Who’s Doing Good?

19 March 2018 - 25 March 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese philanthropist donates US$3 million to alma mater. Ming Mei, co-founder and CEO of GLP, a leading provider of global logistics solutions, is donating US$3 million to Indiana University. Half of the donation will endow a tenured chair in Chinese economics and trade in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, while the other will establish a tenured chair position in logistics.

Singaporean philanthropists come together to develop facility for assisted living. A group of five philanthropists from Singapore have joined forces to set up the first purpose-built assisted living facility that will allow seniors with mobility issues to live independently.This announcement was made by Laurence Lien, chairman of the Lien Foundation, at the inaugural ASEAN Philanthropy Dialogue. The facility is expected to be completed by 2021.

THE THINKERS

“Philanthropy in Pakistan: Why civil society organizations get bypassed in favor of donations to individuals.” In this article, Shazia M. Amjad and Muhammad Ali of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy explain why Pakistanis prefer to donate directly to individuals over nonprofit organizations. Four major reasons are cited: 1. Compassion spurs in-the-moment giving in small cash. 2. Religious institutions receive the bulk of giving that goes to organizations. 3. There is a lack of trust in nonprofit organizations. 4. It is usually with more wealth that giving to formal organizations become more common.

Malaysian Sultan states Islamic finance can be combined with impact investing and philanthropy. Speaking at a forum themed “Enhancing the value of Islamic capital market through social and impact investment” co-organized by the Securities Commission Malaysia and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah said that the Islamic finance sector must remain relevant by being involved in the global agenda to alleviate poverty and inequality. Impact investing was one channel through which Islamic finance could contribute to social causes, while he also cited philanthropy as another area that can be combined with Islamic finance via institutions such as sadaqah (voluntary charity) and waqf (endowment).

“Money or Mission? The Fight about Big Tobacco’s Philanthropy” In this article, Erin Rubin discusses the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s conflict of interest with the tobacco industry. While tobacco companies provide roughly US$15 million in donations for social projects sucha s programs to end child labor, they are also notorious, according to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations, for “poor working conditions, exploitation of workers, and abuse of their rights.”

THE NONPROFITS

Lien AID leads a collective effort to provide clean water access in rural Myanmar. Lien AID, a Singapore-based international nonprofit committed to enabling sustainable access to clean water and sanitation for Asia’s rural poor, is planning to create more clean water projects in Myanmar. To do so, Lien AID believes tackling the problem of sustaining access to clean water must be a collective effort. That is, it seeks to work in close partnership with governments, businesses, individuals, other nonprofits, and academia in order to increase the impact of its own programs.

THE BUSINESSES

AmorePacific hosts marathon for breast cancer awareness. AmorePacific, South Korea’s beauty and cosmetics conglomerate, hosted a marathon in Busan to raise public awareness about breast cancer. According to the company, about 5,000 participated in the marathon, and funds raised during the event from ticket sales have been donated to the Korea Breast Cancer Foundation to cover surgical expenses and medical examinations for cancer patients.

THE INNOVATORS

Three Southeast Asian social entrepreneurs win inaugural social impact award. Three social entrepreneurs were chose as the winners of the inaugural ASEAN Social Impact Awards in recognition of their social impact and innovation. Indonesia’s Tri Mumpuni won first place for her efforts in providing access to electricity, as well as training villages to run the plants independently. Cherrie Atilano from the Philippines and Somsak Boonkam from Thailand were runners-up. Atilano was recognized for her role in increasing farmers’ access to finance, technology, and information on the best farming practices for the purposes of fair trade, as well as working with farmers on sustainable farming methods to protect the environment and farmers’ future livelihoods. Boonkam was recognized for his work with local communities to build their capacity for community-based tourism.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Zhou Xun announced as TOMS giving ambassador. Zhou Xun, a renowned Chinese actress who is also a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, will become the American footwear company TOMS’ Goodwill Giving Ambassador in Asia. Zhou and the company’s founder Blake Mycoskie went on a trip to Yunnan province late last year to donate shoes to primary school students.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former Korean President’s private foundation comes to the spotlight amidst corruption allegations. Founded by former President Lee Myung-bak, Lee & Kim Foundation (known as “Cheonggye Foundation” in Korean) was recently criticized for receiving tax benefits as a charitable organization when only 0.7% of its total assets were used for scholarships. This criticism comes at a time when President Lee is currently under investigation for a corporate corruption scandal involving his family members and cronies.

