Philanthropy, CSR, Environment, Poverty Alleviation
Asia, Global, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam

Who’s Doing Good?

04 February 2019 - 10 February 2019


Mukesh Ambani tops Hurun India Philanthropy List 2018. From October 2017 to September 2018, Ambani and his family donated Rs 437 crore (approximately US$61.4 million). Reliance Industries’ chairman was followed by Piramal Group’s chairman, Ajay Piramal, whose son recently married Ambani’s daughter. Piramal donated Rs 200 crore (approximately US$28.1 million) during the same period, in addition to giving Rs 71 crore (approximately US$10 million) for Kerela flood relief. Other notable philanthropists on this year’s list include the Premji, Godrej, and Nadar families.

Prince Charles unveils US$100 million fund for women empowerment in South Asia. The proposed fund, led by the British Asian Trust (BAT), will channel bond investors’ money to give half a million women and girls access to better education, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities over the next five years. The BAT will seek funding from the charity units of big banks for the initial risk investments and from national governments and other big donors for underwriting the final payment. Announcing the initiative, Prince Charles, called it the BAT’s “most ambitious venture to date.”


The Foundation Center and GuideStar merge to create Candid, a mega data portal. Two leading nonprofit and philanthropic intermediaries merge to create a data portal with a worldwide reach, combining years of research and experience in the social sector. The merge has been a decade in the making with top funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Lodestar Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid., and Jacob Herald, president of GuideStar, will serve as executive vice president. Operating with a budget of approximately US$38 million, Candid. will leverage both organizations’ complementary missions, datasets, and networks to be at the forefront of information-sharing in the nonprofit sector.

Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah call for more philanthropic giving at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019. According to a recent Oxfam report, Indian billionaires have added Rs 2,200 crore (approximately US$307 million) per day to their wealth, however in the “commitment to reducing inequality index,” India ranked 147 out of 157 countries. Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah, two leading female entrepreneurs and philanthropists, brought light to these numbers at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019, and they advocated for more giving to causes such as healthcare, education, and social protection. In accord, they encouraged greater engagement in philanthropy, calling on community members to devote more time and money to causes that address the country’s glaring inequality.

How nonprofits can help donor-advised fund philanthropists listen and learn. The use of donor-advised funds (DAF) has increased in popularity over the years as philanthropists seek greater impact through more organized and thoughtful forms of giving. As DAF donors work to enhance their giving portfolios, they should listen to feedback from the communities and individuals they seek to help. This enhanced communication between donors, intermediaries, and communities is an emerging trend in philanthropy, and DAF donors are poised to advance the practice of listening. The article highlights new approaches such as test-and-learn gifts, volunteering, survey and focus groups, and expert consultation.


Five Hong Kong charities that save the environment. Hong Kong Tatler highlighted five nonprofits for their work in environmental protection: Clean Air Network, EcoDrive Hong Kong, Ocean Recovery Alliance, Project C: Change, and The Nature Conservancy. As Hong Kong faces air quality and waste management challenges, awareness, education, and policy change will be pertinent in mitigating deleterious effects on the environment. Together, these nonprofits are raising awareness, connecting key stakeholders, and building more sustainable solutions for the future.

Nonprofits join in a campaign to reduce financial support for forest-risk businesses. According to new data released by the Forests and Finance campaign by the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Malaysian banks were the biggest funders of forest-risk activities and the least likely to have internal policies restricting environmental damage. RAN is joining forces with two nonprofits, TuK Indonesia and Profundo, to campaign for less financial support for forest-risk businesses including unsustainable palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, and timber developments, thereby reducing their negative impacts on the environment.


Marriot, the world’s largest hotel operator, partners with Generation Water to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. According to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, as much as 60% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from five Asian countries including Thailand. The growing tourism industry in Thailand is taking a detrimental toll on the environment, and industry leaders are recognizing their need to take responsibility. Marriot International’s director of operations for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar stated that the company understands its greater obligation and responsibility as its global footprint grows, and the hotel operator has partnered with the startup, Generation Water, to implement water plants that collect 4,000 liters of water a day from vapor condensation. Marriot has now been producing its own water for four months—reducing its number of used plastic bottles by more than 100,000 plastic bottles—and plans to expand water plants to all Marriot resorts in southern Thailand.


Venture fund, Quest Ventures, helps social organizations create and scale impact. A recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network has highlighted the significant growth of Southeast Asia’s impact investing ecosystem over the past decade, with US$904 million invested in the region by private impact investors. The venture fund firm, Quest Ventures, is joining other impact investors through its new impact fund to support startups addressing real-world problems. In the upcoming year, Quest Ventures plans to roll out their new fund and invest in 60 companies, 50 of them being social enterprises, in Southeast Asia to help entrepreneurs create and scale social impact in their communities. In addition to capital, the firm aims to support founders through their networks and mentorship services.


Number of volunteers in China hits hundreds of millions. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 100 million Chinese have registered as volunteers by the end of 2018. Specifically, approximately 12,000 volunteering organizations were registered by the end of 2018, collectively providing more than 1.2 billion hours of community service. A statement from the China Volunteer Service Federation said that more efforts will be made to encourage volunteers’ participation in public service and social governance, as well as improving the quality of their service.