Who’s Doing Good?

12 November 2018 - 18 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Forbes releases “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy,” shedding light on Asia’s leading do-gooders. In its twelfth iteration now, Forbes’ “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy” highlights entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities who have made considerable philanthropic contributions in the previous year. With a total of seven representatives on the 40-member list, India and China have produced the highest number of “heroes,” while Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia follow with three to four members each.

Elderly couple in Korea donates millions to Korea University to fund scholarships for students in need. Kim Yeong-seok and Yang Young-ae have decided to make a property donation worth ₩40 billion (US$35.3 million) to Korea University for funding need-based scholarships. After the announcement of their donation, many expressed their concern over whether the university might misuse the funds for its own gains, but university officials clearly stated that they will make sure the money goes to students in need. “All the income from the building will be used to give scholarships to students in need. We all know how hard it was for the couple to accumulate such wealth, which is why we will make sure that no penny goes to waste,” said Yoo Byung-hyun, vice president for development, external affairs, and capital planning at Korea University.

Singaporean university gets SG$4 million gift from late philanthropic couple. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is the latest institution to benefit from a late elderly couple who had donated millions of dollars to several charitable causes. The SG$4 million (approximately US$2.9 million) gift will help fund NTU’s development of teachers, with the introduction of scholarships for master’s degrees and grants for trainee teachers at the university’s National Institute of Education. The scholarships will be named after the couple: Mr. Ong Tiong Tat, 74, who died in 2013, and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, 73, who died in 2016.

THE THINKERS

Trust deficit to blame for the slow growth of Indonesia’s social sector. Billionaires in Indonesia continue to enjoy enormous growth in wealth in spite of economic downturns, but philanthropy, on the other hand, has not taken off, highlighted Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS. According to Shapiro, who spoke as a panelist at the Indonesia Philanthropy Festival, the trust deficit between givers and charitable organizations is primarily to blame. Unlike the private sector, the entire charitable sector is painted as corrupt in the wake of major public scandals, and a lack of purported transparency can often reflect capacity constraints and not actual corruption. Shapiro also stated that Indonesia’s unsupportive regulatory environment is an additional impediment.

THE NONPROFITS

Pakistani nonprofits face funding squeeze and delays in approvals as state paranoia peaks. According to the author, the Pakistani government, in its recent condemnation of the entire social sector, has failed to differentiate between legitimate social service providers and those involved in terrorism financing. For the government, nonprofits are increasingly viewed as fronts for international “agents” with “ulterior” motives. The ensuing clampdown has involved making it difficult for charities to access financing and to obtain government approvals for projects. This article paints a bleak picture for Pakistan and its social sector, as this tightening slows the country’s progress in core development areas such as education and health.

THE BUSINESSES

The Business Times releases “Champions of Good 2018.” Through a seven-part series, The Business Times spotlights best practices in volunteering and philanthropy from Singapore. Some of the areas covered by this wide-ranging series include CSR programs which tap into companies’ skills and resources to drive change and impact measurement as a tool to learn and refine social work. Across these seven articles, a myriad of organizations—mostly corporate, as well as nonprofits—are studied and showcased as role-model examples of doing good.

UNIQLO partners with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop to support refugees. Under this proposed partnership, customers at UNIQLO outlets will be able to shop for “Cards for Hope,” which are special greeting cards that feature artwork by Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. All proceeds will be channeled towards the Sesame Workshop and IRC’s early childhood development programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Promotional campaigns seeking to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian crises surrounding refugees will also be conducted through drawing workshops at UNIQLO outlets participated by elementary school groups and Sesame Street characters.

THE INNOVATORS

Alipay launches “Social Innovation Challenge” in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise. The initiative seeks to attract, promote, and support digital technology innovations geared towards social good in Southeast Asia. As part of the challenge, individual innovators and entrepreneurs will receive up to SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000), as well as a complete suite of support services from mentoring to acquiring access to potential investors. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of Asia’s leading universities, have committed in a joint effort to tap into their rich networks and share their resources in order to support aspiring entrepreneurs focused on creating positive social impact. 

Hong Kong Tatler lists five impact funds and ventures that contribute to social well-being. First, on the list, The Rise Fund was setup by TPG, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The fund is worth US$2 billion and makes investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy. Hong Kong Tatler also features a sustainable rubber plantation in Indonesia worth US$95 million and owned by Michelin and Indonesia’s Barito Group. Responsible meat producers such as Impossible Foods and companies in the electric vehicle sector also made the cut.

