Who’s Doing Good?

14 October 2019 - 27 October 2019

THE GIVERS

Shiv Nadar top philanthropist in India, followed by Premji and Ambani. HCL founder and chairman Shiv Nadar was named the most generous individual philanthropist in India. According to the Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2019, Nadar and his family gave Rs826 crore (approximately US$117 million) in 2018. Azim Premji was second on the list followed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The list also noted an almost two-fold increase from the previous year in the number of Indians who donated more than Rs5 crore (nearly US$1 million) to social causes, excluding religious donations. 

THE THINKERS

Universities in Hong Kong should focus more on practice and less on theory to create social change. A new report, Surveying the Landscape of Social Innovation and Higher Education in Hong Kong, pushes universities to “do less theory and more practice to have genuine social impact.” The main findings of the report show a buildout of social innovation research and teaching in Hong Kong. However, the report notes that scholars need to engage in more practical activity and collaborations outside academia to impactfully tackle social challenges. The article details current collaborations in Hong Kong such as the British Council’s BRICKS (Building Research Innovation for Community Knowledge and Sustainability) consortium, and Nurturing Social Minds, a social innovation teaching program funded by the government’s SIE Fund and Yeh Family Philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Change in India’s sector is being powered by tech, young entrepreneurs, and committed funders. As the revenue pool available for nonprofits grows with increased corporate funding and philanthropic funding, the sector is seeing significant change. This includes a new focus on organization-building, talent development, and leadership training. This comes at a time when there is growing acknowledgement globally that donors need to help nonprofits develop their own capacity to achieve greater impact. India’s sector is catching up with promising trends including nonprofit leadership programs, young professionals entering the sector, and more focus on nonprofit organizational development.

THE BUSINESSES

J.P. Morgan commits US$25 million to aid skills development in India. J.P. Morgan has announced a five-year commitment to skills development initiatives for low- and middle-income communities in India. This US$25 million commitment is part of the firm’s five-year US$350 million global commitment to meet the growing demand for skilled workers and to create economic mobility for underserved populations. In collaboration with government and nonprofit leaders, J.P. Morgan will support skills training and career education programs related to the country’s high growth sectors and aligned with market trends. It will also support actionable research to inform future philanthropic investments in India and to share best practices on education and training programs. 

Japan Inc. plays catch up in scramble to bioplastics. Nikkei Asian Review reports on Japanese companies committing to better recycling practices as they risk losing environmentally conscious investors. This includes household goods producer Kao, which is a founding member of a consortium of 265 companies and associations fighting plastic pollution. Beverage giant Suntory Holdings has also stated it will replace fossil fuel-based materials with items made from used plastic bottles and bioplastics by 2030. Kuraray and Mitsubishi Chemical are also joining in. These efforts are intended to help create a circular economy, where products are made from recycled materials, and in turn are recycled. Such a system is estimated to pump at least ¥20 trillion (US$187 billion) into Japan’s economy—nearly 4% of GDP.

Vietnam ed tech startup aims to fill Southeast Asia’s talent pool. A recent report from Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings highlights the region’s shallow talent pool, which is weighing on efforts to boost the internet economy. Education startups, like Vietnam’s Topica Edtech Group, are pioneering digital training grounds for talent development in the Southeast Asian tech scene. At the forefront of Southeast Asia’s burgeoning “ed tech sector,” Topica is upskilling young professionals for the digital age. The startup, which was launched in 2008, now offers 3,000 e-learning courses and has about 1.5 million students in Vietnam and Thailand. Nikkei Asian Review covers the startup’s pivot and journey towards addressing Southeast Asia’s talent shortage, especially in digital technologies.

THE INNOVATORS

Asian Development Bank invests ฿3 billion in Energy Absolute’s green bond. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) climate financing, which supports climate change mitigation, is expected to reach US$80 billion from 2019 to 2030. ADB recently signed an agreement with Energy Absolute, one of the largest renewable energy companies in Thailand. ADB will invest US$98.7 million in Energy Absolute’s maiden green bond issuance, the first bond dedicated to a wind power project in Thailand. The green bond will help support the long-term financing of the company’s 260-megawatt Hanuman wind farm. As the largest wind farm in Thailand, it is expected to reduce the country’s annual carbon emissions by 200,000 tons by 2020. 

Asia-Pacific issuance of green bonds hits record high US$18.9 billion. A recent HSBC report on sustainable financing found that more than a third of Asian investors surveyed noted that the bulk of their clients had negative perceptions of ESG investing, compared with a global figure of around one fifth. However, the region is now “catching up,” according to Financial Times. Green bond issuance in the Asia-Pacific region has reached a record US$18.9 billion raised from 44 green bond issuances in the year to date. A director at Citi, one of the biggest green bond underwriters in the Asia-Pacific region, underscored the growing interest noting, “The amount of enquiries we get tells us that in the future every bond will need to be marketed with an ESG component.”

Who’s Doing Good?

16 September 2019 - 29 September 2019

THE GIVERS

Five heirs from wealthy Asian families focus on the environment. In this Bloomberg article, wealthy Asian heirs and philanthropy experts discuss their efforts, and the challenges they face, in environmental activism and impact investing. Asia is home to three of the five most-polluting countries in the world, but government and philanthropic efforts to combat climate change are lagging behind. However, as wealth is transferred to a younger, more environmentally aware generation, attitudes are starting to change. The efforts and challenges discussed in the article include climate awareness campaigns, green bonds, and ESG investing. 

THE THINKERS

UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank launch the Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children. The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children (GMPFC), a joint initiative of UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), will help enable multiple forms of Muslim philanthropy. The Fund offers a coordinated and structured mechanism through which Muslim giving can be channeled to children and young people. This includes obligatory giving such as Zakat and voluntary giving such as Sadaqah donations and Waqf endowments. This funding will contribute to humanitarian and development programs in the 57 member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Fund aims to raise US$250 million from private and public foundations, Zakat agencies, and individual donors.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies are putting purpose before profit. Indian businesses are increasingly tweaking their policies, premises and operations to be more socially and environmentally conscious. Underlying these developments are young customers and employees preferring companies adhering to certain values, as well as a broader shift in capitalist focus from pure profit to a broader more inclusive and purposive business approach. These ideas are not new to Indian business. Former director at Tata Sons underscores this in the article, giving nod to Jamsetji Tata who–over a century ago–emphasized that the community is not just another stakeholder but the very purpose of business. Among the companies implementing new initiatives are Godrej companies, which adopted a gender affirmation policy, and Mahindra group, which reduced the amount of energy used to produce vehicles by 83% in 8 years.

Grab launches social impact program to upskill Southeast Asians. Singapore-based ride-hailing giant Grab announced the launch of its Grab for Good program, an initiative that aims to create more opportunities for Southeast Asians in the digital economy. Through partnerships with governments, companies, educational institutions, and nonprofits, the Grab for Good program sets out to help 5 million micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses digitize their workflows and processes and bring digital inclusion and literacy to 3 million Southeast Asians. Grab group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan stated, “If the private sector actively creates programs for local communities, technology can be within reach for many, and the learning of new skills can immediately improve the livelihoods for many more people in Southeast Asia.”

