Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

University in Hong Kong gets HK$100 million in donations for a smart city and sustainable energy research. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been given a generous donation of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) from Otto Poon, a graduate of the university and chairman of ATAL Engineering Group, for a smart city and sustainable energy research. The gift was made under the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation and represents the largest personal donation to the university in the past decade. The funds will be used for the establishment of two research institutes and two professorships.

Jeff Bezos creates new philanthropy: the Bezos Day One Fund. Via Twitter, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shared a statement announcing the creation of his new charitable organization: the Bezos Day One Fund. Through the fund, Bezos will initially invest US$2 billion of his US$150 billion into existing homelessness charities and in the development of early childhood education centers.

THE THINKERS

Conglomerate research firm finds Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed social contributions by 14.5% in two years. Following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed their charitable donations by 14.5% in the past two years. Total contributions made by the likes of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, and Lotte stood at a little over ₩838.1 billion (approximately US$743.1 million) in 2017, down ₩124.9 billion (approximately US$110.7 million) or a drop of 13% from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent a total of ₩980.2 billion (approximately US$868.76 million) on donations. “Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble,” said the local tracker of large conglomerates.

THE NONPROFITS

More social service organizations in Singapore go cashless for fundraising. In line with an increasing societal trend to rely on cashless forms of payment, individuals can now donate to charities with a few taps on their mobile phones, and Singaporean charities are tapping into this new fundraising opportunity. Since May 2018, 73 organizations have been actively using cashless payment technologies, according to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). NCSS’ deputy CEO, De. Fermin Diez, said, “With more Singaporeans carrying less cash, social service organizations need to be more innovative about raising funds through contactless donation technology. Otherwise, they could face a decline in donations if only cash was accepted.” Diez also added that the benefits of cashless fundraising are reduced administration costs, better governance, tighter security, and improved donation tracking.

THE BUSINESSES

BloombergQuint identifies India’s most and least philanthropic large companies. According to BloombergQuint, about a fifth of Nifty 50 companies failed to spend the minimum required on CSR for the fourth straight year. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. was the most generous in the 2017-2018 financial year, spending nearly 10% of its average three-year net profit on CSR. Following Vedanta Ltd. were UPL Ltd. and state-owned Coal India Ltd. Notably, Dilip Shanghvi-controlled Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. were the only two Nifty 50 companies that contributed towards CSR despite reporting losses.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs awards Infinitus the China Charity Award. The China Charity Award is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy in China from a government authority. Infinitus was recently honored with this award for its continuing contributions to society and its longstanding commitment to CSR. In 2016, Infinitus kicked off a volunteer project and set up the Infinitus Volunteers Association. To date, the association has had more than 6,000 individual volunteers, organized 230 volunteering events, and accumulated more than 27,000 hours of volunteer work.

THE INNOVATORS

Chinese government to use blockchain technology for tracking charitable donations by 2019. In order to increase transparency of public donations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in charge of social services and the broader social sector, is planning to adopt blockchain technology for an upgrade of its current charity tracking system. The plan dictates that the existing government charity databases will be integrated into the new blockchain network. In this way, data on charitable donations made through a variety of services will become visible to the public faster using a distributed network.

Philanthropic foundations launch US$11 million impact bonds to improve education in India. The largest development impact bond (DIB) has been launched by the UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The bond promises to improve the educational outcome of 300,000 students in Delhi and Gujarat. A DIB is not a money market instrument. Risk investors put money to roll out a program in order to address a cause. They earn a return if the program is successful. “This landmark financial instrument applies an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy… If the potential of this type of funding is unleashed, it could improve the lives of generations to come,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. 

THE VOLUNTEERS

Divers volunteer as “gardeners” to restore dying corals in Thailand. It is widely known that coral reefs are in danger due to climate change. A group of divers is trying to tackle this environmental problem in Koh Ha, Thailand. Inspired by reforestation techniques employed in tropical forests, conservationist Anuar Abdullah began research into how those same methods might be applied to coral reefs, which are often referred to as “underwater rainforests.” Eventually, the solution of coral gardening was devised, growing corals in nurseries and then replanting them on reefs. Anuar also founded Ocean Quest, a conservation organization that organizes courses at dive schools and resorts in Southeast Asia. To date, the organization has certified more than 800 trainers and 1,000 coral gardeners.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

In response to potential cases of fraud, Singaporean crowdfunding website offers “donation back guarantee.” The Raye of Hope Initiative, a crowdfunding website based in Singapore, recently announced it would start the “donation back guarantee” in cases of fraudulent fundraising projects. The move came after the Commissioner of Charities launched a campaign last Friday to get donors to do more checks before giving. The website has had more than 170 fundraising projects. “We need to give donors the confidence that they are giving to people who genuinely need help and depend on crowdfunding to tide them over a difficult period,” said Tan En, director of the crowdfunding website.

