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.

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.

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank

Introduction: Civil society is a very important stakeholder in the operations of the Asian Development Bank and its borrowers and clients. It is distinct from the government and private sector and consists of a diverse range of individuals, groups, and nonprofit organizations. They operate around shared interests, purposes, and values with a varying degree of formality and encompass a diverse range—from informal unorganized community groups to large international labor union organizations. These Briefs provide an overview of civil society organizations (CSOs), with a particular focus on nongovernment organizations (NGOs). These Briefs were first published by the Asian Development Bank (www.adb.org).”

Click here to read the Briefs.

The State of Individual Philanthropy in Pakistan 2016

Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy

This pioneering research by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy sheds light on the patterns, trends, behaviors, and characteristics of individual giving in Pakistan.

Not only does this study provide insightful quantitative data, but it also touches on the interesting issue of zakat giving, as well as prescribing strategic recommendations for policymakers and relevant stakeholders to boost individual philanthropy in Pakistan.