Manila Water Foundation named Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year. On September 20th, Manila Water Foundation (MWF), the social development arm of Manila Water, was awarded Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year award in recognition of its work in bringing water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to marginalized communities. MWF’s Integrated WASH programs focus on providing access to clean and potable water to rural and marginalized communities as well as encouraging behavioral changes to improve hygiene and sanitation practices. Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year Award is part of the Asia Corporate Excellence and Sustainability (ACES) award and given to companies leading significant, innovative and inspirational corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns. 

THE INNOVATORS

Japan’s US$1.5 trillion pension fund to go all in on green bonds. Green bonds raise money for climate and environmental projects, and they can be issued by private companies, international organizations, and governments. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, “Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) will begin allocating substantial amounts of money to bonds with an environmental purpose as early as the fiscal year beginning next April.” The GPIF is Japan’s largest public investor by assets, managing ¥159 trillion (US$1.5 trillion). While the GPIF already owns a small amount of green bonds, this move has the potential to influence other institutional investors by deepening the market for these bonds. This move comes amidst the Fund’s new focus on environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing. 

Aavishkaar Group raises US$37 million in fresh financing from Dutch development bank. One of the world’s largest impact investors, Aavishkaar Group currently manages assets of about US$1 billion. The Mumbai-based social capital investor recently raised US$27 million in fresh financing from Dutch development finance institution FMO. According to the chief executive of Aavishkaar Group, a substantial portion of proceeds from this new round will be used to build the groundwork for expanding its operations to Africa and Southeast Asia. FMO said in a statement, “With this investment into the group, we hope to help the Aavishkaar Group reduce the vulnerability of India’s, Southeast Asia’s, and Africa’s low-income population…We will work with Aavishkaar to help them build their own institution so that they can focus on what they do well: building companies, backing entrepreneurs, and unlocking innovative ideas.”

Who’s Doing Good?

19 August 2019 - 1 September 2019

THE GIVERS

Bangladesh set to receive US$22.7 million from UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched its Refugee Zakat Fund as a new structure of its zakat program that was founded in 2016. The fund has already surpassed its US$26 million target for 2019, raising just over US$38 million in the first half of the year. Most of this came from donors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, and Egypt. The fund has already disbursed over half a million dollars to benefit 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, which is set to receive a total of US$22.7 million. The UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific noted that Islamic philanthropy has yet to realize its full potential within the global humanitarian sector and underscored the important role zakat can play.

Simon and Eleanor Kwok donate HK$5.2 million to injured jockey Tye Angland. According to Hong Kong Tatler, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent horse racing aficionados, the Kwok family, recently announced a HK$5.2 million (approximately US$700,000) donation to jockey Tye Angland. After a jockeying accident in Hong Kong last November, the Australian suffered career-ending spinal injuries which left him a quadriplegic. In an interview with Sky Sports Radio, Angland responded to the donation with gratitude, noting that it will be going into three different trusts for his children’s education and life expenses. The former jockey has been overwhelmed with support from the racing community and hopes to be a role model for others living with disabilities.

THE THINKERS

Levelling up: shattering myths about philanthropy in Asia. Asia is home to more billionaires now than any other region, and this article explores the intricacies of giving among Asia’s fastest-growing economies. CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro weighs in, noting the difficulties of gathering data in this space as most giving is done through companies and often without proclamation. The article discusses the findings of CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, including the trust deficit in the social sector and the important role governments can play. As the region witnesses growing inequality, governments are increasingly looking to private players for support. With more wealth than ever before, Shapiro concludes that Asia has enormous potential to be a world leader in philanthropy.

THE BUSINESSES

The Philippines’ Aboitiz Group supports young robotics enthusiasts. The Aboitiz Group has long supported STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the Philippines, and it recently reinforced its commitment through the launch of the ‘Kabataan Inyovator: An Aboitiz Robotics Competition.’ The competition aims to encourage innovation in solving community problems through robotics. Together with Davao Light and Power Company, the Aboitiz Foundation led the competition launch on August 12 in Davao City. Pinoy Robot Games offered training sessions on robot programming, and project ideation and evaluation, for 20 Davao City public elementary and high school teams. The winning team will have its prototype deployed in its host community, and represent the Philippines in the World Robot Olympiad in Canada.  

Macronix donates NT$420 million to National Cheng Kung University to build Macronix Innovation Center. Macronix International, a global manufacturer of integrated non-volatile memory components headquartered in Taiwan, has made a generous donation to Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). The NT$420 million donation (approximately US$13.5 million) will be used to build the Macronix Innovation Center, a historic new space on campus that will leverage the talent of Macronix and NCKU collaboratively. Miin Wu, the founder and chief executive officer of Macronix is an alumnus of the university, where he studied electrical engineering. Macronix hopes the new creative space will foster new talent as well as demonstrate the company’s dedication to corporate social responsibility. The Macronix Innovation Center adds to NUCK’s nine existing schools by housing the School of Computing, modeled after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) College of Computing.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer-based emergency response system offers solution to road traffic accidents in Bangladesh. Featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, TraumaLink’s pragmatic model shines a spotlight on volunteer-based emergency response systems. In Bangladesh, road traffic injuries (RTIs) are the leading cause of death and disability, with nearly 25,000 road traffic deaths in 2016 according to the World Health Organization. In 2013, TraumaLink co-founders Jon Moussally, an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Mridul Chowdhury, CEO of mPower Social Enterprises, introduced a volunteer-based solution. TraumaLink enlists local volunteers, who live or work along the highway, to provide more immediate first aid to RTI victims. As of mid-2019, almost 2,000 patients have been treated by nearly 500 TraumaLink volunteers.

THE INNOVATORS

Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya to issue first private-sector gender bonds in Asia-Pacific. The IFC (International Finance Corporation) and DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft) have agreed to subscribe to the first private-sector gender bonds in Asia, set to be issued in the amount of up to US$220 million by Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya. These gender bonds are supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, a join initiative of the IFC and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative. Together they aim to increase access to finance for as many as 100,000 women in emerging markets. This inaugural gender bond issuance will help expand credit lines to women-led small- and medium-sized enterprises in Thailand, as well as promote the transparency and integrity of Asia’s nascent social bond market. The Bank of Ayudhya is expected to issue the bonds this October. 

Japan’s MUFG Bank joins ESG wave with new unit. Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) will set up a department specializing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funding to develop financial products for companies focused on responsible investing. This sustainable business office will encourage customers to work on ESG issues and provide financing to companies based on ESG ratings and benchmarks. With an aim to improve its ESG performance groupwide, MUFG Bank has already taken concrete steps itself, such as sourcing all power for its Tokyo headquarters from hydroelectric sources. Further, by signing on to the Principle for Responsible Banking which will be launched by the United Nations this month, MUFG Bank will also set publicly disclosed environmental and social impact goals.

