How did you conceive the idea of launching HDFC Charity Fund for Cancer Cure?
In my view, any philanthropy activity requires sustainable and regular cash flow to create a meaningful difference in the society. I have seen NGOs lack execution due to irregular flow of income.
NGOs can do wonders once they start getting predictable cash flows. In fact, it helps them provide framework to carry out welfare work.
We felt that we should use our investment expertise and the support of our investors and distributors to support a social cause. Hence, we came out with the HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure in 2011.
Only dividends declared by the fund are donated to the corpus of Indian Cancer Society (ICS), which is a public charitable trust for treatment of cancer. The donation to ICS under this fund qualifies for tax deduction u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Also, donation can be treated as part of Corporate Investor’s Corporate Social Responsibility under ‘Prevention Healthcare’ under schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.
To double the impact, we have decided to match the donation by contributing an equal amount to the donation corpus, subject to a limit of Rs.15 cr p.a.
What is the rationale behind coming out with two plans - arbitrage and debt under this scheme?
The previous two series of Cancer Cure Fund were debt funds. However, this time, we have decided to launch two plans under this Scheme – Arbitrage Plan and Debt Plan. The dividends from Debt Plan are subject to Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT). Since Arbitrage Plan is considered as equity fund for taxation purpose, dividends from such investments are not subject to DDT. This will help us donate dividends without DDT from the income earned.
What is the difference that the previous two HDFC Cancer Cure Funds have made?
In the mutual fund industry, everyone talks about returns. However, the real return in this fund is the social impact.
So far, this fund has benefited nearly 3200 cancer patients with free treatment covering across 28 states. Indian Cancer Society (ICS) has 16 affiliated hospitals to help cancer patients take this benefit. Going forward, ICS will associate with more hospitals to carry out this noble cause.
Currently, ICS disburses close to Rs.2.25 crore every month. The total amount sanctioned by ICS to cancer patients till date is over Rs.80 cr over the last 6 years.
On what criteria do you choose the cancer patients for donation?
These 16-affiliated hospitals send applications of poor and needy cancer patients to Indian Cancer Society.
There is a team of oncologists from Tata Memorial Hospital who oversee these applications and do due diligence voluntarily. This team gives its recommendation to Governing Advisor Council (GAC), which meets every fortnight to identify genuine cases for financial aid. I attend this meeting personally.
Based on GAC’s recommendation, ICS disburses money directly to the hospital.
How do you ensure the donation reaches the needful person?
Indian Cancer Society follows up with patient who receives donation for treatment. Also, ICS disburses money in instalments to ensure that the patient undergoes cancer treatment in a systematic manner.
Very often, people have concerns on how the corpus will be utilized but the credibility of ICS and the process that they have put in place have given confidence to our investors that every rupee is being utilized properly.
How are you popularising this scheme among distributors?
Now, we have track record of 6 years to demonstrate the work done by this Fund and ICS in support of the cause.
We are personally reaching out to our distribution partners such as banks, NDs and IFAs and encouraging them to help us support this cause.
In addition, we are advertising in print and electronic media and leveraging digital media to popularize this product.
What is the amount that you have targeted from this fund? How would you achieve this?
Since this fund is not a business for us, we have not targeted any amount. Having said that, we are using our full strength to mobilize funds.
Many corporates have an internal sales target for the month of March. However, we have dedicated this month for this Fund.
Who should invest in this fund? How are you going about reaching out to existing investors in the scheme?
Anyone with a heart wanting to create a difference in the society should invest in this Fund. This Fund is not for investors but for donors.
I have reached out to all the investors who invested in the first two funds and received an overwhelming response. In fact, all the investors have agreed to commit a larger amount this time to support the cause.