Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Michael Bloomberg makes record US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, marking the largest contribution to a private educational institution in modern history. Michael Bloomberg’s donation has allowed his alma mater, one of the world’s leading private universities in the world, to adopt need-blind admissions forever. Bloomberg announced the donation through an opinion editorial for The New York Times in which he added that his own fortunate access to the university motivated him. As the son of a bookkeeper, it was only through a loan that he was able to afford the university’s elite education, Bloomberg wrote. For him, college education is a “great leveler” and providing an equality of opportunity to access it may be the best form of private social investment today.

Hyosung chairman Cho Hyun-joon supports rehabilitation program for families with disabled children. Hyosung executives and employees took a trip with the families of disabled children as part of a rehabilitation program in partnership with the Purme Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to support the independence and rehabilitation of disabled individuals. The effort follows six years of continued support by Cho for the rehabilitation of disabled children. By coming together as part of the initiative, families who otherwise find it hard to enjoy such trips were able to spend quality time outside their homes.

THE THINKERS

Asia inches closer to realizing its potential as wealthy investors actively pursue philanthropy. Asian High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) have hesitated to engage in philanthropy in the past due to a lack of clear regulations and lack of trust from scandals involving charities. This hesitation represents an enormous missed opportunity: Asian philanthropists are capable of giving eleven times more than the US$45.5 billion they give right now. However, recent cases of high-profile CEOs retiring to pursue philanthropy full-time provides hope. Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing are inspiring their peers in the region and could help Asia realize its true philanthropic potential.

Michael Bloomberg’s record-breaking donation does little for students most at risk, argues author. In the wake of Bloomberg’s recent US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, Helaine Olen argues that the money could have been spent better. The recipient university admits only 10% of its undergraduate applicants, and only a tiny fraction are first-generation or minority students. Olen suggests Baruch College, a public institution, as a direct contrast that provides education to a significant number of low-income and minority students. However, recent budget cuts and declining official support for Baruch College have contributed to declining standards and infrastructure. Olen concludes that Bloomberg’s donation is situated within the trend of “top-heavy” philanthropy, whereby the giver’s own interests are the chief driver of such mega-donations.

Doing Good Index 2020 will ascertain effectiveness of Myanmar’s attempts to catalyze philanthropy. The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business has partnered with CAPS to study the country’s philanthropic ecosystem. Data collected from social delivery organizations and relevant experts will determine whether policy instruments have assisted in increasing philanthropic activity or streamlined processes for social delivery organizations. The study’s pan-Asian approach will allow Myanmar’s performance to be compared to that of its Asian peers, creating invaluable insights for stakeholders such as policymakers. Myanmar was found to be not doing enough to encourage philanthropy and charity in the index’s first iteration in 2018.

THE NONPROFITS

Tata Trusts and Tata Football Academy partner with Atlético Madrid to develop football in India. The Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organization, has partnered with the Spanish football giant to further its extensive youth development portfolio. The partnership will provide expert coaching to budding footballers and training on all aspects of football such as video analysis and strength training. Talented players will also partake in a residential program in Madrid, Spain. The Tata Trusts has been an active contributor to the global sport in India, managing over 80 training centers, producing 24 members who served as national team captains across different age groups, and boasting a winning record in various tournaments in the country.

THE BUSINESSES

India’s “solar gal pals” bring clean, renewable energy to rural homes and fight patriarchy. Indian social enterprise Frontier Markets is on a mission to promote the use of clean energy products. The social enterprise does so by placing women at the center, helping them receive training and serve as entrepreneurs who persuade families in remote villages to adopt solar energy. One of such “Solar Sahelis” (or “friends of solar power”), Bassi from Rajasthan is profiled in the story. Through her work with Frontier Markets, Bassi sells rugged solar torches to families, earning up to US$28 per month. This income has helped women such as Bassi to command greater share in household decisions amid a deeply patriarchal social fabric. To date, “Solar Sahelis” have earned more than US$2.5 million and reached over 500,000 homes.

