Who’s Doing Good?

12 March 2018 - 18 March 2018


Hong Kong alumnus makes largest ever individual donation to Canadian university for health research. Edwin Leong, an alumnus of the University of British Columbia and a hotel and commercial property developer in Hong Kong, has donated C$24 million (some US$18.5 million) to fund research for healthy aging. Leong is currently chairman of Tai Hung Fai Enterprise, and the donation was made via his Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation.

Indian businessman and wife sell shares to fund the initial corpus of a charitable foundation. Krishnakumar Natarajan, chairman of the mid-tier information technology services firm Mindtree, and his wife Akila Krishnakumar sold shares worth over Rs32 crore (approximately US$5 million) to create the initial corpus for MELA foundation.

Major Hong Kong billionaire retires and plans to focus on philanthropy. Li Ka-shing, billionaire and now former chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, announced his retirement from his businesses and handed over the conglomerate to his elder son, Victor Li. According to the article, Li will dedicate his time and effort towards philanthropic and charitable work, especially on issues related to healthcare and education.

Jackie Chan donates personal heritage collection. Jackie Chan, world-famous kungfu movie star, has donated historical buildings and antiques from his personal collection in China. He made this announcement as a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at an annual session of China’s top advisory body in Beijing.


“Five years on, mandated philanthropy not delivering in India.” In this article, Amit Kapoor, chair of the Institute for Competitiveness, argues that mandatory CSR in India is not working and proposes solutions. The author points out how of the 5,097 companies that filed annual reports until the end of 2016, only 3,118 had done some CSR expenditure. What is worse, most of the CSR investments were made to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, and for the 2014-2015 financial year, only 74% of the prescribed CSR expenditure was spent by companies. All in all, due to a lack of strategic thinking for CSR, contributions to the country’s socioeconomic development are minimal at best. The author suggests a different way of thinking for CSR by particularly proposing ways to identify key issue areas relevant to businesses.


Singaporean charity raised SG$5 million (approximately US$3.8 million) last year from two initiatives. The Singapore Children’s Society, a charitable organization that helps kids in need, successfully raised SG$5 million last year from two major fundraising initiatives. First, “1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need,” a CSR initiative that encourages firms to adopt the organization as their official charity beneficiary, raised SG$2.51 million. Second, “1000 Philanthropists,” which asks individuals to contribute SG$1,000 a year, raised SG$2.51 million.


Grab donates 200 reflective vests to Cebu City security volunteers. Grab Philippines donated over some 200 reflective vests for security volunteers under the Cebu City’s peace and order program. According to the company’s representative, the donation is part of its effort to help local government units with their security and transportation needs.


Korean social enterprises and nonprofits help make the arts accessible to all. The article highlights a growing number of small businesses and organizations in Korea that provide services in travel and content creation for the disabled. Special Arts, an art management company, represents and features a group of ten artists with intellectual impairments, while Peach Market, a nonprofit, offers tailored cultural content and activities to the intellectually impaired.


Foreign doctors perform charity surgeries in the Philippines. Known as “Operation Restore Hope,” a group of anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons, dentists, and nurses from Germany, New Zealand, and Australia provided free surgeries for 68 patients, mostly children, born with cleft lip and palate. This initiative was done in partnership with the Alay sa Kinabukasan ng Kapwa Pilipino Foundation.


Pakistan’s counter-terrorism agency to target suspicious charities. Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) signed an agreement with the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP). As part of the agreement, organizations that comply with the PCP will be accepted to be placed on the NACTA’s whitelist of legally compliant entities. A NACTA official said the move would promote genuine charity and humanitarian assistance organizations in Pakistan and discourage public donations to dubious unregistered entities or individuals.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 March 2018 - 11 March 2018


Major Indian philanthropist increases his commitment to philanthropic initiatives. Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro, merged his investment arm PremjiInvest with Azim Premji Trust, the holding entity for the endowment trusts that he set up as far back as 2001. With this merger, the corpus of funds has gone up to approximately US$12 billion (about Rs78,000 crore), more than 63% of Premji’s net worth.

Peking University appoints Hong Kong philanthropist as an Honorary Trustee. Dr. Lui Che-woo, Chairman of K. Wah Group, has been appointed by Peking University as an Honorary Trustee in recognition of his contributions to the university. Last year, Lui donated 120 million yuan (approximately US$19 million) to Peking University’s School of Life Sciences for supporting the construction of a new research building and the development of the School of Life Sciences. On top of his contributions to Peking University, Lui has been supporting various universities and educational institutions in Hong Kong, China, and North America.