THE VOLUNTEERS 

Japanese teen volunteers and funds library in Cambodia. Miyu Ozawa, now 16, saved every New Year’s gift money and decided to use the collected funds for a good cause. Having spent her spring vacation following her graduation from junior high school, she worked as a volunteer on a 10-day tour in Cambodia, where she helped with classes at a primary school. After returning to Japan, Ozawa began thinking about building a library in Cambodia because it appeared that while the country had schools, it did not have enough teachers or teaching materials. “Books will give you a first step for studying on your own,” said Ozawa.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Arrest of fake Chinese monk in Myanmar highlights the increase in sham begging. Ashin Dhamma Rakhita, associated with the Guan Yin San Tart Pain Temple in Yangon, Myanmar, has stated and clarified that monks do not and should not engage in commercial activities or ask for donations. In recent days, individuals in the garb of monks have appeared in markets, schools, and restaurants in Yangon, publicly asking for donations and selling beads. Videos on social media of their activities have also been doing the rounds. As a result, authorities have arrested one such trickster, while a few have returned to China.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese Americans’ contributions to and role in the United States philanthropic landscape grow. The article mentions recent trends in philanthropic giving among high-net-worth Chinese Americans and features individual philanthropists as case studies. From the Huntington Library’s Chinese garden, which received gifts of US$10,000 or more from 400 Chinese American families and those of US$1 million or more from 20 Chinese American individuals, to a 418% increase in the number of Chinese American foundations between 2000 and 2014, Chinese American philanthropy is clearly shown to be on the rise. In recent days, Chinese American philanthropists have adopted new innovations in giving, including impact investing, as well as giving back more to their home countries. “Chinese Americans are now proud of ascendant China and want to support the institutions that make it both in education and culturally a powerhouse,” said Randy Shulman, vice president for advancement at the Huntington Library.

THE THINKERS

“Getting the Best Possible Failures in Philanthropy: What constitutes ‘good’ failures in philanthropy, and how can we have more of them?” In this article, Jen Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation, suggests that “not all failures are created equal” and that there needs to be another element added to our standard practice in philanthropy: “failure optimization planning.” In other words, “how can we design our strategies so that if they do fail, they will be good failures?” Three ways that a failure can be “good” include: “1) contribute knowledge to the field, 2) have a significant, positive, but unintended consequence, or 3) increase the capacity of all involved to try other approaches.”

Making bequests to nonprofit organizations rise in Japan as a new way of giving back to society. The recent trend appears to be fueled by the growing number of people living alone and heightened interest in preparations for the end of one’s life. It is also important to consider the fact that in Japan if there is no one to inherit an estate, it goes into the state coffers, so it has naturally become more popular among aged individuals living alone to consider giving back to charities of their choice. The potential for bequests is expected to be greater and greater, as time passes. According to the Cabinet Office, there were about 5.9 million households in which a person aged 65 or older lived alone in 2015. The figure is estimated to reach about 7.6 million in 2035.

THE NONPROFITS

Aid to 11 million at risk as Pakistani intelligence force 18 charities to close operations. Amidst the Pakistani government’s recent decision to inform 18 foreign nonprofit organizations to close down their operations in the country, it has been claimed that Pakistan risks losing at least £100 million (approximately US$130.6 million) worth of aid for 11 million citizens in need. The expelled organizations also directly employ more than 1,100 staff in Pakistan. According to the article, it is thought that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government made the decision under pressure from Pakistan’s powerful military spy agency which has accused foreign aid organizations of being a front for espionage. “We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children the organization is currently supporting, as well as our own staff—who are all Pakistani nationals,” said a spokeswoman for Plan International.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com’s green initiative for sustainable consumption. JD.com, China’s largest retailer, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and The China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) are partnering to launch a second annual Green Planet-Sustainable Week, raising awareness about sustainable consumption in China. JD.com plans to promote reusable shopping bags created from the fabric of discarded apparel in response to a call from the WWF to reduce pollution caused by plastics. Customers will also be able to trade in major appliances for recycling by third-party companies through JD.com’s platform. “The spectacular rise of Chinese consumption has been a major force behind the country’s incredible economic story, but has also contributed to unprecedented environmental challenges,” said Zhonghao Jin, head of market practice at WWF China. He believes this week’s activities will help “raise consumer awareness and accelerate the mainstreaming of sustainable consumption.” 

