Centre of Philanthropy for Social Justice (CPSJ)

The Centre of Philanthropy for Social Justice (CPSJ) is a centre of excellence at the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM). The Centre is dedicated to catalysing effective philanthropy for social justice and strengthening the broader philanthropic ecosystem locally and globally. Through a combination of rigorous research, learning programs, knowledge exchanges and convening diverse voices, CPSJ aims to build a community of change-makers for systemic change and become a hub of actionable knowledge for philanthropy for social justice.

Our Vision

CPSJ is committed to transform the way philanthropy is leveraged and move towards co-creating an agile, accountable and effective social sector with a shared vision of a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society, enabling a safe and dignified life for all.

Our Mission

Our mission is to strengthen the knowledge and practice of effective philanthropy for greater social impact and sustainable human development by:

  • Expanding the scale and reach of high-quality research on effective philanthropy for social justice.
  • Improving the practice and effectiveness of philanthropy.

Our Values

“It is with great excitement that we have set up the Centre of Philanthropy for Social Justice at the Indian School of Development Management. Philanthropy in India is at a very exciting juncture with a lot of growth and movement towards more structured and strategic giving. The moment needs giving that is more attuned towards reducing deeper structural and entrenched inequalities and advancing an equitable and just society. We need to create, co-create, trigger and share new knowledge about philanthropy in India. It is our hope that we become a hub of knowledge creation and dissemination on philanthropy for social justice.”

- Latha Poonamallee, Academic Director, CPSJ

Our theory of change

Philanthropy, whether by individuals or by corporations, can bridge the gaps not only in the country’s development but also in the fabric of its society. Philanthropy has immense potential to generate fresh ideas and test new ways of promoting equity, efficiency and humaneness in social programs. CPSJ will strive to create evidence and insights that will help philanthropists better define, assess and optimise effectiveness for the organisations they support and the communities they serve to create impact at scale.

Core areas of work

The Centre's objective is to engage with philanthropists, development practitioners, key government institutions, corporate sector and social sector organisations to:

  1. Curate, create and disseminate research on effective philanthropy.
  2. Design viable tools, metrics and learning programs that enhance the effectiveness of practitioners.
  3. Create partnerships and networks to strengthen the community of philanthropists for systemic change.

Key stakeholders

CPSJ’s work intends to bring together multiple stakeholders and contribute towards building a stronger community of philanthropists for sustainable social change. The stakeholders include:

  • Academia, researchers and students
  • Philanthropists and donors
  • Potential philanthropists/next-generation members
  • Management of social purpose organisations
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) management
  • Wealth and family offices advisors
  • Impact investors
  • Social entrepreneurs
  • Policymakers
  • Global and local philanthropy networks, platforms and centres

Our team

The CPSJ team works at the intersection of philanthropy, behavioural sciences, development management, business management and design thinking to accelerate learning for philanthropists and others in the donor-support ecosystem. CPSJ works closely with ISDM’s academics team, faculty and partner organisations to develop cutting edge knowledge.

Latha Poonamallee

Academic Director

A professor, researcher, tech entrepreneur, Fulbright Fellow, and thought leader on Management and Social Justice, Dr. Latha Poonamallee is the Chair of the Faculty of Management and University Fellow at The New School, New York City. She is Co-Founder and CEO of In-Med Prognostics Inc., the first company to provide ethnicity-specific neuro assessment reports, biomarkers, and surrogate endpoints relevant to all people, everywhere. Dr. Poonamallee is also the Founder of C-Suite for Justice, a community of senior executives committed to making their organizations more inclusive, just, and equitable.

She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Trisha Varma

Director, Global Knowledge Hub

Trisha comes from a background of market research & data analysis, market strategy, and marketing. She is the founder of a consulting company and previously worked with Procter & Gamble, first in India, then in Singapore. While she lives in Singapore, her heart continues to remain in India. Contributing in some shape and form to social development has been her long-standing desire, and, with ISDM, she hopes to be able to do both – be a part of the development sector in India. She has had some experience working for her alma mater’s social service league, and more recently, with a global marine conservation fund, a migrant workers support group, and an Indian coalition to fight the pandemic and drive change. When not working, she’s deeply engrossed in long chats with her pre-teen and teen, playing with the newest addition to the family of the 4-legged kind, reading, eating, travelling, trekking and organising vacations for family and friends (and herself)!

News from CPSJ

Work in progress

Annotated bibliographies on social justice and philanthropy

The purpose of this bibliography is to assist researchers and practitioners working in the space of social justice philanthropy to get a concise description of the available research (article/paper/report), evaluation, critical assessments and citations for further research.

Research repository on philanthropy

The purpose of the repository is to enable researchers and practitioners to get quick access to knowledge artefacts such as working papers, reports, articles, etc. on various aspects of philanthropy and social justice.

Book chapter for the book Managing for Social Justice: Harnessing Management Theory and Practice for Collective Well-Being

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Urvi Shriram and Ria Sinha have written a chapter for a soon-to-be-published book that explores the theoretical aspects and interjections of philanthropy and social justice in the global context with a special reference to India.

International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) Conference

From Charity to Social Justice: Insights on Rethinking Philanthropy in India-to be published soon

CPSJ-ISDM’s Urvi Shriram, Lead, Ria Sinha, Research Lead, and Mallika Luthra, Research Associate, have co-authored a paper based on insights gathered from academic and practitioner literature, philanthropists, funders and change makers who have supported social justice causes in India. It highlights the opportunities and challenges faced in reshaping philanthropy's role and responsibilities in helping create a more just, sustainable and equitable country.


ISDM-CPSJ Research Fellowship Program 2022

This part-time program is designed to enable researchers to add a social justice paradigm/framework to their existing work on philanthropy, create a cohort of practitioners who pioneer the change from traditional philanthropy to social justice philanthropy and ideate, create, produce new knowledge on social justice philanthropy and related aspects. Under this programme, five fellows will be selected each year starting July 2022 and provided fellowships to the tune of ₹ 3 lakhs for the program duration of 18 months (1.5 years).

Collection of essays on philanthropy - Coming Soon

In the tentatively titled A New Era of Giving, a series of essays edited by ISDM-CPSJ, thought leaders from across the globe weigh in on the issues and challenges that need to be addressed to make a shift from a charitable model of philanthropy to one that puts social justice at its core. From basic ethical questions about giving to worked examples and innovative finance solutions that have sparked real change, this collection is an important first step towards building a more equitable and inclusive society.

Connect with us

If you would like to collaborate with us to explore meaningful ways to support philanthropy and social change, please reach out to us at: cpsj@isdm.org.in