Who’s Doing Good?

3 September 2018 - 9 September 2018


Alibaba’s Jack Ma announces plans to focus on philanthropy. China’s richest man and chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma is set to retire from his corporate position next week to focus on philanthropy and his passion for teaching. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ma said that he would like to lay the groundwork for the Jack Ma Foundation to help teachers and kindergartens in rural areas. “There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier,” Ma said in the interview. “I think someday, and soon, I’ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.” 

Asteroid named after Taiwanese philanthropic vendor. Chen Shu-chu, a retired vegetable vendor and philanthropist, recently had an asteroid named after her by the Lulin Observatory operated by Taiwan’s National Central University. Chen is known for her good deeds that were brought to light by local and foreign media. She was honored as one of the 100 most influential figures listed by the Time magazine in 2010 for contributing over NT$10 million (US$325,000) to different charitable causes. In 2012, Chen was one of six winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for helping the poor, receiving a US$50,000 cash prize which she donated to the Taitung branch of Mackay Memorial Hospital. “Money serves its end only when it can help people in need,” said Chen.


“Minds Wide Open” documentary shows that increased support for fundamental brain research is crucial to achieving major breakthroughs. Earlier this month, the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI), a nonprofit aiming to deepen the understanding of the human brain, hosted an international meeting in Shanghai. The event brought together top scientists and doctors working on brain-related topics in the United States and China. TCCI also released the “Minds Wide Open” documentary this week in the hopes that it would make the case that more support for fundamental brain science is needed if we are to keep achieving significant breakthroughs. The Chens, founders of the TCCI, have committed US$1 billion for this cause. The documentary will be available on Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play from September 19 onwards. All proceeds from the film will be donated to causes chosen by Brandon, Chelsea, Eric, Lisa, and Violet—five patients featured in the film. Watch the 25-minute version of the film here.

Businesses thrive when they benefit society, says Hiroaki Nakanishi. Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) chair and chairman of Hitachi, Hiroaki Nakanishi preached the values of a sustainable and socially responsible business in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun. In fact, Keidanren made the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the guiding principles of its Charter of Corporate Behavior when it was revised in November. Explaining that Japanese businesses previously thought creating high-quality products and generating profits was the end of their responsibility to society, Nakanishi said that this attitude and way of thinking is increasingly changing in the private sector in Japan. 


Five moon bears rescued by Hong Kong-based charity from a bile farm in Vietnam after being trapped in cages for 21 years. Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity, has rescued five moon bears from a bile farm in Vietnam after more than 21 years in cages. After a five-day journey, the bears are now at the organization’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Center, a sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park. In 2017, Animals Asia signed a deal with the Vietnamese government to relocate the around 800 bears who remain on farms in the country to sanctuaries. So far, the charity has rescued 177 bears. 


Didi Chuxing to pay promised reward to rescue team via charity donation. Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-hailing company, is to pay the reward of 1 million yuan (US$160,000) it promised for information relating to the whereabouts of a driver suspected of killing a passenger earlier this year. A Zhengzhou-based water rescue team found a body in a local river and after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the company and claim the reward, filed a lawsuit in August. The reward money will reportedly be donated to a charity in Zhengzhou and be dedicated to the water rescue team that received the body of the suspect. Niu Zhenxi, head of the rescue team, said that members of his team have agreed to accept the donation via the Zhengzhou Charity Federation. Didi Chuxing has also announced that it will donate another 1 million yuan to the China Foundation for Justice and Courage, a national public fundraising foundation headed by China’s Ministry of Public Security.


Volunteering mobile application allows users to get points to redeem gifts. Chen Yew Nah, managing director of Zeles, always had a passion for helping others but soon realized that there was a gap in the feedback system. Zeles aims to encourage more volunteers to come forward, connects them with various corporations and causes, and allows users to redeem food and retail vouchers in return. Additionally, the in-application chat function allows volunteers to send feedback to the organizations they are working at. The application currently has 2,000 volunteers and numerous voluntary host organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Association for Persons With Special Needs.