THE INNOVATORS  

A skincare social enterprise is changing the lives of women and girls in rural India. Anju Rupal, the founder of the ethically minded, charitably driven beauty brand Abhati Suisse, is an “aesthetic activist.” Before launching her company, Rupal helped run a shelter for victims of domestic violence, founded a children’s clinic in Switzerland, and created a reforestation nonprofit. During her time at the reforestation nonprofit, she identified a business opportunity to produce organic beauty items that would also help address the issue of gender inequality in India. Working with the beauty industry’s top chemists in Switzerland, Abhati Suisse utilizes locally harvested ingredients from India to produce organic beauty products, whose sales are then used to help send women and girls in India to schools. To date, Abhati Suisse has helped more than 120,000 girls.

Unilever Philippines combines e-commerce and philanthropy to help children in need. Initiated by Unilever Philippines, Shop2Give is a one-day shopping event on Lazada. On this special day of giving back to society, product illustrations on the e-commerce platform were changed into quirky illustrations reminiscent of children’s doodles, and every purchase went towards Shop2Give’s beneficiaries, which was further matched by Unilever Philippines as a donation to UNICEF.

Indian Prime Minister to unveil a CSR portal on October 24, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a portal for CSR and volunteering in an ambitious bid to consolidate such efforts to maximize their effect and help boost the government’s initiatives. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is making hectic preparations for the launch of the portal, which is being developed by MyGov and will host CSR activities that have already been kicked off. The idea is to create a resource pool and find a way to “harmonize efforts,” not just across companies, but also to “align” them with the priorities of the government in areas such as the Skill India, Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, and Swachh Bharat campaigns, said a person aware of the development.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean nonprofit head leads volunteer activity in Vietnam for 12 years. Global Friends began its volunteer work in 2006 to help bereaved family members of the Vietnamese War. Choi Kyou-take, founder of this organization, has since led volunteer medical services, offered scholarships, and donated personal computers to rural communities in Vietnam. “Global Friends isn’t a large charity group, but has conducted volunteer activity for more than 10 years in the Southeast Asian country, Choi told The Korea Times, adding, “Not many charity groups in Korea volunteer in a certain country for more than 10 years.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia claims trial to 45 charges. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and carried out investigations over alleged abuse of funds linked to his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, as well as another probe related to 1MDB over a meeting with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family. Zahid claimed trial on October 19 to 45 charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering involving some RM114 million (approximately US$27.4 million). One of the charges is believed to be related to claims that RM800,000 of funds from Zahid’s charity had been used to pay for his and his wife’s credit card bills between 2014 and 2015.

British government to fund a global register of sex offenders in the charitable sector. Following the Oxfam abuse scandal, where volunteers sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the British government has announced its decision to launch a global register of suspected sexual predators to crack down on abuse in the foreign aid sector. Named “Soteria” after the Greek goddess of protection, the register will be funded by £2 million (approximately US$2.6 million) of British aid money. The five-year program will operate from two hubs in Africa and Asia and allow charities to check the criminal records of existing and future employees. Interpol, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office, and the Department for International Development will work together on the database, which will issue international alerts if someone is deemed to be a threat to public safety.

Who’s Doing Good?

1 October 2018 - 7 October 2018

THE GIVERS

China’s first female paratrooper donates life savings to hometown. Ma Xu, 83, participated in the Korean War in 1950 and then trained as a military doctor. She then joined the then newly formed Chinese airborne troops in 1961 as a medical supporter, after which she was trained as the country’s first female paratrooper. Throughout her career, she was honored with several medals and made several records, including becoming the country’s first female paratrooper, a female paratrooper with the most parachute jumps, and the oldest female paratrooper to parachute. Since retiring, she has set her mind to donate over 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) to Mulan County for educational, cultural, and charitable purposes.

American family foundation pledges US$5 million to disaster relief, including Asia. The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, based in the United States, has pledged US$5 million to support disaster relief efforts in North and South Carolina, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The donation will be immediately made to Save the Children and Direct Relief to support the most timely and urgent relief needs, as well as the long-term recovery strategy.

THE THINKERS

Forbes’ new 400 ranking methodology to now include philanthropy score. For the first time, Forbes 400 members (American) will be ranked not only on their total wealth and on how self-made they are, but also on their philanthropic generosity. The philanthropy score will be on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most philanthropic. For those whom Forbes was not able to find any information of charitable giving, they received an N.A. (not available). To come up with the scores, Forbes journalists estimated each list member’s total lifetime giving and looked at what percent of their fortune they had given away. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on other factors such as whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed funds.

