Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong Tatler names top 50 Asian philanthropists. The list features 50 of the most notable Asian philanthropists who have established charities or contributed generously to society through their donations. This year sees Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person, topping the list. Through his foundation, Li has committed to donating approximately US$10 billion, a third of his fortune. Other notable philanthropists on the list include Ronnie Chan, Lui Che-woo, and Peter Woo. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, made the largest donation to Harvard University when he donated US$350 million in 2014. Contributions from these 50 individuals span a variety of domains, including the arts, education, cancer research, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Mainstreaming of impact investment necessary to meet funding gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton featured observations from Fran Seegull, executive director of the United States Impact Investing Alliance, and Jonathan Wong of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The experts argue that private investment can not only meet the current funding gap, but also do so in a more sustainable fashion. According to Seegull, however, only the right mix of supportive and mandatory policy instruments can encourage this investment. Governments, therefore, must balance providing incentives and simultaneously preventing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Wong adds that greater rigor in measuring social impact can assist governments in creating relevant evidence-based policy instruments, as well as informing and motivating investors with a clearer idea of potential returns.

Ronnie Chan and Ruth Shapiro’s pioneering journey to understand and promote Asian philanthropy. Ruth Shapiro, chief executive of CAPS, credits Ronnie Chan, one of Asia’s leading philanthropists, for his generous support in establishing CAPS. As per the interview published by Hong Kong Tatler, the modern Asian context served a precursor to CAPS. Chan and Shapiro saw that the exponential increase in private wealth across the region brought with it an increasing desire to give back to society. In order to facilitate this growing interest in philanthropy, CAPS launched its inaugural flagship research, the Doing Good Index, which seeks to measure the regulatory, fiscal, and societal infrastructure and ecosystem that makes it easier to “do good.”

Regaining public trust key to businesses and governments meeting societal goals. At two events organized in Singapore by French business school INSEAD, participants agreed that alleviating a rampant trust deficit was essential to creating social impact. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that trust in businesses, governments, and media remains dismal, as 60% agree globally that CEOs are driven by greed rather than a desire to “do good.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, recommended that businesses and governments embrace rules-based trading, implement meritocracy, and place societal interests before personal ones to regain trust. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean of INSEAD, argued that training business leaders to understand the relationship between business and society rigorously would also help regain lost trust.

THE NONPROFITS

Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through Indonesia Masters to support tsunami and earthquake victims. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, is serving as the sustainable partner for the 2018 Asian Golf Tour. As part of this partnership, Asian golfers took upon the role of ambassadors during the season to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work. At the Indonesia Masters, spectators and golf enthusiasts will be able to contribute by purchasing merchandise and participating in charity games. The defending champion of the event, English golfer Justin Rose, has already donated US$50,000 to the nonprofit’s work in Indonesia for rehabilitating those affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Sulawesi and Lombok.

THE BUSINESSES

Impact investment asset manager Aavishkaar-IntelleCap Group receives ₹32 crore (approximately US$32 million) in investment from Nuveen, an American asset management firm. Nuveen’s investment will be used by Aavishkaar-IntelleCap to further increase its stakes in its subsidiaries. Nuveen is the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and holds over US$950 billion in assets. Aavishkaar-IntelleCap, based in India, is considered one of the world’s largest impact investing firms and offers a range of services including microfinance, equity financing, and consulting. The current investment by Nuveen follows Aavishkaar-IntelleCap’s efforts to raise US$300 million for its fund focused on Southeast Asia, which scouts opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos. Founded in 2001, Aavishkaar-IntelleCap currently manages a portfolio worth US$155 million spanning high-impact businesses at various stages of growth.

Indian personal care company, Himalaya, releases film to raise awareness about cleft-affected children. Titled “Ek Nayi Muskaan” (loosely translated to “A New Smile”), the film documents the story of Munmun, an eight-year-old girl from a village near Lucknow, India. Each year, over 35,000 babies are born in India with cleft lip and/or palate, and fewer than half receive treatment due to ignorance or poverty. Children with this condition are known to face difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking. The surgery required is considered safe, immediate, and transformative. Munmun is shown in the film to receive support from “Muskaan,” an initiative of Himalaya in partnership with Smile Train, a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. As part of the initiative, money from every purchase of a Himalaya lip-care product will be donated for this cause.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister charged for criminal breach of trust involving charity organization. Beleaguered former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was found to have misappropriated funds worth RM10 million (US$3.2 million) originally meant for Yayasan Akalbudi, his personal charity organization. The loan was discovered to have been passed to Armada Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate. The current Criminal Breach of Trust ruling sees the number of charges against Hamidi swell to 46, amounting to a total of RM223 million (approximately US$53 million).

Chinese businessman jailed for running a pyramid scheme in the name of the poor worth RMB 20 billion (approximately US$2.9 billion). Zhang Tianming and 17 other individuals associated with him have been found guilty of running a pyramid and multi-level marketing scheme, which affected nearly six million people. Zhang’s company had lured investors with promises of high rates of return on projects that were meant to help the poor, but had instead paid out early members purely using funds from new joiners, a court investigation found.

Sexual abuse in the Nepali aid sector puts children at risk. The arrest of five foreign aid workers over the last year for alleged sexual abuse of children in Nepal has escalated fears that the country has become a target of pedophiles. These individuals are thought to be working under the cover of aid work or philanthropy. The most high-profile case of this alarming trend is that of Canadian aid worker Peter Dalglish. After spending nearly 20 years helping some of the world’s poorest children, Dalglish was arrested this year, and police found two boys, aged 12 and 14 respectively, inside his residence. Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker, opines that these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that more or such incidents are to come and to be revealed.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Singapore-based Vietnamese private equity veteran champions social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. Lam Nguyen-Phuong, who was co-founder and senior managing partner of the private markets division of the Capital Group before his recent retirement in January, supports social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. However, Nguyen-Phuong is not in it for profit, steering clear of impact investments for his personal portfolio: “I’ve been approached by social impact [investment] firms to invest, and I refused… Impact investments have a built-in conflict, as investors may say—why can’t we limit the social impact for a higher return? But profit has to come after purpose, and only to make it self-sustainable. When I used to make investments for [private equity] clients, the main objective was to make a profit. If in the process there was a social benefit, that was good.” In his personal capacity, Nguyen-Phuong has supported Ashoka and is a donor through an Ashoka endowment fund set up in his family’s name to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as well as personally mentoring social entrepreneurs under organizations that he personally supports.

Samsung Welfare Foundation names tycoon’s daughter as new chief. Stepping down from her position as president of the fashion division of Samsung C&T Corporation, Lee Seo-hyun, a daughter of hospitalized Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, will now assume a new role as chairman of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. She will start her four-year term on January 1, 2019. Samsung Welfare Foundation, one of Samsung’s four foundations, was established in 1989 by Lee Kun-hee in an effort to expand Samsung’s charity projects and initiatives.

Japanese actress’ fund helps renovate school in Nepal. A fund run by Japanese actress Norika Fujiwara has been used to renovate a high school in Nepal. Fujiwara’s “Smile Please World Children’s Fund” helped provide the previously dilapidated Shree Ganesh High School with five new classrooms and a water facility for its 447 students. Nepal represents the third country after Afghanistan and Cambodia where the actress has helped build schools. It is uncommon for Japanese actresses to do charity work, she said, adding, “I want to tell the reality of the world to the Japanese society.”

