Who’s Doing Good?

11 June 2018 - 17 June 2018


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.


“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.”


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

19 February 2018 - 25 February 2018

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

12 February 2018 - 18 February 2018


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philanthropy in Asia needs a push from good government policies

South China Morning Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article ran originally in the South China Morning Post.

Doing Good Index 2018

Maximizing Asia's Potential

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

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

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

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

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

Asian companies develop new forms of philanthropy

Nikkei Asian Review

Anxiety about the gap between rich and poor has spread to Asia.

Rising joblessness led South Koreans to replace the dominant Saenuri Party in April. Even in the Philippines, with the healthiest economic growth since 1970, voters rejected the ruling elite in favor of the anti-establishment Rodrigo Duterte, who campaigned on profanity-laced vows to cut poverty. Yet not all solutions to social problems are political. Around the world, companies are seeing community engagement as not only in their own interest but also as an important part of their role in society.

Donations already play a large role. Corporate philanthropy has been on the rise for a decade and continues to grow. In 2012, 66% of all charitable giving in China came from corporations, as estimated by the Conference Board, a non-profit business research group.

India now requires top companies to pay 2 percent of after-tax income into certified philanthropic activities. According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, such giving totaled Rs 8,347.47 crore in the last year, about $1.5 billion USD. We do not know if the money is being spent wisely or efficiently, but it is clear that the bottom line is massive and will trickle through to increase the impact of many charitable programs throughout India.

Companies can help in at least four other ways, starting with sharing technical expertise. Some companies are already using their skills alongside financial resources to build capacity and bring about sustainable change. In India, the Axis Bank Foundation (ABF) opened a strategic partnership with Dilasa Sanstha, an organization devoted to helping farmers increase production and earn stable livelihoods. The ABF helped Dilasa expand rural credit, strengthen internal budgeting and create an evaluation system. For the first time, Dilasa could collect critical data on beneficiary income, household assets, education levels, diet and investment plans.

Similarly, support from Khazanah Berhad, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, helped improve the capabilities of Mercy Malaysia, a medical response group active after natural disasters. Khazanah helped Mercy develop systems that assist it in managing people and resources and deploying them efficiently to disaster zones. The partnership has helped Mercy become an internationally acclaimed provider of disaster assistance.

Social delivery organizations may be non-profits, but they need to think more like businesses. To maximize their impact, they should be concerned with transparent accounting, financial forecasting, strategic planning, organizational management and development and a host of other skills that have traditionally been labeled as business skills. The private sector has plenty of these skills. In both of these cases, the companies provided financial resources and technical resources. They committed to the social delivery organizations for the longer term.

Another way companies can help is through shared value initiatives. Shared value, a term coined in 2006 by Harvard professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, is a strategy in which companies bring economic value to themselves while addressing a social need. In the Philippines, Manila Water figured out how to decrease siphoning and protect the pipeline so that clean, cheaper water reached those in the poorest districts of Manila. This successful project improved water access for the poor and increased Manila Water’s bottom line.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retail provides another example of shared value. With garment factories in Bangladesh, Fast Retail knows first hand the difficult circumstances facing many workers there. Uniqlo has launched a line of products inspired by traditional designs. Proceeds from these clothes go toward continuing education for women working in their factories.

Not surprisingly, there is considerable excitement around the notion of shared value. When the company and the community both prosper, the initiatives are more sustainable. Still, shared value initiatives are new globally and very new in Asia, and we can expect to see much more innovation of this kind.

A third strategy for community engagement is when companies work on their own. They believe and with some justification, that they have the skills to deliver a social good more efficiently than by working through an NGO. Shopping mall operator SM Prime Holdings in the Philippines is building clinics and schools, through its BDO Foundation, in the typhoon-ravaged areas of Leyte and Samar. The Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of India’s Reliance Industries, carries out work through its own rural development, health and education initiatives.

Lastly, in some cases, corporations find it useful to develop alliances to bring about change. In China, corporate leaders have come together to create the SEE Foundation to work on environmental issues and the Ai You Foundation to provide medical aid to children. The Philippines’ largest conglomerate, the Ayala Group, and the telecommunications firm PLDT together created the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation to build a disaster operations center to coordinate the private sector relief efforts during major disasters.

How can companies evaluate whether they are doing enough? There are several key questions to ask.

First, how robust is your volunteer program? According to a Deloitte survey, 90% of HR managers believe that volunteering aids in building an employee’s leadership skills and according to a Price Waterhouse Coopers study, employees are less likely to resign if they feel engaged with their companies including through volunteer programs. A robust volunteer program can assist local charities while at the same time boosting employee company pride and loyalty.

Second, what subject areas best align with a company’s strengths and goals? Community engagement is much more sustainable when aligned with key competencies. It makes sense for Uniqlo to be utilizing clothing to engage with the community or for Axis Bank to focus on livelihoods and financial inclusion. Not everything a company does must be aligned with its interests and strengths, but it is helpful to know what these are and how they can be utilized to benefit the community.

Third, tone from the top is critical but innovation at all levels of the company is equally important. Employees have ties to the community and understand the needs of those living there. Creating programs that allow some latitude in addressing community concerns can harness this knowledge.
The rise in corporate involvement is clear. There is no question about whether a company should engage with the community, the only question is how. With their technical expertise, shared values and productive partnerships, Asia’s corporations are poised to be constructive, long-term stakeholders in the region’s continued growth.

Ruth Shapiro is chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, an organization dedicated to facilitating excellence in philanthropy.

This article ran originally in the Nikkei Asian Review.


The Silver Lining

Sawayaka Well-being Foundation: Volunteers for Elderly Care in Japan

Established by a prominent public prosecutor, Sawayaka Well-being Foundation has fostered the development of more than 2,000 community volunteer organizations to support Japan’s elderly to lead independent lives.

The Sawayaka Well-being Foundation (SWF) is a national association of more than 2,000 groups across Japan that share a vision for promoting community-based volunteerism. SWF was founded in 1991 by Tsutomu Hotta who abruptly left a high-profile role as Deputy Vice Minister at the Ministry of Justice to bridge the shortfall in the state’s capacity to provide  care services to senior citizens and address the growing disconnect between individuals and their communities.