Yu Holdings establishes endowment for curator in charge of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wendy Yu, Founder and CEO of Yu Holdings, has set up an endowment for the Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Andrew Bolton will assume the title of Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. Yu Fashion, under Yu Holdings, will roll out a program of initiatives with The Costume Institute in China, including a series of Bolton-led educational talks and aligning the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Chinese art and fashion communities.

Korean start-up magnate donates ₩5 billion (approximately US$4.7 million) to the Community Chest of Korea and becomes the biggest ever donor to the charity. Kim Bong-jin, the head of Woowa Brothers, a start-up that operates a widely used mobile application for food delivery, donated to the Community Chest of Korea for providing scholarships and support programs for students in need. With this donation, Kim became the biggest ever individual donor to the Community Chest of Korea.

Hong Kong High Court rules late tycoon’s entire estate can go to charity. The High Court validated the will of late billionaire philanthropist Yu Pang-lin giving his entire estate worth an estimated HK$10 billion (US$1.28 billion) to charity. Yu’s grandson Pang Chi-ping, the sole trustee of the Yu Pang-lin Charitable Trust, had asked the court in 2015 to override opposing claims raised by two other family members. The two later declared they would not challenge the will. Yu died three years ago and had said he would donate his earthly possessions to help those in need. Yu was the chairman of Foo Tak Development Company, president of Yu’s Charitable Foundation, and chairman of Shenzhen Panglin Hotel.

Melinda Gates announces a US$170 million plan to empower women. Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the foundation’s plan to spend US$170 million over the next four years to help women exercise their economic power. “With a new focus on women’s economic empowerment, connecting women to markets, making sure they have access to financial services, and empowering them to help themselves, we aim to help tear down the barriers that keep half the world from leading a full life,” Gates wrote for Quartz.


Singaporean ministry plans to provide the elderly and working adults with “visibility guide” to create a safer environment for giving. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will launch a new campaign in phases from June this year to provide visibility guides to the elderly and working adult donors. For example, hard-copy brochures of summarized relevant information about giving and organizations will be given to the elderly, while social media will be used as an information-sharing platform for working adults.


GiveIndia is striving to spread a culture of giving among Indians. GiveIndia, a nonprofit founded in 2000, is one of the oldest and largest giving platforms in India. Since its inception, it has brought over Rs300 crore (approximately US$46 million) in contributions to over 200 nonprofits across the country. To target a new generation of online Indian consumers, GiveIndia 2.0, an easy-to-use online giving platform where donors can choose from various monthly subscription-based giving options, was founded. So far, the new online platform has contributed more than Rs100 crore (approximately US$15.3 million).


Ford and Honda projects get top automotive CSR awards in the Philippines. The Driven To Serve Awards, an annual project of the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists, recognizes CSR projects in the automotive industry, which have made the most impact on communities through four categories: road safety, community development, environment, and education and training. The highest Platinum awards this year were given to Ford and Honda. Other companies that were recognized include Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Bermaz Auto.


Charity groups in Singapore may soon be able to use a mobile application for a volunteer. Telling Parliament about tapping technology to promote volunteerism, Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said, “We will study how to harness the power of technology for social good and provide a one-stop avenue… where Singaporeans, especially those with the desire to help but do not know where or how to start, can easily find volunteering opportunities.” Specific details and plans have not been announced.


Indian volunteer wins Commonwealth Points of Light award. Srishti Bakshi, founder of the CrossBow Miles movement, was recognized as the 26th Commonwealth Point of Light for her exceptional service to empowering women in India. She is leading a team of hundreds of female volunteers on a 3,800 km walk through India across 260 days. During the walk, Srishti also leads workshops for women in rural communities on digital and financial literacy, leadership, and health.


Scandal involving Japanese Prime Minister gathers momentum. A scandal over a controversial sale of public land to Moritomo Gakuen, an educational foundation alleged to have connections with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, is gathering momentum. After the Asahi Shimbun reported last week that finance ministry documents relating to the sale were altered before being submitted to lawmakers for inspection, Nobuhisa Sagawa, who oversaw a division in the Finance Ministry involved in negotiating the land sale, resigned from his current role as head of the National Tax Agency. The newly resurfaced scandal may have impact on the looming re-election fight for Abe and the future of his current cabinet.

Who’s Doing Good?

26 February 2018 - 4 March 2018


President and First Lady of Korea donates to Winter Olympics figure-skating pair. President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook each donated US$500 to a crowdfunding campaign for figure-skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin, who shared stories of how they worked part-time to cover training expenses due to lack of private and public funding. With the news of this donation from the President and the First Lady, the campaign was able to receive widespread public spotlight and has raised over US$100,000 so far.

