Who’s Doing Good?

6 August 2018 - 12 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Singaporean retiree gives SG$500,000 (approximately US$363,000) for charity. Loh Kiong Poot, a Singaporean retiree from the trading industry, has donated SG$500,000 to The Straits TimesSchool Pocket Money Fund to help troubled children in need. His contribution to the fund is his biggest donation yet, though he has given money to charities and orphanages in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. The fund was initiated in 2000 as a community project by The Straits Times, providing pocket money to children low-income families to help them through school. Since 2000, it has disbursed over SG$60 million (approximately US$43.6 million) worth of funds.

THE THINKERS

Anti-corruption rules are not clear on donations or political contributions, says author. In his opinion editorial, Thompson Chau argues that the code of ethics recently released by the Myanmar government is still unclear on what companies and their associated individuals and charities can and cannot do. This code of ethics was devised by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) under the finance ministry in order to cover all dealings and “business activities” between government organizations and the private sector. For example, giving charitable and political donations in dealing with the government is prohibited. The author, however, calls for further clarity on what constitutes as influencing a decision of the government and as an act of corruption.

THE NONPROFITS

Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Red Cross raise funds to help Lombok villagers in Indonesia. While students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are organizing a campus donation drive, the Singapore Red Cross is utilizing online fundraising platforms to raise funds for villagers hit by the recent spate of earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia. So far, the two organizations have raised SG$20,000 (approximately US$14,500) and SG$42,000 (approximately US$30,500), respectively. For students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the cause was all the more relevant at a personal level, as many of them have been traveling regularly since 2014 to Lombok for community service work.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean retail conglomerate donates US$100,000 to flood-hit Laos. Lotte Group has offered US$100,000 to Laos for disaster relief aid after the dam accident. The donation has been handed over to the Community Chest of Korea for the purchase of relief goods and restoration of the damaged area. “We hope this donation could help children, among others, who are vulnerable to heat and diseases,” Lotte’s vice president Oh Sung-yup said in a statement.

 THE INNOVATORS

Online charity platforms in China raise 980 million yuan (US$143.5 million) in the first half of 2018. According to China’s charity law that went into effect in 2016, online fundraising for charitable purposes must be conducted through government-approved platforms, and China’s first group of 11 government-approved online charity platforms have received 980 million yuan of donations in the first half of 2018. Compared to the previous year, the amount increased by 30%. The platforms have altogether publicized over 11,000 fundraising projects from 992 charitable organizations.

Alternative forms of giving and investing. Venture philanthropy and impact investing are growing among private wealth owners, especially among the millennial generation. Several factors including exposure to standards of social contribution and environmental sustainability and having resources and opportunities at their disposal are encouraging these next-generation wealth owners and controllers to contribute. In addition to money, people are also willing to offer assistance with regard to mentoring, commercial or professional expertise, and industry connections.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singaporean student ditches his corporate dreams to devote his life to volunteering. Daryl Tay, an undergraduate from Singapore Management University, took an oath to make the world a more equal place and hopes his efforts will help reduce poverty. The 29-year-old joined the Radion International with the aim to curb the rampant substance abuse problem among young children in Thailand. Today, the entire recovery program has 40 children aged six to 17.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-chief of Tokyo Medical University admits to backdoor admissions to “increase donations.” A former board chairman of Tokyo Medical University, Masahiko Usui, has admitted to padding certain students’ scores on its general entrance exam. Usui said during the school’s internal investigation that he did so to “increase donations to the school.” In the recent two examinations, Usui directed university staff to admit 19 students by adding points to their scores during the first stage of testing. Many of the students involved were the children of alumni, and in some cases, tens of millions of yen in donations were paid to the school.

Who’s Doing Good?

30 July 2018 - 5 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Evergrande’s Xu Jiayin comes out as top Chinese philanthropist in the annual list. According to Forbes, Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Real Estate Group, hold the top position on the 2018 Forbes China Philanthropy List, followed by He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group, and Zhang Jianbin, chairman of Jiangsu Winfast Investment Holding Group. Xu gave away 4.21 billion yuan (US$617 million) for poverty reduction. Those on the list had donated 17.31 billion yuan in cash donations, a 66% increase from the previous year’s figure. The minimum donation amount required to be on the list increased from 5 million yuan to 13 million yuan. The list also found education, poverty alleviation, and medical care was the main focus of donations.

