Close this search box.

Culture of giving still at a nascent stage in India: Smile Foundation

(October 13, 2022)

New Delhi, Oct 13, 2022 (IANS) Inspired by Peter Senge, Founder of Society for Organisational Learning, a group of young corporate professionals came together in 2002 to set up Smile Foundation to work with grassroots initiatives for effecting positive changes in the lives of underprivileged children, their families and communities.

Today, Smile Foundation has more than 400 welfare projects operational in 2,000 villages and communities spread across 25 states.

Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder & Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation, told IANS that the tracking mechanism, efficient delivery of services and measuring programme impact on the ground are going to be more robust, and Cloud technology and AWS have helped them use data effectively towards achieving that.

Here are the excerpts from an interview:

Q1. What is the idea and vision behind the Smile Foundation?

A: Smile Foundation was initiated in 2002 when a group of friends came together with the intention of giving back to the society. We were inspired by the thought and philosophy of Peter Senge, the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning who has propagated that “sustainability, social equality and the environment are now business problems and corporate leaders can’t depend on the governments to solve them…”

What triggered our thoughts was the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990’s which had brought with it a lot of positivity, hope and immense opportunities.

Business revived, and India became not just a market, but also an investment prospect for the developed world. Professionals like us, particularly those in the areas of finance and strategy, were the first ones to benefit from the transforming economy. Disposable incomes and settling down early became a reality for the working middle-class.

For the first time in India, professionals could think beyond just making a living, and contribute towards society.

Fuelled with enthusiasm, we gave a shape to our dream, and Smile Foundation was born. Having almost no experience of the development sector, and being committed to our respective careers, we thought it best to rely on the knowledge and expertise of development professionals, and let experienced social sector leaders take lead in the day-to-day operations and management of Smile Foundation.

Q2. What innovations has Smile Foundation brought into the non-profit space?

A: In the initial years of Smile Foundation, the Indian economy had seen an unprecedented rise, forcing the developed (or higher income) countries to rethink their priorities, and the international grants that had been a major resource pool for the Indian development sector started drying up.

This trend was further augmented with the onset of recession in 2007, when the western world started focusing on their own economic turbulences rather than investing in social ventures in the developing (or middle income) countries. Many Indian non-profits had to close their doors, while others were forced to rethink their core values and change their modus operandi in the new environment.

On the one hand, the conventional resources of the development sector like international grants were dwindling every day, on the other, both the corporate and individual giving culture in India were still at a nascent stage. But where others saw challenges, we saw opportunities. Amidst all these adversities, we resolved to not just survive the odds, but also evolve as a sustainable Indian social institution — committed to do real work on the ground, and make the society and businesses inclusive in the process of bringing change.

With this seemingly impossible dream in our hearts, we set out on the challenging and yet immensely rewarding journey of spreading smiles across the country. On our way, we had to make many difficult choices and constantly innovate – whether it was choosing to work on the ground through a service-delivery approach, practicing management principles and adopting a business-like approach in the development sector, creating a unique resource modeling keeping businesses at the centre, or promoting the concept of civic driven change. Yes, we almost always took the road less travelled, and as they say, that has made all the difference.

Today, when we look back on our journey of the last 15 years, we feel privileged to have been able to impact the lives of more than 1.5 million children and families every year, with the efforts of thousands of committed, passionate people including teachers, doctors, community mobilisers, trainers, development professionals, grassroots community organisations, and with the love and support of over 350 global brands, 5000 schools, hundreds of colleges, millions of children, youth, volunteers and individual supporters.

Q3. Tell us about the reach of your work. What are your plans for the next couple of years?

A: Smile Foundation has more than 400 welfare projects operational in 2,000 villages and communities spread across 25 states of India. It covers areas such as education, healthcare, skilling and livelihood, women empowerment, etc. We would like to create more synergy with both governmental and corporate efforts and thus help expedite the process of development at the grassroots.

Smile Foundation will also continue to deploy appropriate technological solutions in project management and governance. The objective is to achieve better efficiency, optimise resources, promote good governance and create lasting impact on the ground.

Q4. What types of challenges do you face while working and how do you solve them?

A: One of Smile Foundation’s major challenges is the difficulty in finding the right professionals such as doctors, teachers, project managers and community workers to work in remote areas. Also, retaining these professionals is another major problem as tackling development issues is a serious, long term and complex endeavour.

As corporations form the majority of our resource pool, one of the challenges is to meet the gaps between the output-driven expectations of the corporate and the outcome based impact that the social sector is designed to deliver. Generally speaking, in the development sector, input is not always equal to the output.

There are so many subjective processes and outputs which one needs to understand and appreciate. The social impact of a project on the ground can not immediately and fully be measured in figures; rather it is long-term and can be observed in the changing behaviour patterns and habits of a community. However, post the CSR mandate, as the corporate are becoming increasingly involved in development initiatives, they are also beginning to understand the dynamics of the social sector.

