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?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

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

Who’s Doing Good?

22 October 2018 - 28 October 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS 

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

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

THE BUSINESSES 

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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?

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 September 2018 - 9 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Alibaba’s Jack Ma announces plans to focus on philanthropy. China’s richest man and chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma is set to retire from his corporate position next week to focus on philanthropy and his passion for teaching. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ma said that he would like to lay the groundwork for the Jack Ma Foundation to help teachers and kindergartens in rural areas. “There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier,” Ma said in the interview. “I think someday, and soon, I’ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.” 

Asteroid named after Taiwanese philanthropic vendor. Chen Shu-chu, a retired vegetable vendor and philanthropist, recently had an asteroid named after her by the Lulin Observatory operated by Taiwan’s National Central University. Chen is known for her good deeds that were brought to light by local and foreign media. She was honored as one of the 100 most influential figures listed by the Time magazine in 2010 for contributing over NT$10 million (US$325,000) to different charitable causes. In 2012, Chen was one of six winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for helping the poor, receiving a US$50,000 cash prize which she donated to the Taitung branch of Mackay Memorial Hospital. “Money serves its end only when it can help people in need,” said Chen.

THE THINKERS

“Minds Wide Open” documentary shows that increased support for fundamental brain research is crucial to achieving major breakthroughs. Earlier this month, the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI), a nonprofit aiming to deepen the understanding of the human brain, hosted an international meeting in Shanghai. The event brought together top scientists and doctors working on brain-related topics in the United States and China. TCCI also released the “Minds Wide Open” documentary this week in the hopes that it would make the case that more support for fundamental brain science is needed if we are to keep achieving significant breakthroughs. The Chens, founders of the TCCI, have committed US$1 billion for this cause. The documentary will be available on Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play from September 19 onwards. All proceeds from the film will be donated to causes chosen by Brandon, Chelsea, Eric, Lisa, and Violet—five patients featured in the film. Watch the 25-minute version of the film here.

Businesses thrive when they benefit society, says Hiroaki Nakanishi. Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) chair and chairman of Hitachi, Hiroaki Nakanishi preached the values of a sustainable and socially responsible business in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun. In fact, Keidanren made the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the guiding principles of its Charter of Corporate Behavior when it was revised in November. Explaining that Japanese businesses previously thought creating high-quality products and generating profits was the end of their responsibility to society, Nakanishi said that this attitude and way of thinking is increasingly changing in the private sector in Japan. 

THE NONPROFITS

Five moon bears rescued by Hong Kong-based charity from a bile farm in Vietnam after being trapped in cages for 21 years. Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity, has rescued five moon bears from a bile farm in Vietnam after more than 21 years in cages. After a five-day journey, the bears are now at the organization’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Center, a sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park. In 2017, Animals Asia signed a deal with the Vietnamese government to relocate the around 800 bears who remain on farms in the country to sanctuaries. So far, the charity has rescued 177 bears. 

THE BUSINESSES

Didi Chuxing to pay promised reward to rescue team via charity donation. Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-hailing company, is to pay the reward of 1 million yuan (US$160,000) it promised for information relating to the whereabouts of a driver suspected of killing a passenger earlier this year. A Zhengzhou-based water rescue team found a body in a local river and after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the company and claim the reward, filed a lawsuit in August. The reward money will reportedly be donated to a charity in Zhengzhou and be dedicated to the water rescue team that received the body of the suspect. Niu Zhenxi, head of the rescue team, said that members of his team have agreed to accept the donation via the Zhengzhou Charity Federation. Didi Chuxing has also announced that it will donate another 1 million yuan to the China Foundation for Justice and Courage, a national public fundraising foundation headed by China’s Ministry of Public Security.

THE INNOVATORS

Volunteering mobile application allows users to get points to redeem gifts. Chen Yew Nah, managing director of Zeles, always had a passion for helping others but soon realized that there was a gap in the feedback system. Zeles aims to encourage more volunteers to come forward, connects them with various corporations and causes, and allows users to redeem food and retail vouchers in return. Additionally, the in-application chat function allows volunteers to send feedback to the organizations they are working at. The application currently has 2,000 volunteers and numerous voluntary host organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Association for Persons With Special Needs.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Army of volunteers boosting support for the Thai King. The Volunteer Spirit scheme, officially started last year by Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has created a new army of civilians who have pledged allegiance to the King and are boosting his image ahead of his formal coronation at the year-end. Over four million volunteers have joined the scheme, carrying out a range of tasks from cleaning public spaces to helping police direct traffic. Their most high-profile activity came when the volunteers joined an international effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave last month.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

China continues to toughen the crackdown on dishonest behaviors in charity work. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has intensified its campaign to crack down on dishonest behaviors in charity work. Most recently, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released a regulation that required charities to provide factual information to the public, putting it into effect on September 1, 2018. The ministry has also established the “Charity in China” website that publishes information about charities. Early this year, the government established a mechanism that shares information on charities’ credibility, specified five types of dishonest entities, and stipulated 24 punishment measures.