K-Pop girl group member donates ₩50 million to charity. Seol-hyun of K-Pop girl group AOA recently donated ₩50 million (approximately US$44,385) to the Community Chest of Korea for supporting children from low-income families. This particular donation marks the third donation that Seol-hyun has individually made to various causes. In the previous year, she made two donations of the same amount to help victims of an earthquake in Pohang, Korea, and to help deaf children in Seoul.

Lego Foundation grants US$100 million to help refugee children. In its first major humanitarian project, the Lego Foundation announced its decision to provide US$100 million over the next five years to Sesame Workshop’s work with the International Rescue Committee and with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC. The aim is to create play-based learning programs for children up to the age of six in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. “We do risk losing a whole generation if we don’t help the children who find themselves in these emergency settings,” said John Goodwin, the chief executive of the Lego Foundation.

THE THINKERS

“A few NGOs are getting a lot of bad press. What’s the overall track record?” Having observed an increasing number of nonprofits coming under fire, The Washing Post explores recent cases and incidents that may explain why. From multiple sexual abuse scandals in developing economies to lack of accountability to meet organizational goals and targets, nonprofits dominated many frontpage headlines throughout the year. At the same time, there were several favorable polls that attested to society’s positive perception of and trust in the nonprofit sector. To figure out the true impact of nonprofits beyond perception, the authors studied a random selection of 300 published articles and reports on nonprofits and found that nearly 60% of them reported solely favorable effects of nonprofits on development outcomes, while just 4% reported that they had only unfavorable effects.

“Impact investing can be next growth and job engine for India: Amit Bhatia, Global Steering Group.” In this e-mail interview with The Economic Times, Amit Bhatia, global chief executive officer of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, speaks about the growing market of impact investing and its significance. Most notably, Bhatia shares how the impact economy is now worth US$23 trillion—US$16 trillion in responsible investing, US$6 trillion in sustainable investing, and US$0.25 trillion in impact investing. In terms of the future growth trajectory, Bhatia refers to his organization’s recent study with KPMG, sharing that by 2020, impact investments will cross US$468 billion.

Noteworthy talks and sessions at this year’s Yidan Prize Summit. Now in its second year, this Hong Kong-based education-focused forum brings together thought leaders—policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, politicians, and educators—to formulate strategies to ensure today’s education meets the needs of tomorrow. In this feature article, Hong Kong Tatler previews and spotlights seven sessions at the event—from conversations with this year’s laureates to “Growing the Right Talent for Tomorrow” with Hong Kong philanthropist and Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan.

THE NONPROFITS

Filipino government awards Singaporean nonprofit helping foreign domestic workers. President Rodrigo Duterte conferred the Kaanib ng Bayan (Nation’s Partner) Award to the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast). The organization, a charity supported by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, was recognized for its “exception or significant contribution… to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities.” Seah Seng Choon, the charity’s president, told The Straits Times, “It’s a recognition of the work that Fast is doing, and we’re glad that we have been recognized. This encourages us to do more.” Since its founding in 2005, Fast has been organizing courses and programs to help domestic workers learn skills that can add value to their work and enhance their future employability. These include cooking, baking, infant- and eldercare, foot reflexology, computer literacy, English, stress management, and entrepreneurship. Over 25,000 foreign domestic workers go through these courses each year.

Korean President invites major charity groups to top office and promotes culture of giving. President Moon Jae-in invited and hosted on Friday 15 of the country’s major charitable organizations at the Blue House. These charities included, for example, Salvation Army Korea, Good Neighbors, World Vision, and Child Fund. The Blue House said the event was arranged to imbue the public with the spirit of sharing and giving toward underprivileged neighbors during the year-end season, noting it is the first such gathering of the major charities. President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook also delivered their donations to each of the participating groups.

Delhi city government bars Bloomberg-funded charity from tobacco control work. According to a city government official and a memo seen by Reuters, a small Indian nonprofit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies will not be allowed to carry out tobacco control work in New Delhi after it failed to disclose its funding. The same official also added that other foreign-funded organizations will need to seek prior approval in the future for anti-tobacco activities. The Delhi city government’s decision comes amid similar moves by the Indian government, which has since 2014 tightened surveillance of foreign-funded charities. An anonymous anti-tobacco activist commented, “This is sending a wrong message. They are basically deterring tobacco control.”

Pakistani government officially announces expulsion of 18 charities. Pakistan announced on Thursday it was expelling 18 international charities amid growing paranoia that Western aid agencies are being used as a front for espionage. Umair Hasan, the spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation, an umbrella representing 15 of the 18 charities, said those charities alone help 11 million impoverished Pakistanis and contribute more than US$130 million in assistance, adding, “No organization has been given a clear reason for the denial of its registration renewal applications.” However, Shireen Mazari, the country’s human rights minister, said on Twitter the 18 groups were responsible for spreading disinformation. “They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do,” she said.

Number of new charities in Singapore down to 10-year low. The number of new charities in Singapore hit a 10-year low last year. According to the Commissioner of Charities’ latest annual report, only 39 groups registered as charities last year. This is down from 49 a year before and 59 in 2008. Various experts have explained this decline could be due to the rise of informal help groups and the sector reaching a saturation point. Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee said, “There are so many charities out there fighting for the same donation dollar, and it is very difficult for new charities to raise funds. So people may think it’s easier to volunteer at existing charities, doing the work they were thinking of doing, instead of starting a new charity.”

THE BUSINESSES

UBS streamlines efforts to address the rising importance of gift-giving to the world’s wealthy. Switzerland-based global bank UBS has recently streamlined its group-wide philanthropic efforts, consolidating them into a single 45-member team. Phyllis Costanza, a veteran who has served at the bank for seven years, has been tasked with leading the team. Costanza also heads the UBS Optimus Foundation, which successfully launched a high-yielding bond linked to the learning development of young girls in Rajasthan, India, in 2016. UBS executives, Hubertus Kuelps and Joe Stadler, were confident the team would achieve “measurable social impact through their philanthropic activities, while also generating enhanced business growth for UBS.”

A look at HSBC’s philanthropic activities and how it approaches maximizing social impact. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, Asia head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services for HSBC Private Banking, details in this interview the bank’s extensive work in advising and supporting its private banking clients in regards to the charitable and philanthropic sectors. According to D’Anjou-Brown, the bank has learned that matching donors with causes they feel passionate about and tapping into their expertise help maximize impact.

