family Foundation explain how their approach to philanthropy reflects their deeply held values and convictions about making the world a better place.

A family’s philanthropy is part of its legacy to make the world a better place and a reflection of deeply held values. Philanthropy can also bring families closer together, enrich the lives of their individual members and strengthen bonds between generations. No one knows this better than Reetu and Suraj Gupta, siblings who run the Gupta Family Foundation – philanthropic organization of Canadian real estate and hospitality company The Gupta Group.

For almost four decades, the foundation has transformed lives for the better. Reetu and Suraj recently spearheaded its relief efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic by deploying various approaches for achieving maximum social good.

Citi Latitude invites you to learn and redefine your approach to philanthropy in an engaging session with Reetu and Suraj hosted by Karen Kardos, Head of Philanthropic Advisory at Citi Private Bank, and observe its five key actionable takeaways.

Takeaway 1

An act of philanthropy always begins by recognizing the value of giving back to society by those of us who are fortunate enough to do so. Often the encouragement and instilling of values comes from elders in the family, but we can all identify with the idea of being able to help people and improve lives.

We give our parents full credit for getting us involved with our family’s philanthropic endeavors. Giving back to society was instilled in us as siblings from a very early age by our parents when we got money as a gift from one of our grandparents. They would always say that you can spend, save or do the noble thing of giving it to charity. Many of us can find similar inspiration or an identical spark to drive us down the philanthropic pathway. You may associate it with duty, responsibility, spirituality or simply something that you genuinely enjoy in line with your professional pursuits. But very often we find that it is a combination of one, more or all four factors, tied into family legacy and values. 

Takeaway 2

Given the nature of the world we live in and the societal pressures it faces, many of us have the urge to give back and a feeling in their heart of wanting to do good but don’t know where to start. It can feel daunting, perhaps even confusing. But there’s always a way to give back by aligning your philanthropic plans and ambitions with your interests, and seeking counsel when embarking on your mission.

There's are no rights or wrongs, or dos and don’ts; it can be anything. Every individual or family’s approach varies, and while monetary donations play a major part – philanthropy doesn’t just start and end there. You can do as much good in the world by volunteering or offering your time and talent to those in need. Your background and the nature of your family enterprise or office may offer a steer in what philanthropic pathway you choose. But you needn’t be concerned about the concept of “Well, where do I start?” or fret that the cause you choose may not be as impactful. Always remember to do solid due diligence before embarking on your journey, and no matter what cause or which organization you choose to start with, you're going to drive an impact, and that can only be beneficial.

Takeaway 3

Never underestimate the value of philanthropy via influence, and its amazing snowball effect in terms of motivating your peers and starting partnerships that are seen to be adding as much value to the world and helping as many people and causes as possible.

We have already touched on the value of volunteering time and expertise and almost every charity and philanthropic organization around the world has a need of funds that they can hopefully deploy in an amazing way. But there are a lot of other ways too, and the power of influence is one of those. That influence can range from motivating your peers to partnering with governments and bringing your position in society to bear to shift the philanthropic needle.

Takeaway 4

We believe that philanthropy really needs to be tied-in to everything you do. It doesn't always need to be just one-off donations to charities. The world has reached a stage where impact investing and philanthropy go hand in glove. You can now align your social and ethical desire to give back to society with your investment objectives.

Changing the world can also involve supporting companies that have a strong mission statement and environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments in their attempts to build a profitable business model. And there should be no automatic assumption that companies with social impact objectives are sacrificing profit, which is not the case. Quite the contrary, any due diligence or research you do may bring up examples of many such companies that are able to demonstrate to the world that when you do those social and ethical things, you actually do much better financially. Of course, there is always the possibility that some of your impact investing forays don’t go according to plan despite your best intentions, but you need to learn from those. That's when you should go back to the drawing board and ask – do I need to look at something differently? Often learnings received from your biggest trials and tribulations, lead to the biggest and most impactful of positive outcomes.

Takeaway 5

Philanthropy forms a big part of your family legacy but your philosophy on making a difference to the world may differ wholly or partially from your parents. There's always going to be a natural inclination towards – “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it”, especially if the family’s philanthropic outlay is working well. However, if you are passionate about a cause that’s close to your heart, don’t be afraid to have the difficult conversations within the family.

Admittedly, these kinds of conversations can be hard for the next generation to have with their parents because many may have a different area that they are really passionate about, and perhaps they don't really want to carry on the legacy of what their parents are doing. But having these conversations is absolutely vital because a new perspective can come in with the second generation, or the third or fourth. Members of the next generation can potentially put forward new ways, methodologies and approaches that could be better and generate greater impact. Were that to materialize, it would only enhance your family legacy and the extent of change you can make in the world.