Korean tax agency clamps down on tax-evading foundations. A conglomerate-affiliated cultural foundation received cash from three corporate subsidiaries under the pretense of building a memorial hall, which instead was revealed to have been used to purchasing land surrounding the birthplace of the conglomerate’s founder. The National Tax Service (NTS), Korea’s governmental tax agency, retracted the gift tax exemption given to this foundation and slapped a ₩3 billion (US$2.67 million) tax. The NTS said that since the second half of last year, a special team has investigated nearly 200 charitable foundations owned by conglomerates and found 36 instances of tax evasion, totaling a tax figure of ₩41 billion (approximately US$36.3 million). “In recent years, the founding families of conglomerates have been using their charity foundations for personal purposes, including strengthening their governance, said an NTS official.

New charity financial disclosure requirement brings further confusion to interpret charity’s financial information

Hong Kong Economic Times

Vincent Cheng (CAPS) analyzes the Hong Kong government’s latest requirement stipulating all charities to release audited financial accounts of their public fundraising activities. Intended to address public concerns over costly charity fundraisers, he believes the measure will instead further deepen public misperception and mistrust of overhead costs, and penalize less established charities with an even greater administrative burden.

Here is an age-old horror story of donations: people—with enormous goodwill—send money to a charity, hoping that these funds will be used to help those in need. To their dismay, they soon find out that a considerable portion of their donations goes to anything but that. The donor feels deceived, their money squandered for little or any return. These types of experiences and the worry about them, together with other mishaps or scandals, contributes to the trust deficit of the charitable sector. Hong Kong is not alone in this situation.

On 1st August 2018, the Hong Kong government issues a new regulation meant to increase transparency and accountability specifically on charities’ public fundraising activities, after complaints of the hefty price tag of fundraisers. Charitable organizations in Hong Kong are now required to place on a public website audited financial statements of each of their public fundraising activities (e.g. flag days, the sale of raffle tickets, or other charity sales). The new measure aligns with other efforts of achieving greater transparency such as HKCSS’s WiseGiving initiative, an information-sharing platform where charities can voluntarily share their mission, structure, governance, and financial information with the public.

While the government’s goal of increasing transparency is well-intentioned, this latest attempt is half-baked and will likely do more harm as it adds fuel towards the general public’s visceral, but misguided understanding regarding the administrative costs associated with both fundraising and project management. Unbeknownst to the policymaker, the new measure may also unwittingly penalize less established charities as all compliance takes time, effort, and often professional knowledge that many charities lack.

The two faces of regulations

The Doing Good Index by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Regulations, in general, have two important purposes, as the inaugural Doing Good Index published by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society explains. First, they can make it easy or more difficult to exist as a legal charitable entity. For the charitable sector to thrive, it is essential to have clear, easily understandable and enabling regulations which encourage organizations to register and operate within the law. Second, regulations can enhance transparency and accountability through, for instance, annual reporting requirements and assign legal liability for noncompliance.

Hong Kong performs reasonably well in the Doing Good Index, although it ranks behind Japan, Taiwan, and rival Singapore, and is on the same footing as developing countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Generally, the charitable sector is mature and vibrant. Laws are established, clear, and easily understandable and charities are incentivized to register and operate within the law. Hong Kong is only second to Taiwan in this regard: only 17% of HK charity respondents find laws pertain to the charitable sector difficult to follow, the second lowest across 15 economies we surveyed (the Asia average is 39%).

But, Hong Kong could do even better with some relatively accessible fixes which could propel the charitable sector further. The recent directive for charities to share audited financial statements of public fundraising is no doubt intended to increase transparency. However, there are two potential issues with this well-intended measure, one operational which can be easily mitigated; another has to do with its underlying logic, which is less easy to fix.


A blinkered perspective of understanding charities

Close to half of HK respondents said that it took them more than 3 months to comply with the annual reporting requirement, which—for many—merely requires the submission of an audited financial statement. This percentage is the highest across 15 economies. One interpretation is that many charitable organizations do not have the capacity to adequately manage and explain their accounting practices as well as measuring the impact of the projects they manage. Grappling and complying with new requirements—especially those having to do with tax and fiscal policies—often equates to extra time, manpower, and resources. For nonprofits with tight budgets and stretched staff, they find it difficult to explain their programs and outcomes as well as their budgets in clear, compelling manners. Unfortunately, the result is that many people assume that they must have something to hide. For larger charities with professional staff, additional reporting requirements may work but the burden on small organizations can be life-threatening.