THE INNOVATORS

Recent seminar in Thailand discusses the importance of social enterprises in boosting sustainable development. At “Thailand Social Enterprise: The Way Forward,” various stakeholders and experts gathered to discuss the role of social enterprises in contributing to Thailand’s sustainable development and growth. Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, noted that building a supportive ecosystem is important: “The law alone cannot govern every part of the ecosystem. Cooperation from all sectors, namely incubators, education sector, financial institutions, entrepreneurs’ associations, and public sector are key for the successful implementation and development of social enterprises.” Sarinee Achavanuntakul, co-founder of Sal Forest, Thailand’s first “sustainable business accelerator,” said that the biggest challenge is social entrepreneurs abandoning their mission or having very little social impact and that as such, the most important thing is evaluating the enterprise’s social impact, as well as the pressure it can have on the public. This seminar hosted by the Thailand Institute of Justice occurred amidst a recent public hearing on the Social Enterprise Promotion draft bill, which has now reached the final stage before being handed over to the National Legislative Assembly for consideration.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Student charity run in Malaysia collects RM200,000 (approximately US$50,000) to support victims of human trafficking. The race was organized as part of the global charity event, “24-Hour Race,” and saw participation from over a thousand people who completed over 15,000 laps. This year’s race was the event’s eighth iteration and increased the total amount collected by the event to RM4.85 million (approximately US$1.2 million). The money will be channeled to The Exodus Road, a nonprofit organization that will train and equip 24 national local law enforcers and help fund 24,000 hours of investigation across 2,400 locations to support victims of human trafficking.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

 Self-proclaimed Thai philanthropist organizing anti-drug campaign arrested for drug trafficking charges. Kalyakorn Siriphatarasomboon, better known by her nickname as Jay Lin, was arrested in Phrae province in northern Thailand for drug trafficking charges. The police found and seized 1.6 million tablets of methamphetamine and 10 kilograms of crystal meth aboard a pickup truck which she was driving. The suspected drug trafficker had launched an anti-drug campaign among local teenagers, especially youth soccer players, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and donated money to impoverished people in the region, but the police suspected such charitable acts and events were merely a cover-up for her drug trafficking crimes.
Seoul city government-backed foundation accused of various corruption incidents and organizational malpractices by current and former employeesThe Seoul Digital Foundation, founded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and funded by its taxpayer money, was accused of various questionable practices by current and former employees. For one, the foundation’s chairman used a corporate card under the foundation 37 times—mostly on Friday nights—for personal meals near his apartment, totaling an amount of approximately US$2,719. In public audit hearings, the foundation’s chairman would resort to the excuse of funding security and cleaning staff’s meals. It was also revealed that the chairman used the corporate card to watch professional baseball games and to pay for meals and drinks at these games. Covering up and disguising these payments was considered a daily practice within the organization, as staffers were ordered to record fake meeting minutes.
Various side effects appear for Japan’s hometown tax donation (furusato nōzei) system. What was originally intended to be a system to encourage and incentivize individual giving to local governments turned out to be a tax loophole and a profitable trade in goods and services. Over the years, some local governments began offering gifts in return for donations. The law does not prohibit gift-giving, but in principle, items on offer should be produced in the area represented by the local government in question. However, more and more governments are offering expensive gifts that have no relation to their local industry or agriculture, with competition heating up to the degree that dozens of websites have appeared to help consumers choose among gifts that are available. Some have also pointed out how the system is particularly advantageous for the wealthy who pay higher residence taxes, as they can claim a part of their residence tax payment as a deductible donation.

Who’s Doing Good?

12 November 2018 - 18 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Forbes releases “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy,” shedding light on Asia’s leading do-gooders. In its twelfth iteration now, Forbes’ “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy” highlights entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities who have made considerable philanthropic contributions in the previous year. With a total of seven representatives on the 40-member list, India and China have produced the highest number of “heroes,” while Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia follow with three to four members each.

Elderly couple in Korea donates millions to Korea University to fund scholarships for students in need. Kim Yeong-seok and Yang Young-ae have decided to make a property donation worth ₩40 billion (US$35.3 million) to Korea University for funding need-based scholarships. After the announcement of their donation, many expressed their concern over whether the university might misuse the funds for its own gains, but university officials clearly stated that they will make sure the money goes to students in need. “All the income from the building will be used to give scholarships to students in need. We all know how hard it was for the couple to accumulate such wealth, which is why we will make sure that no penny goes to waste,” said Yoo Byung-hyun, vice president for development, external affairs, and capital planning at Korea University.

Singaporean university gets SG$4 million gift from late philanthropic couple. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is the latest institution to benefit from a late elderly couple who had donated millions of dollars to several charitable causes. The SG$4 million (approximately US$2.9 million) gift will help fund NTU’s development of teachers, with the introduction of scholarships for master’s degrees and grants for trainee teachers at the university’s National Institute of Education. The scholarships will be named after the couple: Mr. Ong Tiong Tat, 74, who died in 2013, and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, 73, who died in 2016.

THE THINKERS

Trust deficit to blame for the slow growth of Indonesia’s social sector. Billionaires in Indonesia continue to enjoy enormous growth in wealth in spite of economic downturns, but philanthropy, on the other hand, has not taken off, highlighted Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS. According to Shapiro, who spoke as a panelist at the Indonesia Philanthropy Festival, the trust deficit between givers and charitable organizations is primarily to blame. Unlike the private sector, the entire charitable sector is painted as corrupt in the wake of major public scandals, and a lack of purported transparency can often reflect capacity constraints and not actual corruption. Shapiro also stated that Indonesia’s unsupportive regulatory environment is an additional impediment.

THE NONPROFITS

Pakistani nonprofits face funding squeeze and delays in approvals as state paranoia peaks. According to the author, the Pakistani government, in its recent condemnation of the entire social sector, has failed to differentiate between legitimate social service providers and those involved in terrorism financing. For the government, nonprofits are increasingly viewed as fronts for international “agents” with “ulterior” motives. The ensuing clampdown has involved making it difficult for charities to access financing and to obtain government approvals for projects. This article paints a bleak picture for Pakistan and its social sector, as this tightening slows the country’s progress in core development areas such as education and health.

THE BUSINESSES

The Business Times releases “Champions of Good 2018.” Through a seven-part series, The Business Times spotlights best practices in volunteering and philanthropy from Singapore. Some of the areas covered by this wide-ranging series include CSR programs which tap into companies’ skills and resources to drive change and impact measurement as a tool to learn and refine social work. Across these seven articles, a myriad of organizations—mostly corporate, as well as nonprofits—are studied and showcased as role-model examples of doing good.

UNIQLO partners with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop to support refugees. Under this proposed partnership, customers at UNIQLO outlets will be able to shop for “Cards for Hope,” which are special greeting cards that feature artwork by Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. All proceeds will be channeled towards the Sesame Workshop and IRC’s early childhood development programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Promotional campaigns seeking to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian crises surrounding refugees will also be conducted through drawing workshops at UNIQLO outlets participated by elementary school groups and Sesame Street characters.

THE INNOVATORS

Alipay launches “Social Innovation Challenge” in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise. The initiative seeks to attract, promote, and support digital technology innovations geared towards social good in Southeast Asia. As part of the challenge, individual innovators and entrepreneurs will receive up to SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000), as well as a complete suite of support services from mentoring to acquiring access to potential investors. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of Asia’s leading universities, have committed in a joint effort to tap into their rich networks and share their resources in order to support aspiring entrepreneurs focused on creating positive social impact. 

Hong Kong Tatler lists five impact funds and ventures that contribute to social well-being. First, on the list, The Rise Fund was setup by TPG, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The fund is worth US$2 billion and makes investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy. Hong Kong Tatler also features a sustainable rubber plantation in Indonesia worth US$95 million and owned by Michelin and Indonesia’s Barito Group. Responsible meat producers such as Impossible Foods and companies in the electric vehicle sector also made the cut.