THE INNOVATORS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with Japan Sports Agency to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The initiative named “Our Global Goals” will involve using the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a platform for raising awareness of the 17 SDGs listed by the United Nations. These goals cover areas such as education, climate change, poverty, economic development, and clean water. Speaking at a press conference, Bill Gates, co-chair, and trustee stated that the global love for sports can be channeled to develop interest in the challenges faced by the world. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are expected to attract over 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Support campaign for wartime sex victims led by fans of K-Pop band goes viral. Fans of the globally popular group, BTS, donated generously to help elderly Korean women who had been forced to serve as “comfort women” in World War II. Responding to a controversy involving a shirt worn by member Jimin, fans began channeling small individual donations to the House of Sharing, a shelter for wartime sexual slavery victims in Korea. The organic campaign spread largely over social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram and has led to donations totaling US$3,300 and counting in just a single weekend. The House of Sharing provides individual rooms to former “comfort women,” as well as three meals through the facility’s own restaurant. Ahn Shin-kwon, head of the shelter, said their organization was overwhelmed by the flurry of incoming donations.

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?

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?

8 October 2018 - 14 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Taiwan’s philanthropic vegetable seller donates millions for rural healthcare. Chen Shu-chu, who sold vegetables in eastern Taiwan’s Taitung for more than half a century, donated two insurance policies worth a total of NT$16 million (US$516,500) to local hospitals to foster the provision of rural healthcare services. The donation will be mainly used to treat cancer patients and provide the poor with proper medical care. Chen designated Taitung MacKay Memorial Hospital and Taitung Christian Hospital as the beneficiaries of the policies, which are currently worth NT$7.7 million and NT$8.3 million, respectively.

Hong Kong movie star announces plans to donate most of his net worth for charity. Chow Yun-fat, one of the biggest movie stars in Hong Kong and best known for his performances in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Bulletproof, Monk, and Anna and the King, recently revealed that he plans to leave the bulk of his fortune for charitable giving. His net worth is estimated to be HK$5.6 billion (US$714 million). No specific details and information was provided in regards to his planned philanthropy.

President’s Star Charity 2018 raises a record amount of funding from the general public. This year’s President’s Star Charity raised a record total of SG$8.3 million (approximately US$6 million), the highest amount raised for the annual event. All proceeds will go to the 59 charities under the President’s Challenge 2018. The event featured performances from various individual artists and groups. Donations will continue to be collected until the end of October.

THE THINKERS

Global Impact and KPMG release a new report on tax and fiduciary requirements for philanthropic giving. Global Impact and KPMG have released a new report, titled “2018 Giving Global Matrix: Tax, Fiduciary and Philanthropic Requirements,” which provides a snapshot of the complex and varied tax laws that incentivize or disincentivize philanthropic giving in 60 countries across North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The first edition was produced by the two organizations in 2015, with the recent report expanding its coverage to 60 countries from 40 and broadening the scope of research from four to ten questions. “In today’s global environment, this updated report provides timely information to nonprofit and private sector entities who want to understand the different approaches to philanthropy that geographic regions and countries are taking, and be able to plan their engagement more strategically,” said Anita Whitehead, tax principal at KPMG.

How governments can “turbo-charge” impact investing. In this article, the author shares three ways that governments and politicians can bolster the impact investing sector. The article particularly highlights three roles that governments can play: as a market facilitator, as a market participant, and as a market regulator. As a facilitator, governments would help build the capacity of social enterprises and impact investors. As a participant, governments would actively collaborate with investors via, for example, social outcomes contracts. As a regulator, governments would step in to help define the overall sector and create relevant legal and fiduciary infrastructure for social enterprises and impact investors.

THE NONPROFITS

Indian nonprofit wins the 2018 Positive Energy Prize under the Lui Che Woo Prize. Pratham Education Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in India, has won the 2018 Positive Energy Prize for its contributions to helping eliminate illiteracy. With a focus on high-quality, low-cost interventions, Pratham addresses gaps in the education system through innovative models and result-driven methods, changing the education landscape across 23 states and union territories in India.

THE BUSINESSES

Hong Kong-listed companies donated US$2.1 billion to charity in 2017, an increase of 28% from the previous year. According to the Sodata Analytics Foundation Association, a nonprofit group that tracks corporate philanthropy, companies listed in Hong Kong made record charitable donations last year to narrow the gap with their American counterparts. Led by property developers and financial institutions, 959 out of 1,826 main-board companies donated HK$16.3 billion (US$2.1 billion) in 2017. China Evergrande the list with a total donation amount of HK$5 billion. On the other hand, 47% of these list companies did not a single donation last year.

Nexon Foundation committed to promoting creative play culture. The Nexon Foundation, Korean gaming developer Nexon’s corporate foundation, announced that it has forged a partnership with two nonprofit organizations in the United States to promote creative play and the education of talent in convergence fields. The two partners are the Imagination Foundation and Two Bit Circus Foundation, both of which focus on the promotion of creativity.