Even though our economy is surging ahead, and the income levels of individuals are multiplying, the giving culture in the country is still at a nascent stage. Individuals are generally inclined more towards religious giving, and are less likely to contribute towards social causes. It will take time for the Indian society to wake up to philanthropy, but the scenario has started changing and is hopefully going to get better in the coming years.

This sector has been struggling with trust deficit so changing the perception of people is another major task which we face. One big challenge of our sector is the lack of regulation and organisation.

Sometimes, we have to work in an imperfect environment. Although things are changing now, it will take some more time for it to be perfect. Self-governance can be a solution for the development sector. Smile Foundation has always been very particular in following and promoting practices of good governance.

Q5. What are some of the emerging technologies that will further reshape education, healthcare and livelihood over the next 4-5 years?

A: Next few years are going to be interesting for these sectors from the perspective of evolving technology. The tracking mechanism, efficient delivery of services and measuring programme impact on the ground are going to be more robust. Organisations working in these areas can also optimize operational efficiency and amplify outcome thanks to advanced and innovative technological solutions.

Education will witness newer online tech for teaching and learning. Monitoring tools for observing real-time performance of students are also possibilities. Among many innovations in healthcare, virtual consultation with super specialists even in remote areas will be a reality. Efficient tracking mechanism for specific diseases is also within reach. Skilling and livelihood sector will benefit from imparting in-demand skills and doing better employability mapping.

Q6. What has cloud technology and AWS helped you to do that you couldn’t do before?

A: Cloud technology and AWS have helped us to use data effectively. With the help of Salesforce, we are able to track, manage and build effective engagement solutions for our support to provide regular updates and information and on the other hand, AWS gives us a useful means to host our donation platform which ensures better security. It also enables us in reducing cost through continuous optimization and effective utilization of resources in the long run.

Further, cloud technology has helped us manage our youth employability skill training programme, named STeP, more effectively across India. In healthcare, the Beneficiary Management System is making management of patient databases smoothly. In Smile on Wheels, the mobile healthcare programme, we are managing the supply chain of medicines pan India with the use of cloud technology.

Education Scholarship Management System has made the entire process of enrollment of students, assessment, disbursement of scholarships and funds for the students from primary school till engineering. We are planning to take a few more infrastructure on AWS in the near future. We believe this will help us achieve resource optimization soon.



Privacy Policy - Smile Foundation

Information Gathering

1. Smile Foundation collects information from the users in a number of ways, for example when the user:

  • Makes a donation
  • Signs up for a campaign
  • Signs up to stay updated

2. While forwarding a donation for Smile Foundation the well-wishers have to submit some personal information as it would help us ensuring genuine contributions:

  • Your name
  • Your email and mailing address
  • Your telephone number
  • Your payment processing details
  • Any other data as required

3. Smile Foundation does not collect or record the user’s personal information unless he/she chooses to provide it.

Use of Personal Information

1. General browsing of Smile Foundation website is anonymous and it does not register the user’spersonal information except the time, date and place of visits and the name of internet service provider. This data is used only for statistics and diagnosis.

2. By signing up for various services offered by Smile Foundation, the user explicitly authorizes us to collect information based on the user’s usage. The information is used to help provide a better experience to the user and is used as per the user’s specified instructions.

3. Smile Foundation keeps the user information strictly confidential and this information is secured safely. All relevant information collected through Smile Foundation website is handled and used by internal and/or authorized officials only. It is nevershared with any external agencies or third party individuals.

4. Smile Foundation uses the information givento it in the following ways:

  • To keep an accurate record of all the donations received
  • To update users about its happenings and developments through bulletins and newsletters, with an option of not to subscribe for the same
  • To make sure the user is receiving the most appropriate and relevant information
  • To find out more about the people who are visiting the Smile Foundationwebsite, donating, or joining its campaigns

5. Usually, Smile Foundation does not store user data. In case of specific sign-ups, the data is stored as per user request. The user can opt to delete all the information he/she has provided by simply requesting such by mail. All information, without exception, will be deleted in two working days.

Privacy of e-mail lists

Individuals who join Smile Foundation’s mailing lists via its website or through its campaigning engagements are added to its email database. Smile Foundation does not sell, rent, loan, trade, or lease the addresses on our lists to anyone.

Cookie Policy

1. Cookies are pieces of electronic information which will be sent by Smile Foundation when a user visitsthe website. These will be placed in the hard disk of the user’s computer and enable Smile Foundation to recognise the user when he/she visits the website again.

2. The user can configure his/her browser so that it responds to cookies the way he/she deems fit. For example, you make want to accept all cookies, reject them all or get notified when a cookie is sent. The users may check their browser’s settings to modify cookie behaviour as per individual behaviour.