THE VOLUNTEERS 

Japanese teen volunteers and funds library in Cambodia. Miyu Ozawa, now 16, saved every New Year’s gift money and decided to use the collected funds for a good cause. Having spent her spring vacation following her graduation from junior high school, she worked as a volunteer on a 10-day tour in Cambodia, where she helped with classes at a primary school. After returning to Japan, Ozawa began thinking about building a library in Cambodia because it appeared that while the country had schools, it did not have enough teachers or teaching materials. “Books will give you a first step for studying on your own,” said Ozawa.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Arrest of fake Chinese monk in Myanmar highlights the increase in sham begging. Ashin Dhamma Rakhita, associated with the Guan Yin San Tart Pain Temple in Yangon, Myanmar, has stated and clarified that monks do not and should not engage in commercial activities or ask for donations. In recent days, individuals in the garb of monks have appeared in markets, schools, and restaurants in Yangon, publicly asking for donations and selling beads. Videos on social media of their activities have also been doing the rounds. As a result, authorities have arrested one such trickster, while a few have returned to China.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Tmall.com Double Eleven Festival lucky draw winner donates prize money to children’s charity. The winner of the Double Eleven Festival draw, a shopping festival now greater in value than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, donated most of her prize money to a charity dedicated to finding lost children. The prize allowed the Hangzhou-based woman to spend up to 100 million yuan (approximately US$14 million).

THE THINKERS

Bill Gates demoes “reinvented” toilets, calling attention to over 4.5 billion people without proper sanitation. A result of US$200 million invested by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years, Bill Gates demoed innovative toilet designs this week in Beijing, China, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo. Requiring no water or electricity to run, the designs can also treat waste into water and fertilizer. A lack of access to proper sanitation costs half a million lives and over US$2 billion in associated expenses annually.

THE NONPROFITS

Charity groups can apply for grants up to SG$900,000 (approximately US$650,000) to improve processes. The Tote Board, Singapore’s largest grant-making organization, has launched the “Nonprofit Sector Transformation Initiative” worth SG$10 million (approximately US$7.26 million) to help charities boost their operational capabilities. The money will be given to 10 nonprofit organizations and can be used to hire external consultants or staff to improve internal processes and capacities or to boost their IT systems.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com launches program to support children with special needs through art therapy. The new program from the Chinese e-commerce giant aims to raise money for the World of Art Brut Culture (WABC), a Shanghai-based non-governmental organization which highlights artistic talents of those with developmental disabilities.  As part of the initiative, JD.com sought out paintings designed by WABC-supported children to feature their artwork on 100,000 of its delivery packages.

THE INNOVATORS

Boys’ Brigade Singapore launches PayNow QR code for donations to its Share-A-Gift project. Boys’ Brigade’s Christmas charity project this year is going cashless by introducing PayNow QR codes. The project provides food hampers for the needy and grants wishes for items. Going cashless allows the organization to reach a wider base of donors, claims Mr. Lui Chong Chee, chairman of the project. In its 31st year now, requests from 41,756 beneficiaries, including 9,053 needy families and individuals, will be catered.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Kottayam to be India’s first hunger-free district, thanks to volunteer groups. Various volunteer groups, nonprofit organizations, and support from the locals have allowed the Kottayam district in India to be the first hunger-free district in the country. In addition to systematic contributions from the local Red Cross and other eateries, individuals leverage Facebook groups, as well as deposit boxes, to provide for the homeless and hungry.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

I never lied about RM2.6 billion donation, says Razak. Najib Razak, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, is facing 38 criminal charges, including 25 charges for money laundering and abuse of power that are related to purported donations. Amidst the charges, he claims he did not lie about the RM6.2 million (approximately US$1.48 million) donation that he received in his personal account. He maintained that the funds came from the late monarch of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud. “All business regarding the receipt and return of the funds is within the knowledge of Bank Negara Malaysia, the corresponding banks, and my officers. Throughout the handling of the funds I received, no doubts were raised by Bank Negara, or the recipient’s banks, or the officers who handled my accounts,” he said in an interview.

Indonesian charities at risk of being used to launder cash and finance terrorism. Australia’s financial intelligence and counter-terrorism agency, Austrac, has found that Indonesia is at “high” risk of suffering consequences from financing terrorism (often inadvertently) along with Australia. Asia’s other representatives in the report, Singapore and Thailand, face a “medium” risk, while the problem is less severe in Brunei. The report calls individuals to always donate to “recognized, well-established” charities.

Who’s Doing Good?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Korean star soccer player Son donates to the military before Asian Games win. Son Heung-min, a professional soccer player who plays for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and who captains the Korean national team, donated around £70,000 (approximately US$90,100) to his country’s armed forces prior to the victory in this year’s Asian Games, which allowed him to be exempted from Korea’s mandatory military service. “Son Heung-min called us by himself saying he’d like to make a donation for Korean soldiers and their families,” Kookbang Ilbo, the army’s official daily newspaper, revealed.

THE THINKERS

Indonesia tops the World Giving Index 2018. Through a survey of over 150,000 people in 146 countries, this year’s World Giving Index by the Charities Aid Foundation places Indonesia as the most generous country, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Singapore and Myanmar are Asia’s other representatives in the Index’s top ten at seventh and ninth, respectively. Termed as “quite remarkable,” Singapore turned around its poor showing in previous versions of the Index, jumping 23 spots from its standing in 2017, a change led primarily by increased volunteering. Myanmar had topped the Index in 2017, and Indonesia was placed second.

THE NONPROFITS

BTS’ UNICEF “Love Myself” campaign raises over US$1.4 million. Last year, BTS, a globally popular K-Pop group, teamed up with UNICEF Korea for their “Love Myself” anti-violence campaign, and it was recently revealed that the initiative had raised over US$1.4 million. “In the year since UNICEF and BTS joined together to eradicate violence against children, we have raised over ₩1.6 billion,” said UNICEF Korea in a statement.

Hong Kong nonprofit raises US$2 million for the Philippines’ poorest. Through a number of auctions and activities held in Hong Kong as part of the “Stepping Free from Poverty” banquet, the International Care Ministries (ICM) managed to raise US$2 million. Founded in 1992, the ICM is the brainchild of interior designer Sharon Tang. The Hong Kong charity provided training and resources to its one millionth family this year, and the money raised will be utilized to bring the next million out of extreme poverty. 

THE BUSINESSES

India’s CSR funding set to reach Rs20,000 crore. CSR funding in India is poised to grow to Rs20,000 crore (approximately US$274.9 million) over the next three years. That is the estimate made in a new report by the Indian School of Development Management in association with Sattva Consulting which also says CSR funding has been growing at the rate of 9% per year. With 33 lakh nonprofit institutions employing over 1.82 crore individuals, supported by contributions from funders, enabling organizations, the government, and businesses, India’s development sector is one of the largest and most active social economies in the world. It also has a huge potential to become an aspiring and mainstream career option for India’s young leaders and managers.

12,000 Samsung employees participate in the company’s Global Volunteer Month. Each year in October, Samsung employees all over the world look to give back through volunteering and community engagement. This year, across regions and countries such as the United States, Latin America, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, China, Myanmar, and Thailand, a total of 12,000 volunteers engaged in the program and contributed to diverse areas such as education, immigrant integration, school refurbishments, and cyberbullying among others.

THE INNOVATORS

Blockchain-based plastic recycling centers in Indonesia. Plastic Bank recently partnered with SC Johnson to open plastic recycling centers across Indonesia. Recent scientific data revealed that Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are responsible for more than 55% of the plastic waste found in the ocean. The organization plans to open eight plastic waste collection centers across Indonesia by May 2019. The program aims to act as a means of income for the local waste collectors who live below the poverty line and also to encourage recycling. The collectors can bring the plastic they collect to the center and receive digital tokens in exchange.