Who’s Doing Good?

8 July 2019 - 21 July 2019

THE GIVERS

Philanthropist Merle Hinrich helps develop the next generation of Asian leaders in trade. In conversation with CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro for Hong Kong Tatler, Merle Hinrich discusses the importance of scholarships to his philanthropy. The founder and executive chairman of Global Sources established his eponymous foundation in 2012 to promote and build leadership in sustainable trade. Hinrich explains how the Foundation collaborates with scholars, employers, and university faculty to nurture the next generation of global trade leaders. The Foundation involves other companies in designing its scholarship program as well as university faculty in developing education for careers in trade. In the interview, Hinrich ultimately reflects on the importance of company involvement in the education of future employees–a value his foundation embodies through its initiatives.

Blue book on Chinese charity in 2018 released. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released the China Blue Book (2019) on July 13. The report is devoted to the history and development of China’s charitable sector. It provides new perspectives, methods, and materials that have been previously leveraged for national reforms related to the sector. The 2018 iteration highlights that the total amount of donations in China is estimated to be ¥112.8 billion (approximately US$16 billion). However, this is a decrease of about 26% in the total amount of social donations since 2017. On the other hand, the report highlights an increase of more than 50% in contribution value of volunteer services from 2017. In documenting the evolving characteristics and trends over the past ten years, this report offers insights into China’s modern philanthropy. 

THE THINKERS

Bill Drayton underscores social entrepreneurship as key to India’s success. Known as the pioneer of social entrepreneurship, Bill Drayton sheds light on social responsibility and “change-makers” in conversation with Forbes India. The founder and CEO of Ashoka comments on how the business and social sectors are experiencing a structural revolution as they grow more interconnected. On the topic of social entrepreneurship in India, Drayton states that “Leading social entrepreneurs are central to India (or any country) succeeding,” and adds, “India has a huge opportunity to be a world leader by adapting an ‘everyone a change-maker’ culture.” According to the article, Drayton underscores that if India can harness the potential of social entrepreneurship, the country will be poised to lead the world in areas like climate change, technology, and health.

THE NONPROFITS

Singapore’s smaller charities to benefit from governance and fundraising training curriculum. Smaller charities in Singapore will soon have access to training opportunities that can help them meet national standards on governance and fundraising. Singapore’s Commissioner of Charities has signed an agreement with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to jointly develop a training curriculum that will equip charities with skills like fundraising, leadership, and volunteer management. This course costs SG$100 (approximately US$75), and 30 participants will join the inaugural program set to start on August 17. The Commissioner of Charities has also issued an annual report template to further assist smaller charities in writing their own annual report. Grace Fu, Singapore’s Minister of Culture, Community, and Youth, highlighted the importance of these initiatives in raising the standard of the charity sector. According to The Straits Times, she noted, “This partnership with SUSS is a step toward raising the capabilities in the sector so that it can serve more beneficiaries and continue to gain public trust.”

THE BUSINESSES

Students in the Philippines gather for the Aboitiz High School Scholars General Assembly and Career Clinic. The Manila Bulletin highlights how the Aboitiz Foundation, the corporate foundation of the Aboitiz Group, has evolved its CSR initiatives “from one-time donations to carefully designed programs that empower its beneficiaries to pursue their aspirations.” Earlier this month, the Aboitiz Foundation held its annual Aboitiz High School Scholars General Assembly and Career Clinic, which convened hundreds of secondary students. This event aims to support high school students by providing lessons related to their post-secondary academic careers. This program, which equips scholars with practical career-related knowledge and coaching, also includes plenary sessions facilitated by guest speakers on topics such as digital citizenship. In addition to programs like this, the Aboitiz Foundation is currently developing and implementing CSR 2.0 projects that are aligned with the Group’s core competencies.

Companies are driving teacher development in India through innovative interventions. Companies have been leveraging digital technology to improve teacher quality and learning outcomes in rural India. Korea-based tech company TagHive designed and piloted a comprehensive off-line digital solution–Class Saathi. The app gives administrators real time access to statistics on teacher performance and analysis of student learning outcomes. Companies outside of the education sector, including Tata Steel, Dell, and Feedback Infra, are also supporting these efforts through their CSR initiatives. For example, Tata Steel developed a Bridge Language Inventory (BLI) app for Odia and Hindi speaking teachers to improve communication with children in Ho and Santhal communities. Tata Steel’s CSR Division has also installed computers in education resource centers and residential bridge courses and has distributed 250 tablets for 125 projects.

Korea’s top steelmaker POSCO raises US$500 million through ESG bonds. Korea’s POSCO announced that it has raised US$500 million by selling ESG (environment, social, governance) bonds. This type of sustainability debt instrument aims to finance corporate activities that improve and advance corporate performance in environmental, social responsibility, and governance areas. Through this bond issuance, POSCO’s CEO Choi Jeong-woo intends to “beef up our renewable energy business and material business for electric vehicle batteries.” It was also stated that the funds will be used to support the growth of the steel industry and other environmental projects. According to the article, “the five-year debt carries an interest rate of 2.874 percent and will be listed on the Singapore Exchange.”

Citibank Taiwan awarded “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award.” Citibank Taiwan has earned the “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award,” from Excellence Magazine, for the third year running. In this year alone, Citibank Taiwan has initiated several public welfare initiatives, the most noteworthy being its assistance to the International Paralympics Committee. One of its environmental initiatives involved helping the St. Camillus Long-Term Care Center in Yilan County to install a solar energy system and apply for a Taiwan Renewable Energy Certificate. This system allows the Center to sell produced energy on an energy certificate exchange platform, while reducing carbon emissions by 10 tonnes per year. Citibank also started the “Pathways to Progress” program in 2016, and it has supported skills development for around 800 youths. Over 650 of these young learners have gone on to access education or employment opportunities. According to the Taipei Times, Citibank has been deeply invested in Taiwan for more than 50 years.

THE INNOVATORS

Can venture philanthropy turn on Southeast Asia to clean energy? Philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald is using her family’s money to help the world transition to clean energy. At the AVPN Conference 2019 in Singapore, she shared about the importance of leveraging venture philanthropy to aid the clean energy movement in Southeast Asia. She established the Growald Family Fund with her husband to fund and scale innovative ventures in clean energy. In Southeast Asia, where coal is gaining share in the energy mix, the Fund has also been informing policymakers of the pressing need to switch to clean energy. The Fund’s climate finance director for Southeast Asia, Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, stated, “If we are serious about stopping carbon-intensive infrastructure, the finance side of the conversation has to shift significantly.” She added, “We see a big opportunity in working with Asian philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals to create change together.”

Who’s Doing Good?

