Could CSR be the game changer for sports in India?

Vivek Singh, Joint MD - Procam International "Corporate Social Responsibility is the first fee that an organization pays to the society for getting a license to operate"

When I began to write the story it was more about sports and corporate sponsorship with respect to CSR but as I went behind interviewing people connected with TCS Bengaluru World 10K Marathon, it took a different turn altogether.  I never realized that there was so much of human side to it besides the sports and fun. Yes, there is a great hope for both Sports and Corporate Social Responsibility in India.  According the Mr. Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of Procam International, Promoters of the TCS World 10K Run being held in Bengaluru on Sunday 17th May 2015, “Corporate Social Responsibility is the first fee that an organization pays to the society for getting a  license to operate.  Organizations cannot exist without being responsible to the community.  It’s their fundamental duty”.

He feels that “ there has been a paradigm shift  in Indian sports for the last one decade”.  Despite short comings in sports administration and management in our country, “there is a great hope for Indian sports, adds Mr. Singh.  Speaking on the sidelines of a charity event hosted under the aegis of Bangalore Marathon World 10K, he spoke in length and breadth of the metamorphosis of the Indian sports.  Despite lack of adequate facilities and training there has been a lot of encouragement from Government, community and Sports bodies to do something for the upliftment of the sports in our country and it is paying off.  “You see the community is showing much interest in sending their kids to various sports programs such as coaching, clinics etc. 

Asked about India’s dismal show at the Olympics in terms of medals he replies “Today we find sports is being considered as a viable career option in India.  We may not be doing great in all the sports.  But we are certainly doing good in some of them such as boxing, shooting, wrestling etc”.  “We should not be straight away comparing our sporting abilities vis a vis the Europeans, Americans or Australians. We should go back to where we started and see how we have progressed.  “Of course the foreign athletes are much healthier, fitter and skilful than the Indians.  That’s because of the headway they have in terms of infrastructure and training”.   We need to encourage community which is what Bangalore 10K would be doing to build the culture of sports, health, fitness and corporate social responsibility.  Asked about the role of Procam in enabling CSR thro’ sports he says “ Procam conducts marathons that are cause agnostic (irrespective of the cause), it offers a gateway to charity partners such as India Cares who reach out to various NGOs who in turn provide access to various charity organizations.

Procam offers fund raising opportunity and awareness, to various NGOs to raise funds during the Marathon Runs.  This year nearly 103 NGOs  have used bibs, running numbers to raise funds from various organizations and individuals at the Bangalore World 10K Run.

“Fund raising for charities thro’ marathon in itself is a big industry worldwide says Ms Meena Dave, CEO of India Cares, the philanthropy partners of the Bangalore World 10K Marathon.  “Marathon is the largest sporting charity platform in India confirms Mr. Vivek Singh.  “We help raise nearly 35 crore rupees to charity every year thro’ marathons”.  Every year Procam conducts 4 marathons including, Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Bengaluru.

How does this entire ecosystem work.  The marathons such as the one being held on Sunday 17th May 2015 in Bengaluru offers a platform for community and charity organizations to reach out to people and runners and in turn raise funds for their cause.  India Cares, the charity partner does due diligence of the fund raisers including the verification of the fund utilization during previous years by them.  It provides the required training for the NGOs, volunteers of trustees to raise funds from the HNIs (High Net worth Individuals) and the corporate. “ The Entire process begins almost 6 months prior to the Marathon” adds Ms Dave.  The Marathon gives a platform for volunteers to listen to them during fund raising.  The donors get running numbers or bibs.  Some of the Running numbers also called the charity bibs get auctioned at the last moment after the closure of the official registrations and earn a premium on them.  The funds that get collected goes to the charity after a portion of it is paid for registration. 

13 year old Siddhanth Desai, one of the youngest fund raiser in this year’s Marathon eve has raised nearly 15 lakh rupees for Shrimad Rajachandra Love & Care a Gujarat based charity foundation.  When asked about how could he raise funds he says “I spoke to family & friends and many unknown people to help me.  I myself have seen the charity organization that is based out of South Gujarat.  It really touched me when I saw the poor there and thought I should help them”.  Asked about how he got to know to raise funds he replies  “a few of my friends have raised funds last year and that encouraged me too”.  “Since I was doing it for the first time India Cares was very helpful with tips for Dos and Don’ts while going about fund raising.  Interestingly not all his donors are from Bangalore.  “Two of my donors from Bengaluru would be running with T shirts and caps of the foundation”. He adds with a lot of satisfaction.

Ms Sarah of Diya Foundation, based out of Kalyan Nagar in Bangalore which is the beneficiary of funds raised through Bangalore World 10K Marathon runs a vocational training centre for mentally challenged adults. “We have raised nearly 6 lakh rupees this year and it helps in our programs which aim at training the mentally challenged with skills such as daily living, social skills and work related skills”. She presently has 50 adults in the Foundation and has been raising funds for the last 5 years from the Bangalore Run. 

Did you know that a Marathon could generate so much interest for CSR? At least I didn’t.

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