Korean gaming company launches charitable foundation. Nexon, a major gaming publisher in Korea, launched the Nexon Foundation, donating ₩5 billion (US$4.7 million) from the company’s funds. The foundation will lead the company’s CSR efforts and initiatives, including the construction of a children’s rehabilitation hospital. Kim Jung-wook, vice president of the company, will serve as the Chairman of the foundation. The foundation will also push for projects outside of Korea under a separate entity, Soho Impact.


UNDP says Indonesians have the potential to donate US$16 billion through zakat to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP Indonesia has launched the Innovative Financing Lab, a Country Support Platform that aims to contribute to the SDGs by harnessing the country’s potential for religious giving and private investment. According to UNDP Indonesia, 79% of Indonesians donated money in the past month, and if every eligible Muslim pays US$74 annualy, the country could generate US$16 billion. UNDP Indonesia will also partner with BAZNAS, the state zakat collection agency, marking the first time a zakat organization committing to the SDGs.

Manish Dubey explains “why middle-class India hates NGOs.” In his opinion editorial, Dubey argues that middle-class Indians hate NGOs primarily due to their advocacy-oriented activities against the government’s development agenda and due to raising their issues of concern in the international arena. These two behaviors, according to Dubey, portray NGOs as “anti-development” and “treasonous.” “At the heart of middle class Indians’ contempt for NGOs lies the fear that NGO action may at some point in time achieve the re-setting of power balances and the re-ordering of development priorities it aspires to.”

In collaboration with Dasra, Bain & Company releases its eighth annual India Philanthropy Report. Through case studies and in-depth interviews with more than 33 philanthropists, Bain & Company identified four key mindsets that will help philanthropists achieve their full potential. Most notably, the management consultancy has recommended that philanthropists adopt a “future back” lens in planning their philanthropic journeys. That is, they should begin with a greater, long-term vision and work backwards to identify key steps necessary to execute the vision.

Two Singaporean Members of Parliament (MPs) propose to allow people to donate their government-granted one-off hongbao (red envelop of monetary gift). In this year’s government budget, Singapore announced it will grant a one-off hongbao of between SG$100 (approximately US$75) and SG$300 (approximately US$227). Two MPs, Denise Phua and Lim Wee Kiak, proposed that the government allow Singaporeans to choose if they want to donate this money to charity, arguing that their proposal is in line with one of the focuses of this year’s budget in fostering a spirit of giving. Lim added that the government should also provide dollar-for-dollar matching to incentivize this proposed hongbao giving.


Hong Kong organization highlights the concerning issue of homeless people who spend their nights in McDonald’s. According to a study by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), the number of homeless people who spend their nights in McDonald’s, often known as McSleepers or McRefugees, has increased by 50% in three years. SoCO has also highlighted the issue of vulnerability of women within this group of people, finding that 11.2% of the people surveyed in its study were women. SoCO has called on the government to provide more subsidized dormitories for women and in the long run, to turn vacant public spaces into social housing.


Korean pharmaceutical company aligns sales performance and strategy with social contribution. Under the “Action Contribution Campaign,” Dong-A ST will set aside a donation fund whose amount will depend on the number of client visits made by the company’s in-house sales representatives. The campaign will last until October 2018, and the company plans to donate the funds to a charity organization on December 1, 2018, the anniversary of the Dong-A Socio Group.

Small market research firm overcomes size with pro bono work in giving back to the community. Toluna’s Singapore office was not stopped by its lean team of 15 staffers in doing good. Unable to schedule manpower to take time off for consistent volunteering, Toluna as a firm decided to instead provide pro bono use of its expertise and services. Experienced in digital analytics, Toluna has worked in collaboration with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre to provide quality data analysis helpful for encouraging people to start giving back to society. With upcoming expansion in the region, Toluna is looking forward to being involved in hands-on volunteering projects as well.

Korean retail conglomerate donates ₩240 million (US$222,000) as reward money to national curling team. Shinsegae announced its decision to give funding in rewards to the country’s national curling team. The prize money will be given to 21 members of the national team, including 12 athletes and the coaching staff. Shinsegae’s involvement in the curling sport in Korea dates back to its first sponsorship agreement with the Korea Curling Federation in 2012.


Code for Nepal comes up with Merobook, an online platform for book donation. Lack of access to basic educational resources such as textbooks is a major challenge facing students in Nepal, particularly those in remote areas. Even government-owned publishing organizations are not able to deliver the books on time. Code for Nepal has come up with an alternative solution, an online book donation platform where students in need can communicate with book donors to find their own ways to receive the necessary materials.


