Maanch: Accelerating Impact

October 1, 2020

Maanch is an online impact dashboard solution that captures and brings to life the impact of any organisation. It allows investors to visualise portfolio impact, companies to understand their own impact, and donors to support the charities most aligned to their impact aims.   

In the social sector, charity projects are matched to specific United Nations Social Development Goals (SDGs), so funders can see what type of impact their donations might have. In addition, charities can get funding more easily, cutting down on the time commitments of fundraising and increasing the impact of every donation. 

In the private sector, Maanch can help asset managers and their clients to allocate capital to investments with the greatest impact, and companies can identify and visualise the impact they are having across their operations.  

We had the pleasure of speaking with Darshita Gillies, CEO and Founder of Maanch, and David Stead, the Chief Strategy Officer. We discussed Maanch’s growth since its founding in 2018, how Covid has affected philanthropy, and what they are looking forward to in the next decade in impact. 

What led you to founding Maanch?

Darshita explains that “Maanch was born two years ago, from seeing how SDGs were becoming more and more the framework for impact. In particular, businesses and nonprofits were embracing the SDGs. For me, Maanch helps bring together practical ways to re-allocate capital to sustainability and social change by utilizing the power of technology.”

What is the fundamental problem Maanch is trying to solve?

“We are trying to help solve the problem of funding the SDGs” says David. “They provide a good framework for anchoring our shared understanding of the big global challenges. They are the world’s to-do list for the next ten years. In addition, they are challenges that need to be solved by both developing and developed countries.”

“The primary challenge is the lack of a common vision. We all say that we want to make a difference, and that we want the planet to be sustainable, but what do we actually mean by that and how might we measure it? How do we create a shared system of tracking and communicating the trillions of pounds that are being invested in impact zones, and how do we tie it all together?”

“When we started looking at the problems that the impact ecosystem is facing, we knew that we landed in a space that was ripe for innovation and improvements in efficiency.”

How do the MaanchMetrics work?

Darshita replies that “MaanchMetrics provide tangible ways to measure and understand impact. They are part of an evolutionary system that will enable decision makers to look at impact in a streamlined way.”

“For example, we use the SDGs as a metric. There are many technologies and platforms that tag SDGs but what makes us unique is that we don’t ask companies, investors or charities to choose SDGs, we ask them to tell us what they are trying to achieve, what quality data they use or need, and then help map all those data points to the more comprehensive indicators behind each SDG. Based on those many data points, we link their missions with the SDG framework. 

“Our technology has already mapped these inter-linkages. So when you are looking at a MaanchMetric that is giving a set of SDGs, it means that the data points from those projects actually enable the delivery and tracking of the indicators across the SDGs.”

Who can use Maanch?

David replies that “The ecosystem in both the social and private sectors is fragmented and has many players. If I had to simplify the ecosystem, I would say that there are four key players. The first provides the funds (grant-makers and investors). The second are the intermediaries. These are private wealth advisors, private banks, or investment vehicles that receive the funds but then make the allocations. The third are the recipient organizations, what we call the impact enablers. These are companies, non-profits or social enterprises. The final stakeholders are the beneficiary and customers themselves. While we don’t have any products directly for them as yet, they are key to project success and should have some kind of direct impact on the platform.”

How do you source projects for funding?

“Taking the social sector work as an example” says Darshita, “our initial outreach was within our closed network. I am a philanthropist and I am also a part of several giving networks that support charities. Our first move was to bring in charities that we already knew and had gone through a rigorous due diligence process. Then we started sourcing through other trusted partners such as the LSE Generate as well as the Ashoka fellowship network. Finally, we sourced through word of mouth from their colleagues and networks.”

“At the moment we have over 600 charitable organizations that have onboarded through Maanch.”

How does Maanch increase the impact of a donation?

“There are three factors in amplifying the increase.” says David.

“1: Efficiency. We know time is money so we try to minimize the time that our clients of any type have to spend on understanding, tracking and showing their impact. For example, we have plug-ins where, when a client onboards to Maanch, their data is plugged in from public sources so they spend less time inputting information.”