Army of volunteers boosting support for the Thai King. The Volunteer Spirit scheme, officially started last year by Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has created a new army of civilians who have pledged allegiance to the King and are boosting his image ahead of his formal coronation at the year-end. Over four million volunteers have joined the scheme, carrying out a range of tasks from cleaning public spaces to helping police direct traffic. Their most high-profile activity came when the volunteers joined an international effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave last month.


China continues to toughen the crackdown on dishonest behaviors in charity work. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has intensified its campaign to crack down on dishonest behaviors in charity work. Most recently, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released a regulation that required charities to provide factual information to the public, putting it into effect on September 1, 2018. The ministry has also established the “Charity in China” website that publishes information about charities. Early this year, the government established a mechanism that shares information on charities’ credibility, specified five types of dishonest entities, and stipulated 24 punishment measures.

Korean tax agency clamps down on tax-evading foundations. A conglomerate-affiliated cultural foundation received cash from three corporate subsidiaries under the pretense of building a memorial hall, which instead was revealed to have been used to purchasing land surrounding the birthplace of the conglomerate’s founder. The National Tax Service (NTS), Korea’s governmental tax agency, retracted the gift tax exemption given to this foundation and slapped a ₩3 billion (US$2.67 million) tax. The NTS said that since the second half of last year, a special team has investigated nearly 200 charitable foundations owned by conglomerates and found 36 instances of tax evasion, totaling a tax figure of ₩41 billion (approximately US$36.3 million). “In recent years, the founding families of conglomerates have been using their charity foundations for personal purposes, including strengthening their governance, said an NTS official.

Who’s Doing Good?

27 August 2018 - 2 September 2018


Indonesian medal winners contribute towards Lombok cause. The series of earthquakes that hit Lombok has killed more than 500 people and caused damages worth more than US$500 million. In support of the relief efforts, Indonesian athletes and medalists at the Asian Games have offered to contribute a share of their winnings. Badminton men’s singles winner Jonatan Christie said he would contribute part of his US$102,000 winnings to the cause, while other badminton medalists offered to auction off their jerseys and rackets to raise funds.


Alibaba Foundation and UCWeb to host philanthropy conference in New Delhi, India. The Alibaba Foundation and UCWeb, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group, will host a week-long global forum of the Xin Philanthropy Conference 2018 in India starting September 5, marking the first time that part of the conference is to be held outside China. The conference will focus on education, child protection, and women’s empowerment and feature prominent public speakers from public policy, global welfare, business, and science.


Chinese charities required to disclose information starting in September. According to a regulation issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, charities should publicize various information in a complete and timely manner starting September 1. The range of information includes a charity’s yearly work, financial accounting reports, major asset changes, transactions, investments, public funding, and other projects. According to the newly issued regulation, which is based on the Charity Law from 2016, charities that fail to disclose such information can be reported to civil affairs authorities by any other organization or individual.


China’s Huawei appeals to Korea through CSR programs. As part of its ongoing efforts to give back to Korean society since it first entered the Korean market in 2013, Huawei launched an incubating program for young local information technology talents. Named “Seeds for the Future,” the two-week-long program hosted 10 Korean engineering students at its headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The students were additionally invited to visit the Beijing Language and Culture University to experience China. Other CSR projects in Korea run by Huawei include granting scholarships and running annual contests for young female software engineers.

Hermes Taiwan collaborates with an intellectually disabled student artist to sell limited edition scarves for charity. Hermes Taiwan teamed up with Chou Ti-chuan, an intellectually disabled student at Taipei City Yangming Home for the Disabled, to design and create a limited edition scarf whose proceeds will be donated for charity. The scar will be priced at NT$6,800 (US$221.67) each, with only 600 available in the market.