The more important issue, however, is understanding what is included in administrative costs (or more commonly known as overhead cost outside of Hong Kong), and why these are necessary and useful. While a blow by blow report of each public fundraising activity will quell public concerns over the costs of these fundraisers, it will not necessarily allow the public to come to a meaningful conclusion on how effective these charities are in doing their job. Why is that?

Firstly, funds for charities come from a variety of sources, so a measure that only necessitates explaining those funds raised as a result of a public exercise, only tells a portion of the story. Most charities in Hong Kong also receive funding from government and corporate sponsorship, funding streams that are not accounted for in the new regulation. In fact, those charities which raise considerable government and corporate support may rely less on the public.

More importantly, there are several points to bear in mind when thinking about administrative costs, which generally include such items as the salaries of administrative personnel and rent, in many cases of Hong Kong and internationally. Funds spent on raising more funds are also considered part of overall administrative expenses because they do not go directly to project support. Here is the main issue: these expenditures differ greatly from one charity from another due to their age, size, the nature, and function of charitable activities. Charities which require higher skilled professionals will certainly have higher overhead costs. In Hong Kong with a very low unemployment rate, charities compete with government and the private sector to find and hired skilled staff. Only by paying reasonable wages can they hope to compete for many of these employees.

But this lopsided attention on financial matters of charities is perhaps reflective of the larger context of oversight of Hong Kong’s charitable sector. With the exception of fiscal matters, there is little continual oversight for Hong Kong’s charitable sector after the approval of their tax-exempt status. For instance, charity’s eligibility to continue to be tax-exempt, which is determined by the organization’s objective and may change across time, is not a remit of any governmental body. Nor does governance mishaps of charities, except perhaps with criminalizable acts, or those receiving lump sum grant from the government.

A dedicated charity commission is needed

The Law Reform Commission (LRC)’s 2013 suggestion of having charitable organizations be registered and overseen by a future charity commission in the long run was a good step towards Hong Kong’s regulatory progression, an issue reiterated an audit report released by the Audit Commission in 2017. The LRC suggested an oversight system similar to the one used in the Philippines and currently being adopted by several countries in Asia.

The Law Reform Commission released its report on charities in December 2013. Source: The Government of the HKSAR.

The Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) in the Philippines was set up as an accreditation body with the blessing of the Filipino government to scrutinize aspects of charities’ mission, projects, governance, and financial information every one, three, or five years. Only with this accreditation can donors to the organization receive a tax subsidy. If respected charitable sectors practitioners who understand the operations, together with professionals in legal and accountancy team up to monitor, accredit, and offer timely and appropriate professional assistance to charities, as with the case the Philippines, charities in Hong Kong can become more accountable, transparent, at the same time, an enabling ecosystem for these organizations to grow and prosper. The future charity commission—as a standard bearer—can also educate to the public of the appropriate ways to understand and evaluate the work of charities they support, and show that which charities are checking all the boxes under this rubric. It will, in short, help build trust for those working in the charitable sector.

Overall, while we applaud the government’s bid to increase transparency and accountability of the social sector, the downside of the new measure requires attention. There are easy fixes to give the public a fuller picture in the shorter term: we recommend the government request charities to submit their annual audited financial statements ready for Inland Revenue Department’s review, and make them public on one centralized governmental platform for public scrutiny. Specific accounting requirements can be made to make clear of the specifics as deemed necessary for better transparency and accountability, such as fundraising administrative cost or overall administrative cost in these statements. With this measure in place, at least 74% of Section 88 charitable organizations, which are legally incorporated as a limited company, will be made more accountable and transparent. Some charities in the city have taken the initiative to achieve this goal on their own. World Vision Hong Kong, for instance, has put their audited financial statements online and gone the extra mile to lay out clearly how donations are spent. In the long run, a one-stop charity commission which registers, oversees, and provides professional support to the charitable sector should be set up to offer to inspire confidence and trust for all those endeavoring to make Hong Kong a better place.

 

This op-ed is an extended version of the Chinese op-ed ran originally in the Hong Kong Economic Times.

Who’s Doing Good?

20 August 2018 - 26 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese billionaire shares his story of donating for brain research. Shanda Investment Group founder Chen Tianqiao has dedicated US$1 billion to help with brain research, saying that a better understanding of how the brain works could help better treat mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. His donations include a US$115 million gift to the California Institute of Technology and a 500 million yuan (approximately US$72.9 million) to the Fudan University-affiliated Huashan Hospital. In this interview with Bloomberg, Chen shares his thought on the field of brain research and his philanthropy.

