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?

26 November 2018 - 2 December 2018

THE GIVERS

The fund led by Vincent Tan to prevent temple from demolition reaches RM2 million (US$480,000). Vincent Tan has cited Buddhist teachings and a sense of respect for places of worship common to Malaysians for championing the cause of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple which is marked for demolition. Through the fund, the land, measuring 0.5 hectares and valued at US$3.4 million, will be bought back from its developer. Tan’s initial pledge of RM500,000 (US$164,000) grew fourfold since the announcement, with contributions from other notable Malaysian high-net-worth individuals. Malaysians interested in contributing can choose from either traditional or electronic banking channels. Crowdfunding via social media has also been proposed. In 2011, Vincent Tan was featured on Forbes‘ “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” list for pledging to donate half of his life’s savings.

THE THINKERS

Pharmacists hold key to revolutionizing heathcare in Southeast Asia but oversight is crucial. Natalia Hendrickson argues that a variety of problems with formal healthcare systems in Asia—for example, long distances and steep costs—have spurred the prominence of pharmacists. But in the absence of formal training and data, complications with dosages and diagnoses are likely to emerge. Hendrickson hails the recent Electronic Drug and Safety System (eDSS) launched in the Philippines as an innovative solution. An average of 23 million pharmacy transactions and patient prescriptions are uploaded to a database in real-time through the application software each month. The Philippines Food and Drug Administration and mClinica, developers of the software, can tap into this rich data to identify and address issues in real-time.

Foundations constantly innovating with regards to impact investing to attract investors. Foundations, namely the Ford Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, are increasingly making use of innovative strategies to attract private investors to impact investing, states a podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton. One of such strategies is the creation of safety nets for investors. Roy Swan, Director of Mission-related Investments at the Ford Foundation, argues that during a downturn, sovereign wealth funds may not be able to guarantee a 25% return on market-rate housing, but the same money, invested in affordable housing during such a downturn, can be safely predicted to generate returns of about 8%. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, too, is experimenting with “blended finance,” which combines development finance and philanthropic funding.

THE NONPROFITS

Global health nonprofit, PATH, partners with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch key steps for HIV prevention. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services have been launched nationwide in Vietnam to help individuals at risk of HIV infection. By taking a pill every day, PrEP has been known to reduce the risk of infection by 92%. The nationwide roll-out of the service was preceded by pilots run in 2017 in collaboration with various nonprofit organizations. Vietnam is the second Asian economy to implement such a program after Thailand, which did so in August this year. The nonprofit organization at the center of this service, PATH, works to accelerate health equity through cross-sector collaborations.

Charity concert in Singapore raises SG$2 million (approximately US$1.5 million). In its 14th edition this year, the charity concert, ChildAid, involved over 140 participants aged five to 19 who sang and danced to help other children in need. The event was directed by Singaporean singer Dick Lee and involved revisiting pop music from the last 60 years. This year’s collection takes the total amount raised by the event since 2005 to SG$18 million (approximately US$13 million). Money raised by the event is channeled to The Straits Times’ School Pocket Money Fund and assists disadvantaged children with expenses such as food and transport.

THE BUSINESSES

J. Walter Thompson and Tata Pravesh release “The Positive Move” on World AIDS Day. The digital film chronicles the individual stories of HIV-positive teenagers who had to face social exclusion but refused to let that hinder them. The teenagers went onto start “Café Positive,” Asia’s first café run independently by HIV-positive staff members in Kolkata, India. A local nonprofit, Organization for Friends, Energies, and Resources (OFFER), supported the creation of the film. Speaking at the release of the film, Vijay Jacob Parakkal, senior vice president and managing partner at J. Walter Thompson, said, “We found the Café Positive story of grit, determination, and acceptance by people very touching. It does open our doors of perception.”

Nihon Kohden donates portion of sales proceeds to the American Epilepsy Society (AES). For the 10th consecutive year, Nihon Kohden, a major Japanese manufacturer of medical electronic equipment, has donated sales proceeds from one of its machines to the AES. This year’s donation takes the total amount donated by the manufacturer to the AES across the decade to over US$250,000. The AES has been allowed to fund research into significant areas such as the connection between epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries through these donations.

Dai-Ichi Life Insurance invests ¥100 million (approximately US$890,000) in Tokyo-based Molcure. In its seventh impact investment in 13 months, Japan’s third-largest insurance company, Dai-Ichi Life, has invested in Molcure, a Tokyo-based biotechnology firm. The firm is developing what will be the world’s first antibody discovery platform based on machine-learning. Pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to develop drugs that identify antibody candidates quicker. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance, which cited Molcure’s “positive social impact” as a motivator, is a pioneer in the impact investing space in Japan. Since October 2017, it has invested a total of ¥2.2 billion (approximately US$1.9 million) in seven impact investment deals.