13 May 2019 - 26 May 2019

THE GIVERS

Lu Weiding named the most generous Chinese philanthropist. Hurun Report released its “Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019,” ranking the most generous philanthropists from Greater China. Lu Weiding, chief executive of Wanxiang Group, tops the list with a single donation of shares worth US$720 million. The donation was made to a charitable trust in memory of his father, Lu Guanqiu, who founded Wanxiang in 1969 and grew it into a multinational conglomerate that is China’s largest auto components company today. Ranked second this year, Chen Yidan, co-founder of Tencent, made a US$500 million gift comprised mainly of Tencent shares. He is followed by Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Group, who made a US$230 million donation. This year’s list also sees a notable increase in female philanthropists–up to 21 from 13–with Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Longfor Properties, leading with US$20 million in donations.

THE THINKERS

Challenges in measuring China’s nonprofit sector. A pioneering study, Research on the Calculation of NPO-GDP in China, conducted by Professor Ma Qingyu and his team from Beijing Wanzhong Social Innovation Institute (BWSII), aims to measure the burgeoning social sector’s contribution to China’s economy. The findings were presented at an international symposium hosted by BWSII and The Asia Foundation. Lester M. Salamon, a leading global expert on the empirical study of the nonprofit sector, hailed the study as an important step in measuring the economic footprint of the third sector. However, he noted that the definition of the “third or social economy” sector used by Ma, who follows the convention laid by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, is limiting. It excludes volunteer work, as well as organizations such as social enterprises, cooperatives, schools, and hospitals that earn significant market incomes but do not distribute their profits. Salamon believes that a broader definition of the third sector, detailed in a UN handbook of which he is the lead author, is more commonly used internationally and would make it easier for China to share the story of its sizeable third sector with the world.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Sustainability Conference explores global trends of circular economy and sustainable finance. The conference, which is organized by CUHK’s MBA students, convened thought leaders and practitioners from both the public and private sectors to discuss growing global trends and recent developments in sustainability. The conference has traditionally focused on corporate philanthropy and company-initiated social services under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility. This year’s iteration also underscored the importance of advancing sustainability efforts and supporting innovative approaches towards creating positive social and environmental impact. Emerging trends in sustainability were discussed, including circular economy, ESG, and green finance, with an aim of nurturing the next generation of sustainability-minded business leaders.

THE BUSINESSES

Alibaba releases inaugural philanthropy report detailing the company’s social impact. Alibaba Group has released its inaugural philanthropy report, which details the company’s philanthropic initiatives and highlights its three platforms: Alibaba Philanthropy, Alipay Philanthropy, and “Each Person Three Hours.” According to the report 440 million individuals across China have used these platforms in the past 12 months, raising over US$184 million in charitable donations. Over 15 million people registered on the “Each Person Three Hours” platform, which lists over 3.05 million volunteer opportunities. In addition to showcasing Alibaba’s integration of philanthropy into each part of its business ecosystem and the company’s encouragement of personal philanthropy by employees, the report also lists several examples of Alibaba’s philanthropic initiatives outside of China. Sun Lijun, head of the Alibaba Foundation, underscored the Group’s commitment to philanthropy, “Here at Alibaba, philanthropy is the core of our business model. Our foremost priority is providing effective and sustainable solutions to problems faced by society.” Since 2011, when Jack Ma founded the Alibaba Foundation and announced a commitment of 0.3% of the group’s annual revenues to social responsibility initiatives, the e-commerce giant has grown to be a leader in corporate social responsibility in China.

Thai company partners with nonprofit Alliance for Smiles to provide surgery for 100 Myanmar children. In celebration of 30 years of their business in Myanmar, Thai oil and gas company PTTEP Myanmar Asset is funding surgeries for children suffering from cleft lip or palate. The initiative is in partnership with Alliance for Smiles, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers free comprehensive treatment for children suffering from these conditions in under-served communities. Thanks to PTTEP’s donation of US$100,000, Alliance for Smiles will be able to offer surgery to 100 children in Myanmar. During the signing of the agreement, PTTEP Myanmar Asset’s general manager stated, “We are very pleased with the results of this cooperation with Alliance for Smiles. This benefits not only the individuals but the entire community in the long run.”

Tata Group helps restore damaged power network in wake of Cyclone Fani. While the Odisha government’s speedy evacuation saved the lives of millions, countless homes and power lines were destroyed by Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to hit India in decades. To aid recovery efforts Tata Power sent a team of 25 engineers and technicians from its regular operations to resurrect the power network. Tata Trusts and Tata Projects Community Development Trust are also providing drinking water supplies to affected areas, while Tata Power Solar has distributed over 4,000 solar lanterns to villagers. Praveer Sinha, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Power, said, “As an integral part of the Tata Group, we always endeavor to stand by the fellow Indians in need. After the global recognition to the country for successfully managing the cyclone, let us all join hands in resurrecting Odisha with our concentrated efforts.”

THE INNOVATORS

Kitkit School and onebillion announced as co-winners of Elon Musk’s US$15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. Launched in 2014, the Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition backed by Elon Musk that challenges teams across the globe to help end global illiteracy. Teams work to design and develop scalable, open-source software solutions that enable self-teaching of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic within 15 months on Pixel C tablets donated by Google. Kitkit school, created by Enuma, a leader in digital early learning based in Seoul and Berkeley, draws on technology and gamification to boost children’s confidence and empower them to be independent learners. onebillion, an educational nonprofit based in London, developed onetab, a learning device that offers onecourse, a comprehensive and modular adaptive learning software that responds to children’s different learning needs. The two winning teams will split the US$10 million Grand Prize sponsored by Elon Musk.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Employees and executives of POSCO gear up for “POSCO Global Volunteer Week.” As part of Korean steelmaker POSCO’s corporate social responsibility, 63,000 employees and executives working in 55 countries will participate in the company’s annual week-long volunteer event serving their respective communities. The volunteer week includes a panoply of community service opportunities such as enhancing energy efficiency, offering free English classes, and building an infirmary. Choi Jeong-woo emphasized the importance of the global volunteer week to the company, “POSCO employees will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills to help other members of society prosper.” POSCO announced that this year’s event slogan will be “Share the Talent, Change My Town.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Prosecutors and witnesses describe flow of state funds into Najib’s accounts. The Straits Times reports on developments in the first of five criminal trials against former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who faces seven charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhdan (1MDB) scandal. The scandal centers on an alleged US$4.5 billion said to have been embezzled from 1MDB, a state investment fund set up under the Najib administration in 2009. Last week, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur heard witness testimonies recounting how fund transfers designated for CSR programs were made under the orders of chief executive of Yayasan Rakyat 1 Malaysia, a charitable foundation that had deployed CSR funding to Ihsan Perdana in the past. Instead, the funds allegedly ended up in Najib’s accounts and may have been used to pay off personal and political expenses. The trial is expected to continue until August.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 April 2019 - 28 April 2019

THE GIVERS

Next-generation Asian philanthropists take an innovative approach to family foundations. Out of 146 countries and territories studied for the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2018, Hong Kong ranked 18th for charitable donations. Hong Kong family charities and foundations have long been generous givers, and the next generation is becoming more engaged and strategic in family giving. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services at HSBC Private Banking, states, “Most younger donors don’t want to be seen as a money machine. They want to bring their skills and abilities to the table.” These second- and third-generation philanthropists are moving their family foundations beyond check-writing and underscoring a larger trend of a growing formalization of philanthropy in Hong Kong.