Filipino volunteers help with Greenpeace “Rainbow Warrior” ship’s journey around the country. “Rainbow Warrior,” Greenpeace’s iconic environmental awareness campaign ship, arrived in Manila last month for a 20-day tour around the country to promote climate justice. The article highlights several volunteers from different walks of life across the country who have come on board to support the cause of climate justice.


Chinese ministry identifies suspicious NGOs. Since the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has identified about 250 suspicious NGOs in the country. A staff member said that the list of names was released to alert the public about potential fraud. Oftentimes, the names of these NGOs would contain “China,” “national,” “global,” or “UN,” all of which suggest government endorsement, affiliation, and support. According to the ministry, more than 300 fakes and illegal organizations have been banned in the last three months.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 February 2018 - 25 February 2018

This weekly brief is a one-stop shop for selectively curated news on “doing good.” From mega-donations and CSR to nonprofits and social enterprises, “Who’s Doing Good?” keeps you up-to-date with the ever-bustling market of philanthropy and charity in Asia.


Lead singer of Thai rock band helps raise money for public hospitals. Athiwara “Toon” Khongmalai, the lead vocalist of Bodyslam, ran 2,000 kilometers across Thailand to raise money for public hospitals in the country. On February 25, 2018, Toon handed a check for a THB1.37 billion (approximately US$43.73 million) donation to 11 public hospitals, nearly doubling his initial goal of THB700 million.

Indian businessman announces Rs 200 crore (approximately US$30.1 million) donation for cancer hospital. With his wife Amrita Tata, Vijay Tata, a real estate entrepreneur in Bangalore, India, announced his donation of Rs 200 crore to his family’s self-funded NGO “New India” to build a “cashless cancer care super-specialty hospital” for the underprivileged. The announcement was made to celebrate their daughter’s birthday in a memorable way. Half of the donation will be 50 acres of land, while half will be in payment for the building and equipment. According to the businessman, those in need will also be able to enjoy the benefits of the hospital free of cost if they convince the hospital’s assessment panel that they were running short of money.

Singaporean investor donates SG$3 million (approximately US$2.3 million) to the Singapore American School. Lim Kaling, Singaporean business magnate and investor most known for his investment in Razer Inc., donated SG$3 million to the Singapore American School to help establish a fully personalized curriculum in the school’s coursework.


Dasra Philanthropy Week 2018 hosts thinkers and presents publications. Dasra Philanthropy Week 2018 was held from February 20 to 24 in New Delhi and Mumbai, India, hosting speakers from various sectors and organizations and publishing a suite of knowledge products. For example, in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Dasra launched a white paper titled “Collaborative Force: Empowering 10 to 19,” which highlights the significance of the collaborative approach to tackling problems surrouding India’s adolescents.


Local NGOs create online test to educate Japanese teen girls about sexual violence. Shiawase Namida (“Happy Tears” in English), a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization that supports sex crime victims, and the Life and Birth Studies Association co-developed the SHE Kentei (“Sexual Health Education Test” in English), a 10-question web-based quiz that will help educate teenagers how to avoid falling prey to sexual crimes and violence. The test can be accessed via she.shiawasenamida.org.


Starbucks Korea supports restoration of Korean Empire heritage in the United States. Starbucks Korea has donated ₩100 million (US$92,217) in preservation funds for the Korean Empire legation headquarters in the United States. In the previous year, the company had already donated ₩200 million for the same purpose in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of Emperor Gojong’s proclamation of the Korean Empire in the early 20th century. The company also unveiled a limited-edition tumbler with pokerwork describing the legation building in the United States.


Indian billionaire brothers launch artificial intelligence research institute to solve global development challenges. Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani (founder, chairman, and CEO of Symphony Technology Group; and Managing Partner at SWAT Capital, respectively) announced the establishment of a US$30 million nonprofit research institute in Mumbai that will study ways to use artificial intelligence to tackle development-related issues such as healthcare, education, and agriculture. The institute will be led by Dr. P. Anandan, a researcher in computer vision and artificial intelligence and founder of Microsoft Research India.


In Singapore, more young volunteers come to help senior citizens with groceries. NTUC FairPrice is a supermarket chain based in Singapore, and its corporate volunteer programme is expected to be joined by more than 100 young volunteers from the Youth Corps Singapore. The volunteers will help senior citizens with shopping for and carrying groceries and educating them on making healthier food choices. The company also announced its donation of SG$200,000 (approximately US$150,000) via its charity arm, FairPrice Foundation, to Ren Ci Hospital and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society.