THE INNOVATORS

Priyanka Chopra and Facebook come together for #SocialForGood. Actress and celebrity Priyanka Chopra and Facebook joined forces to host a live fundraising event to encourage individual donations for various social causes. Named #SocialForGood, the Live-athon event received 15,244 donations, which is more than a single donation per second, in four hours from more than 57 cities. Speaking about the event, Chopra said, “It was an amazing day, and I am overwhelmed by the support we have received not just from our panelists and performers, but also from all those who tuned into the Live-athon. The conversations were insightful and impactful, and what made the day a success was the number of donations received for each of these important causes. It showed that we care and that we can use #SocialForGood.”

The world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing raises US$1.5 million for solar energy business. Freyr Energy, an Indian solar solutions firm, has closed a US$1.5 million fundraising round through Impact Partners, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing. Impact Partners brought together a consortium of global investors, including the Netherlands-based C4D Partners and India-based angel investors. According to the Impact Investment Exchange’s assessment, funding will expand access to reliable and affordable solar energy to 2,275 households and 2,975 businesses, enable 675 off-grid rural villages to enjoy electricity for the first time through micro-grids, and avoid 167,270 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2022.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Indian Navy commander and captain win Asian of the Year award for Kerala flood rescue. Commander Vijay Varma and Captain P Rajkumar, both pilots, were honored at The Straits Times’ “Asian of the Year” awards for their death-defying rescue flying during the Kerala floods earlier this year. Varma, 42, winched up a heavily pregnant woman who gave birth just after being airlifted to safety, while Rajkumar, 54, rescued 26 people up from a rooftop in the port city of Kochi. A video of Varma’s rescuing of the pregnant woman went viral on social media.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Abraaj founder gets a lifeline amidst scandals and a good reputation tarnished. In recent months, Abraaj Group fell from being a respected US$14 billion impact investing powerhouse to a company offered a buyout of just US$1, additionally facing a scandal at a key lender. Facing a pressing liquidation demand from a Kuwaiti lender, Abraaj Group, fortunately, received an extension order from the Cayman court, so that it may devise a restructuring proposal over the next three months. The decision saves Abraaj investors from years of lawsuits and advisor fees. One investor said, “The fact that the court ruled in favor of an extension despite attempts to derail it means there is hope.” Had the court denied the request for a moratorium, Abraaj would have been forced to liquidate its assets at steeper discounts, seriously hurting creditor recoveries. Meanwhile, Abraaj founder, Arif Naqvi, is reported to have spent the last nine months talking to his biggest creditors, portfolio companies, and other stakeholders.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS  

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

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

1 October 2018 - 7 October 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS  

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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?

23 July 2018 - 29 July 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

 

 

 

Who’s Doing Good?

16 July 2018 - 22 July 2018

THE GIVERS

Warren Buffett donates US$3.4 billion to the Gates Foundation and family charities. Marking the billionaire’s largest charitable contribution, Buffett has donated roughly US$3.4 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to five charities. The largest funding went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the rest going to Buffett’s own foundation and three charities run by his children.

Hong Kong family donates rare Chinese artworks to Hong Kong museum to promote traditional culture. Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion, an organization by late philanthropist Ho Iu- kwong and now run by his family, has donated over 350 Chinese paintings and calligraphy works to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The donated collection will be permanently displayed in a dedicated gallery named the “Chih Lo Lou Gallery of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy” after the museum finishes its renovation and reopens in 2019.

Indian Americans are donating US$1 billion a year, a new survey has found. They are among the ethnic groups with the highest per capita incomes in the United States and volunteer at nearly double the national average at 220 hours per year, according to the Indiaspora-Dalberg Community Engagement Survey. Still, researchers have found that the potential for giving by the community is vast, at more than US$3 billion annually. “We hope that the results of this study [can] help galvanize philanthropic efforts among this important—and influential—community,” says Joe Dougherty, Dalberg Advisors’ regional director for the Americas.

Bridgespan conducts in-depth interviews with major philanthropists in India. The Bridgespan Group, a philanthropy and non-governmental advisory firm, initiated the “Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India” series, which is a video series that provides a behind-the-scenes look at philanthropy in India from the perspectives of eminent givers. The videos were made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the series this year include Senapathy (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, Rajashree Birla, Rakesh Mittal, Sunil Munjal, and Sunil Wadhwani. These philanthropists have shared their perspectives on their personal giving journeys, choice of issues to advance, collaborations with grantees, vision for Indian philanthropy, and much more.