China increasingly a nation of givers through online and mobile platforms. Chinese philanthropy has grown and evolved significantly over the past decade, exemplified by the total amount of domestic giving quadrupling from 2009 to 2017. While a total of US$3.3 billion in public donations have been made by China’s top 100 philanthropists, ordinary individuals have become vital contributors through the expansion of digital payment platforms and artificial intelligence. Through popular online and mobile payment platforms like Alipay, users have easy access to various philanthropic activities including donating second-hand items, donating blood, and planting trees. With this expansion, it is critical that online and mobile platforms improve supervising mechanisms and enhance cross-platform collaboration to strengthen, manage, and prevent crises that could damage public trust in the charitable sector.

THE THINKERS

New report highlights Asia’s growing interest and momentum in sustainable finance. Although Asia historically lags behind global counterparts in social investment, innovations are emerging throughout the region. The past decade has seen more institutional investors broaden their portfolios, governments establish social investment funds and enact supportive legislation, and corporations engage in impact investing and social enterprise mentoring. This momentum is driven by recent developments such as the growth of the green bond market, the issuance of green sukuks, and the support of ESG funds by governments across the region. While Asian businesses, governments, and investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their impact initiatives, they must collaborate to address multidimensional challenges and to catch up with more developed markets such as the United States and Europe.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong nonprofits building transitional homes to be exempted land charges. In an effort to lessen the financial burden on nonprofits and to encourage more community-initiated transitional housing projects, the Hong Kong government recently announced that charities that build transitional homes on private plots will be exempted from paying hefty land charges. According to the government statement, HK$2 billion (US$225 million) is also being set aside to support nonprofits in building transitional housing, and concessions will be given for other sites suitable for building transitional homes, such as vacant government sites and disused government premises. In Hong Kong, where the wait for public rental housing can be up to five-and-a-half years, transitional homes play a critical role in providing temporary relief for people stuck in poor living conditions.

THE BUSINESSES

Aloke and Suchitra Lohia speak with CAPS’ Chief Executive, Ruth Shapiro, on the launch of their IVL Foundation. Aloke Lohia, founder and CEO of Indorama Ventures (IVL), transformed a modest family business into a multi-billion-dollar international corporation. In addition to being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wool, yarn, and polyester, Indorama is also one of the world’s largest recyclers of plastic and leverages its global operations to promote the circular economy. In conversation with Ruth Shapiro for Hong Kong Tatler, Bangkok-based tycoons Aloke and Suchitra Lohia discuss the company’s initiatives supporting education, economic development, women’s empowerment, healthcare, and social enterprises. Through the IVL Foundation, the couple aims to further create meaningful change through strategic philanthropy that amplifies impact and spreads value throughout the company and the communities they work with.

Japan-based Kao Corporation announces new global ESG strategy. Kao Corporation, whose brand portfolio includes Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, and Molton Brown, recently announced its new global ESG strategy to promote a more sustainable way of living. The corporation’s “Kirei Lifestyle Plan” has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030. Kao aims to build upon the success of past initiatives, such as the adoption of refills and replacement packaging and the development of more compacted formulas, which together reduced the company’s plastic use in its packaging by 93,100 tons in 2018. For five years running, Kao has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

THE INNOVATORS

Jakarta-based investors weigh in on the difference between impact investors and traditional VCs. While tech-focused startups have the potential to create jobs and improve social welfare, there is debate on whether venture funds that invest in these startups should be labeled as social impact funds. There is difficulty in demarcating the boundaries of impact investors and VCs, but some practitioners encourage impact investors to differentiate themselves by justifying why they use that label, providing advice on measuring and monitoring impact, and investing where other people are not to close funding gaps. David Soukhasing, managing director at ANGIN, Tanisha Banaszczyk, investment manager at Convergence Ventures, and Melisa Irene, partner at East Ventures, weigh in on key characteristics that distinguish impact funds from their VC counterparts.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Healthcare workers, caregivers, and volunteers awarded for their work in Singapore. At the 16th Healthcare Humanity Awards organized by The Courage Fund, 83 people were recognized for their work in taking care of the sick and elderly in Singapore. One of the four categories recognizes volunteers who provide care or commit personal time to helping the nominating healthcare, social, and community care organizations. From fundraising by running ultra marathons to helping sailors with physical disabilities, the work of local volunteers was celebrated at the ceremony, and medals and cash awards were given by Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former mosque chairman jailed for siphoning SG$371,000 in donations. A former chairman of a mosque management board in Singapore was sentenced to jail for two years and three months for siphoning around SG$371,000 (approximately US$300,000) from donations over seven years. While delivering the sentence, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu highlighted that the use of the money was perhaps the most controversial aspect, as the former chairman had used some of the donations to pay off personal expenses and donated other large sums to charities for which he worked for and drew a monthly salary from. The judge underscored the detriment of any crime involving the misuse of charity funds and its consequent of public distrust in the charity sector as a whole.

Who’s Doing Good?

4 March 2019 - 10 March 2019

THE GIVERS

British Asian Trust announces new partnership with British Telecom (BT) to launch program in India. The British Asian Trust, which was founded by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia, will launch a three-year program in partnership with BT to employ digital technology to improve girls’ education in India. Working with local sector leaders and social delivery organizations, the new partnership will explore innovative ways in which technology can be used to break down social barriers and help improve education and employment opportunities for around 500,000 young girls. The program will work in and around BT’s India operations in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, and Kolkata. BT Group’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, expressed enthusiasm for the new partnership, “The world of work has changed enormously during the 30 years BT has been in India. We recognize that digital technologies have the potential to transform opportunities for this and future generations of girls.”

THE THINKERS

Despite strong philanthropic momentum, India still falls short on funding needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2019 heralds the growth of social sector funding over the past five years. The report highlights an increase in private funding at a rate of 15% per year and public funding at a rate of about 10% per year. Funding by individual philanthropists grew the most, increasing by 21% per year. Even if India continues to sustain its current funding growth rate and channels all philanthropic capital into the SDGs, the country will still face an annual shortfall that augurs poorly for achieving the SDGs. While domestic private philanthropy is burgeoning and outpacing public funding growth in India, the report calls on domestic corporations and India’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals to enhance the level and nature of their giving.

Collaboration and women empowerment underscored as key factors of effective philanthropy in India. In response to the release of Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2019, leaders in the philanthropic sector called for more collaborative action and women empowerment. Roopa Purushothaman, chief economist and head of policy advocacy at Tata Sons, encouraged stakeholders to look at building a “carer economy,” which supports caregivers of children and elders. Anant Bhagwati, a partner at Bain and director at Dasra, a foundation focused on strategic philanthropy, highlighted the critical role of collaborative action for India’s philanthropic spending to reach its full potential. Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani echoed Bhagwati’s views, emphasizing the need for civil society, markets, and government to collaborate for better results.