Japan to reform “hometown tax donation” program to address excessive competition among local governments to provide expensive gift incentives. The furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system was originally introduced in 2008 to ease the disparity in tax revenue between urban and rural areas by incentivizing individual giving to local governments. The government said Tuesday it will reform this system in order to curb extravagant gift incentives from local governments, as the system has led to fierce competition among local governments to lure donations with expensive gifts that are excessive in price and that are oftentimes not locally produced. As such, the government is specifically considering to limit gifts to those produced locally and keep their value below 30% of donations.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 September 2018 - 9 September 2018

THE GIVERS

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.

THE THINKERS

“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. 

THE NONPROFITS

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. 

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

THE VOLUNTEERS

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.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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?

6 August 2018 - 12 August 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

 THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

9 July 2018 - 15 July 2018

THE GIVERS

The late HNA chairman’s stake in the conglomerate is to go to a China-based charity. Wang Jian, who has a 14.98% stake in HNA, died in an accidental fall while traveling in France earlier in the month. The China-based charity, Hainan Province Cihang Charity Foundation, already controls 22.75% of the conglomerate. The charity and another New York-based foundation already jointly hold a majority stake in the conglomerate. Shareholders had allegedly previously promised to pass their stakes to the charity fund in the event of their exit from the company or death.

Livemint interviews Rakesh Mittal, who recently pledged INR 7000 crore (over USD $1 billion) to education. The Bharti Mittal Family pledged the sum towards the creation of Satya Bharti University, a new higher education institution with a focus on Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and artificial and virtual reality. “This is the DNA of my family,” he says, referring to his family’s philanthropic tradition. “When we started out our businesses, even when we were small, we were doing a few small things or initiating or institutionalizing scholarships and higher education for engineering and management students. I personally believe that giving back to society is an obligation.”

Top Korean financier says his dream is “to become Korea’s largest donator, not the country’s richest man.” Mirae Asset Daewoo, Korea’s top securities firm, and its chairman, Park Hyeon-Joo, are providing thousands of scholarships to nurture young talented individuals. The company said the Mirae Asset Park Hyeon-Joo Foundation has supported about 230,000 students as of April 2018 since the foundation’s establishment in March 2000. Of these, the company stated that it particularly focuses on supporting study abroad programs. A company official said, “To help more Korean university students have different kinds of cultural experiences, we have been providing scholarships to 500 students every year. The number of students will be expanded to 600 in the second semester of this year.” Alongside his foundation’s charitable work, Park is known for donating his dividends every year.

Hong Kong mourns the death of great educator Tin Ka Ping. From humble beginnings on the mainland, businessman became a philanthropist who donated billions of dollars in support of education, culture and social welfare. Despite his great successes as an awardee of the MBE in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth and a Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010, by the Hong Kong government, he was a modest man and lived a simple life. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Tin and his businesses suffered a massive blow making it difficult for his foundation to complete some of the donations. In 2001, Tin made the incredible decision to sell his for HK$56 million (US$ 7.13 million). He donated all the proceeds to more than 20 secondary schools.

THE THINKERS

Singaporean businesses “fail to give back to society,” says the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The centre found that 31% of Singaporean companies are “keen to start” giving, but have yet to do so. Many are holding back out of concern about the staff and resource availability, as well as time limitations. Companies that have been successful in giving back were those that adopted a “purpose for-profit model,” using volunteer activities for purposes such as staff development and skill cultivation. Going forward, NVPC director Jeffrey Tan says that cultural change needs to start at the top: “Many of these barriers identified, and the low utilisation of paid volunteer leave, suggest a need for leaders to drive shifts in perception and organisational cultures.”