THE THINKERS

New financial disclosure requirement brings further confusion to the charitable sector in Hong Kong. Vincent Cheng (CAPS) analyzes the Hong Kong government’s requirement stipulating all charities to release audited financial accounts of their public fundraising activities. Intended to address public concerns over costly charity fundraisers, he believes the measure will instead further deepen public misperception and mistrust of overhead costs, and penalize less established charities with an even greater administrative burden. For the English version, click here.

Corporate giving – when cash isn’t always best. Cash continues to be the preferred form of giving for the company in Singapore, with perceptions that larger the monetary donation the merrier, a program of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre finds. SME which makes up over 90% of enterprises in Singapore suffer from this mindset, leaving them feeling like they have nothing to give. But the trend is gradually shifting in a healthy way. Companies are found to diversify their engagement with charities, such as in-kind donations, purchase of goods and service from non-profits, and volunteerism. They are also exploring ways to give more effectively.

Study finds Korean conglomerates’ dominance in the economy, including corporate donations. A new study by the Korea Economic Research Institute found that the 31 largest conglomerates in Korea account for two-thirds of the country’s facilities investment and exports, as well as close to half of research and development investment, donations, and market capitalization. In particular, with 2.4 trillion (approximately US$2.4 billion) in 2016, these companies made up 51.4% of all corporate donations. “The chaebol groups are leading Korea’s economic development and playing an important role in boosting the people’s quality of life,” said Yoo Hwan-ik, the head of innovative growth at the institute.

THE NONPROFITS

Chinese NGOs to offer its development model abroad. A MoU between China NGO Network for International Exchanges and Social Welfare Council (SWC) of Nepal has initiated a deal to allow 30 Chinese NGOs to enter Nepal. This deal is seen to be a part of China’s “Going Global” formulated in 2001 to further its “public diplomacy” abroad. Chinese NGOs, such as One Foundation, and the Amity Foundation, first entered Nepal in 2015 to support victims of a mega-earthquake.

THE BUSINESSES

Apple donates US$1M to Kerala flood relief efforts. After opening iTunes’ donation mechanism earlier this week to help victims of the Kerala floods in India, Apple pledged Rs 7 crores (approximately US$1 million) to support Mercy Corps efforts in the region. Apple has in the past made direct contributions to relief and rehabilitation efforts, including a US$2 million donation for Hurricane Harvey relief, and US$1 million for last year’s Southern California wildfires. The company also donated US$1 million to a Chinese NGO after heavy rains caused massive flooding along the Yangtze river in 2016.

First National CSR Awards in India now opens for nominations. The Corporate Affairs Ministry of India has invited entries for nominations for the first-ever National CSR Awards. “MCA has instituted National CSR Awards 2018 to recognize corporate initiatives in the area of CSR to achieve inclusive growth along with inclusive and sustainable development,” the Ministry said. The enactment of Companies Act, 2013 has made the CSR mandate a part of corporate functioning.

THE INNOVATORS

Crowdera: This crowdfunding platform is creating a ‘giving economy’ by connecting do-gooders with those in need. India is well-versed with the concept of crowdfunding, especially when it comes to seeking aid in the form of donations during medical emergencies and natural calamities. Crowdera has launched the latest efforts “Stand with Kerala”, where the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund is accepting donations made through Internet banking, RuPay cards, Paytm and bank transfers. The startup is also working to make fundraising “a sustainable process”, so that, in a year or a two, fund-seekers can look at previous donors on the platform for further fundraises.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean Air volunteers build homes in Bicol, Philippines. Korean Air’s volunteer group “Didimdol” flew to the Bicol region of Philippines to volunteer for the local community. They helped the local residents of the village to build homes as well as provide free meals at the slum areas and elementary schools. As one of the world’s top 20 airlines, Korean Air continuously supports global volunteer activities in order to perform its corporate social responsibility.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Japanese charity telethon faces criticism over squanders on charitable donations. People—with great goodwill—donate money to support charitable endeavors. To their dismay, they soon find out that a considerable portion of their donation does not go to the intended cause. The donor feels deceived. This was the case of Nippon TV’s charity telethon, “24-Hour Television”, which raises money for charitable causes. Much of the 7 billion yen (approximately US$ 63 million) raised last year is said to be deducted for production expenses: two emcees of the show last year were allegedly paid 5 million yen (approximately US$50,000) each, and a celebrity “volunteer” was paid 10 million yen (approximately US$90,000) to participate in the show. Many deemed the show hypocritical.