Singaporean social enterprise baits charity donors with luxurious lucky draw prizes. The Given Company, a new social enterprise in Singapore, is raising money for charities by enticing donors with luxurious lucky draw prizes such as cars and private apartments. The company plans to take a commission of about five to 10 percent from each donation for subsequent draws to help pay for the prizes and other operating costs. The Given Company’s business model is triggering controversies and public debates around what the right motivation should be behind individual giving and the legal validity of this fundraising model in terms of Singapore’s relevant regulations and legislation.


Pilot program for youth leadership partners young leaders with social service organizations. Youth Corps Singapore initiated a new 10-week immersion program that placed 22 youth leaders for full-time work at 12 social service organizations, helping more than 1,900 beneficiaries and tackling social issues like care for the environment, the elderly, and people with special needs. “The objective is for our Youth Corps aspirants to develop a better understanding of the social sector and to acquire skills in serving the community,” said Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth.


Facebook donation drive scam uses a photo of a comedian’s sick daughter. A picture of comedian Mark Lee’s sick five-year-old daughter was allegedly used in a Facebook donation drive scam. Lee and his wife said on social media last week they were alerted to a Facebook post soliciting donations using a picture of their daughter in a hospital war. The post had asked for SG$200,000 (approximately US$146,000). Such scams highlight the potential risks of donation drives done online and on social media, said multiple charity experts in the country. Andy Sim of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre said online fundraising is a useful tool but faces a risk of fraud, while Tan En of crowdfunding platform Ray of Hope Initiative said, “The crowdfunding sector here is very small. There are only a few platforms, so whenever there is a scandal, people get skeptical.”


Who’s Doing Good?

23 July 2018 - 29 July 2018


SK chief donates US$10 million to help Laos disaster recovery. Chairman of SK Group, Chey Tae-won, made the donation pledge in a meeting with the Laotian ambassador in Seoul, offering his condolences to victims of the flooding from the dam construction site. With two Korean companies being involved in the construction project, both companies and the Korean government have offered to provide aid in cash and in physical materials.


“Help nonprofits to build long-term capacity,” says Shahira Ahmed Bazari. Writing in the New Straits Times, Bazari, managing director of Yayasan Hasanah, a Malaysian foundation, urges for a change in the way that nonprofits are perceived: to recognize that they are professional organizations that require the same kinds of financial resources and support as other organizations. “If nonprofits do not have to worry about covering basic costs and salaries regularly, they can place more focus and resources on driving real change and delivering a social impact,” she writes.

The Straits Times answers questions about crowdfunding in Singapore. Instead of viewing it as a threat, it argues that crowdfunding should be viewed as an opportunity. On the island city-state, crowdfunding is regulated by the Commissioner of Charities in conjunction with the sector’s major players: crowdfunding sites bear responsibility for assessing the legitimacy of funding appeals while taking in a near-negligible fee for their services. Thanks to its lower cost, as well as potential to help organizations reach new audiences, crowdfunding could become an invaluable tool for small charities.

Bosses treating their employees better is also a form of corporate social responsibility. Datuk Michael Tio, chief executive of PKT Logistics Group, states that company profits should be spent on employees and that CSR is more than just donating to charities. Tio was one of the three panelists for the topic “Technology – The Engine of Change” at The Star Outstanding Business Awards 2018 held in Ipoh, Malaysia.


Responding to the Rohingya crisis, foreign donations to Bangladesh rise nearly 16%. Over US$820 million in funds are expected to go to the 1,625 projects approved by the NGO Affairs Bureau, the highest number approved by the bureau in a single year. This comes as donations to NGOs have waned in recent years, as the government has taken punitive measures against some for regulatory non-compliance. Another US$50 million is expected to be committed by donors in the coming year.

Foodbank Vietnam helps distribute food to those in need. Foodbank Vietnam, a government-sponsored Vietnam Red Cross charity, debuted earlier this year with a pledge to reduce poverty, raise social awareness about saving food, and boost connections and coordination between food suppliers and resource centers. “More than 5,000 meals are provided each month to 10 places sheltering the homeless, many of them children. We have gradually collected the food from five suppliers in Ho Chi Minh City,” said the founder Nguyễn Tuấn Khởi.