UNICEF’s deputy executive director resigns after complaints of inappropriate conduct. Following complaints of inappropriate texts and comments on what young female staff were wearing during his time at Save the Children, UNICEF’s number two Justin Forsyth resigned from his position at UNICEF. Forsyth made clear that he was not resigning because of his past mistakes at Save the Children which he claim were properly dealt with back then, but because of the danger of damaging both UNICEF and Save the Children.

23 Red Cross staff resigned or were dismissed since 2015 due to sexual misconduct. Amidst a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct within the aid industry, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said 23 staff members had left the organization since 2015 over sexual misconduct.

Oxfam Hong Kong loses donors due to sexual misconduct scandal. Just in less than two weeks, Oxfam Hong Kong lost 715 local individual donors, most of whom were long-time supporters and who collectively gave donations worth HK$1.1 million (approximately US$140,000) per year.

In an effort to crack down on scammers, China creates a credit system to reward or penalize charities and donors. Charities and donors will now receive incentives or disciplinary action from up to 40 government bodies based on their credit scores. Charities with ratings of at least 4A (the second highest level) are eligible for rewards such as favorable taxation rates and priority status for government procurement bids, and the same will apply to corporate donors with good records. Organizations that have violated laws and regulations will be placed on a blacklist, but they may be removed from the list if they rectify their misconduct or passed through punitive time frames. Punishments include higher taxation rates and exclusion from government procurement bids. Individual perpetrators can even face restrictions in purchasing airline and train tickets. Specific information related to the credit scores can be obtained at creditchina.gov.cn, gsxt.gov.cn, cishan.chinanpo.gov.cn, and mca.gov.cn.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 February 2018 - 11 February 2018


Chinese home appliance-maker’s founder tops the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists for the first time. He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group Co., Ltd., donated 6.8 billion yuan (US$1.09 billion) to charity last year, topping for the first time the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists published by Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute. According to the same report, the top 100 givers in China donated a total of 23.3 billion yuan (US$3.68 billion). In comparison, the top 50 givers in the United States donated US$12.2 billion to charity in 2016.

In the wake of the Hualien earthquake, donations from Taiwanese philanthropists pour in. Including those from ultra-high-net-worth philanthropists, total donations (as of February 8, 2018) to disaster relief funds for people affected by the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, is reported to have exceeded NT$600 million (US$20.42 million). List of notable companies and organizations includes: Hon Hai Precision Industry, Formosa Plastics Group, Lin Rung San Foundation of Culture and Social Welfare, Union Bank of Taiwan, Pegatron, and Fubon Financial Holding.

Prince Charles launches education impact bond for India. With the support of the British government’s Department for International Development, Comic Relief, the Mittal Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and philanthropists like Sir Ronald Cohen, the US$10 million Development Impact Bond (DIB) aspires to help improve education for over 200,000 children in India. The DIB is the largest bond of its type in South Asia and is the latest fundraising initiative by the British Asian Trust, which was set up by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia.


SK plans to launch research unit on social enterprises. In March, the South Korean conglomerate will establish and fund a nonprofit research foundation on issues relating to social enterprises. Chey Tae-won, Chairman of the SK Group, has been a longtime supporter of social enterprises in Korea.


Doctor and his healthcare charity win the The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award. Dr. Goh Wei Leong and his team have been named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year, an award organized by The Straits Times and sponsored by UBS Singapore. Dr. Goh co-founded HealthServe, a healthcare charity in Singapore that provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare and other social services.


Hyundai Motor supports the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics by providing 4,100 vehicles and ₩50 billion (US$46.95 million) donation. On top of the logistical and financial contributions it has made to PyeongChang, Hyundai has been an active supporter of winter sports in Korea, developing upgraded bobsleighs and providing coaching staff for the country’s national team.


Grab and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) join forces to raise funds for supporting vulnerable communities. Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading on-demand transportation and mobile payments platform, and its customers will now be able to convert GrabRewards loyalty points to a donation to the IFRC. Such partnership is the IFRC’s first fundraising initiative globally to use a smartphone application.

The Tata Trusts launches the “Social Alpha Energy Challenge” to find high-impact innovations that could catalyze system change in the field of energy. The challenge is managed and run by the Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), which supports innovative, technology-based solutions for social impact. It specifically focuses on clean technology, sustainability, and energy efficiency and will select a maximum of 10 winners, whose ideas will receive incubation and other forms of support from the Tata Trusts.