THE VOLUNTEERS

President of Singapore promises more opportunities for senior volunteers. President Halimah Yacob announced yesterday that the newly appointed National Centre of Excellence in Senior Volunteerism, RSVP Singapore, will reach out to more of those in their mid-50 and 60’s to encourage them to volunteer with local charities and other organizations such as hospitals. Currently, about 60% of the organization’s 2,500 senior volunteers are in their mid-50 and 60’s. The organization will tailor its programs to suit the group of volunteers. “Some are likely to be IT savvy, higher educated, and have a stable income…, so we need to curate different programs to suit them,” said chairman Koh Juay Meng.

Empress Michiko’s proactive involvement in society. The article spotlights Japanese Empress Michiko’s contributions to society and passion for helping the disadvantaged. From promoting Braille translations of music to serving as the honorary president of the Japanese Red Cross Society, Empress Michiko has gradually expanded her commitment to society. Her involvement in society is part of the Japanese royal family’s often publicly stated role of acting as the symbol of the state and unity of the Japanese people.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

Chinese Apple Watch supplier under fire for “forcing students to work like robots.” Apple is investigating a factory in Southwest China after a labor rights group claimed that the technology giant’s supplier forced student workers to work “like robots” to assemble the Apple Watch. The Chongqing factory is operated by Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. According to an investigation by the Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), many were forced to work to get their vocational degrees and had to do night shifts. These students were made to work under the guise of an internship. “Our graduation certificate will be withheld by the school if we refuse to come,” said one student majoring in e-commerce, according to SACOM.

Who’s Doing Good?

22 October 2018 - 28 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo donates RMB 200 Million to Tsinghua University. One of the richest businessmen in Hong Kong and chairman of the K.Wah Group, Lui Che-woo has donated RMB 200 million (approximately US$28 million) to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, to establish the Biomedical Sciences Building. The building is planned to enhance the university’s teaching and research capabilities, as well as house leading medical research centers, including the National Centre for Protein Science.

Hong Kong billionaire and alumni to match all donations to Hong Kong scholarships. Billionaire and chairman and CEO of Melco International and Melco Crown Entertainment, Lawrence Ho and his sister, Daisy Ho, who are both alumni of the school, have pledged to match every donation received by the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation in a new initiative called HK Match and help expand its existing scholarship program so that it fully covers tuition and living costs.

THE THINKERS

Proposed changes to India’s CSR laws could deplete motivation. As the world’s only economy with mandatory CSR, India is expected to collect upwards of Rs50,000 crore (approximately US$7 billion) from corporations by March 2019. But recent amendments have “hardened” the law, argues Shashwat DC. The author suggests corporations could turn away and treat CSR as a mere requirement. Grassroots beneficiaries, he adds, stand to lose out most as corporations may re-center towards low-hanging, low-impact contributions in their CSR approaches.

Private sector’s push in higher education and ease in regulation necessary says vice-chancellor of India’s rising university. Professor C. Raj Kumar, a former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and the founding vice-chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), has cited government regulations and lack of attention to research among Indian private universities as important contributors to India’s struggle in global university rankings. His remarks came as JGU, established in 2009, broke into the 2019 QS Asia University Rankings. 

THE NONPROFITS 

Group of eight corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and individuals win President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards in Singapore. Launched in 2012, the annual President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards honor individuals, companies, ground-up movements, nonprofits, and educational institutions who give back to the community. The winners for 2018 were picked from nearly 100 nominations. Notable corporate and academic winners include Citi Singapore and the National University of Singapore. Assisi Hospice was chosen as the nonprofit winner for providing end-of-life care as a health-oriented nonprofit organization. President Halimah Yacob said, “I’m heartened that this year’s winners include firms that made giving an integral part of their corporate culture, as well as individuals who are passionate in helping those around them.”

Opportunities for Indian women grow as social and economic restrictions are addressed. This brief case study notes an increasing focus towards women in India, the participation of whom is seen as central to sustaining the Indian economy. Through a handful of profiles including that of a former expat now turned entrepreneur running Asia’s first commercial biobank and Katalyst, an initiative helping women from low-income communities, JPMorgan Chase presents an optimistic outlook for women in India.

THE BUSINESSES 

Sustainable exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry to be worth over US$400 billion by 2030, says BlackRock chairman. Larry Fink, chairman of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, expects sustainability to form the core of all investments made in the future. Following the announcement of the plan to launch six Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)-screened ETFs in Europe, Fink also opined that rates of returns on social investments would also outpace those on traditional investments. However, BlackRock was the subject of protests in September during which the company was alleged to be the largest owner of fossil fuels companies and hence “failing to walk the talk.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Binance releases 2018 donation report for West Japan disaster. Having delivered cryptocurrency donations to flood victims in West Japan via its Blockchain Charity Foundation, Binance has released its 2018 donation report. The Blockchain Charity Foundation and other external donors sent in around a total cryptocurrency amount worth US$1,410,000. With these funds, over 41,000 individuals in three prefectures received medicine, shelter, and other resources.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Malaysian university students raise funds and volunteers to help those in need. Organized by students of KDU Penang University College, the Technicolor Festival brought the student community together to raise funds and conduct volunteering activities for those in need. Students raised RM138,000 (approximately US$33,000), as well as collaborating with the Penang Social Welfare Department to help underprivileged families. Dr. Chong Beng Keok, the university’s vice chancellor, commented, “It is about different communities coming together and a platform for them to showcase their creativity, talents, and skills. This festival is not only to celebrate culture but the proceeds will also be channeled to the underprivileged.” 

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister faces six new corruption charges. A Malaysian court on Thursday charged former Prime Minister Najib Razak with six new corruption charges in relation to alleged embezzlement involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. The new charges were added to the existing 32 cases of corruption against him in regards to the 1MDB fund. Former Prime Minister Razak denied the allegations, claiming that the money was a donation from a Saudi Arabian prince and that he was cleared by Malaysian authorities during his time as Prime Minister.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese Americans’ contributions to and role in the United States philanthropic landscape grow. The article mentions recent trends in philanthropic giving among high-net-worth Chinese Americans and features individual philanthropists as case studies. From the Huntington Library’s Chinese garden, which received gifts of US$10,000 or more from 400 Chinese American families and those of US$1 million or more from 20 Chinese American individuals, to a 418% increase in the number of Chinese American foundations between 2000 and 2014, Chinese American philanthropy is clearly shown to be on the rise. In recent days, Chinese American philanthropists have adopted new innovations in giving, including impact investing, as well as giving back more to their home countries. “Chinese Americans are now proud of ascendant China and want to support the institutions that make it both in education and culturally a powerhouse,” said Randy Shulman, vice president for advancement at the Huntington Library.

THE THINKERS

“Getting the Best Possible Failures in Philanthropy: What constitutes ‘good’ failures in philanthropy, and how can we have more of them?” In this article, Jen Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation, suggests that “not all failures are created equal” and that there needs to be another element added to our standard practice in philanthropy: “failure optimization planning.” In other words, “how can we design our strategies so that if they do fail, they will be good failures?” Three ways that a failure can be “good” include: “1) contribute knowledge to the field, 2) have a significant, positive, but unintended consequence, or 3) increase the capacity of all involved to try other approaches.”