Who’s Doing Good?

26 February 2018 - 4 March 2018

THE GIVERS

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.

THE THINKERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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.

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

THE VOLUNTEERS

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.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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?

12 February 2018 - 18 February 2018

THE GIVERS

Bill Gates shares his insights on doing philanthropy in India. In this comprehensive interview with Hindustan Times, Gates touches on a variety of pertinent issues such as healthcare and shares the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s experience of working and interacting with governments and other philanthropists.

THE THINKERS

Pakistani think tank argues CSR should be used to build peace. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) says the private sector in Pakistan has the potential to better promote businesses and contribute to economic development by allocating funds for fighting against extremism and promoting social harmony and peace.

Are we missing the bigger picture for CSR? In her article in the India Development Review, Vanessa D’Souza, CEO of Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), discusses the bigger picture companies are missing in their CSR strategy when deciding which NGOs to work with. D’Souza points out how CSR-nonprofit relationship has turned down to resemble a job interview, where the majority of the questions revolve around “everything organizational.” From financial sustainability to risk management processes, companies are focusing less on the actual programs and ground-level knowledge of nonprofit professionals, but more on organizational capacity. D’Souza poses the question, “How will these organizations answer questions on financial sustainabiltiy and risk management when they don’t have the wherewithal to put all these systems in place?” Read what D’Souza has to say to learn what CSR can actually do to help the sector of doing good.

THE NONPROFITS

NGO promotes palliative care in Indonesia. Rachel House, a nonprofit organization that specializes in children’s palliative care, is successfully creating an ecosystem for palliative care in Indonesia. When it was founded in 2006, Rachel House was the first pediatric palliative care service provider in the country. Now, it is working to train professionals and build capacity of other individuals and organizations for a strong palliative care ecosystem.

THE BUSINESSES

AboitizPower donates technical-vocational equipment to senior high schools in Cebu, the Philippines. AboitizPower, a major power generation company in the Philippines, provided two Cebu high schools with technical-vocational equipment such as sewing machines, heavy-duty power drills, and spindle moulders worth P2.8 million (US$54,000). A total of 844 students were seen to benefit from this gift.

Lotte Duty Free celebrates 38th anniversary with charitable donations and community initiatives. Just before its 38th anniversary on February 14, 2018, Lotte Duty Free, a major travel retail company in Korea, hosted a number of community service activities and gave charitable donations to those in need. Hundreds of employees, including the CEO, volunteered for welfare centers and local organizations, while the company donated approximately ₩25 million (US$23,000) and rice to support the elderly and the homeless.

Sir Ronald Cohen announces setting up two major impact investment funds in India. Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), has announced setting up two impact investment funds, each estimated to reach up to US$1 billion by October. The India Education Outcomes Fund (IEOF) will aim at improving the quality K-12 education, while the India Impact Fund of Funds (IIFF) will look at other development programs. The IEOF will raise funds primarily from bilateral agencies, philanthropists, local and global institutional donors, CSR budgets, and government institutions, while the IIFF will raise funds from Indian high-net-worth individuals, both abroad and at home.

THE INNOVATORS

Alibaba applies its business products and services to tackling poverty in China. On top of the many charitable funds and donations led by its executive chairman, Jack Ma, Alibaba has integrated its e-commerce and technological expertise into its CSR programs. From providing e-commerce platforms for rural entrepreneurs to offering online micro-lending to farmers, Alibaba is making “doing good” smart.