THE THINKERS

Amid sexual harassment scandals, Beijing nonprofits and law firm launch anti-sexual harassment network. Following recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault against prominent Chinese media professionals, charity activists, and intellectuals, two nonprofit organizations in Beijing—the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center and Equality—and Qianqian Law Firm have launched a joint network aimed at stopping sexual harassment. The network will provide services such as legal consultations, legal aid, psychological counseling, media assistance, and training courses. “We want to offer reliable help for women who suffer from sexual harassment. We hope more victims would come forward to make the authorities aware of the seriousness of the situation,” said Lin Lixia, an employee at the law firm.

Charities in Hong Kong forced to reveal finances. Charities will have to disclose their financial accounts on a designated government webpage for public inspection as a measure to promote transparency. The administrative action was announced in response to the government audit chief’s criticism last year over lax rules in the sector. A “good practice guide,” covering donors’ rights and fundraising practices, has also been made available. However, critics claim this measure will not go very far. “The guidelines are too mild and non-binding,” said Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung. Other critics urge the government to step up public education “to arouse the awareness of donors of their rights.”

Government too charitable to charities. The Hong Kong government is facing criticism for the recently launched administrative measure to include financials of charities on a government website: that these measures are voluntary in nature and not mandatory. Reports state many charities exploited the loopholes to claim tax exemption status, with tax forgone amounting to HK$1.5 billion between 2005 and 2016.

THE NONPROFITS

Chinese charities donate stationery and sports items to Nepali school. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and Beijing Ciai Charity Foundation distributed school bags, stationery items, and sports accessories to students of the Mahendra Adarsha Vidyashram school, a public school in Nepal. “The Chinese support is very instrumental for the bright future of our students. It will not just boost the quality education of the country, but also strengthen the people-to-people ties between the two countries,” Pampha Bhusal, who is chairman of the school committee, said.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung donates ₩50 billion (US$44.7 million) to support small business factories. Samsung Electronics will donate ₩50 billion to the Korea Smart Factory Foundation, which will help small businesses set up smart-factory infrastructure in their production centers. The donation will be made in ₩10 billion per year over the next five years. Samsung will also allocate a separate ₩10 billion to help these small businesses educate their staff and find new markets for the next five years.

CapitaLand launches SG$2 million (approximately US$1.46 million) fund to empower vulnerable elderly in Singapore. In response to the issue of an aging population, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, has set up a SG$2 million fund with the aim of improving the quality of life for the vulnerable elderly in Singapore through deeper social integration, better healthcare, and better living conditions. The CapitaLand Silver Empowerment Fund marks the first time the foundation has expanded its mandate from helping underprivileged children to the elderly. In addition to the fund, the foundation will also partner with Community Chest Singapore to identify, fund, and volunteer in projects to support vulnerable seniors of 60 years or above. Lim Ming Yan, CapitaLand’s chief executive, said, “As we expand the foundation’s mandate to support the healthcare and well-being of the vulnerable elderly, CapitaLand is looking forward to working together with long-time partners like President’s Challenge and Community Chest to improve the quality of aged care in Singapore.”

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) donates SG$350,000 (approximately US$256,000)to 20 social service organizations. SPH and its philanthropic arm, SPH Foundation, donated SG$350,000 to 20 social service organizations via Community Chest Singapore. The donation is part of SPH and SPH Foundation’s yearly efforts to support charities serving disadvantaged families, senior citizens, and special-needs students.

A big number of corporations come forward to clear up the Ganga. Companies like Shipping Corporation of India, Indusland Bank, Bajaj Electricals, Reliance Industries, and others have undertaken ghatcleaning and development, afforestation, and provision of amenities as part of their CSR projects under the Namami Gange Programme. Rs 255.02 crore (approximately US$37.13 million) have been received as a contribution to the fund from public sector units, private companies, individuals, the India Development Foundation, and others.