THE THINKERS

Fill the nonprofit skill gap with corporate know-how, write Ratan Tata and Ruth Shapiro. Examining India’s CSR legislation four years after its implementation, Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, and Shapiro, chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, discuss promising signs that the law has led to an uptick in CSR spending. A significant number of companies are spending more than the minimum required two percent on CSR, and projects are becoming more strategic and widespread. Still, nonprofits’ knowledge gaps remain an issue, with many lacking skills such as financial planning, accounting, and impact measurement. “We suggest that the ministry of corporate affairs incentivise companies to encourage employees to provide technical assistance as a volunteer or a board member, for those nonprofits also receiving grant support.”

When it comes to resolving today’s challenges, family philanthropy will become even more crucial, says Peter Vogel. In an opinion editorial for Forbes India, Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), writes that as well-off baby boomers prepare to pass on their wealth to a younger generation of more socially conscious individuals, an “astonishing number of next-generation philanthropists” are set to emerge. “While it is true that there is a growing gap between rich and poor,” he writes, “…there is a growing breed of self-made wealth owners and inheritors who are cognizant of their disproportionate amount of wealth and who have committed to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”

“Do social enterprises work?” Hannah Jun, Ph.D., director of the Center for Global Social Responsibility at Ewha’s Graduate School of International Studies, shares her thoughts on the rising social enterprise scene in Korea. Most notably, the author identifies gaps from her insider’s knowledge of the sector, for example, that university curricula’s focus on long-term sustainability does not match well with the reality of focusing on short-term gains and returns.

THE NONPROFITS

Singaporean bone marrow nonprofit renews charitable status and names a new chief. Following a special audit in 2016 that uncovered governance and administrative lapses such as “excessive” use fo donations on marketing and entertainment, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) has obtained a one-year renewal of its Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) status, which is the official legal charitable status in Singapore. The BMDP also announced the appointment of its new chief Charles Loh, who was previously a senior vice president at Certis Cisco from 2006 to 2016. In regards to the BMDP, a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said, “BMDP has been taking steps to improve its administration and governance. MOH continues to monitor their government and administration.”

Top talent from the world’s universities is going to work for the Tata Trusts. The philanthropic arm of India’s Tata Group, the Tata Trusts are aggressively hiring from top higher education institutions around the world, from The Indian Institute of Technology to Harvard University. “We are enhancing both our functional competencies and general management bandwidth,” says Debasis Ray, spokesperson for the Tata Trusts. With their added manpower, the Tata Trusts hopes to enhance its work in seven portfolio areas, including, but not limited to, health, water, energy, rural uplift, and urban poverty alleviation.

THE BUSINESSES

SK Innovation begins mangrove donation drive in Vietnam. SK Innovation, the battery-making subsidiary of SK Group, is holding a donation campaign to restore a mangrove forest in Vietnam. This campaign is in line with the memorandum of understanding that SK signed with the Vietnamese government and the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the company, over 3,000 people have contributed, donating roughly 5,000 saplings of mangrove trees in just eight days. The campaign will close once it reaches a total of 10,000 trees.

Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society charity run raises SG$1.1 million (approximately US$807,000). Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer charity run raised more than SG$1.1 million for charity. The money will go towards the society’s programs to support cancer patients and their families. The charity run event took place at East Coast Park in Singapore on Sunday morning and was flagged off by Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

THE INNOVATORS

A step towards transparency in philanthropy: The Giving Bank. The Giving Bank is a platform that combines crowdfunding and philanthropy. Since its conception 18 months ago, it has so far completed 45 projects and raised nearly US$123,000. “I have been giving from the time I drew my first salary. But at one point, I felt tired and troubled with giving and not knowing how the funds were used. So, I came up with this idea,” says founder Jason Ang. The system is built to send out reports on how the funds are used automatically to all donors. The Giving Bank itself follows a transparent fee structure on gross donations and has its own ecosystem. The dream, he says, is to be able to donate with a click or swipe.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Chinese volunteer recalls long, lonely fight to protect the forest. Volunteer Liu Zhenmao has protected a mountain forest in Hunan province for the past 38 years, spending 22 Chinese New Year Eves at his sentry post. In 2016, the local government offered financial support and reformed a team of volunteers that was disbanded 23 years earlier. In a letter to Chenzhou’s vice mayor last month, Liu wrote, “I want the Chenzhou government to further control grazing near Shizikou Mountain in order to protect the forests and grasslands and prevent soil erosion.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity faces investigations due to allegations that it has been selling babies. The Indian government is now inspecting the charity’s various centers across India. The order for an investigation came after a nun and an employee were arrested earlier this month for allegedly selling a baby in Jharkhand. The charity said it had also begun investigating internally.