With a public fundraising platform, Yahoo Japan helps raise money for Hualien earthquake victims in Taiwan. As of February 14, 2018, 139,138 donors in Japan had contributed about ¥126 million (US$1.16 million) through the Japanese online portal’s crowdfunding platform. The online fundraising campaign is expected to continue for one more week.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Two volunteers share their experience of “voluntouring.” In a magazine interview, two Singapore-based volunteers talk about their personal stories of working with the Happy Hearts Fund, a charity that helps rebuild schools in disaster-affected parts of the world. Specifically, they discuss their experience of “voluntouring,” traveling to other countries to do charitable work. Having visited Indonesia to help rebuild schools, one interviewee said, “If they [children in Indonesia] cannot afford to travel to see things for themselves; at least the ‘world’ is coming to them.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Oxfam’s sexual misconduct scandal has ramifications on not only its own charitable work, but also the larger aid industry. Since allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against Oxfam and its employees, many stakeholders have responded, suggesting there may be greater implications than a mere scandal. The Charity Commission of the United Kingdom has launched an inquiry, while some corporate partners have chimed in as well. The British government also told Oxfam it could forfeit large sums of government money if it did not explain itself, while the European Union, another major financial supporter, called for transparency from the organization. This scandal comes at a time when public trust in the sector was already at its lowest-ever in the country, and what is most concerning is that this scandal is bolstering the agenda of the Conservative Party to terminate the country’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid.

Singaporean hospital warns of cancer research fund donation scam. Tan Tock Seng Hospital, one of the largest multi-disciplinary hospitals in Singapore, warned its social media followers about a scam soliciting donations to a cancer research fund. According to the hospital, relevant authorities have been informed of the situation, and local media outlets are in the process of requesting for more details from the hospital.

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)

Who’s Doing Good?

29 January 2018 - 4 February 2018

THE GIVERS

Indian-born Middle East billionaire joins the Giving Pledge. Shamsheer Vayalil, founder of VPS Healthcare whose net worth is projected to be around US$1.7 billion, joined the Giving Pledge along with his wife on his 41st birthday. On top of this commitment, Vayalil is also in the process of forming the VPS Foundation for providing healthcare and education to “those people who tend to be forgotten.”

Apple teams up with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai to fund education for 100,000 girls. The support from Apple will help the Malala Fund double the number of grants to fund secondary education for girls in India and Latin America. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, will also join its leadership council.

THE THINKERS

With the right policies and incentives, the Doing Good Index claims Asia can unlock over US$500 billion in philanthropy. The DGI is a groundbreaking inaugural study by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society that maps the philanthropic and charitable landscape in Asia and looks at the enabling environment for “doing good.”

Rati Forbes argues, “Impact is not limited to big philanthropy.” In her opinion editorial, Forbes laments the lack of supporting ecosystem and resources for smaller individual givers, who are more than eager to ensure that their giving is making an impact. Her four-point advice includes: 1. Identify a cause that resonates with you; 2. Build a long-term association with a nonprofit; 3. Think about sustainability; and 4. Collaborate.

THE NONPROFITS

Singaporean charities help bridge economic, religious, and racial divides. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and its Harmony Fund, various community organizations have stepped up to address societal issues facing Singapore. While Beyond Social Services have helped convene residents of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to mediate their complaints against one another, Roses of Peace and More Than Just have addressed interfaith and interethnic conflicts.

THE BUSINESSES

A New York Stock Exchange-listed company wins top awards at the China Charity Festival. Air Products, a world-leading industrial gases company serving China for 30 years, has won the “2017 Overall Community Care Award” and “The Best Community Program of 2017” at the China Charity Festival, a nonprofit event co-organized by over 30 Chinese media outlets advocating philanthropic spirit and behavior of individuals and organizations. Air Products has been consistently recognized for its services that help Chinese manufacturers improve their environmental performance and for its many CSR initiatives such as the LIN Ambassador Program, an education initiative that fosters the next generation’s interest in science and innovation.