“2: Education and visibility. Clients from different sectors have a few things in common. We work with them on what they want to achieve, their scope, and the impact their activities have. We have simplified this and created a harmonious process which integrates key data and brings clients greater visibility over the impact of all their activities in scope. At the same time they can download project impact reports which they can share within their own networks.” 

“3: Partnerships. Partnerships have an immense ability to scale the impact journey of an organization. We are looking forward to announcing some exciting partnerships in the coming months.”

Do you think there is an SDG that is not getting enough attention? 

“16, Peace” says Darshita. “It is one of the least invested SDGs. People don’t talk about peace as much as they talk about poverty, health or climate change. It is a systemic SDG because it is not just about war among countries but is also broader, including internal violence. ”

“I feel that there are many organizations who provide solutions but I think it is hard for them to raise capital for systemic solutions due to their complexity.”

Are you looking to expand the types of charities/sectors/geographies you are working with?

“One lesson of Covid” says David “is that it showed there are lots of investors and funders who have capital and want to allocate it towards making a real difference. We have seen ESG funds prove highly resilient or outperform the traditional investment market during the crisis. However, the biggest challenge that all stakeholders face is that many organizations are not visible to the other parties of interest. Charities spend an inordinate amount of their extremely precious time going through opaque and often over-complex due diligence processes even for small amounts of funding. Potential investors in private impact companies find it hard to identify them. ESG investors find it hard to differentiate between asset managers with genuine ESG alignment and the “impact-washers”. 

This market inefficiency prevents effective collaboration and acts as a barrier to capital reallocation to where it could do most good. We plan to expedite the journey to greater transparency and more effective matching. We want to help funders and charities, or investors and companies, to find each other based on common standards of due diligence and impact measurement. And to enable this not just in the UK but globally through powerful digital dashboards.”

“To give you an example” explains Darshita, “we were sitting around a table with 12 of the largest UK grant-making foundations and we asked them one question: how can technology help you during this time of Covid? They all thought they were doing their part but they didn’t know if what they were doing was enough or helping to solve the challenge in the best possible way. The first thing we did was put together a global dashboard to bring together all the data about those looking for funding, those already funded, and  their impacts and grant sizes. If you go to you can see the dashboard. There are about 223 organizations looking for $42 million. In addition, there are 791 projects that have already been funded with $82 million.”

Anything else you would both like to add? 

Darshita replies that “We continue to evolve at pace. We are co-creating digital dashboard solutions for private banks, investors and companies as well as funders and charities. Co-creation allows us to shape what we have according to practical needs and in a closed environment. This allows organizations to have a lot more tailored detail and data about their impact. We can then shape that base model for others as well as continue to offer more standardised solutions ”

“For example” says David, “we are starting some early pilots in the fund management space with a view to building a simple, reliable impact dashboard that can be scaled and plugged in to any impact-orientated fund. We are open to more funds who want to be part of this exciting and informative pilot process.”

About Darshita: 

Listed among the 100 Most Influential in UK - India Relationships, Darshita is Founder & CEO of Maanch - a multi-award winning global impact platform connecting high impact organisations, philanthropic and impact capital providers, investors and corporates, and linking global progress on SDGs. Her aim is to leverage the power of emerging technologies to address the complex business and societal challenges we face in a more sustainable, conscious, and strategic way. Her experience builds on and blends 3 facets, 'Finance', 'Technology' and 'Planetary Sustainability’. With a professional background as Chartered Accountant, Investment Banker, Executive Coach, Impact Investing and FinTech/ Blockchain Specialist, Darshita also serves on Boards of 'For Profit' and 'Non-Profit' organisations. 

About David:

David is passionate about making a positive social impact from investment, corporate responsibility and philanthropy. He has worked across the “social finance spectrum” utilising grants, loans, impact investing and ESG funds to create impact portfolios or programmes aligned to more responsible capitalism at an individual and organisational level. Before Maanch, he was Executive Director of Philanthropy & Development at CAF where David’s teams generated around £400m of new donations and social investment each year, and managed over £1bn of philanthropic capital. Previously, David held CEO/ Director roles with major law firms, KPMG, Accenture, UBS and RBS.