Doing what’s right, not what’s easy. It is to this ideal that the Philanthropy stands as a testimonial.

Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma karma phalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

This verse from the Bhagwad Gita reminds us that we have a right to do our duty but no automatic right to the fruits from the doing. It is the idea that the action of planting a seed of change itself should motivate us much more than the ego-driven desire to harvest the reward. We must recognize potential where others see despair.

30 years ago, Rohini Nilekani started her journey in civic engagement. Her early experiences of being a social entrepreneur and having co-founded and co-funded organisations like Nagarik, Pratham Books, Akshara Foundation and Arghyam has guided the Philanthropy and its approach. Social change requires collective action, where citizens are inspired to actively become part of the solution. This people-first, society-first approach began to infuse all aspects of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies.

Over the last 5 years, the Philanthropy has stretched beyond education and water, supporting issues of access to justice, gender equity, independent media, active citizenship, and the environment. Through our engagement with CSOs, it has become increasingly clear to us that strengthening Samaaj in all its facets is the foundation of a Strong Samaaj. We are committed to supporting the best ideas, individuals, and institutions that are working to resolve social issues from within society itself. We look for leaders who are passionate, committed, and of high integrity. Importantly, no matter which sector we work in or support, the single thread that unites it all is the desire to build a strong, resilient Samaaj.

“A strong samaaj forms the foundation that restores balance in the system.”

Our Values


Real social change requires trust. To truly co-create, one must be open to let go of some control, an act that requires trust on both sides. Starting with trust is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic one.


To learn, we must be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. Rather than approaching a problem with a specific solution in mind, we should be open to listening, learning, and adapting. Above all, we value curiosity over certainty.


Empathy and love are required to recognise that we need to redistribute, reorganise, and transfer power and agency rather than knowledge or resources alone. As donors, we need to meet the samaaj where they are, trusting social sector leaders to take more significant risks and allow them greater agency.

Embracing Failure

Failure is inevitable. Our priority is to bridge the gap between failure and innovation. We recognise the need for safe spaces where organisations can share their failures without adversely affecting their funding.

Humble, Not Modest

We need to aim ambitiously to see real and lasting change. However, we also need to approach issues with humility. To co-create and ask others what we can learn from them, rather than assuming that we know best.


For the financial year April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 *
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Financials & Reports

Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Foundation is a charitable Foundation registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.

We are committed to providing clear, transparent and timely information on our finances and grantmaking efforts. We post our annual reports and audited financial statements to the site as they become available.

*In FY 22-23, grants were made both in the personal capacity of Rohini Nilekani as well as through Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Foundation

**The total numbers of grantees are calculated since 2010