Charity and volunteerism help fight aftermath of the Hualien earthquake in Taiwan. On top of the reported total of NT$600 million (US$20.42 million) in charitable donations, many are offering to help as volunteers utilizing their resources and skills. Hsu Tang-yu from Taichung, for example, showed up in Hualien to provide rescue workers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart, while a team of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners set up a station to treat rescue workers’ back pain and sore muscles.


A Hong Kong millionaire’s bribery case in Africa shows another incident where a donation and NGO status are abused as a bribery vehicle. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary and founding chairman of an energy NGO registered in Hong Kong and the United States, was alleged to have drafted a letter to the President of Chad expressing a Chinese company’s desire to make a US$2 million “donation” to support “social and other programs as [the President] see[s] fit.” Ho’s bail application and request to be put under house arrest were rejected.

Pragmatic Philanthropy: Asian Charity Explained

Palgrave Macmillan, January 2018

“We must create a civilization where we can realize the best of human potential. This book helps us to understand how this vision is being realized in Asia today.” (Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Founder, the Grameen Bank)

“In today’s world, leaders must rely on partnerships that connect across business, government and civil society. In Asia, partnerships are in evident display. Ruth Shapiro tells us how they help address our shared problems in ways that create win-win solutions.” (Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company)

“Charity has had a long and noble history in Asia.  It has not however, been the study of much research or documentation.  Pragmatic Philanthropic makes an important contribution to understanding the way in which social investment in Asia takes place.” (Victor K. Fung, Group Chairman of the Fung Group)

“Kiva is working in 80 countries.  While some aspects of our work are consistent throughout the world, we have learned that it is essential to have on the ground knowledge in each of the localities where we make loans available.  We must have trust worthy local partners and be familiar with local laws and practices. Dr. Ruth Shapiro’s insights come from decades of work in Asia. This book provides a very helpful view into the way philanthropy and other types of social investment gets done in the region.” (Premal Shah, Co-Founder & President, Kiva)

“As every great social entrepreneur knows, and as the Skoll Foundation has learned from our work with them, context matters. What works in Bangladesh may not translate to Indonesia, and vice versa. Successful social investment depends upon local knowledge and uptake, as Ruth Shapiro demonstrates in this valuable volume. Here she shares insights gained from her work in Asia together with some of the world’s most promising philanthropists. Pragmatic Philanthropy: Asian Charity Explained is essential reading for change-agents working across the Asian continent, and for those seeking to support them.” (Sally Osberg, President and CEO, Skoll Foundation)

“We are beginning to see dramatic increases in interest and activity in philanthropy in China and throughout Asia.  We also need to see a commensurate degree of research and understanding of the sector.  This book is a worthwhile effort to help close the gap between interest and impact.” (Xiulan Zhang, Professor and Former Founding Dean, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University, China)

“Although non-profit corporations have been in existence in legal sense since 1898, the Kobe earthquake of 1995, followed by other natural disasters have been a wake-up call for Japan. We see the need for citizens to be active in addressing our shared concerns whether they are helping vulnerable people or reconstructing a devastated area.   Studies like the one carried out by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society help us to learn valuable lessons about what works in taking on these roles.” (Tatsuo Ohta, Chairman, The Japan Association of Charitable Organizations)

“This book exemplifies the reason that I agreed to go on the board of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society – it provides world-class analysis to a field that is understudied and misunderstood.  For too long, philanthropists have worked from the premise that the rigor and analysis they use in their businesses are not applicable to their charitable investments.   The opposite is the case as these types of investments are more difficult to measure and can touch the lives of many.  Dr. Ruth Shapiro’s book helps us to understand the dynamic nature of the Asian philanthropic sector and make more informed choices about how we invest our time and our resources.” (Elizabeth Eder Zobel de Ayala, Chairman, Teach for the Philippines)

“More and more people are thinking about philanthropy in a more methodical, intelligent way.  It is important to understand deeply the issues you are dealing with and support solutions that make the most impact.  Grounded in  research and evidence, this book helps us to see how this trend is accelerating across Asia.” (Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej and Boyce)

“Our own Trust Barometer shows that trust is in crisis around the world.  Non-profit organizations tend to be more trusted than governments and companies but even their numbers are going down.  In Asia, this lack of trust has significant ramifications for philanthropy and the charitable sector.  This book helps us to understand why trust is in such short supply, why this matters and what we can do about it.” (Richard Edelman, Chief Executive Officer, Edelman)

“The Djarum Foundation’s work is grounded in community help, tolerance and mutual assistance.  These are values that are integral to who we are and are shared by many in Indonesia and throughout out Asia.   Pragmatic Philanthropy explains how these values underpin programs and practices of helping each other in Asia.” (Victor Hartono, Chairman, The Djarum Foundation)

Philanthropy in Asia needs a push from good government policies

South China Morning Post

Ruth A. Shapiro says that governments in the region must send strong signals that they value philanthropy through tax incentives and other policies. This could encourage a more systematic approach to giving and spark innovation in the social sector.