SM Investments Corporation takes an active private sector role in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. SM Investments Corporation, a major conglomerate in the Philippines, is taking an active role in the private sector’s involvement in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair, said that the agenda of businesses are closely linked with sustainability and all are faced with greater unpredictability due to the devastating effects of climate change and the widening gap in social and economic opportunities in the world. A part of SM’s commitment to sustainability includes allocating 10% of its capital expenditures to incorporate disaster-resilient features in the design and construction of its property developments.

Maybank Foundation committed to helping disadvantaged communities become financially independent. Maybank Foundation, Malaysian financial services firm Maybank Group’s independent corporate foundation, is working to help disadvantaged communities become financially independent. For example, the Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (RISE) program is an economic empowerment program designed to support disadvantaged communities, particularly people with disabilities, to increase their income and help them become financially independent. Its 2014 pilot project saw the average income of 40% of the initial 280 participants increase by 411.7%. The program has since then expanded into Indonesia, the Philippines, and Laos.

THE INNOVATORS

Global impact investor launches its first two India funds. Social Finance, a global impact investment firm, has launched its first two India funds that will each raise US$1 billion. Social Finance said in a statement that the first fund will be called the “India Impact Fund.” In partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Finance group, it will raise US$1 billion to target equity funding for small lenders in priority sectors, namely agriculture, education, housing, and so forth. The second fund named the “India Education Outcomes Fund,” will, as its name suggests, focus solely on education. It aims to improve learning outcomes by technology-aided interventions in subjects such as mathematics and to improve education complete rate among girls.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers bring laughter to Indonesian children. Volunteers across Palu, Indonesia, are cheering children up with songs and games as a way of offering a distraction from the earthquake that struck the area. Erna, a volunteer, drove three hours with her friends and dressed up as popular cartoon characters to bring smiles on the children’s faces. Aid workers on the ground said that many children were shocked and distressed by the scale of the disaster. Many were orphaned or separated from their families in the terrifying aftermath as buildings crumbled and a tsunami crashed over the city.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Couple barred from raising funds for charities. Jailed for duping donors into parting with almost SG$10,000 (approximately US$7,200) for the Bedok Youth Society for the Disabled, a Singaporean couple was barred from conducting any fundraising appeals for charitable purposes. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) issued a prohibition order under the Charities Act against Noryana Mohamed Salleh and her boyfriend Rajzaed Sedik, who were both former employees of the voluntary welfare organization. The COC said, “Both individuals are not fit and proper persons to conduct fundraising appeals for charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purposes.”

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?

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

University in Hong Kong gets HK$100 million in donations for a smart city and sustainable energy research. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been given a generous donation of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) from Otto Poon, a graduate of the university and chairman of ATAL Engineering Group, for a smart city and sustainable energy research. The gift was made under the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation and represents the largest personal donation to the university in the past decade. The funds will be used for the establishment of two research institutes and two professorships.

Jeff Bezos creates new philanthropy: the Bezos Day One Fund. Via Twitter, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shared a statement announcing the creation of his new charitable organization: the Bezos Day One Fund. Through the fund, Bezos will initially invest US$2 billion of his US$150 billion into existing homelessness charities and in the development of early childhood education centers.

THE THINKERS

Conglomerate research firm finds Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed social contributions by 14.5% in two years. Following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed their charitable donations by 14.5% in the past two years. Total contributions made by the likes of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, and Lotte stood at a little over ₩838.1 billion (approximately US$743.1 million) in 2017, down ₩124.9 billion (approximately US$110.7 million) or a drop of 13% from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent a total of ₩980.2 billion (approximately US$868.76 million) on donations. “Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble,” said the local tracker of large conglomerates.

THE NONPROFITS

More social service organizations in Singapore go cashless for fundraising. In line with an increasing societal trend to rely on cashless forms of payment, individuals can now donate to charities with a few taps on their mobile phones, and Singaporean charities are tapping into this new fundraising opportunity. Since May 2018, 73 organizations have been actively using cashless payment technologies, according to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). NCSS’ deputy CEO, De. Fermin Diez, said, “With more Singaporeans carrying less cash, social service organizations need to be more innovative about raising funds through contactless donation technology. Otherwise, they could face a decline in donations if only cash was accepted.” Diez also added that the benefits of cashless fundraising are reduced administration costs, better governance, tighter security, and improved donation tracking.