A tribute and “thank you” to Khazanah Nasional. Via this article, social workers pay a special tribute to Khazanah Nasional for their donations during the 2014 floods in Malaysia. Khazanah supported many nonprofits with their flood relief efforts by donating RM250,000 (approximately US$62,000). The company was able to support outreach programmes to help marginalized communities. These included the Orang Asli, refugees, and immigrant communities.

THE INNOVATORS

Asia tackles its plastic problem with a mix of tradition and technology. Plastic is considered one of the most useful products, yet the most environmentally harmful. Many are taking the initiative to tap into Asia’s cultures and crafts in order to invent a better and safer alternative. Poramet Sai-Uparach of Leaf Creation created a wide range of products—bags, lampshades, wallpaper, and furniture—made from teak tree leaves that are widely available in northern Thailand. Indian entrepreneurs are coming up with edible cutlery and bags made of tapioca and vegetable starch. Big multinational corporations like KFC are also starting to ban straws, while IKEA plans to phase out oil-based plastics from its 363 furniture stores and restaurants around the world by 2020.

THE VOLUNTEERS

10-day commitment likely to be a hurdle for Tokyo Olympic Games volunteers. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has initiated a drive to encourage university students and others to work as volunteers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The officials urge them to volunteer for at least 10 days, in a bid to enable them to best take advantage of the skills they will acquire during the training sessions prior to the sporting event. Many universities in Tokyo have supported the committee by changing schedules for classes and exams.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Indian government shuts down charity as women go missing and girls claim rape. Seva Sanklap Ewam Vikas Samiti, a nonprofit organization that runs shelters for destitute women, has been closed down by the local police amid reports that 11 of the women are missing. The charity’s director and nine staffers have been arrested on rape charges. Another shelter under the organization was closed in June after dozens of girls said they had been raped there. Earlier this year, the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences found evidence of trouble during an audit of the charity, leading state investigators to interview girls at the shelter and learn of the rape incidents.

Who’s Doing Good?

2 July 2018 - 8 July 2018

THE GIVERS

“Retirement is too busy,” says Li Ka-Shing, while discussing the future of his foundation. His comments came as he announced his retirement as chairman of Shantou University, the higher-ed institution he funded in his hometown in Guangdong Province, China. At the same press conference, Li announced that he would eventually hand over the reins of his foundation to his two sons: the elder, Victor, would take over as chairman, with his brother Richard as vice-chairman.

Over US$38 million was donated to arts and culture in Singapore last year, marking the second year in a row where donations to the sector have fallen. National Arts Council director Paul Tan says that part of the reason why donations have fallen is that major donations clustered around the city-state’s Jubilee Year in 2015, where large donations were collected to fund large projects such as the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. He adds: “What is perhaps more important is sustaining the level of giving to arts organizations year on year so that we continue to create a vibrant arts scene. As such, we are pleased to see an increased number of Friends of the Arts this year.”

CNBC profiles Charles Chen Yidan, “China’s most charitable man.” In 2007, Chen and his fellow co-founders at Tencent, the tech giant owner of WeChat, founded the Tencent Foundation with the aim of investing a portion of their profits into charitable projects. Through WeChat, Tencent has been able to spur hassle-free donations towards charitable causes, raising 1.5 billion yuan (US$230 million) from 140 million individual donations in the last 11 years. He says: “Chinese traditional culture encourages people to benefit the world. Many ideas from Chinese culture encourage people to give more, have more and also encouraged people in that if you do a good thing, you will have a good result. So it’s in every Chinese person’s mind. But how to do it?”

Keppel Corporation donates SG$1 million (approximately US737,000) to the President’s Challenge. As part of the company’s 50th anniversary, Keppel Corporation made SG$1 million donations to the President’s Challenge. Keppel chairman Lee Boon Yang presented the donation cheque to President Halimah Yacob at the company’s charity run event. “Our aim is also to do good as we do well. We are committed to making a positive impact on the community wherever we operate,” Lee said.