The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society has just released its inaugural Doing Good Index, which looks at the factors that both enable and hinder philanthropy and other kinds of private social investment in Asia. We found that Asia has enormous potential to do good. If Asia were to donate the equivalent of 2 per cent of its GDP, the same as the United States, it would unleash US$507 billion (HK$3.9 trillion) annually. This is more than 11 times the foreign aid flowing into the region every year and one-third of the annual amount needed globally to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.

We did this study after understanding several important dichotomies affecting Asia and its social sector. First, there is enormous wealth being created in Asia but still incredible and at times tragic need. Second, while there is a long history of charity in Asia, philanthropy, or the systematic approach to doing good, is relatively new. Third, while many on the ground are carrying out extraordinary efforts to help relieve suffering and need, there is often a debilitating lack of trust towards the sector. Last, many Asian governments realise that philanthropy is growing and are reacting by crafting new policies and regulations that both encourage and control its flow.

The Doing Good Index is an ambitious initiative. Supported by donors in Asia, the team worked with 34 partners from 15 economies to survey 1,516 social delivery organisations and 80 experts. They answered questions about a range of factors that influence philanthropic capital. The questions fell into four categories – regulations, tax and fiscal policies, procurement and ecosystem. The first three are government-driven, while ecosystem looks at the role that people, communities, companies and universities are playing in addressing social challenges and nurturing the social sector.

We find that people are ahead of government: on average, Asian economies perform better in the ecosystem category than in the other three. Society is rewarding philanthropists and organisations in the social sector. Public recognition and awards are becoming more prevalent in most economies we studied. Many are volunteering both through their companies and on their own, people are serving on boards, and universities are offering classes in philanthropy and non-profit management.

Our study also shows that the right policies and incentives do matter. Tax subsidies contribute a great deal towards the propensity to give across income levels and have an important signalling effect. Asian philanthropists are pragmatic. People want to help their communities but also want to do this in ways that are aligned with their own government’s goals. When a government signals that philanthropy is appreciated, it has a positive influence on giving.

The right policies can address the trust deficit and mitigate the deleterious effect on philanthropy. Many social delivery organisations in Asia are endeavouring to become more transparent and accountable. In our study, 75 per cent of those surveyed have a website and 86 per cent have a board of trustees with nearly all reporting regular board meetings. Organisations in 13 of 15 economies are required to submit an annual report. The right regulations create a culture of accountability and facilitate the ability of organisations to report.

However, regulations need to be calibrated to reduce friction in the social sector and facilitate its growth. In some economies, organisations need to work with many government agencies, with one country having 15 different ministries all with different reporting requirements. This puts a burden on non-profit organisations and encourages underreporting.

Last, the social sector is vastly understudied. There is very little reliable data. For the Doing Good Index, we had to create the data from scratch. More information about philanthropy can help address the trust deficit and showcase which practices, models and policies are best in class. There is no dearth of humanity, creativity and commitment in Asia.

The key is to put systems and practices in place that allow us to learn from each other, contribute to our communities and help Asia become a global philanthropic leader and a centre for social innovation.

Ruth A. Shapiro is founder and chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Right policies can boost Asian philanthropy.

This article ran originally in the South China Morning Post.

Doing Good Index 2018

Maximizing Asia's Potential

The inaugural Doing Good Index examines the enabling environment for philanthropy and private social investment across 15 Asian economies. Composed of four areas–tax and fiscal policy, regulatory regimes, socio-cultural ecosystem, and government procurement–the Index reveals how Asian economies are catalyzing philanthropic giving.

If the right regulatory and tax policies were in place, Asian philanthropists could give over US$500 billion, contributing to the US$1.4 trillion annual price tag needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Index serves as a unique and useful body of data for Asian governments, as well as for nonprofits, foundations and charities in Asia, to learn from each other. At a time when policy is evolving, the social sector is growing, and interest in philanthropy is rapidly developing, the DGI shows the potential for Asia to leapfrog and become a leader in social innovation.*

*The latest version as of 19 January 2018 is available for download now.

*Please note that for Korea the 10% rate of tax deduction for corporate donations refers to the limit on corporate income eligible for deduction. The rate of tax deductions for corporate donations in Korea is 100%, with a 10% limit. This change has no effect on the results of the index. For further information, please contact us.