3. If a user disables the use of cookies on the web browser, or removes or rejects specific cookies from Smile Foundation’swebsite or linked sites then he/she may not be able to use the website as it is intended.

Payment Gateway

1. SmileFoundation uses well-recognised and proven technology for payments. Payment information is transferred by the use of an SSL connection which offers the highest degree of security that the donor’s browser is able to support.

2. Several layers of built-in security, including an advanced firewall system, encryption of credit card numbers, and use of passwords, protect the collected information.

External Web Services

1. Smile Foundation uses a number of external web services on its site to display content within its web pages. For example, to display video it uses YouTube. As with the social media buttons, Smile Foundation cannot prevent these sites, or external domains, from collecting information on the user’s consumption of the content embedded on its site.

2. The Smile Foundation website contains links to other websites for the benefit of its visitors. This Privacy Policy does not apply to such other websites.

3. Smile Foundation is not expressly or impliedly responsible for, or liable to any loss or damage caused to a user by the collection, use and retention of Personal Information by such website in any manner whatsoever. It is important that the users review the privacy policies of all websites they visit before disclosing any information to such websites.

Changes to Privacy Policy

1. As and when the need arises, Smile Foundation may alter its privacy policy in accordance with the latest technology and trends. It will provide you with timely notice of these changes. The users may reach out to Smile Foundation if they have any queries about any changes made to its practices.

2. If you have any questions at all about Smile Foundation’s privacy policy, please write to us at: [email protected]

Refund and Cancellation Policy

Welcome to this web-site of SMILE FOUNDATION. We make public our policy on refund and cancellation of donations received for the social cause on payment gateway as under:-

  • No refund/cancellation for the donated amount by any donor will not be entertained, the online donations through the online payment gateway.
  • No cash or refund of money will be allowed.
  • If any in-kind support received by the donor from any where the material will be reached to the poorest of the poorer communities.
  • Once received the donation for a cause will not be refunded to the donor. No cancellation to be made. The donation will be used for the community development, children education or women’s empowerment.
Terms and Conditions

Use of this site is provided by SMILE FOUNDATION subject to the following Terms and Conditions:

SMILE FOUNDATION reserves the rights to change these terms and conditions at any time by posting changes online. Your continued use of this site after changes are posted constitutes your acceptance of this agreement as modified. You agree to use this site only for lawful purposes, and in a manner which does not infringe the rights, or restrict, or inhibit the use and enjoyment of the site by any third party.

This site and the information, names, images, pictures, logos regarding or relating to SMILE FOUNDATION are provided “as is” without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind whether express or implied. In no event will SMILE FOUNDATION be liable for any damages including, without limitation, indirect or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever arising from the use or in connection with such use or loss of use of the site, whether in contract or in negligence.

SMILE FOUNDATION does not warrant that the functions contained in the material contained in this site will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected, or that this site or the server that makes it available are free of viruses or bugs or represents the full functionality, accuracy and reliability of the materials.

Copyright restrictions:

Commercial use or publication of all or any item displayed is strictly prohibited without prior authorization from SMILE FOUNDATION. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license by SMILE FOUNDATION to use any item displayed.

Documents may be copied for personal use only on the condition that copyright and source indications are also copied, no modifications are made and the document is copied entirely. However, some documents and photos have been published on this site with the permission of the relevant copyright owners (who are not SMILE FOUNDATION). All rights are reserved on these documents and permission to copy them must be requested from the copyright owners (the sources are indicated within these documents/photographs).

SMILE FOUNDATION takes no responsibility for the content of external Internet sites. Other websites that we link to are owned and operated by third parties and SMILE FOUNDATION has no control over them. The fact that we include links to other websites does not mean that SMILE FOUNDATION approves of or endorses any other third party website or the content of that website. We accept no liability for any statements, information, products or services that are published on or are accessible through any websites owned or operated by third parties.

Any communication or material that you transmit to, or post on, any public area of the site including any data, questions, comments, suggestions, or the like, is, and will be treated as, non-confidential and nonproprietary information. If there is any conflict between these terms and conditions and rules and/or specific terms of use appearing on this site relating to specific material then the latter shall prevail.

These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of India.

If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, the use of this site must be terminated immediately. SMILE FOUNDATION for Social Welfare Service is a registered at

161 B/4, 3rd Floor, Gulmohar House
Yusuf Sarai Community Centre
New Delhi-110049
Phone : +91-11-43123700

Supplementing & In Alignment with Government Initiatives


Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
National Education Policy
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao
Digital India


Skill India
Enhancing Formal Skilling


National Rural Health Mission
Universal Health Coverage
National Digital Health Mission
Promotion of Govt. Health Schemes


Anaemia Mukt Bharat
Poshan Abhiyan
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
Anganwadi Strengthening