THE NONPROFITS

Five nonprofit websites that will inspire you. According to the author, “the most effective nonprofit websites provide mobile-friendly accessibility, streamlined donation pages, straightforward navigation and a growth-driven design that allows for continuous testing and improvement—all while showcasing the organization in a captivating way.” The author selected notable websites of five nonprofit organizations such as Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley, Greenpeace, Movember Foundation, World Bicycle Relief, and Sharing America’s Marrow, elaborating on the specific reasons for their effectiveness and uniqueness.

THE BUSINESS

Traveloka harnesses its customers for charitable giving. In preparation for Meraka Day and Malaysia Day, the travel booking site will donate 1 yuan from every booking to Tabung Harapan Malaysia, the national debt-relief fund set up by the Malaysian government in June of this year. To date, the fund has collected 144.6 million yuan (USD $36 million). “We are sure that many Malaysians wish to show their love for the country, which was why we set up the campaign,” Traveloka’s country manager Halif Hamzah said. Titled “Share Your Love for Malaysia,” the campaign will run until the end of September.

THE INNOVATORS

A debut development-impact bond performs beyond expectations. UBS Group’s Optimus Foundation launched the Educate Girls Development Impact Bond in 2015 to fund a program in rural India to improve educational opportunities for girls. The program outperformed expectations, generating a 15% rate of return for the foundation. The bonds are one example of innovative ways that foundations are raising money for charitable causes. Over 108 social-impact bonds have raised $392 million since 2010. “When people make philanthropic investments, especially international ones, there’s a lot of risk with that, but in a development-impact bond the investor is the one taking the risk,” says Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation. “This could potentially be a really powerful financing tool.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Thailand honors foreign volunteers in cave rescue. The Thai government has honoured over 100 foreign volunteers who took part in the dramatic rescue mission to free 13 Mu Pa Academy football club members from Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai. The Royal Household Bureau, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and Tourism Authority of Thailand will also host sightseeing trips in Chiang Rai and Bangkok for those who wished to stay in Thailand after their volunteer work. For those returning back home, Thai authorities will sponsor a single trip back to Thailand within the next five years.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Maharashtra state charity commission asks NGOs, trusts to remove ‘human rights’ or ‘corruption’ from their registered names. Around 400 non-profits and trusts established with the words ‘human rights’ or ‘corruption’ in their names and are risking suspension under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act 1950. The charity commissioner states that the government has the machinery to eradicate corruption and protect human right and that many organizations were misusing the words and deceiving people. Several NGOs have objected to the State’s move, arguing that the Charity Commissioner’s office should have raised objections while registering their organizations. Many propose to challenge the order in court.

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?

28 May 2018 - 3 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Three more Indian billionaires pledge to donate half of their wealth. The Nilekani, Shetty, and Bhusri families have joined the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit to dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Now in its eight year, the effort has expanded internationally with the addition of 14 philanthropists in the last year alone, bringing the total number of pledgers to 183 from 22 countries.

THE THINKERS

Gendered differences in impact investing? A new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis finds differences between men and women in their willingness to learn about, and participate in, impact investing. Overall, while men and women impact invest at similar rates, women are more interested in learning about impact investing, and are more likely to impact invest on top of their existing charitable giving.

“Effective altruism”: the head or the heart? To many, altruism is an appeal to the heart. The question of having their money well spent, however, is a perennial debate that seeming one can only agree to disagree: is making a wish come true for disease-stricken children a less worthy cause to buying bed nets for people in mosquito-infested area? This Economist article on ‘effective altruism’ continues the debate.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofits in Hong Kong push ahead temporary dwellings for people rather than profit. Hong Kong’s housing is one of the most unaffordable in the world, to the point that too many dwellers of the city can only afford to live in “cage housing”–small cubicle flats of 1.4 square meter s that cost an average of HK$1,500 (or US$192) per month, making them effectively more expensive than many of the posh apartments of Hong Kong. Nonprofits such as Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) are attempting to address the issue with their social housing scheme in a bid to provide temporary relief to those in need. Under the scheme, residents usually only have to pay rent of about a quarter of their household income, and are able to stay for a few years until they are allocated a public housing flat.