Two university professors discuss why charities are accepting increasing amounts of Bitcoin. In this article, Philip Hackney, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and Brian Mittendorf, Professor of Accounting at The Ohio State University, discuss why nonprofit organizations in the United States have begun to accept increasing amounts of Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as addressing other relevant issues and implications. Most notably, the two scholars emphasize the tax benefits that come with donating appreciating non-cash financial assets that may cost governments more in tax deductions than it raises in actual donations.

THE NONPROFITS  

Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief launch fundraising appeals. The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and Mercy Relief, Singapore’s homegrown humanitarian nonprofit organization, are making fundraising appeals to the public to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The SRC has pledged SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000) in humanitarian aid to support affected communities. The SRC and Mercy Relief are also planning to send an advance response team to conduct ground assessments and support the Indonesian Red Cross Society and to distribute relief supplies to displaced families.

Pakistani government orders international nonprofits to end their operations and leave the country within 60 days. ActionAid, one of the 18 charities affected, said the move was part of a “worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society” in Pakistan. Since the 2011 discovery of a fake vaccination program run by the Central Intelligence Agency aiming to track down Osama bin Laden, nonprofits have been viewed with suspicion and wary by the country’s intelligence services. ActionAid and other international nonprofits were similarly ordered to leave the country at the end of last year in 2017 but were allowed to stay upon appeal and following pressure from Western governments. For the recent order, subsequent appeals have been unsuccessful.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean firms offer aid for earthquake-hit Indonesia. Joining international efforts to help rebuild Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi, Indonesia, a group of Korean businesses have offered to make donations to support relief efforts. Most recently, Hyundai Motor Group and KT&G Corporation said it will donate US$500,000 and US$88,700, respectively. Other donations include a US$199,000 donation from the retail conglomerate Lotte and a US$300,000 donation from the SK Group.

Apple donates US$1 million to disaster relief efforts in Indonesia. To support relief efforts after the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Apple announced its donation of US$1 million. On October 2, 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in his tweet, “Our hearts go out to the people of Sulawesi and all of Indonesia after this weekend’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Apple is donating $1 million to aid relief efforts as this beautiful country starts to rebuild.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Southeast Asia found to be the top destination for impact investments. Southeast Asia has seen a significant increase in impact investments in recent years, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Private impact investors—fund managers, family offices, pension funds, and other types of private capital—poured nearly US$1 billion into the region from 2007 to 2017, while development finance institutions deployed US$11.2 billion. Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam were the three largest markets in the region, having attracted 60% of the capital deployed. A key theme in the region is poverty alleviation. “In many countries in the region, large swathes of the population live below the poverty line. So, the provision of basic services, such as clean energy, affordable housing, healthcare, and financial services, is a core focus of impact investors,” said GIIN’s director of research Abhilash Mudaliar.

Singaporean private bank focuses on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing to win over Asia’s next-generation clients. According to Marc Lansonneur, Managing Director and Head of Managed Solutions, Balance Sheet Products and Investment Governance in the Wealth Management group, DBS Bank is increasingly providing ESG investing solutions and services to its current and future next-generation high-net-worth clients, who are expressing interest in this form of investing. In fact, Lansonneur stated that DBS has assembled considerable evidence that companies that perform well in ESG tend to also show higher profitability, higher dividend yield, and lower idiosyncratic tail risks, demonstrating that doing good can lead to doing well financially.

THE VOLUNTEERS

On Children’s Day, Singaporean children do good for one another. “Children for Children” is a day of giving and doing good by children for children. It is an annual fundraising and charity event jointly organized by The Business Times, CHIJ (Kellock), and The Rice Company Ltd. Since 2008, it has brought more than 10,000 children under the Ministry of Education’s financial assistance scheme to various iconic destinations throughout the city. This year, 1,000 children benefited from the program, and a total of SG$337,793 (approximately US$243,000) was raised. Shuanne Seah, 10, who was part of the musical’s choir, said, “We’re doing this for a cause, so all the effort is worth it. We want to use our gifts to help others achieve their dreams.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