Amid public scandal involving Asiana Airlines, Korean corporate foundations come under public scrutiny. In the aftermath of Asiana Airlines’ in-flight meal scandal, much media spotlight and public attention have been directed toward chairman Park Sam-Koo of Kumho Asiana Group. In particular, how Park has utilized the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation and its funds for the corporate takeover infighting with his brother has led to calls for more scrutiny into Korean conglomerates’ use of private foundations. Other examples noted by the media outlet include Samsung and Hyundai, who have both used foundations for the purpose of corporate succession planning and evasion of fair trade and business regulations.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 June 2018 - 1 July 2018

THE GIVERS

The PepsiCo Foundation announces a US$4.2 million grant for WaterAid to provide clean water access to communities in southern India. The grant came as the foundation announced that its safe water access initiative had reached nearly 16 million people, achieving more than 60% of the company’s CSR goal. On top of this, the foundation announced last week an additional US$2 million donation to the China Women’s Development Foundation’s “Water Cellars for Mothers” initiative, which provides solutions to improve water access in areas presently lacking water infrastructure.

Bloomberg Philanthropies donates US$2.4 million to prevent drowning deaths in Vietnam. Bloomberg Philanthropies has donated US$2.4 million to fund the first two years of a five-year program to prevent drowning deaths among children in Vietnam. The program will hold swimming lessons for children in eight drowning-prone provinces, with a particular on those below five years of age. The donation was announced at a seminar held in Hanoi on June 26, 2018.

The Walmart Foundation invests nearly US$2 million in a farmer market readiness program in India. The foundation has partnered with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropic (ICRISAT) to further the goals of doubling farmers’ incomes and addressing malnutrition in rural areas. An international research institution with United Nations status in India, ICRISAT aims to support small farmers in harnessing markets as a means of poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Half of Singaporean firms practice corporate giving, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) finds. According to its recently released Corporate Giving Survey 2017, about half of the 707 firms surveyed engage in corporate giving. Nearly two-thirds of them have integrated the giving process into their core operations. With the overwhelming majority of giving coming from philanthropy (90%), NVPC encouraged companies to engage in other forms of giving: “beyond cash donations, there (are) a lot of different ways companies can give, and a lot of times we miss the obvious ways–the giving of skills, services or products that companies can provide to communities in need.”

THE NONPROFITS

Charity’s food donation platform serves 2.6 million meals. Food-Co, an online platform run by the charity St. James Settlement and funded by the Hong Kong government’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund, has helped distribute about 200 tons of food to thousands of needy people in Hong Kong over the past year. The platform connects the food industry, both restaurants and companies, with charities that help channel surplus food to those in need.

THE BUSINESSES

The Business Times interviews Singaporean impact investor Declan Ee. The partner and founding investor of TLG Capital, Ee was an early advocate of socially responsible investing at a time when others in Asia were still skeptical of its effectiveness. One of TLG’s first investments was in a medical manufacturing plant in Uganda, which produces affordable anti-retroviral drugs that help treat HIV. With access to generic drugs, HIV patients in Africa “can now have a normal life because the anti-retroviral treatment is so effective. The average lifespan of someone who is on it could be 60-80 years.”

THE INNOVATORS

Technology to help modernize donation marketplace in the Philippines. The founders of Charity Byes and Albert, two mobile applications that focus on creating an online donation marketplace between those who have (such as companies) and those who are in need (such as nonprofits), were inspired by the need to forward excess company resources like food, which would otherwise be wasted, to the causes that most need them.

THE VOLUNTEERS

A Singaporean pair raises over US$42,000 USD for migrant workers in need. Shirin Chua and Ameera Begum started a crowdfunding campaign to raise US$7,300 for Muslim migrant workers in Singapore and were surprised to find that the campaign generated vastly more money than they had expected. Funds raised will go to the Transient Workers Count Too’s meal program, which feeds up to 800 destitute workers every month.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Nonprofits in Malaysia call for regulations on political donations and gifts. The acting chairman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (better known as BERSIH) stressed the importance of transparency in the political donations process. “Any donation received cannot go into a personal account, and there must be documentation or receipts for all contributions.” The calls for greater oversight over donations comes as Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, imposed a no-gif tpolicy for cabinet officials: gifts from now on should only be limited to flowers, food, and fruits.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 June 2018 - 24 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Malaysia finance minister defends collecting public donations to help settle national debt. Amidst a public movement among companies and individuals to donate to the state, Minister Lim Guan Eng has defended this collection of public donations through the “Fund of Hope,” which he said will go towards settling the nation’s debt. The fund was created after Malaysians started crowdsourcing donations themselves. As of June 21, 2018, the fund had reached more than RM90 million in contributions.