Making bequests to nonprofit organizations rise in Japan as a new way of giving back to society. The recent trend appears to be fueled by the growing number of people living alone and heightened interest in preparations for the end of one’s life. It is also important to consider the fact that in Japan if there is no one to inherit an estate, it goes into the state coffers, so it has naturally become more popular among aged individuals living alone to consider giving back to charities of their choice. The potential for bequests is expected to be greater and greater, as time passes. According to the Cabinet Office, there were about 5.9 million households in which a person aged 65 or older lived alone in 2015. The figure is estimated to reach about 7.6 million in 2035.

THE NONPROFITS

Aid to 11 million at risk as Pakistani intelligence force 18 charities to close operations. Amidst the Pakistani government’s recent decision to inform 18 foreign nonprofit organizations to close down their operations in the country, it has been claimed that Pakistan risks losing at least £100 million (approximately US$130.6 million) worth of aid for 11 million citizens in need. The expelled organizations also directly employ more than 1,100 staff in Pakistan. According to the article, it is thought that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government made the decision under pressure from Pakistan’s powerful military spy agency which has accused foreign aid organizations of being a front for espionage. “We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children the organization is currently supporting, as well as our own staff—who are all Pakistani nationals,” said a spokeswoman for Plan International.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com’s green initiative for sustainable consumption. JD.com, China’s largest retailer, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and The China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) are partnering to launch a second annual Green Planet-Sustainable Week, raising awareness about sustainable consumption in China. JD.com plans to promote reusable shopping bags created from the fabric of discarded apparel in response to a call from the WWF to reduce pollution caused by plastics. Customers will also be able to trade in major appliances for recycling by third-party companies through JD.com’s platform. “The spectacular rise of Chinese consumption has been a major force behind the country’s incredible economic story, but has also contributed to unprecedented environmental challenges,” said Zhonghao Jin, head of market practice at WWF China. He believes this week’s activities will help “raise consumer awareness and accelerate the mainstreaming of sustainable consumption.” 

THE INNOVATORS  

A skincare social enterprise is changing the lives of women and girls in rural India. Anju Rupal, the founder of the ethically minded, charitably driven beauty brand Abhati Suisse, is an “aesthetic activist.” Before launching her company, Rupal helped run a shelter for victims of domestic violence, founded a children’s clinic in Switzerland, and created a reforestation nonprofit. During her time at the reforestation nonprofit, she identified a business opportunity to produce organic beauty items that would also help address the issue of gender inequality in India. Working with the beauty industry’s top chemists in Switzerland, Abhati Suisse utilizes locally harvested ingredients from India to produce organic beauty products, whose sales are then used to help send women and girls in India to schools. To date, Abhati Suisse has helped more than 120,000 girls.

Unilever Philippines combines e-commerce and philanthropy to help children in need. Initiated by Unilever Philippines, Shop2Give is a one-day shopping event on Lazada. On this special day of giving back to society, product illustrations on the e-commerce platform were changed into quirky illustrations reminiscent of children’s doodles, and every purchase went towards Shop2Give’s beneficiaries, which was further matched by Unilever Philippines as a donation to UNICEF.

Indian Prime Minister to unveil a CSR portal on October 24, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a portal for CSR and volunteering in an ambitious bid to consolidate such efforts to maximize their effect and help boost the government’s initiatives. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is making hectic preparations for the launch of the portal, which is being developed by MyGov and will host CSR activities that have already been kicked off. The idea is to create a resource pool and find a way to “harmonize efforts,” not just across companies, but also to “align” them with the priorities of the government in areas such as the Skill India, Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, and Swachh Bharat campaigns, said a person aware of the development.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean nonprofit head leads volunteer activity in Vietnam for 12 years. Global Friends began its volunteer work in 2006 to help bereaved family members of the Vietnamese War. Choi Kyou-take, founder of this organization, has since led volunteer medical services, offered scholarships, and donated personal computers to rural communities in Vietnam. “Global Friends isn’t a large charity group, but has conducted volunteer activity for more than 10 years in the Southeast Asian country, Choi told The Korea Times, adding, “Not many charity groups in Korea volunteer in a certain country for more than 10 years.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia claims trial to 45 charges. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and carried out investigations over alleged abuse of funds linked to his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, as well as another probe related to 1MDB over a meeting with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family. Zahid claimed trial on October 19 to 45 charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering involving some RM114 million (approximately US$27.4 million). One of the charges is believed to be related to claims that RM800,000 of funds from Zahid’s charity had been used to pay for his and his wife’s credit card bills between 2014 and 2015.

British government to fund a global register of sex offenders in the charitable sector. Following the Oxfam abuse scandal, where volunteers sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the British government has announced its decision to launch a global register of suspected sexual predators to crack down on abuse in the foreign aid sector. Named “Soteria” after the Greek goddess of protection, the register will be funded by £2 million (approximately US$2.6 million) of British aid money. The five-year program will operate from two hubs in Africa and Asia and allow charities to check the criminal records of existing and future employees. Interpol, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office, and the Department for International Development will work together on the database, which will issue international alerts if someone is deemed to be a threat to public safety.

Who’s Doing Good?

1 October 2018 - 7 October 2018

THE GIVERS

China’s first female paratrooper donates life savings to hometown. Ma Xu, 83, participated in the Korean War in 1950 and then trained as a military doctor. She then joined the then newly formed Chinese airborne troops in 1961 as a medical supporter, after which she was trained as the country’s first female paratrooper. Throughout her career, she was honored with several medals and made several records, including becoming the country’s first female paratrooper, a female paratrooper with the most parachute jumps, and the oldest female paratrooper to parachute. Since retiring, she has set her mind to donate over 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) to Mulan County for educational, cultural, and charitable purposes.

American family foundation pledges US$5 million to disaster relief, including Asia. The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, based in the United States, has pledged US$5 million to support disaster relief efforts in North and South Carolina, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The donation will be immediately made to Save the Children and Direct Relief to support the most timely and urgent relief needs, as well as the long-term recovery strategy.

THE THINKERS

Forbes’ new 400 ranking methodology to now include philanthropy score. For the first time, Forbes 400 members (American) will be ranked not only on their total wealth and on how self-made they are, but also on their philanthropic generosity. The philanthropy score will be on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most philanthropic. For those whom Forbes was not able to find any information of charitable giving, they received an N.A. (not available). To come up with the scores, Forbes journalists estimated each list member’s total lifetime giving and looked at what percent of their fortune they had given away. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on other factors such as whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed funds.

Two university professors discuss why charities are accepting increasing amounts of Bitcoin. In this article, Philip Hackney, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and Brian Mittendorf, Professor of Accounting at The Ohio State University, discuss why nonprofit organizations in the United States have begun to accept increasing amounts of Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as addressing other relevant issues and implications. Most notably, the two scholars emphasize the tax benefits that come with donating appreciating non-cash financial assets that may cost governments more in tax deductions than it raises in actual donations.

THE NONPROFITS  

Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief launch fundraising appeals. The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and Mercy Relief, Singapore’s homegrown humanitarian nonprofit organization, are making fundraising appeals to the public to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The SRC has pledged SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000) in humanitarian aid to support affected communities. The SRC and Mercy Relief are also planning to send an advance response team to conduct ground assessments and support the Indonesian Red Cross Society and to distribute relief supplies to displaced families.