“Voluntourism and the white savior complex: travelers may be doing more harm than good.” Mercedes Hutton, the article’s author, argues for a different perspective on the increasingly popular trend of “voluntourism,” a form of traveling to other countries and communities in need for volunteer work. Although the seemingly more hands-on voluntourism may appear to be better than “slacktivism,” supporting a cause without moving from the comfort of the couch, Hutton claims that there are challenges, weaknesses, and gaps in this form of doing good. For example, in regards to the popular package of traveling to orphanages in developing economies, the author cites The Guardian to point out that “there is no such thing as a ‘good’ orphanage,” suggesting that children simply do best by being in a family instead of staying at an orphanage. Another point pertains to the lack of qualified individuals who usually partake in these kinds of programs and packages, with most of them being pre-college gap-year high school students and fresh college graduates. Perhaps, from the author’s standpoint, donating on one’s couch at home, yet doing so more deliberately and strategically, may be more efficient than rolling up one’s sleeves to do volunteering for those in need.

Who’s Doing Good?

13 August 2018 - 19 August 2018

THE GIVERS

United Arab Emirates-based Indian-origin tycoons pledge Rs 12.5 crore for Kerala flood victims. Nearly 200 people have been killed in Kerala since August 8 due to floods caused by rains and landslides. Indian-origin businessmen from the United Arab Emirates have sworn to do their bit by donating money. Born in Kerala, Yusuff Ali M.A., chairman and managing director of Lulu Group, has announced a Rs 5 crore (approximately US$717,600) donation. K.P. Hussain, chairman of Fathima Healthcare Group, has donated the same amount. Additionally, Hussain said that his group has coordinated with the state’s health secretary to send volunteers from its medical faculty.

THE THINKERS

Malays have done well, but more can volunteer, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In his speech at the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee said that while Malays in Singapore have taken great strides to build a strong culture of self-reliance and cooperation, more can step forward to volunteer with community groups. He added that by volunteering more, Malays can make more progress in tackling challenges faced by the community, including getting more children to attend pre-school, empowering and mentoring youth, and supporting those left behind because of drugs or social problems.

Cost is a concern for seniors who want to “age in place.” The Lien Foundation’s study found that the elderly in Singapore are “aging in place” with home and center-based care services rather than nursing homes. However, these services are far more expensive with costs going up to SG$3,100 (approximately US$2,260) to look after a disabled senior at home, as opposed to the median full cost of SG$2,400 (approximately US$1,749) for looking after the same person in a nursing home. The study also found that the demand for center-based services has exceeded its capacity with the Ministry of Health spending close to SG$800 million (approximately US$583 million) on long-term care in 2016

THE NONPROFITS

China’s Red Cross donates mobile clinics and ambulances to Syria. The Red Cross Society of China donated two bus-turned mobile medical clinics and two ambulances to Syria’s Arab Red Crescent. Wang Qinglei, the representative of Beiqi Foton Motor, the company that took part in the funding of the donation under China’s Red Cross, said the mobile clinics are equipped with X-ray machines, ultrasound scanner, defibrillator, distance diagnosis, and treatment system. The donation by Beiqi Foto Motor is estimated at 6 million yuan (approximately US$900,000). Following the delivery of the donated clinics and ambulances, Chinese engineers and technicians also trained their Syrian counterparts to operate the equipment and do the maintenance work.

THE BUSINESSES

Five impressive CSR initiatives for Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations. As a way of celebrating the country’s Independence Day on August 14, various companies have hosted CSR projects and initiatives. Ranging from paper shopping bags embedded with seeds that can be planted after use by customers to promoting diversity across the country, the article features five innovative cases of CSR projects and initiatives.

 THE INNOVATORS 

Indian startup digs into data to make small farms smarter and says transparency can solve mismatch of poor growers and starving people. MyCrop Technologies has produced a mobile application that it says can help raise agricultural productivity in Asia and beyond, benefiting both farmers and consumers. The application uses big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to provide insights on how to increase yields, the best crops for a given type of soil, and the timing on when to grow them. The service is free for farmers to use, as MyCrop charges a fee to fertilizer companies and financial institutions for the data that it accumulates and shares and as it also receives a significant amount of government funding.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Samsung Electronics employees volunteer to support overseas startups. Since 2010, Samsung Electronics has been assisting startups in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and South Africa with pricing strategy, market research, and planning. On August 13, the Korean conglomerate conducted intensive training for its startup accelerating program with the International Information Technology Graduate School in Bangalore, India, as part of its volunteer service work. The company mentored around 20 new venture startups over the last two months.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Jackie Chan criticized online for giving 50,000 copies of his autobiography to disability charity. The Chinese public has been questioning Hong Kong martial arts celebrity Jackie Chan’s donation of 50,000 copies of his autobiography to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. One Weibo user commented, “If you were disabled and still rose to fame, I’d acknowledge that; but stuff like this where you’re bragging about yourself, how is this related to people with disabilities? Shameful!” According to the announcement of the donation made by the Beijing-based charity, Chan hopes “the stories and life experience in the book can bring pleasure and inspiration to people with disabilities.”