Asia’s embrace of social enterprises: governments lean in

Philanthropy Impact Magazine, Autumn 2017

Asia is awash with enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship, and Asian governments are demonstrating their faith in it not only with ancillary services but with cold, hard cash.

This article looks at government support for social entrepreneurship, particularly in India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand.

This article was first published in Philanthropy Impact Magazine.

Hong Kong’s spirit of charitable giving is strengthened by its history, laws and belief in education.

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong outperforms larger markets in its donations, thanks to vivid memories of past poverty, belief in the life-changing power of education, and faith in the rule of law that many other Asian economies lack, writes Dr Ruth Shapiro in the South China Morning Post.

The Charity Aid Foundation recently released its annual World Giving Index. To collect data for the survey, people are asked if, over the past month, they have helped a stranger, donated money to a charity or volunteered time at an organisation. Hong Kong ranked 25th out of the 139 economies in the survey, with 43 per cent saying they had done at least one of these activities in the last month.

The index offers one lens to see how charitable people are but there are other means to evaluate giving. Last December, the chairman of our board hosted a dinner in Hong Kong for Rafael Reif, president of MIT. He noted that among those attending were some of the largest contributors to Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and a host of other universities.

John Wood, founder of the charity Room to Read, noted that Hong Kong had consistently been one of its top four fundraising regions and “punches way above its weight, outperforming larger markets such as Australia, Switzerland and Canada”. Each year, around 10 per cent of its global fundraising comes from Hong Kong alone.

Why has Hong Kong come to be such a philanthropic centre? A mixture of Chinese values, unusual history and commitment to a strong legal foundation have worked together to underpin this largesse.

First, in recent decades, much wealth has been made in Hong Kong. From 1990 to the present, Hong Kong’s per capita gross domestic product has grown from US$5,000 per year to more than US$38,000 in 2013. Many people have done extremely well and have enough disposable income to be quite generous. Additionally, many can still recall a time when their families did not have enough. According to Forbes, there are more than 55 billionaires living in Hong Kong, ranking it seventh in a list of territories by that measure.

The second reason is that Chinese people have always greatly valued education. A proverb says, give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime. According to Harvard’s Kennedy School 2015 report, China’s Most Generous, 57.5 per cent of total giving from China’s top philanthropists goes to education. According to Coutts, in 2014, the single largest recipient of donations in Hong Kong was the University of Hong Kong. The great majority of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society’s benefactors support education generally and scholarships in particular.

Hong Kong’s devotion to social investment dates to at least its establishment as a British colony in 1841. The British, with limited numbers, were unable and at times unwilling to provide many social services. They encouraged the creation of local self-help organisations to address social issues. Thus, Hong Kong people’s tendency not to rely on government but organise citizen-driven social efforts is embedded in the DNA of our city.

Of the 395 non-profit organisations listed in the city’s Directory of Social Services Organisations in 2016, 49 per cent of their total income comes through government contracts and project funds. This is the highest amount of government support to independent non-profit organisations in all of Asia.

When the government procures the products and services of social delivery organisations, there is an implicit endorsement and validation of their work. This is important as a signal to the public at large that social delivery organisations are credible, important players in the community. There are many governments in Asia and around the world who do not procure services from social delivery organisations at all. Hong Kong stands in stark contrast.

Hong Kong also has philanthropic organisations as part of its social fabric. After the second world war, when Hong Kong struggled to overcome the destruction caused by the war, the Hong Kong Jockey Club created its foundation to channel a significant portion of its funds to charitable causes. Since that time, the Jockey Club Foundation has become the most important philanthropic institution in Hong Kong. The formation and success of the foundation has cemented the linkage between wealth, entertainment and charity in the minds of Hongkongers.

The last critical factor of Hong Kong’s philanthropic strength has been the rule of law. Throughout Asia, the lack of trust that people feel towards non-profit organisations is profound. The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society attributes this lack of trust to several factors, including a murky regulatory environment around NGOs and the prevalence of headline-grabbing stories of fraud and fiscal abuse. In Hong Kong, the laws have been and remain clear and there has been a noticeable absence of scandals involving non-profit organisations. Hong Kong people trust social delivery organisations to carry out legal, helpful and important work.

Many of the things that make Hong Kong successful are unique – its geography, its governance, its people. But there are factors in place in Hong Kong which are helpful to foster philanthropy in any economy. Philanthropy thrives under the conditions it promotes: belief in education, government support of non-profit efforts, and the strong rule of law. Together, they encourage the giving and receiving of philanthropy to allow an easy and transparent way for those who want to improve society, both in Hong Kong and around the world.

This article ran originally in the South China Morning Post.