Why investing in women and girls will take off in 2019. New research published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review delineates the economic benefits of gender parity, highlighting that women could raise global GDP by up to US$28 trillion or 26% in 2025 if they were to attain equal participation. A McKinsey report estimates that advancing women’s equality in Asia-Pacific countries would raise their collective GDP by US$4.5 trillion in 2025, a 12% increase over the business-as-usual trajectory. While growth in gender lens investing is constrained by a sparse pipeline of investees as well as a lack of well-defined metrics, a better understanding of the benefits of gender impact investing, celebrating success stories, and supporting women-focused intermediaries can all help drive more investing in women and girls in the Asian region and boost global prosperity.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofits focus on “secondary needs” in efforts to rebuild communities in Tohoku. Monday marked eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster and devastated coastal communities, most notably in the Tohoku region. While Japan’s Reconstruction Agency announced in December that full restoration of the region would not be complete by March 2021 as originally scheduled, nonprofits and volunteers have been playing a major role in helping with recovery. In addition to physical reconstruction, nonprofits and local government are also focusing on “secondary needs” of reconstruction, including emotional and social well-being. One nonprofit, Playground of Hope, is working to restore a sense of community and strengthen emotional and social support by providing outdoor play equipment for children and holding community workshops.

THE BUSINESSES

Google launches a free mobile application to teach English and Hindi to children in India. Google’s new offline mobile application, Bolo, is designed to help children in rural areas with poor mobile coverage improve their English and Hindi. The application uses speech recognition and text-to-speech technology with friendly cartoon characters to make language learning more fun for children. Google has developed and released Bolo in the name of philanthropy, stating that it is not looking to monetize the application and that the application is completely safe for children to use. A recent study showed that only 44% of grade five students in India are capable of reading books written for grade two students, and in response, Google stated that its reading-tutor application can help improve these numbers. In the pilot scheme with almost 1,000 children, results showed that 64% of participants improved their reading skills after using the Bolo application.

Lessons from SK Group on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Asia. Companies and institutional investors play a major role in driving innovation, and Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, sheds light on the group’s recent initiatives that focus on accountability and innovation. One example he highlights is the group’s “Double Bottom Line” (DBL) initiative, by which the group reports all of its 17 SK affiliates’ contribution to social value alongside operational profits. Another CSR program, “Social Progress Credit,” was highlighted for its support for social enterprises through cash incentives. With an early acknowledgment of its responsibility in Korea, the SK Group has been a leader in CSR, and its deep-rooted commitment to social good is an exemplar for other companies in the region looking to cut through the noise and be recognized in the CSR space.

THE INNOVATORS

Recognition of social enterprises in Asia needed first before regulation. Social enterprises have proliferated across Asia over the past decade, and governments are increasingly recognizing the role that social enterprises play in solving social, economic, and environmental challenges. Last week, Thailand passed a social enterprise act that gives tax breaks and other incentives to registered profit-generating ventures with a social impact mission. This act puts Thailand among the few countries in the region with legislation aimed at such ventures. Romy Cahyadi, chief executive at Indonesia-based Instellar, a company offering incubation and acceleration programs for social entrepreneurs, highlights that recognizing social enterprises as legal entities can offer greater clarity to the sector. However, for many countries where the social enterprise sector is still nascent, there is a greater need for awareness of and education on social enterprises first.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Chinese end-of-life care volunteers bring comfort to the elderly. In 2018, China had 249 million people aged 60 and above, accounting for 17.9% of its total population. With the fastest-growing elderly population in the world, among which nearly 50 million are critically ill, there is a high demand for elderly services and care. One nonprofit, Love and Companion Center, provides end-of-life care for those in need and enlists volunteers from a 500-member group chat on WeChat every week. Since it was established in 2014, the nonprofit has provided over 10,000 hospice services for the elderly and their families through the help of its volunteers.

Who’s Doing Good?

04 February 2019 - 10 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Mukesh Ambani tops Hurun India Philanthropy List 2018. From October 2017 to September 2018, Ambani and his family donated Rs 437 crore (approximately US$61.4 million). Reliance Industries’ chairman was followed by Piramal Group’s chairman, Ajay Piramal, whose son recently married Ambani’s daughter. Piramal donated Rs 200 crore (approximately US$28.1 million) during the same period, in addition to giving Rs 71 crore (approximately US$10 million) for Kerela flood relief. Other notable philanthropists on this year’s list include the Premji, Godrej, and Nadar families.

Prince Charles unveils US$100 million fund for women empowerment in South Asia. The proposed fund, led by the British Asian Trust (BAT), will channel bond investors’ money to give half a million women and girls access to better education, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities over the next five years. The BAT will seek funding from the charity units of big banks for the initial risk investments and from national governments and other big donors for underwriting the final payment. Announcing the initiative, Prince Charles, called it the BAT’s “most ambitious venture to date.”

THE THINKERS

The Foundation Center and GuideStar merge to create Candid, a mega data portal. Two leading nonprofit and philanthropic intermediaries merge to create a data portal with a worldwide reach, combining years of research and experience in the social sector. The merge has been a decade in the making with top funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Lodestar Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid., and Jacob Herald, president of GuideStar, will serve as executive vice president. Operating with a budget of approximately US$38 million, Candid. will leverage both organizations’ complementary missions, datasets, and networks to be at the forefront of information-sharing in the nonprofit sector.

Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah call for more philanthropic giving at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019. According to a recent Oxfam report, Indian billionaires have added Rs 2,200 crore (approximately US$307 million) per day to their wealth, however in the “commitment to reducing inequality index,” India ranked 147 out of 157 countries. Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah, two leading female entrepreneurs and philanthropists, brought light to these numbers at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019, and they advocated for more giving to causes such as healthcare, education, and social protection. In accord, they encouraged greater engagement in philanthropy, calling on community members to devote more time and money to causes that address the country’s glaring inequality.

How nonprofits can help donor-advised fund philanthropists listen and learn. The use of donor-advised funds (DAF) has increased in popularity over the years as philanthropists seek greater impact through more organized and thoughtful forms of giving. As DAF donors work to enhance their giving portfolios, they should listen to feedback from the communities and individuals they seek to help. This enhanced communication between donors, intermediaries, and communities is an emerging trend in philanthropy, and DAF donors are poised to advance the practice of listening. The article highlights new approaches such as test-and-learn gifts, volunteering, survey and focus groups, and expert consultation.

THE NONPROFITS

Five Hong Kong charities that save the environment. Hong Kong Tatler highlighted five nonprofits for their work in environmental protection: Clean Air Network, EcoDrive Hong Kong, Ocean Recovery Alliance, Project C: Change, and The Nature Conservancy. As Hong Kong faces air quality and waste management challenges, awareness, education, and policy change will be pertinent in mitigating deleterious effects on the environment. Together, these nonprofits are raising awareness, connecting key stakeholders, and building more sustainable solutions for the future.