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?

4 June 2018 - 10 June 2018

THE GIVERS

The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation donates for the preservation of the Great Wall. Sino Group’s Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation donated 10 million yuan (US$1.56 million) to the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation for preserving and protecting the Great Wall. The donation will be used to repair a 1,255-meter-long section of the Great Wall, including restoring No. 67, 68, and 69 lookout towards and reinforcing the side walls near these towers. On top of this donation, the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation will organize for Hong Kong youths to regularly visit the Great Wall.

Singtel donates to help fund Esplanade’s first medium-sized theater. Singtel, a major telecommunications company in Singapore, is donating SG$10 million (approximately US$7.49 million) to help fund the Esplanade’s first medium-sized theater, the largest single donation the national performing arts center has received since it opened in 2002. This new theater will open in 2021 and be named after the company for 15 years.

Korean conglomerate launches foundation to address social problems. SK hynix Inc., the world’s second largest memory chip producer, announced that it would set up a philanthropic foundation to foster experts in the three fields of safety, health, and the environment (SHE). The company plans to provide ₩35 billion (US$32.6 million) to the foundation over the next 10 years. The foundation will work to cultivate experts who can tackle problems related to the SHE fields. It will offer scholarships to future leaders of society, provide support to research activities focused on SHE-related issues, and promote diverse projects with stakeholders to address these issues.

George Soros donates to help boost South Korean soldiers’ human rights. The Open Society Foundations (OSF), an international group advocating democracy and human rights founded by investor George Soros, has decided to provide US$200,000 to an advocacy group in Korea to help improve enlisted soldiers’ human rights. This marks the OSF’s first donation in Korea.

THE THINKERS

“Crowdfunding is changing the world for the better.” In this article, author William Hofmann explains the rise of charitable crowdfunding.  According to the author, crowdfunding reduces operating costs that are traditionally associated with setting up a formal nonprofit organization and initiating fundraising projects. “In other words, they are democratizing philanthropy,” says Hofmann. Within Asia, Singapore was cited as a noteworthy example, where GIVE.asia more than doubled its total donations from SG$4.5 million (approximately US$3.37 million) in 2016 to SG$11.2 million (approximately US$8.39 million) in 2017.

WealthAsia Media hosts the inaugural BENCHMARK Private Wealth Awards. The company, which gives out best practice awards in the Asian financial services sector, sought to recognize “visionary service providers” emerging to meet the needs of a new generation of asset holders. As heavyweight entrepreneurs in Asia hand over their businesses to a generation that is increasingly cognizant of the importance of sustainability and leaving positive social impacts, WealthAsia aims to raise awareness about and award responsible private banking and impact investing.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofit Indian mobile application saves lives by matching blood donors with patients in need. Having experienced a personal tragedy due to a failed frantic search for blood donors, Sushil Lalwani started a new mobile application called MBLOOD to bridge the gap between donors and receivers and connect them in real time. MBLOOD has so far raised about US75,000 in funding for the application, which will be nonprofit-making. Since it was launched in January with just 150 members, MBLOOD has built a fast growing network of users and lists over 2,000 registered blood banks across India.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung Electronics Indonesia donates solar-powered lanterns. Samsung Electronics Indonesia donated 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to two regencies lacking access to electricity, the East Kutai regency in East Kalimantan and the East Flores regency in East Nusa Tenggara. Following the donation, East Flores Regent Antonius Gege Hajon said, “It is just what we need. With these lanterns, children can study in the evening and women are able to finish their woven fabric orders faster.”

Coca-Cola launches Pakistan’s first ever digital donation drive. As an extension of the company’s “Bottle of Change” campaign which urges people to support the cause initiated by Abdul Sattar Edhi, Coca-Cola launched Pakistan’s first ever digital donation drive, the Coca-Cola Digithon. The Digithon went live on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page on June 5, 2018, hosting various celebrities and prominent figures to encourage the spirit of giving.