Binance donates US$1 million to Japanese flood victims. Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, donated US$1 million to flood victims in West Japan. The exchange has also called for its cryptocurrency friends and partners to join this charitable initiative. To contribute in cryptocurrency, one can make an anonymous donation by sending ETH or ERC20 tokens directly to the Binance donation address.

The Wallenberg Foundation donates to Nanyang Technological University, the largest gift in perpetuity in its history. The endowed gift is targeted towards the creation of a fellowship to nurture early-career scientists at NTU, recently ranked top in a list of the world’s best young universities. Its goal is to help attract top talent to the university, building on the momentum already achieved by NTU’s highly competitive Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, which has already attracted hundreds of applications around the world.

THE THINKERS

To strengthen social bonds, nurture altruism, says the director of the Hong Kong Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. Paul Yip and the Centre recently conducted a study that found that Hong Kong people are generous with their monetary donations but reluctant or unable to volunteer their time for charitable causes. Rates of volunteerism have fallen from year-to-year, from 51.5% to 47.3% from 2016 to 2017. With the average Hong Konger facing long workdays, Yip advocates for companies to offer volunteer leave so that people can take time out to engage in the community.

THE NONPROFITS

Jakarta food donation program takes leftovers from lavish weddings. Founded by Astrid Paramita, “Blessing To Share” supplies leftover wedding dishes to the poor. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Indonesia bins more edible food per person than any other country except Saudi Arabia. Primarily operating in Jakarta, Paramita has aspirations to expand his program to other cities and to start sourcing edibles from company meetings and conferences.

Islamic philanthropy at work in Indonesia. Dompet Dhuafa, an Islamic philanthropy organization in Indonesia, was founded by the former editor-in-chief of the Republika daily newspaper, Parni Hadi, to collect various forms of alms and raise funds for planned programs that empower the poor. Having begun with a modest first year of collecting Rp 425,000 (US$30), the organization has reached 25 years of age and has helped more than 16 million people. “Dompet Dhuafa is an Islamic philanthropy organization that is devoted to empowering the poor through compassionate socio-technopreneurship,” said Hadi.

THE BUSINESSES

A report finds that CSR giving in India is projected to reach US$7.4 billion (INR 50,000crore) by 2019. The research conducted jointly by CSRBOX and NGOBOX finds that by the financial year 2019-20, compliance with India’s mandatory 2% giving under the 2013 Companies Act will reach 97-98%. Education and skills development is expected to be the preferred areas of spending, with US$2.2 billion expected to pour into the sector between 2014 and 2019. “Mandatory CSR has made a lot of change in India’s development landscape. It has gradually formalized the corporate philanthropy with an emphasis on impacts on the ground.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Arrested last week, Najib maintains that the US$681 million found in his account is a donation. The donation was placed in his account prior to Malaysia’s general election in 2013, but Najib stressed that the sum was returned to its donor, the Saudi royal family, shortly after the election. “As far as I am concerned, I acted in good faith. On top of it, King Abdullah awarded me the highest decoration from Saudi Arabia. Only (former US) president (Barack) Obama and (Russian president Vladimir) Putin have the same. That shows the level of trust he had in me.”

Who’s Doing Good?

11 June 2018 - 17 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Realizing sustainable quality education, Harvard style. The Straits Times profiled Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, the Malaysian construction magnate who donated all of his equity in Sunway Education Group, valued at more than RM1 billion (approximately US$250.1 million), to a foundation dedicated to realizing sustainable quality education. This structure models that of universities in the West, mirroring in particular John Harvard’s contribution to Harvard University over 400 years ago. “It is my personal goal to award more than RM1 billion in my lifetime in scholarships,” says Cheah. As of 2017, his foundation is already one third of the way there, having given out RM330 million in scholarships and grants.

Japanese anime creator donates US$8 million for earthquake relief. Eiichiro Oda, famous for his hit anime series One Piece, donated US$8 million for Kumamoto earthquake relief. In commemoration of his donation, a statue of the anime series’ protagonist will be constructed in Kumamoto.