Nonprofits join in a campaign to reduce financial support for forest-risk businesses. According to new data released by the Forests and Finance campaign by the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Malaysian banks were the biggest funders of forest-risk activities and the least likely to have internal policies restricting environmental damage. RAN is joining forces with two nonprofits, TuK Indonesia and Profundo, to campaign for less financial support for forest-risk businesses including unsustainable palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, and timber developments, thereby reducing their negative impacts on the environment.

THE BUSINESSES

Marriot, the world’s largest hotel operator, partners with Generation Water to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. According to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, as much as 60% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from five Asian countries including Thailand. The growing tourism industry in Thailand is taking a detrimental toll on the environment, and industry leaders are recognizing their need to take responsibility. Marriot International’s director of operations for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar stated that the company understands its greater obligation and responsibility as its global footprint grows, and the hotel operator has partnered with the startup, Generation Water, to implement water plants that collect 4,000 liters of water a day from vapor condensation. Marriot has now been producing its own water for four months—reducing its number of used plastic bottles by more than 100,000 plastic bottles—and plans to expand water plants to all Marriot resorts in southern Thailand.

THE INNOVATORS

Venture fund, Quest Ventures, helps social organizations create and scale impact. A recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network has highlighted the significant growth of Southeast Asia’s impact investing ecosystem over the past decade, with US$904 million invested in the region by private impact investors. The venture fund firm, Quest Ventures, is joining other impact investors through its new impact fund to support startups addressing real-world problems. In the upcoming year, Quest Ventures plans to roll out their new fund and invest in 60 companies, 50 of them being social enterprises, in Southeast Asia to help entrepreneurs create and scale social impact in their communities. In addition to capital, the firm aims to support founders through their networks and mentorship services.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Number of volunteers in China hits hundreds of millions. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 100 million Chinese have registered as volunteers by the end of 2018. Specifically, approximately 12,000 volunteering organizations were registered by the end of 2018, collectively providing more than 1.2 billion hours of community service. A statement from the China Volunteer Service Federation said that more efforts will be made to encourage volunteers’ participation in public service and social governance, as well as improving the quality of their service.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Singapore-based Vietnamese private equity veteran champions social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. Lam Nguyen-Phuong, who was co-founder and senior managing partner of the private markets division of the Capital Group before his recent retirement in January, supports social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. However, Nguyen-Phuong is not in it for profit, steering clear of impact investments for his personal portfolio: “I’ve been approached by social impact [investment] firms to invest, and I refused… Impact investments have a built-in conflict, as investors may say—why can’t we limit the social impact for a higher return? But profit has to come after purpose, and only to make it self-sustainable. When I used to make investments for [private equity] clients, the main objective was to make a profit. If in the process there was a social benefit, that was good.” In his personal capacity, Nguyen-Phuong has supported Ashoka and is a donor through an Ashoka endowment fund set up in his family’s name to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as well as personally mentoring social entrepreneurs under organizations that he personally supports.

Samsung Welfare Foundation names tycoon’s daughter as new chief. Stepping down from her position as president of the fashion division of Samsung C&T Corporation, Lee Seo-hyun, a daughter of hospitalized Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, will now assume a new role as chairman of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. She will start her four-year term on January 1, 2019. Samsung Welfare Foundation, one of Samsung’s four foundations, was established in 1989 by Lee Kun-hee in an effort to expand Samsung’s charity projects and initiatives.

Japanese actress’ fund helps renovate school in Nepal. A fund run by Japanese actress Norika Fujiwara has been used to renovate a high school in Nepal. Fujiwara’s “Smile Please World Children’s Fund” helped provide the previously dilapidated Shree Ganesh High School with five new classrooms and a water facility for its 447 students. Nepal represents the third country after Afghanistan and Cambodia where the actress has helped build schools. It is uncommon for Japanese actresses to do charity work, she said, adding, “I want to tell the reality of the world to the Japanese society.”

K-Pop girl group member donates ₩50 million to charity. Seol-hyun of K-Pop girl group AOA recently donated ₩50 million (approximately US$44,385) to the Community Chest of Korea for supporting children from low-income families. This particular donation marks the third donation that Seol-hyun has individually made to various causes. In the previous year, she made two donations of the same amount to help victims of an earthquake in Pohang, Korea, and to help deaf children in Seoul.

Lego Foundation grants US$100 million to help refugee children. In its first major humanitarian project, the Lego Foundation announced its decision to provide US$100 million over the next five years to Sesame Workshop’s work with the International Rescue Committee and with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC. The aim is to create play-based learning programs for children up to the age of six in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. “We do risk losing a whole generation if we don’t help the children who find themselves in these emergency settings,” said John Goodwin, the chief executive of the Lego Foundation.

THE THINKERS

“A few NGOs are getting a lot of bad press. What’s the overall track record?” Having observed an increasing number of nonprofits coming under fire, The Washing Post explores recent cases and incidents that may explain why. From multiple sexual abuse scandals in developing economies to lack of accountability to meet organizational goals and targets, nonprofits dominated many frontpage headlines throughout the year. At the same time, there were several favorable polls that attested to society’s positive perception of and trust in the nonprofit sector. To figure out the true impact of nonprofits beyond perception, the authors studied a random selection of 300 published articles and reports on nonprofits and found that nearly 60% of them reported solely favorable effects of nonprofits on development outcomes, while just 4% reported that they had only unfavorable effects.

“Impact investing can be next growth and job engine for India: Amit Bhatia, Global Steering Group.” In this e-mail interview with The Economic Times, Amit Bhatia, global chief executive officer of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, speaks about the growing market of impact investing and its significance. Most notably, Bhatia shares how the impact economy is now worth US$23 trillion—US$16 trillion in responsible investing, US$6 trillion in sustainable investing, and US$0.25 trillion in impact investing. In terms of the future growth trajectory, Bhatia refers to his organization’s recent study with KPMG, sharing that by 2020, impact investments will cross US$468 billion.

Noteworthy talks and sessions at this year’s Yidan Prize Summit. Now in its second year, this Hong Kong-based education-focused forum brings together thought leaders—policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, politicians, and educators—to formulate strategies to ensure today’s education meets the needs of tomorrow. In this feature article, Hong Kong Tatler previews and spotlights seven sessions at the event—from conversations with this year’s laureates to “Growing the Right Talent for Tomorrow” with Hong Kong philanthropist and Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan.

THE NONPROFITS

Filipino government awards Singaporean nonprofit helping foreign domestic workers. President Rodrigo Duterte conferred the Kaanib ng Bayan (Nation’s Partner) Award to the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast). The organization, a charity supported by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, was recognized for its “exception or significant contribution… to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities.” Seah Seng Choon, the charity’s president, told The Straits Times, “It’s a recognition of the work that Fast is doing, and we’re glad that we have been recognized. This encourages us to do more.” Since its founding in 2005, Fast has been organizing courses and programs to help domestic workers learn skills that can add value to their work and enhance their future employability. These include cooking, baking, infant- and eldercare, foot reflexology, computer literacy, English, stress management, and entrepreneurship. Over 25,000 foreign domestic workers go through these courses each year.