The Godrej Group reflects on its sustainability efforts over the last seven years. The results proclaimed by the Indian conglomerate, with operations in real estate, consumer products, industrial engineering, and other industries, are impressive. Among other achievements, the company has reduced its water consumption by a third, with 35% of water consumed being recycled. Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 45%, with energy from renewable sources up to the same amount.

THE INNOVATORS

Online charity platforms in China attract one billion donors. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, China’s recent charity law that came into effect in September 2016 has helped attract more than one billion online donors. A report by the China Philanthropy Research Institute also noted that in 2017, the 12 online fundraising platforms approved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs have collectively raised over 2.59 billion yuan (US$405 million). With this increase in use of technology to encourage individual giving came the call for increased transparency and accountability to verify the authenticity of suspicious fundraising projects and initiatives.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singaporean minister calls for increased volunteerism. In an effort to better address the issue of its rapidly aging population, Singapore hopes to double its volunteerism rate from one in three currently to 70% in five years’ time. At the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network’s (AVPN) conference, Miniter for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said, “We hope for Singapore to grow as a giving nation with a volunteer in every household.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Malaysian tax agency plans to re-investigate funds originally claimed to be a donation payment. The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) asys the RM2.6 billion (approximately US$651.72 million) allegedly received by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is now subject to further examination. Based on previous findings, the amount received was found to be a donation payment and had no income characteristics to be taxed. The IRB is expected to work closely with other relevant government bodies and newly formed task forces.

Who’s Doing Good?

26 March 2018 - 8 April 2018

THE GIVERS

Korean financial conglomerate businessman donates dividends eight years in a row. Park Hyeon-joo, chairman of Mirae Asset Daewoo, decided to donate his 2017 annual dividend worth ₩1.6 billion (US$1.51 million). Park has made similar donations for the past seven years, totaling his net donations to an amount of ₩21.6 billion (approximately US$21.1 million). Park’s donations will be allocated to his scholarships that fund Korean students who want to study abroad.

Chinese Filipino tycoon donates for construction of table tennis training center. Stephen Techico, chairman of the Uni-Orient Travel Inc. and honorary president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations of the Philippines, gave a P10 million (US$200,000) donation to the Philippine Sports Commission to support the construction of a new table tennis training center in Manila, which will be named as “Philippines-China Table Tennis Training Center.”

THE THINKERS

“The charity business: drawing the line in spending for philanthropy” In this article based on multiple expert interviews, the author touches on perennial debates and challenges facing the charitable sector. Should nonprofit employees earn competitive wages? Should charities spend donations on advertising? Why do charities face different standards compared to businesses?

Pakistan hosts its first national forum on philanthropy in Islamabad. The 1st National Forum on Philanthropy in Pakistan was hosted by the Higher Education Commission jointly with the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy and Global Donors Forum at the Commission Secretariat. The theme of the forum was “Conventional to Strategic: A New Paradigm in Giving.” Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society’s Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed presented the findings of the Doing Good Index as a guest speaker and panelist.

 

THE BUSINESSES

Hana Financial Group supports sports for the disabled. Hana Financial Group, a major financial services company in South Korea, donated ₩1 billion (approximately US$930,000) to the Korea Sports Association for the Disabled. The donation will particularly support national athletes participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics. The donation was made as part of the company’s larger “humanity financing” corporate social responsibility project.

THE INNOVATORS

Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list recognizes innovative Asian social entrepreneurs. From tackling environmental problems to raising awareness about contraception and sex, 30 social entrepreneurs across Asia have been chosen by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list for their work.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers make octopus toys to help premature babies. Inspired by the Danish Octo Project’s “Octopus for a Preemie” movement, Michelle Neo from Singapore scaled up her personal hobby of making octopus toys for premature babies to a larger volunteer movement. Such octopus boys, explained by the Danish Octo Project to resemble an umbilical cord and “remind babies of their time in the womb,” are believed to have some soothing effect. Now, Neo and six of her friends are running a Facebook page “Handmade with LOVE Octopus – for Preemies” to solicit volunteers to make octopus toys for hospitals and those in need.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Singapore police arrests four men for collecting donations from public without license. Four men, aged between 18 and 24, have been detained by the police for publicly collecting donations without having the House-to-house and Street Collections license. The suspects were reported to claim that they were representatives of an organization and that the donations would go to former convicts and underprivileged families.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 March 2018 - 25 March 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

12 March 2018 - 18 March 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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.