CSR, Education, Environment, Philanthropy
Asia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore

Who’s Doing Good?

2 July 2018 - 8 July 2018


“Retirement is too busy,” says Li Ka-Shing, while discussing the future of his foundation. His comments came as he announced his retirement as chairman of Shantou University, the higher-ed institution he funded in his hometown in Guangdong Province, China. At the same press conference, Li announced that he would eventually hand over the reins of his foundation to his two sons: the elder, Victor, would take over as chairman, with his brother Richard as vice-chairman.

Over US$38 million was donated to arts and culture in Singapore last year, marking the second year in a row where donations to the sector have fallen. National Arts Council director Paul Tan says that part of the reason why donations have fallen is that major donations clustered around the city-state’s Jubilee Year in 2015, where large donations were collected to fund large projects such as the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. He adds: “What is perhaps more important is sustaining the level of giving to arts organizations year on year so that we continue to create a vibrant arts scene. As such, we are pleased to see an increased number of Friends of the Arts this year.”

CNBC profiles Charles Chen Yidan, “China’s most charitable man.” In 2007, Chen and his fellow co-founders at Tencent, the tech giant owner of WeChat, founded the Tencent Foundation with the aim of investing a portion of their profits into charitable projects. Through WeChat, Tencent has been able to spur hassle-free donations towards charitable causes, raising 1.5 billion yuan (US$230 million) from 140 million individual donations in the last 11 years. He says: “Chinese traditional culture encourages people to benefit the world. Many ideas from Chinese culture encourage people to give more, have more and also encouraged people in that if you do a good thing, you will have a good result. So it’s in every Chinese person’s mind. But how to do it?”

Keppel Corporation donates SG$1 million (approximately US737,000) to the President’s Challenge. As part of the company’s 50th anniversary, Keppel Corporation made SG$1 million donations to the President’s Challenge. Keppel chairman Lee Boon Yang presented the donation cheque to President Halimah Yacob at the company’s charity run event. “Our aim is also to do good as we do well. We are committed to making a positive impact on the community wherever we operate,” Lee said.

Binance donates US$1 million to Japanese flood victims. Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, donated US$1 million to flood victims in West Japan. The exchange has also called for its cryptocurrency friends and partners to join this charitable initiative. To contribute in cryptocurrency, one can make an anonymous donation by sending ETH or ERC20 tokens directly to the Binance donation address.

The Wallenberg Foundation donates to Nanyang Technological University, the largest gift in perpetuity in its history. The endowed gift is targeted towards the creation of a fellowship to nurture early-career scientists at NTU, recently ranked top in a list of the world’s best young universities. Its goal is to help attract top talent to the university, building on the momentum already achieved by NTU’s highly competitive Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, which has already attracted hundreds of applications around the world.


To strengthen social bonds, nurture altruism, says the director of the Hong Kong Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. Paul Yip and the Centre recently conducted a study that found that Hong Kong people are generous with their monetary donations but reluctant or unable to volunteer their time for charitable causes. Rates of volunteerism have fallen from year-to-year, from 51.5% to 47.3% from 2016 to 2017. With the average Hong Konger facing long workdays, Yip advocates for companies to offer volunteer leave so that people can take time out to engage in the community.


Jakarta food donation program takes leftovers from lavish weddings. Founded by Astrid Paramita, “Blessing To Share” supplies leftover wedding dishes to the poor. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Indonesia bins more edible food per person than any other country except Saudi Arabia. Primarily operating in Jakarta, Paramita has aspirations to expand his program to other cities and to start sourcing edibles from company meetings and conferences.

Islamic philanthropy at work in Indonesia. Dompet Dhuafa, an Islamic philanthropy organization in Indonesia, was founded by the former editor-in-chief of the Republika daily newspaper, Parni Hadi, to collect various forms of alms and raise funds for planned programs that empower the poor. Having begun with a modest first year of collecting Rp 425,000 (US$30), the organization has reached 25 years of age and has helped more than 16 million people. “Dompet Dhuafa is an Islamic philanthropy organization that is devoted to empowering the poor through compassionate socio-technopreneurship,” said Hadi.


A report finds that CSR giving in India is projected to reach US$7.4 billion (INR 50,000crore) by 2019. The research conducted jointly by CSRBOX and NGOBOX finds that by the financial year 2019-20, compliance with India’s mandatory 2% giving under the 2013 Companies Act will reach 97-98%. Education and skills development is expected to be the preferred areas of spending, with US$2.2 billion expected to pour into the sector between 2014 and 2019. “Mandatory CSR has made a lot of change in India’s development landscape. It has gradually formalized the corporate philanthropy with an emphasis on impacts on the ground.”


Arrested last week, Najib maintains that the US$681 million found in his account is a donation. The donation was placed in his account prior to Malaysia’s general election in 2013, but Najib stressed that the sum was returned to its donor, the Saudi royal family, shortly after the election. “As far as I am concerned, I acted in good faith. On top of it, King Abdullah awarded me the highest decoration from Saudi Arabia. Only (former US) president (Barack) Obama and (Russian president Vladimir) Putin have the same. That shows the level of trust he had in me.”