Pakistani government orders international nonprofits to end their operations and leave the country within 60 days. ActionAid, one of the 18 charities affected, said the move was part of a “worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society” in Pakistan. Since the 2011 discovery of a fake vaccination program run by the Central Intelligence Agency aiming to track down Osama bin Laden, nonprofits have been viewed with suspicion and wary by the country’s intelligence services. ActionAid and other international nonprofits were similarly ordered to leave the country at the end of last year in 2017 but were allowed to stay upon appeal and following pressure from Western governments. For the recent order, subsequent appeals have been unsuccessful.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean firms offer aid for earthquake-hit Indonesia. Joining international efforts to help rebuild Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi, Indonesia, a group of Korean businesses have offered to make donations to support relief efforts. Most recently, Hyundai Motor Group and KT&G Corporation said it will donate US$500,000 and US$88,700, respectively. Other donations include a US$199,000 donation from the retail conglomerate Lotte and a US$300,000 donation from the SK Group.

Apple donates US$1 million to disaster relief efforts in Indonesia. To support relief efforts after the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Apple announced its donation of US$1 million. On October 2, 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in his tweet, “Our hearts go out to the people of Sulawesi and all of Indonesia after this weekend’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Apple is donating $1 million to aid relief efforts as this beautiful country starts to rebuild.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Southeast Asia found to be the top destination for impact investments. Southeast Asia has seen a significant increase in impact investments in recent years, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Private impact investors—fund managers, family offices, pension funds, and other types of private capital—poured nearly US$1 billion into the region from 2007 to 2017, while development finance institutions deployed US$11.2 billion. Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam were the three largest markets in the region, having attracted 60% of the capital deployed. A key theme in the region is poverty alleviation. “In many countries in the region, large swathes of the population live below the poverty line. So, the provision of basic services, such as clean energy, affordable housing, healthcare, and financial services, is a core focus of impact investors,” said GIIN’s director of research Abhilash Mudaliar.

Singaporean private bank focuses on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing to win over Asia’s next-generation clients. According to Marc Lansonneur, Managing Director and Head of Managed Solutions, Balance Sheet Products and Investment Governance in the Wealth Management group, DBS Bank is increasingly providing ESG investing solutions and services to its current and future next-generation high-net-worth clients, who are expressing interest in this form of investing. In fact, Lansonneur stated that DBS has assembled considerable evidence that companies that perform well in ESG tend to also show higher profitability, higher dividend yield, and lower idiosyncratic tail risks, demonstrating that doing good can lead to doing well financially.

THE VOLUNTEERS

On Children’s Day, Singaporean children do good for one another. “Children for Children” is a day of giving and doing good by children for children. It is an annual fundraising and charity event jointly organized by The Business Times, CHIJ (Kellock), and The Rice Company Ltd. Since 2008, it has brought more than 10,000 children under the Ministry of Education’s financial assistance scheme to various iconic destinations throughout the city. This year, 1,000 children benefited from the program, and a total of SG$337,793 (approximately US$243,000) was raised. Shuanne Seah, 10, who was part of the musical’s choir, said, “We’re doing this for a cause, so all the effort is worth it. We want to use our gifts to help others achieve their dreams.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

“Voluntourism and the white savior complex: travelers may be doing more harm than good.” Mercedes Hutton, the article’s author, argues for a different perspective on the increasingly popular trend of “voluntourism,” a form of traveling to other countries and communities in need for volunteer work. Although the seemingly more hands-on voluntourism may appear to be better than “slacktivism,” supporting a cause without moving from the comfort of the couch, Hutton claims that there are challenges, weaknesses, and gaps in this form of doing good. For example, in regards to the popular package of traveling to orphanages in developing economies, the author cites The Guardian to point out that “there is no such thing as a ‘good’ orphanage,” suggesting that children simply do best by being in a family instead of staying at an orphanage. Another point pertains to the lack of qualified individuals who usually partake in these kinds of programs and packages, with most of them being pre-college gap-year high school students and fresh college graduates. Perhaps, from the author’s standpoint, donating on one’s couch at home, yet doing so more deliberately and strategically, may be more efficient than rolling up one’s sleeves to do volunteering for those in need.

Who’s Doing Good?

24 September 2018 - 30 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese entrepreneur donates US$5 million for blockchain research. Feng Han, co-founder of the blockchain company Elastos, has donated US$5 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish the university’s blockchain research wing. The “Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) Blockchain Pillar and Activities Fund” will foster the development of a diverse range of blockchain projects, connecting emerging talent with thought leaders in the industry. “I am excited to facilitate the development of blockchain ecosystems through partnerships with organizations and universities, similar to MIT,” said Feng. “Leaders throughout the blockchain landscape should seize opportunities to support research and development of the industry, to ensure it matures in a regulatory compliant, transparent, and responsible manner. This is not the last incubator that I hope to establish to shape the parameters of a healthy blockchain ecosystem.”

Singaporean university receives SG$9 million (approximately US$6.5 million) to attract top young Swedish scientists. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the largest private financier of research in Sweden, is making a SG$9 million cash donation to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to establish a new postdoctoral fellowship program to support up to 40 fellows over the next six years. Through the fellowship, some of Sweden’s most outstanding young scientists will spend two years at the Singaporean university to conduct postdoctoral research. “We are deeply grateful to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, whose new generous gift comes after their SG$12.6 million donation to NTU just three months ago. The Wallenberg family is known for their passion for cutting-edge research and technologies, and NTU is privileged to be one of only three international universities to benefit from the Wallenberg Foundation’s recognition and support,” said Professor Subra Suresh, president of NTU.

THE THINKERS

China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) hosts the Global Social Finance Forum (GSFF) in Shenzhen. On September 21, 2018, the CGPI hosted the second GSFF in Shenzhen, China, under the guidance of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Futian District People’s Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and China International Center for Economic & Technical Exchange (CICETE). The theme of this year’s GSFF was “Social Investing as a Force for Good, and leaders in social finance and impact investing were invited as guests and participants.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong charity diverts annual mooncake waste. The Chinese tradition of exchanging boxes of mooncakes with friends and family during the Mid-Autumn Festival is now a staggering US$2 billion international industry. However, most are leftovers from manufacturers who overproduced in an attempt to cash in on the tradition. More than two million mooncakes, valued at least US$12.8 million, will be thrown out in Hong Kong alone after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Food Grace, a local charity, collected the leftovers this holiday season to redistribute them to low-income families and individuals. Convincing individuals, however, to donate their mooncakes is still taking time to catch on, according to Conrad Tsang, a project officer at the charity. “We have to educate and encourage them [to donate] and that [even if] you are not sending a mooncake as a gift, [it] does not harm your relationship with your partners or with your employees,” said Casey Ng, founder of Food Grace.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies’ CSR spending to depend only on previous year’s profit. India’s 2013 CSR law mandates that companies must spend 2% of their three-year average annual net profit towards a social cause. The amended law that came into effect on September 19 of this year states that companies will have to consider only their previous year’s net profit. A recent study of 1,186 eligible and listed companies by CRISIL, a credit rating agency, showed that over the past two financial years the amount spent on CSR surged at a compound annual growth rate of 14%, despite a lukewarm 5% growth in net profit.