THE BUSINESSES

Enterprise Asia hosts its fourth International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Manila. Through its Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA), Enterprise Asia rewards companies for responsible business leadership and outstanding CSR contributions. William Ng, Enterprise Asia’s president predicts that companies’ approaches are evolving and shifting towards a ‘shared value’ model, where companies find opportunities to solve societal problems while obtaining something in return, rather than focusing only on philanthropy: “Every organization on Earth will eventually migrate into the ‘shared value’ model. Everyone, without exception.”

THE INNOVATORS

The Gates Foundation launches a grant to better understanding how education works around the world. For a foundation known for big investments, the grant is comparatively small, at US$68 million. Yet, the fund is uniquely problem-first: it specifically tackles the challenge of comparing educational achievements between countries, with the goal of enabling greater knowledge sharing across borders. India is the grant’s pilot country, thanks to its wealth of local organizations with “enormous capability and expertise.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

62,000 employees from Korean steelmaker Posco volunteer in 53 nations in their annual “Global Volunteer Week.” This is the ninth year that the event has been held, with volunteers engaging in events both at home and abroad, as far as Thailand and Indonesia, contributing to projects such as enhancing energy efficiency in residential areas and assisting with coral reef rehabilitation.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Thai King revokes seven senior monks’ ranks for money laundering and alleged embezzlement. Five of the monks are being held in custody and were previously residents of three of Bangkok’s most popular temples. They are accused of siphoning tens of millions of baht from development and Buddhism study funds, amidst a sweeping investigation into corruption in temples countrywide.

 

Who’s Doing Good?

14 May 2018 - 20 May 2018

THE GIVERS

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ask for donations to charity in lieu of wedding gifts. The couple has asked for donations to a number of charities, instead of traditional presents for those who wish to send a wedding gift to them. 7 charities are chosen to represent a range of issues they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces.

THE THINKERS

Funders, get out of your own way to achieve greater impact. Funders can be nonprofits and social enterprises’ greatest enemy, according to Open Road Alliance, a philanthropic initiative that provides bailout grants to social impact organizations that encounter mission-crippling obstacles. Its newly released Roadblock Analysis Report, which looks into the 102 applications for support the initiative received over the last five years, reveals that “Funder-Created Obstacles”, such as delay of disbursement, a change in funder strategy, and funder policy inflexibility, made up of half of the roadblocks nonprofits and social enterprises face during project implementation. Other factors, including weather event or market change under the “Act of God/Economics” category, and fraud/theft filed under “Organizational Misfortune”, tied at 27% each.

THE NONPROFITS

NGOs can play a bigger role to protect migrant fishing workers in Thailand. Natthaya Phetcharat, a labor rights activist, said members of legally registered NGOs should be allowed to collaborate with Thai officials to help migrant workers in fishing industry, as they have more confidence in the networks and feel more comfortable talking to NGO advocates than to just the authorities, according to a survey which interviewed 300 migrant workers in the industry.

THE BUSINESSES

Nokia vows to digitize 500 Indian villages in five years’ time. Through its newly launched “Smartpur” project, Nokia vows to bring connectivity and enable digital applications in education, healthcare, governance, and finance to 500 villages and rural communities across the country in 5 years. The initiative aims to bring efficiency in daily lives, transparency in governance, economic prosperity for households and ease of access to various government services and information, the Finnish telecom gear maker said.

Samsung vice-chairman holds on to foundation chairmanship. Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronic’s vice-chairman, will serve as chair of Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation for another term, despite speculations of the contrary after criticisms of him using the chairmanship to garner more control of the Korean conglomerate. The board re-appointed him last Friday in the belief that Lee “best understands the vision of the foundation and is the most suitable person to carry out its social contribution activities”.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Kodak expands global literary program with local printers and staffers. More printers across the globe are signing up for Kodak’s Print for Good initiative, which aims to print and donate children’s book titles and school notebooks. Last year, the initiative placed more than 30,000 books and printed materials to thousands of children in Europe, the US, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Kodak staffers are also encouraged to support their own community’s literacy initiatives, including participation in local school reading programs. This year, the imaging company will establish a new partnership with Room to Read, a global nonprofit focusing on literary and girls’ education in low-income countries to roll out a literacy program for an Indian community.

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?

19 February 2018 - 25 February 2018

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

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

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

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

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)