Some of you have been in touch with me, to know how best to utilize CSR funds to help alleviate Covid-19 situation. Here is an attempt to answer some questions I was asked, after research and speaking to the right folks. Some examples of what companies are doing are also discussed.
Context: India has reported as many as 149 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. With this, the total positive Covid-19 cases in the country have crossed 900. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health as well as members of Covid-19 task force maintain that the community transmission of coronavirus is not happening at the moment, however, preparations to tackle such a situation have already begun. Some scientists warn India may see up to 13 lakh cases of by mid May if the current trend in the growing number of COVID-19 cases continues. In midst of this crisis, and the inevitable economic impact ,come the thousands of homeless and migrant labourers that need to be provided with shelter and food since they are out of work, during the lockdown period. The Government has announced funds spend for Covid 19, can be counted under CSR. Here are few ways you can contribute to make the COVID 19 situation in India better.
The PMCARES fund/ CM Relief Funds : Both these are good options, considering the fact that the needs in this disaster are immediate and evolving. Today the government needs to address testing, next it could be technology support or safety gear for healthcare workers and so on. It would be difficult if in this crisis, one had to follow a process where, CSR Board permissions need to be sought and lengthy proposals submitted. It’s an evolving situation, and needs decisions to be taken quickly. The Central and State Government are both making good efforts, so contributing to this may be a good idea. Similar to what Tata’s and the others have done. The main thing about a centralised model is that it will ensure there is no duplication or overlap of efforts in this massive operation.
Investing locally: There are a lot of NGOs like Hasiru Dala who are engaged in providing food to daily wage labourers and migrant workers , it would be a good use of your funds if you contributed to this. Some companies are distributing their products like biscuits along with food, which is another way of showing you care. If you are a smaller company you could engage with a hotel / caterer yourself near your operations area and see if you can do anything near the slums, semi urban areas you work in. And yes, do leverage your personal and company media accounts to spread awareness, that too is essential. You can volunteer too but be careful with your health. My advice is that you advice employees to stay home and not encourage volunteerism in this situation, unless you are an essential services provider and/ or well trained health professional.
Products and Innovation: Another way is leverage your own products, Cipla with the help of government laboratories is repurposing its wide portfolio of respiratory, asthma, anti-virals and HIV drugs to meet challenges arising from COVID-19 in India. Philips has ramped up production of vital signs monitors and portable ventilators and medical consumables for non-invasive and invasive ventilation to treat a broad range of respiratory conditions
However, you as CSR folks need to think this through, while your focus on the current crisis is good and human in approach, it is essential that you calculate and keep side funds to continue your present projects, because you have taken up a cause and invested in partnerships with NGOs, letting that go without a thought is not a good idea. Its ok to scale it down but do not put a complete stop.
Do put in your questions, I will try to answer them as best as I can, or will consult and expert to help you with it. AS the situation evolves I will be tweeting as well . @sumathisscribbles.com
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