PetroChina does good and does well in Indonesia and Myanmar. PetroChina, the country’s largest oil supplier and distributor, has gone philanthropic, thereby earning trust from the foreign local markets. In Indonesia, the company has helped with the long-term sustainability, capacity, upscaling of local coffee farmers. In Myanmar, it donated more than US$24 million for various infrastructure projects.

THE INNOVATORS

South Korean city debuts “smart donation box” for charitable contributions. Incheon, known for its international airport, became the first in Korea to offer high-tech donation boxes that allow passersby to use credit, debit, or transportation cards for charitable giving. The machines are run by a local social enterprise that also selects a portfolio of beneficiary organizations.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Jet Airways’ internal employee-driven volunteering program continues to help the underprivileged in India. “Joy of Giving,” branded in line with its corporate slogan of “Joy of Flying,” is an annual corporate volunteering program that engages with a host of NGOs serving the cause of the less privileged such as children, women, and senior citizens. This year, Jet Airways’ employees not only spent time with those affected, but also donated cash and other resources.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Major charitable crowdfunding scam hits Singapore. A scammer has been targeting people who raised money on crowdfunding websites for charitable purposes. One case includes losing SG$53,000 raised via Give.asia for a baby’s surgery. This scandal ironically comes at a time when the Commissioner of Charities-led code of practice for online charitable fundraising was launched only last month.

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.

Evolution and Revolution

Telapak: Seeking Natural Resource Justice for Communities

From investigative journalism to sustainable logging — and now advising the world’s largest companies on community engagement — Telapak has been unwavering in its mission for an environmentally conscious Indonesia.

Telapak began life as a group of young activists, conducting investigations on illegal
logging activities and raising awareness of the detrimental effects on the environment and local communities. Over the years, Telapak has shifted from investigating environmental and social injustice toward finding solutions. “History has shown us that investigation and criticizing the government alone is not enough,” said Zaini. “So we now have to become part of the solution.” This pivot has paid off for Telapak, which has since assisted the development of dozens of sustainable logging cooperatives, and it has implemented numerous development projects to help communities protect and benefit from their environmental resources.

Online and Offline

Academy of Sharing: Using Social Media to Build a Social Movement

Users of Twitter and other social media platforms connect with each other to build an Indonesian foundation committed to sharing, learning, and bridging gaps between the classroom and the professional world. 

Academy of Sharing is a 21st century social movement that has spread to 23 Indonesian
cities. The brand translates in the Indonesian language to Akademi Berbagi. Fittingly, given how it began, the words were truncated in the social media universe to, simply, Akber.

Though some changes have been made to help Akber manage its growth and maintain quality, it is still driven by the same key principle – alternative access to free education by leading experts for whichever students want to learn in classes organized by volunteers, in the way Ainun Chomsun did when she, as Akber’s founder but also first volunteer, assembled the details for her first copywriting class.  Some 30,000 students have attended about 1,000 Akber classes, led by about 200 teachers assisted by about 200 volunteers.

Protecting and Saving Marine Life

Coral Triangle Center: Leading the Fight against Destruction and Extinction

A small but influential local NGO based in Indonesia is helping nations across the Indo-Pacific Ocean implement programs to promote the sustainable use and aquatic wonder of their coastlines.

The Coral Triangle Center (CTC), a local NGO headquartered on the Indonesian resort island of Bali is at the forefront of a major international movement to protect coral reefs and fish from destruction or extinction.

The NGO’s name comes from the roughly triangular shape of a 5.7 million square kilometer area of the Indo-Pacific Ocean formed by the coastlines of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. The nations are scrambling to regulate the use of coastal waters and teach the 120 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods and the millions more who come as tourists how to protect ecosystems that are under siege from many threats.  Since its founding in 2011, the CTC has been a leader in a campaign marked by growing urgency over the sustainable use of marine resources.