THE BUSINESSES

BloombergQuint identifies India’s most and least philanthropic large companies. According to BloombergQuint, about a fifth of Nifty 50 companies failed to spend the minimum required on CSR for the fourth straight year. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. was the most generous in the 2017-2018 financial year, spending nearly 10% of its average three-year net profit on CSR. Following Vedanta Ltd. were UPL Ltd. and state-owned Coal India Ltd. Notably, Dilip Shanghvi-controlled Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. were the only two Nifty 50 companies that contributed towards CSR despite reporting losses.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs awards Infinitus the China Charity Award. The China Charity Award is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy in China from a government authority. Infinitus was recently honored with this award for its continuing contributions to society and its longstanding commitment to CSR. In 2016, Infinitus kicked off a volunteer project and set up the Infinitus Volunteers Association. To date, the association has had more than 6,000 individual volunteers, organized 230 volunteering events, and accumulated more than 27,000 hours of volunteer work.

THE INNOVATORS

Chinese government to use blockchain technology for tracking charitable donations by 2019. In order to increase transparency of public donations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in charge of social services and the broader social sector, is planning to adopt blockchain technology for an upgrade of its current charity tracking system. The plan dictates that the existing government charity databases will be integrated into the new blockchain network. In this way, data on charitable donations made through a variety of services will become visible to the public faster using a distributed network.

Philanthropic foundations launch US$11 million impact bonds to improve education in India. The largest development impact bond (DIB) has been launched by the UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The bond promises to improve the educational outcome of 300,000 students in Delhi and Gujarat. A DIB is not a money market instrument. Risk investors put money to roll out a program in order to address a cause. They earn a return if the program is successful. “This landmark financial instrument applies an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy… If the potential of this type of funding is unleashed, it could improve the lives of generations to come,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. 

THE VOLUNTEERS

Divers volunteer as “gardeners” to restore dying corals in Thailand. It is widely known that coral reefs are in danger due to climate change. A group of divers is trying to tackle this environmental problem in Koh Ha, Thailand. Inspired by reforestation techniques employed in tropical forests, conservationist Anuar Abdullah began research into how those same methods might be applied to coral reefs, which are often referred to as “underwater rainforests.” Eventually, the solution of coral gardening was devised, growing corals in nurseries and then replanting them on reefs. Anuar also founded Ocean Quest, a conservation organization that organizes courses at dive schools and resorts in Southeast Asia. To date, the organization has certified more than 800 trainers and 1,000 coral gardeners.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

In response to potential cases of fraud, Singaporean crowdfunding website offers “donation back guarantee.” The Raye of Hope Initiative, a crowdfunding website based in Singapore, recently announced it would start the “donation back guarantee” in cases of fraudulent fundraising projects. The move came after the Commissioner of Charities launched a campaign last Friday to get donors to do more checks before giving. The website has had more than 170 fundraising projects. “We need to give donors the confidence that they are giving to people who genuinely need help and depend on crowdfunding to tide them over a difficult period,” said Tan En, director of the crowdfunding website.

Japan to reform “hometown tax donation” program to address excessive competition among local governments to provide expensive gift incentives. The furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system was originally introduced in 2008 to ease the disparity in tax revenue between urban and rural areas by incentivizing individual giving to local governments. The government said Tuesday it will reform this system in order to curb extravagant gift incentives from local governments, as the system has led to fierce competition among local governments to lure donations with expensive gifts that are excessive in price and that are oftentimes not locally produced. As such, the government is specifically considering to limit gifts to those produced locally and keep their value below 30% of donations.

Giving Back to the Future

Scholarships for Higher Education

Our study finds that scholarships for higher education are highly impactful, at the individual, community, and country levels.

For an individual, receiving a scholarship makes attending university possible. It means greater earning power, greater confidence and motivation, and a greater desire to influence other lives through leadership.

At the community level, we observe that most scholarship recipients want to give back and do so by volunteering. They want to change society for the better by pursuing careers in education, the government, and the social sector.

The aggregate effect for the country is human capital development, which drives economic growth. Scholarships also help offset increasing tuition costs across Asia and mitigate income inequality by making it possible for low-income students to attend university.

A single scholarship enhances 26 lives on average, including the scholar, her family, the students she mentors and leads, and the community members she volunteers for.

We also present a toolkit for enhancing the effectiveness of scholarship programs. The toolkit showcases both the “why” and “how” of setting clear goals, improving communication and engagement with scholars, and enhancing their employability and career success. These strategies can magnify the impact of scholarships for students, donors, and governments.