Samsung extends helping hand during major national holiday. During Chuseok, one of Korea’s largest holidays, Samsung employees carried out various volunteer activities to provide assistance to residents in need of help. Along with the Korean Red Cross, Samsung employees delivered groceries to senior citizens and other residents in need for three weeks. They visited 780 social welfare facilities, including a children’s center, senior’s welfare center, and support center for migrant workers.

THE INNOVATORS

Using online platforms to help Palu earthquake victims in Indonesia. On September 28, 2018, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, Donggala, and Mamuju in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, claiming 832 lives (as of yesterday) and injuring many others. The Jakarta Post has highlighted different ways that people can help through donations. Notably, Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding website, and Tokopedia, an e-commerce platform with various donation channels (such as Donasi Palu), were featured. Both platforms have been recognized by the publisher for their transparency and accountability.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Miss Nepal on a social mission. Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Miss Nepal 2018, is on a mission to contribute to society after her coronation in April. In an effort to address post-earthquake reconstruction, she is building health posts in rural villages and raising funds in London for this cause. As a former architecture student, she is exploring the concept of healing by architectural design. “This is just the beginning of my work in philanthropy and architecture. Eventually, I want to use my fame to build more of what Nepal needs, whether it is health posts in remote areas or schools and homes in disaster zones,” she said.

Japanese firms prepare for large-scale volunteering during 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has started its search for 80,000 volunteers on Wednesday. Major companies in Japan are encouraging employees to volunteer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Many are even sending employees in order to show their support. Brokerage giant Nomura Holdings Inc., for example, has picked 300 employees through an internal application process to volunteer for the 2020 Games.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Website duplicates Giving.sg campaigns; site admin apologizes, says it was a mistake. A website has been found falsely canvassing donations for various fundraising campaigns that were originally posted on the national giving portal Giving.sg, which is managed by the National Volunteering and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The campaigns’ webpages indicated that they had garnered Nepalese Rs. 17,290 (approximately US$147) in donations. The website, Giving Nepal, claims to have posted the design mock-ups online by mistake and that no funds were actually collected. The NVPC clarified that Giving.sg is still a safe and secure online platform that has not been affected by any security breach. It also said that none of its donors’ information has been leaked.

Singaporean watchdog body introduces transparency guide for charities. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) introduced a new Visibility Guide framework to help charitable organizations be in a better position to present their financial information, use of donations, and activities. The framework by the COC not only helps charities put out key information to its stakeholders in a simple manner, but it also guides donors on each charity’s causes and impact. The framework was introduced together with an annual report template for nonprofit organizations. To encourage more giving, trust is crucial, and to build trust, good governance is necessary, said the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who also launched the framework during the 2018 Charity Governance Conference.

Who’s Doing Good?

17 September 2018 - 23 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Baidu executive donates US$14.5 million to university. Ma Dongmin, an executive at Chinese internet giant Baidu, has donated 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) to the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC). The money will be used to support the university in several areas, including the development of the School of the Gifted Young. The class, the first of its kind in China, permits students to skip a few years of middle school and high school before entering university. Ma also added that she made the donation partly to congratulate the university on its 60th anniversary.

THE THINKERS

Bridgespan publishes a new study on “bold philanthropy” in India. The Bridgespan Group’s new report, “Bold Philanthropy in India: Insights from Eight Social Change Initiatives,” found India is experiencing a surge in philanthropic activity, with donors increasingly using their resources to take on some of the country’s biggest social challenges. “Many philanthropists in India are pivoting from checkbook giving—investing mostly in infrastructure projects, such as building schools or hospitals—to thinking strategically and ambitiously about how to drive social change. However, because there is so little information on their approaches to bold giving, other philanthropists with similar aims lack reference material to build on,” said Pritha Venkatachalam, a partner at Bridgespan and co-author of the report. To help fill these knowledge gaps, Bridgespan’s recently published report researches and showcases a wide array of philanthropic initiatives in India and identifies unique roles that bold philanthropy can play in improving people’s lives.

“Social business cities” could ease urban growing pains, says Nobel laureate. Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum in Hong Kong, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus argued cities around the world should tap ethical entrepreneurs to tackle various urban challenges from homelessness to unemployment. He also added that inviting social businesses, which aim to solve social problems while turning a profit, to invest in areas like health and housing could free up money for cash-strapped cities to spend on development.

THE NONPROFITS

China’s charities receive record donations in 2017. According to a report released by the China Charity Alliance at an event in Shenzhen, China, local charities received record donations in 2017, totaling nearly 150 billion yuan (US$22 billion). The amount represents a 7.68% year-on-year increase and a 385% increase compared with donations received a decade ago. The report also noted a 20% increase in donations from foreign-funded enterprises and companies in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

THE BUSINESSES

Macquarie Group launches AU$50 million (approximately US$36.3 million) philanthropic award to mark its 50th anniversary. On September 18, 2018, Macquarie Group announced the launch of its AU$50 million philanthropic award to initiate or build on bold ideas to address the social need. The Macquarie Group Foundation will select five nonprofit organizations for funding (AU$10 million each) over a five-year period to fund projects globally that will have a lasting community benefit. “Supporting the communities in which we live and work has been an important part of Macquarie’s activities since our inception in 1969,” said Macquarie Group CEO Nicholas Moore. “In that time, our people have devoted thousands of hours to work with nonprofit organizations around the world and contributed over AU$330 million to drive social change at the local community level. We are delighted to mark our 50th anniversary by extending this tradition with a further AU$50 million commitment to initiate or build on bold ideas which address areas of social need.”

THE INNOVATORS 

Yes Foundation shortlists social enterprises for three-year accelerator support. Yes Foundation, the social development arm of Yes Bank, has selected 23 social enterprises and nonprofits for the inaugural cohort of the “YES! I am the change (YIAC) Grant & Accelerator” program. The shortlisted enterprises were awarded a grant of Rs 7.5 crores, as well as three-year accelerator support. The accelerator supports social impact organizations working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with scalable solution models, helping them achieve higher efficiency and scale and thereby maximizing impact. “India is in a revolutionary phase with the nation’s youth driving social impact by developing innovative solutions to social challenges. Through YIAC, we are delighted to provide a platform to young changemakers and development sector organizations to accelerate and maximize their social impact,” said Prerana Langa, Yes Foundation’s CEO.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Post-typhoon, people in Hong Kong join hands for clean-up. Typhoon Mangkhut, which hit Hong Kong on September 16, 2018, left more than 300 people injured, buildings rocked, windows smashed, and more than 1,000 trees fallen. However, by Monday morning, people had joined hands to help with the clean-up. In the residential neighborhood of Tseung Kwan O, around 40 local volunteers set to work. In the district of To Kwa Wan, home to many low-income families, a group of around 25 ethnic minority residents, asylum seekers, and refugees helped cleaners with their overwhelming amount of work. In the seaside village of Shek O, a mix of local and expatriate residents, as well as volunteers, have been clearing roads, bagging up debris, and taking washed-up sand in baskets back to its popular beach.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

President urges to skip television networks and make donations through military and government. President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently visiting areas affected by Typhoon Ompong, cautioned donors from giving donations through prominent television stations. He urged them instead to course these through the military and the government. He claims he has seen first-hand how donations of clothes do not directly reach the intended beneficiaries. He also spoke against giving cash donations via networks. “I’m giving you my testimony. Personal… because I have a TV program, I saw old people at the office, they’re sorting out the things that were unusable or are usable for them,” he added.