THE THINKERS

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society presents the Doing Good Index in Singapore. CAPS visited Singapore to present the Doing Good Index to nonprofit and foundation professionals, CSR executives, academics, journalists, and philanthropists in the country. In particular, CAPS highlighted the challenge in recruiting high-quality talent into the sector. 94% of organizations surveyed agreed that there was a public perception that nonprofit employees should earn less than their private sector counterparts, while 84% indicated that they had difficulty recruiting skilled staff. The below cartoon by the India Development Review well represents this talent dilemma and challenge faced by many nonprofits.

Source: India Development Review

The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network hosted its annual conference in Singapore. Investors seem to agree that there remains a persistent early-stage capital gap problem, leading to insufficient support for early-stage social enterprises. Other challenges include a need for more expertise on business building, more persistence on developing standardized impact measurements, and a reframing of sector’s approach to gender equality.

Hong Kong is underestimating its altruism, according to a recent poll by The University of Hong Kong. While scoring just above average in The University of Hong Kong’s altruism poll, the study nonetheless found that 83.5% of respondents had donated money to charity, while nearly half said that they did volunteer work. Paul Yip Siu-far, the poll’s research director, says that while Hongkongers are doing more than they think, there is still room to do more: “The government should do more to encourage people to donate blood, such as extending the hours of blood donation services since most people work from nine to six.”

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofit brings aid and hope to Penan settlements. Hope Place, a Malaysian nonprofit, has been providing the Penan community in Ulu Baram with health checks, haircuts, and solar panels. After conducting a survey to identify the needs of the people, Hope Place realized that the villagers needed more than just food supplies. Hence, Hope Place has gathered a team of volunteers to provide services such as health checks, haircuts, and installing solar panels.

THE BUSINESSES

Vietnamese companies begin to embrace the environment and community. The article aptly summarizes an increasing trend among Vietnamese companies to embrace environmental protection and community contributions. For example, Traphaco, a leading Vietnamese pharmaceutical company, devised a sustainable development strategy to attach its business growth to environmental protection and CSR. A notable project by Traphaco includes the “Green Plan” whose goal is to produce materials made from herbs, as well as helping local farmers eradicate hunger and reduce poverty. With this emphasis on sustainable business practices, Traphaco is now spending approximately 1-3% of its total revenue on CSR. The article cites many other noteworthy examples from the private sector.

THE INNOVATORS

“From Malaysia to Myanmar, social ventures build homes and safe spaces.” Touching upon the rise of social enterprises in Asia, the Thomson Reuters Foundation highlights two social ventures in Malaysia and Myanmar. While Epic Homes builds houses for mainland Malaysia’s indigenous Orang Asli people, Myanmar’s Doh Eain is helping residents conserve older homes, as well as open up public spaces for women and girls.

A new startup is bringing financial inclusion to unbanked Filipinos. TraXion, a Filipino blockchain enterprise, is aiming to provide savings accounts and payment and remittance services to the 82.6% of the country’s population that is currently unbanked or underbanked. By providing a low-cost and user-friendly service to its clients, the platform wants to succeed where traditional financial institutions have thus far failed. TraXion’s public initial coin offering will begin running this August.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Cristiano Ronaldo helps Singapore Red Cross in promoting blood donation drive and youth giving. Singapore Red Cross launched its “Be The 1” campaign with world-renowned football star Cristiano Ronaldo. The campaign’s aim is to encourage more youths to donate blood. The campaign will run all the way until the end of July, and those wanting to participate or show their support can take a photo and post it on their social media pages with the hashtag #BeThe1DonorSG.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Social delivery organizations in Singapore need to build up public trust. Presenting the DGI to the Singaporean audience, CAPS spoke of the “trust deficit” that plagues the nonprofit sector. 94% of organizations surveyed in the DGI indicated that there was a public perception that nonprofit employees should earn less, while 60% also felt that the level of individual giving was low. “People don’t want to give because they don’t trust the organizations to use their money,” said Ruth Shapiro, Chief Executive of CAPS.

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.