PepsiCo donates US$1 million to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Along with the financial donation, the multinational corporation is also donating its new Quaker Kids Nutrition products to assist with hunger alleviation efforts in Southwest China. Many counties in the targeted provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou are among the poorest in the country. The grant will provide over 1.7 million meals benefiting approximately 10,000 students over the next three years.


The Korea Herald interviews the president of Hanyang University, where social innovation is “in their DNA.” At Hanyang, students are required to complete 32 hours of community service in order to graduate. The university is the first in East Asia to be designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. “Trying to find ways to help others and contribute to the society, that is the mindset we seek to deliver to our students,” says Lee Young-moo, the university’s president. Going forward, it hopes to publish a Korean version of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the preeminent publication on social innovation from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Social services sector aims to strengthen service delivery with two new digital initiatives. The IT system to improve backend processes, iShine Cloud provides a suite of integrated IT cloud services specific to the charitable sector. The system is jointly developed by the National Council of Social Service and Singapore Pools. The system will consist of tools that will help social service professionals attend to their clients without being stalled by administrative tasks. The second is a social service navigator, an interactive online platform and mobile portal that consolidates information on social service providers, programs, and resources all over Singapore. The platform aims to significantly reduce the time social service professionals spend searching for a suitable program to better address the needs of their clients.


Children take on a bike tour of Taiwan to help the elderly. Fifteen children participating in the “2018 Love and Hope in Taiwan – Bicyclists Charity” event have set out on a bicycle challenge in Taichung, including stops in Kaohsiung and New Taipei, to help and support the elderly in those communities. The children come from disadvantaged families. They will perform dances and give the elderly massages on the way.


Charity founder confesses to sexual assault in WeChat post. Lei Chuang, the founder of the Yi You Charity and a high-profile philanthropic figure in China, has admitted to sexually assaulting a woman. Lei, a respected personality in China’s charity circle, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2015 in an anonymous article posted online.




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?

12 February 2018 - 18 February 2018


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

5 February 2018 - 11 February 2018


Chinese home appliance-maker’s founder tops the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists for the first time. He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group Co., Ltd., donated 6.8 billion yuan (US$1.09 billion) to charity last year, topping for the first time the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists published by Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute. According to the same report, the top 100 givers in China donated a total of 23.3 billion yuan (US$3.68 billion). In comparison, the top 50 givers in the United States donated US$12.2 billion to charity in 2016.

In the wake of the Hualien earthquake, donations from Taiwanese philanthropists pour in. Including those from ultra-high-net-worth philanthropists, total donations (as of February 8, 2018) to disaster relief funds for people affected by the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, is reported to have exceeded NT$600 million (US$20.42 million). List of notable companies and organizations includes: Hon Hai Precision Industry, Formosa Plastics Group, Lin Rung San Foundation of Culture and Social Welfare, Union Bank of Taiwan, Pegatron, and Fubon Financial Holding.

Prince Charles launches education impact bond for India. With the support of the British government’s Department for International Development, Comic Relief, the Mittal Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and philanthropists like Sir Ronald Cohen, the US$10 million Development Impact Bond (DIB) aspires to help improve education for over 200,000 children in India. The DIB is the largest bond of its type in South Asia and is the latest fundraising initiative by the British Asian Trust, which was set up by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia.


SK plans to launch research unit on social enterprises. In March, the South Korean conglomerate will establish and fund a nonprofit research foundation on issues relating to social enterprises. Chey Tae-won, Chairman of the SK Group, has been a longtime supporter of social enterprises in Korea.


Doctor and his healthcare charity win the The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award. Dr. Goh Wei Leong and his team have been named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year, an award organized by The Straits Times and sponsored by UBS Singapore. Dr. Goh co-founded HealthServe, a healthcare charity in Singapore that provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare and other social services.


Hyundai Motor supports the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics by providing 4,100 vehicles and ₩50 billion (US$46.95 million) donation. On top of the logistical and financial contributions it has made to PyeongChang, Hyundai has been an active supporter of winter sports in Korea, developing upgraded bobsleighs and providing coaching staff for the country’s national team.