THE THINKERS

“Switching the donor-grantee relationship.” In this article, Ashok Alexander reflects on the problematic “heads and legs” relationship between donors and grantees. Unlike in the business sector, where entrepreneurs conceive up ideas and then approach investors for funding, Alexander notes that in the social social sector, it is the funders who come up with ideas and then look for recipients to carry out the legwork. “Donors should reject donees who don’t have new ideas; donees must be willing to walk away from donors who tell them exactly what they should do.”

THE NONPROFITS

Poverty alleviation charity project aids 120,000 children. A project by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation has raised nearly 21 million yuan (US$3.3 million) in donations and aided 120,000 children since 2014. The donations have been used to provide stationery, clothes, and fine arts equipment for more than 32,000 children and to build 146 kitchens in schools, providing better meals for 60,000 students. The project also employed “companion mothers” to care for more than 30,000 rural children whose parents migrated to larger cities for employment opportunities.

THE BUSINESSES

Garuda Indonesia launches “umrah” donation program. Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s national flag carrier, has launched a donation program that allows its GarudaMiles members to contribute miles toward an “umrah” pilgrimage trip for underprivileged people. Garuda Indonesia is currently aiming for this program to benefit 100 individuals.

THE INNOVATORS

Li Ka-shing joins Bill Gates to fund probiotic product to fight child malnutrition. Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Horizons Ventures, the investment arm of Li Ka-shing’s philanthropic foundation, led a US$40 million round of funding for California-based Evolve BioSystems, which is developing an infant probiotic product that helps restore the beneficial bacteria in infants’ guts. As the funding has been widely hailed as a notable impact investment, lead investor Patrick Zhang said, “We are excited to increase our investment in Evolve, and for the tremendous societal impact that Evolve can make on restoring the infant gut microbiome, particularly in Asia.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore Children’s Society recognizes outstanding volunteers. On June 12, 2018, the Singapore Children’s Society recognized 47 volunteers and donors for their longtime service and dedication to the organization. Most notably, Kurt Wee, who received the Ruth Wong Award for volunteers, was lauded for volunteering to help raise over SG$106.8 million (approximately US$79 million) for the Singapore Children’s Society since 2008.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Amnesty International exposes questionable payments by Kirin Brewery to the Myanmar military. The human rights-focused organization published correspondences between Kirin’s Myanmar offshoot, Myanmar Brewery, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Amnesty International has urged the Japanese government to investigate the “immoral payments,” which come at a time when Myanmar’s military has been undertaking an unprecedented ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population in the Rakhine state. In the interim, Kirin has banned all new charitable donations in Myanmar, while it conducts a human rights assessment of its suppliers and partners in the country.

How Can Asia Boost Philanthropy?

AsiaGlobal Online

Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.

This article looks at how the Doing Good Index can help governments improve regulations and policies relevant to the philanthropic and charitable sectors by identifying the levers that best enhance local philanthropy across 15 Asian economies.

This article was first published in AsiaGlobal Online.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 March 2018 - 11 March 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

19 February 2018 - 25 February 2018

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

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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 Philanthropy 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 trustworthy local partners and be familiar with local laws and practices. Dr. Ruth Shapiro’s insights come from decades of work in Asia. This book provides a very helpful view into the way philanthropy and other types of social investment gets done in the region.” (Premal Shah, Co-Founder & President, Kiva)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philanthropy in Asia needs a push from good government policies

South China Morning Post

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

The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society has just released its inaugural Doing Good Index, which looks at the factors that both enable and hinder philanthropy and other kinds of private social investment in Asia. We found that Asia has enormous potential to do good. If Asia were to donate the equivalent of 2 percent 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 realize 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 organizations 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 organizations 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 signaling 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 organizations in Asia are endeavoring to become more transparent and accountable. In our study, 75 percent of those surveyed have a website and 86 percent 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 organizations to report.

However, regulations need to be calibrated to reduce friction in the social sector and facilitate its growth. In some economies, organizations 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 organizations 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 center for social innovation.

Ruth A. Shapiro is the 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.