How the Social Sector Shapes a Compassionate World

| 26 February, 2024
How the Social Sector Shapes a Compassionate World
Published: 26 February, 2023
How the Social Sector Shapes a Compassionate World

If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain

- Emily Dickinson

The poignant words of Emily Dickinson echo a sentiment that resonates deeply within the hearts of those working in the social sector: the profound impact of even the smallest act of compassion or support. In her verse, Dickinson captures the essence of the purpose driving individuals in the social sector – to alleviate suffering, to bring sustainable social change, and to empower communities.

The social sector is a dynamic realm comprising various organisations and initiatives dedicated to addressing societal needs and promoting positive change. It's where people's passion for helping meets their purpose to make a difference.

As we talk about how the social sector helps people, think about how you could join in and make a positive impact too. To help you figure this out, this article dives into the many ways the social sector shapes a kinder world.

Understanding the Social Sector

The social sector, also known as the social development sector, is like a big family of groups that want to do good for society. You've got nonprofits, charities, and SPOs/NGOs – they're all in it to make the world a better place.

While businesses are not usually a part of the social sector, some play a crucial role through CSRs. CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. It's like a company's way of giving back to the community and being a good neighbour.

Instead of just focusing on making money, companies with CSR programs also think about how they can help people and the planet. They might donate money to charities, volunteer their time for good causes, or make sure their products are made in environmentally friendly ways.

And while governments aren't usually part of the social sector, they sometimes lend a hand with rewards or incentives. It's all about teamwork to create positive change and make the world a better, fairer place for everyone.

Therefore, from providing essential services to advocating for social justice and systemic change, the social sector plays a pivotal role in nurturing a more compassionate society.

Let’s dive deeper into understanding key initiatives taken by the social development sector.

Key Initiatives in the Social Sector

The aim of the social development sector is to foster enduring social transformation by encouraging socially responsible practices. Its key initiatives cover diverse areas including health, education, poverty alleviation, agriculture, science and technology, environment, disaster management, energy conservation, women's empowerment, skill development, social welfare, and the list goes on.

In this, education is crucial for social development, empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive.

As Nelson Mandela wisely said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." That's why educational programs in the social sector work hard to make sure everyone, especially underserved communities, can access quality education.

But education isn't just about reading and maths anymore. It's also about learning social, emotional, and ethical skills. These skills help young minds to understand and manage their emotions, relate to others, and be kind and compassionate members of society. So, the social sector is also focused on teaching foundational skills that include not only academic subjects but also critical thinking, teamwork, compassion, empathy, and creativity.

Similarly, healthcare initiatives work to improve health and wellness through innovative approaches and community-based care. While poverty alleviation projects tackle the underlying causes of economic hardship, offering resources and support for sustainable livelihoods.

Challenges Faced by the Social Sector

As per research, India's social sector is massive, with 3.3 million non-profit institutions (NPIs) providing jobs for over 18.22 million people1. These organisations receive support from various sources like funders, enabling organisations, the government, angel investors and businesses. Despite its size and activity, the Indian development sector grapples with numerous challenges that hinder its ability to effect lasting change. Such as, funding limitations pose a significant barrier, constraining the sector's capacity to scale up interventions and reach more beneficiaries.

Other than this, as the sector is growing, it sees professionalisation and bureaucratisation of its system. However, there's not enough agreement on what roles should be or how much people should get paid. Just wanting to help isn't enough; people need to feel financially secure too.

Not only this, lack of innovation is a huge challenge in the sector. In any field, like health or education, trying new stuff is key to moving forward. But in the social sector, most money goes to projects that already work, leaving little room for new ideas. However, embracing new ways of doing things could really change the game as technological advancements have revolutionised the way social interventions are designed and implemented, opening up new avenues for impact and scalability.

1Source: Typology of organisations in the Indian Social Sector (

Also, breaking down big barriers, like discrimination and inequality, needs lots of teamwork and advocacy from different areas. That's why development management in this sector is crucial.

For all of this, we need smart, passionate people to join the social sector. So, finding ways to attract the best talent is important.

Getting Involved in the Social Sector

You have plenty of ways to make a difference in the social sector. You can volunteer, donate, join advocacy groups, or even pursue a career in social development. Volunteering lets you directly impact others, while donations provide vital financial support. Advocacy amplifies the call for justice and equality, sparking change in communities and beyond. But wait, there's more! Now, you can also build a fulfilling career in the social sector, combining financial stability with a sense of purpose all due to expanding its operations.

Here’s why the social sector is your next place to be!

In the social sector, diversity and a systemic approach are key to success. Ingrid Srinath, director of the Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, emphasises this. She shares a case from an organisation CRY, where a strategic pause in fundraising led to a whopping 500% revenue growth in a decade . This shift involved adopting business strategies like outsourcing and telemarketing, along with tech innovations. It required collaboration among teams, guided by shared values and democratic decision-making. It shows how a systemic, inclusive approach advocated by development management brings big positive changes in the social sector.

Unfortunately, the social sector is facing a serious shortage of qualified development managers. To tackle this shortage, a team of experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds established ISDM (Indian School of Development Management), India's first institute dedicated solely to development management.

2Source: Does India's Social Sector Need Better Management (

ISDM’s flagship program, the Post Graduate Program (PGP) in Development Management, aims to professionalise leadership and management in social purpose organisations (SPOs). This program fills the gap between the demand for skilled managers in the social sector and the lack of relevant training.

The program caters to a diverse set of students from various walks of life be it being a working professional or a recent graduate from any stream. The diversity of this program only adds to its experience. Hear from our alumna about her experience at the program.

Let's explore how this course can transform the careers of aspiring social sector professionals.

The PGP-DM Program at ISDM

The Post Graduate Programme in Development Management (PGP-DM) at ISDM is an 11-month long course. It includes 75+ global faculty members to provide you with the best of the best! It also has more than 300 placement partners with 100% placement assistance to help you score a high package of more than 16 LPA!

Designed by experts, the program combines development and management learnings. The program presents its students with advanced in-class sessions, group projects, and practical field immersion— all of it for a holistic approach to student’s academic, personal, and professional growth. We teach our students to effectively plan interventions, build, lead, and manage organisations. It prepares you for your career through tests and evaluations such as classroom attendance and participation, individual and group assignments, tests and quizzes, and end-term exams. Not only this but to support you take steps at your own pace, the PGP-DM program at ISDM also provides faculty and bricoleur support!

Here’s our alumnus of the program sharing their transformative journeys, highlighting how ISDM provided a diverse and inclusive environment for learning and growth. Take a look!

Through rigorous academic training, experiential learning, and real-world exposure, and a robust alumni network, ISDM empowers its students to become effective change agents capable of making a meaningful difference in the world.


In conclusion, the social sector serves as a powerful force for good in our world, driving initiatives that promote compassion, empathy, and social justice. By working collaboratively across sectors and harnessing the power of innovation, the social sector has the potential to effect transformative change and build a more inclusive and compassionate society. As individuals and businesses, we each have a role to play in advancing the values of compassion and solidarity, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. Through institutions like ISDM and its PGP-DM program, we can cultivate the next generation of development leaders who will continue to champion the cause of social change and make a lasting impact on the world.

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