Grab and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) join forces to raise funds for supporting vulnerable communities. Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading on-demand transportation and mobile payments platform, and its customers will now be able to convert GrabRewards loyalty points to a donation to the IFRC. Such partnership is the IFRC’s first fundraising initiative globally to use a smartphone application.

The Tata Trusts launches the “Social Alpha Energy Challenge” to find high-impact innovations that could catalyze system change in the field of energy. The challenge is managed and run by the Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), which supports innovative, technology-based solutions for social impact. It specifically focuses on clean technology, sustainability, and energy efficiency and will select a maximum of 10 winners, whose ideas will receive incubation and other forms of support from the Tata Trusts.


Charity and volunteerism help fight aftermath of the Hualien earthquake in Taiwan. On top of the reported total of NT$600 million (US$20.42 million) in charitable donations, many are offering to help as volunteers utilizing their resources and skills. Hsu Tang-yu from Taichung, for example, showed up in Hualien to provide rescue workers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart, while a team of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners set up a station to treat rescue workers’ back pain and sore muscles.


A Hong Kong millionaire’s bribery case in Africa shows another incident where a donation and NGO status are abused as a bribery vehicle. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary and founding chairman of an energy NGO registered in Hong Kong and the United States, was alleged to have drafted a letter to the President of Chad expressing a Chinese company’s desire to make a US$2 million “donation” to support “social and other programs as [the President] see[s] fit.” Ho’s bail application and request to be put under house arrest were rejected.

Pragmatic Philanthropy: Asian Charity Explained

Palgrave Macmillan, January 2018

“We must create a civilization where we can realize the best of human potential. This book helps us to understand how this vision is being realized in Asia today.” (Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Founder, the Grameen Bank)

“In today’s world, leaders must rely on partnerships that connect across business, government and civil society. In Asia, partnerships are in evident display. Ruth Shapiro tells us how they help address our shared problems in ways that create win-win solutions.” (Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company)

“Charity has had a long and noble history in Asia.  It has not however, been the study of much research or documentation.  Pragmatic Philanthropy makes an important contribution to understanding the way in which social investment in Asia takes place.” (Victor K. Fung, Group Chairman of the Fung Group)

“Kiva is working in 80 countries.  While some aspects of our work are consistent throughout the world, we have learned that it is essential to have on the ground knowledge in each of the localities where we make loans available.  We must have trustworthy local partners and be familiar with local laws and practices. Dr. Ruth Shapiro’s insights come from decades of work in Asia. This book provides a very helpful view into the way philanthropy and other types of social investment gets done in the region.” (Premal Shah, Co-Founder & President, Kiva)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philanthropy in Asia needs a push from good government policies

South China Morning Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article ran originally in the South China Morning Post.

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 the 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 the 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.

Driving Value

Taiwan Taxi Academy Association: Flipping Perceptions of the Taxi Industry

Under the aegis of a public-private partnership model, a non-profit taxi association was formed to improve the livelihoods of low-income taxi drivers, while bolstering the local economy.

The Taiwan Taxi Academy Association (TTAA) was formally established as a non-profit organization(NPO) by a team of university professors in 2014, keen to apply what they have learned from years of academic research to improve the lives of taxi drivers. They developed a platform for drivers to be able to undergo professional training and gain access to collective learning opportunities. The goal was to “rebrand” taxi drivers to appeal to international and domestic tourists as friendly, reliable professionals who can provide high-value services.

There are more than 150 members today, all of whom rely on chartered taxi tourism as their main source of income. To help them in this, TTAA combines resources from government authorities, universities, and the taxi industry to develop the capabilities of drivers. This unique organization, which works with government, industry, and academic stakeholders to create opportunities for drivers to work and thrive exemplifies how multi-stakeholder efforts can help to address a social problem — in this case, the dearth of opportunities for marginalized taxi drivers to improve their incomes.