Korean President invites major charity groups to top office and promotes culture of giving. President Moon Jae-in invited and hosted on Friday 15 of the country’s major charitable organizations at the Blue House. These charities included, for example, Salvation Army Korea, Good Neighbors, World Vision, and Child Fund. The Blue House said the event was arranged to imbue the public with the spirit of sharing and giving toward underprivileged neighbors during the year-end season, noting it is the first such gathering of the major charities. President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook also delivered their donations to each of the participating groups.

Delhi city government bars Bloomberg-funded charity from tobacco control work. According to a city government official and a memo seen by Reuters, a small Indian nonprofit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies will not be allowed to carry out tobacco control work in New Delhi after it failed to disclose its funding. The same official also added that other foreign-funded organizations will need to seek prior approval in the future for anti-tobacco activities. The Delhi city government’s decision comes amid similar moves by the Indian government, which has since 2014 tightened surveillance of foreign-funded charities. An anonymous anti-tobacco activist commented, “This is sending a wrong message. They are basically deterring tobacco control.”

Pakistani government officially announces expulsion of 18 charities. Pakistan announced on Thursday it was expelling 18 international charities amid growing paranoia that Western aid agencies are being used as a front for espionage. Umair Hasan, the spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation, an umbrella representing 15 of the 18 charities, said those charities alone help 11 million impoverished Pakistanis and contribute more than US$130 million in assistance, adding, “No organization has been given a clear reason for the denial of its registration renewal applications.” However, Shireen Mazari, the country’s human rights minister, said on Twitter the 18 groups were responsible for spreading disinformation. “They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do,” she said.

Number of new charities in Singapore down to 10-year low. The number of new charities in Singapore hit a 10-year low last year. According to the Commissioner of Charities’ latest annual report, only 39 groups registered as charities last year. This is down from 49 a year before and 59 in 2008. Various experts have explained this decline could be due to the rise of informal help groups and the sector reaching a saturation point. Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee said, “There are so many charities out there fighting for the same donation dollar, and it is very difficult for new charities to raise funds. So people may think it’s easier to volunteer at existing charities, doing the work they were thinking of doing, instead of starting a new charity.”

THE BUSINESSES

UBS streamlines efforts to address the rising importance of gift-giving to the world’s wealthy. Switzerland-based global bank UBS has recently streamlined its group-wide philanthropic efforts, consolidating them into a single 45-member team. Phyllis Costanza, a veteran who has served at the bank for seven years, has been tasked with leading the team. Costanza also heads the UBS Optimus Foundation, which successfully launched a high-yielding bond linked to the learning development of young girls in Rajasthan, India, in 2016. UBS executives, Hubertus Kuelps and Joe Stadler, were confident the team would achieve “measurable social impact through their philanthropic activities, while also generating enhanced business growth for UBS.”

A look at HSBC’s philanthropic activities and how it approaches maximizing social impact. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, Asia head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services for HSBC Private Banking, details in this interview the bank’s extensive work in advising and supporting its private banking clients in regards to the charitable and philanthropic sectors. According to D’Anjou-Brown, the bank has learned that matching donors with causes they feel passionate about and tapping into their expertise help maximize impact.

THE INNOVATORS

Recent seminar in Thailand discusses the importance of social enterprises in boosting sustainable development. At “Thailand Social Enterprise: The Way Forward,” various stakeholders and experts gathered to discuss the role of social enterprises in contributing to Thailand’s sustainable development and growth. Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, noted that building a supportive ecosystem is important: “The law alone cannot govern every part of the ecosystem. Cooperation from all sectors, namely incubators, education sector, financial institutions, entrepreneurs’ associations, and public sector are key for the successful implementation and development of social enterprises.” Sarinee Achavanuntakul, co-founder of Sal Forest, Thailand’s first “sustainable business accelerator,” said that the biggest challenge is social entrepreneurs abandoning their mission or having very little social impact and that as such, the most important thing is evaluating the enterprise’s social impact, as well as the pressure it can have on the public. This seminar hosted by the Thailand Institute of Justice occurred amidst a recent public hearing on the Social Enterprise Promotion draft bill, which has now reached the final stage before being handed over to the National Legislative Assembly for consideration.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Student charity run in Malaysia collects RM200,000 (approximately US$50,000) to support victims of human trafficking. The race was organized as part of the global charity event, “24-Hour Race,” and saw participation from over a thousand people who completed over 15,000 laps. This year’s race was the event’s eighth iteration and increased the total amount collected by the event to RM4.85 million (approximately US$1.2 million). The money will be channeled to The Exodus Road, a nonprofit organization that will train and equip 24 national local law enforcers and help fund 24,000 hours of investigation across 2,400 locations to support victims of human trafficking.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

 Self-proclaimed Thai philanthropist organizing anti-drug campaign arrested for drug trafficking charges. Kalyakorn Siriphatarasomboon, better known by her nickname as Jay Lin, was arrested in Phrae province in northern Thailand for drug trafficking charges. The police found and seized 1.6 million tablets of methamphetamine and 10 kilograms of crystal meth aboard a pickup truck which she was driving. The suspected drug trafficker had launched an anti-drug campaign among local teenagers, especially youth soccer players, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and donated money to impoverished people in the region, but the police suspected such charitable acts and events were merely a cover-up for her drug trafficking crimes.
Seoul city government-backed foundation accused of various corruption incidents and organizational malpractices by current and former employeesThe Seoul Digital Foundation, founded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and funded by its taxpayer money, was accused of various questionable practices by current and former employees. For one, the foundation’s chairman used a corporate card under the foundation 37 times—mostly on Friday nights—for personal meals near his apartment, totaling an amount of approximately US$2,719. In public audit hearings, the foundation’s chairman would resort to the excuse of funding security and cleaning staff’s meals. It was also revealed that the chairman used the corporate card to watch professional baseball games and to pay for meals and drinks at these games. Covering up and disguising these payments was considered a daily practice within the organization, as staffers were ordered to record fake meeting minutes.
Various side effects appear for Japan’s hometown tax donation (furusato nōzei) system. What was originally intended to be a system to encourage and incentivize individual giving to local governments turned out to be a tax loophole and a profitable trade in goods and services. Over the years, some local governments began offering gifts in return for donations. The law does not prohibit gift-giving, but in principle, items on offer should be produced in the area represented by the local government in question. However, more and more governments are offering expensive gifts that have no relation to their local industry or agriculture, with competition heating up to the degree that dozens of websites have appeared to help consumers choose among gifts that are available. Some have also pointed out how the system is particularly advantageous for the wealthy who pay higher residence taxes, as they can claim a part of their residence tax payment as a deductible donation.

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.