Muhammad Yunus: Doing Good in An Uncertain World

In conversation with Dr Ruth Shapiro at the Commonwealth Club, October 2017

As the world’s wealth shifts into the hands of the few, a new system is emerging to address the inequality, unemployment and environmental destruction that Muhammad Yunus says goes hand in hand with capitalism.

Yunus, the pioneer of microcredit, has seen the transformative results of his economic experiments help people escape poverty. He believes that today’s economic system is broken and must be reformed to provide opportunity for all.

Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and the founder of Grameen Bank who earned a Nobel Prize in 2006 for his work in alleviating poverty. In his book, A World of Three Zeros, Yunus discusses the experiments that have inspired thousands of individuals, companies and organizations to continue to provide microcredit to all.

Philanthropy in India: A Working Paper

Caroline Hartnell (Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace in association with Alliance, WINGS and the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University)

This working paper does not attempt to address the acknowledged lack of comprehensive and reliable data on philanthropy in India.

Rather it aims to throw light on the current state of Indian philanthropy through conversations with people who have been trying to promote, support or strengthen different areas of philanthropy. The writers asked them what currently exists in terms of their particular area of philanthropy and what role it is playing in relation to the state and the private sector; what is driving it and what is holding it back; and what potential role it could play.

The writers also asked for examples of stellar achievements. The areas covered include various forms of giving by the wealthy – what we have called ‘impact-focused philanthropy’, progressive philanthropy, corporate philanthropy and impact investing; social justice philanthropy, self-funded activist movements and community philanthropy; and giving by individuals of modest means. The writers’ aim is to provide an overview of philanthropy in India, particularly shining a light on new areas and innovation within philanthropy, and the implications of these for its future role. 

 

 

Charity in China, Where Giving Begins on Your Phone

Shen Bin (Sixth Tone)

As the largest economy in Asia and only second to the United States in the world, China boasts a technologically advanced society. The use of mobile payment is just as common as swiping a credit card or spending cash. Homegrown high-tech manufacturing firms, software conglomerates, and creative startups such as Tencent, Xiaomi, and Alibaba are at the forefront of China’s economic growth and are an integral part of Chinese citizens’ day-to-day lives.

The reach of China’s technological ecosystem is now seeping into the industry of doing good. With a few touches on their smartphones and free mobile applications, individuals can make quick donations to charitable causes and organizations. Furthermore, these tech companies are applying their creative abilities and ideas to promote individual philanthropy on an unprecedented scale. From matching donations as part of their corporate social responsibility to hosting social media donation competitions, China is making philanthropy cool and trendy.

Shen Bin’s article in the online publication Sixth Tone provides a comprehensive snapshot of and introduction to this intersection between technology and philanthropy in China.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Building the Bench at Indian NGOs: Investing to Fill the Leadership Development Gap

Pritha Venkatachalam and Danielle Berfond (The Bridgespan Group)

Believed to be the first data-driven study of NGO leadership in India, the Bridgespan Group identified systematic gaps between the sector’s leadership development aspirations, and the investments made by NGOs and the funders by surveying approximately 250 NGO leaders, and more than 50 interviews with funders, intermediaries, and NGO executives in India.

Click here to read the full publication.

Dangers to Going It Alone: Social Capital and the Origins of Community Resilience in the Philippines

Greg Bankoff (Continuity and Change)

Abstract: Robert Putnam’s influential article ‘Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital’ puts forward a number of possible factors to explain the decline of civil society in the USA. Many of these same forces are also at work in America’s erstwhile colony in Asia, the Philippines, where almost the opposite outcome is true if one can measure such things as social capital by the activity of formal and informal associations and networks devoted to mutual assistance. Unlike Americans, however, Filipinos are exposed to a much higher degree of everyday risk. This article traces the evolution of mutual benefit associations and networks and suggests that it is in precisely those geographical regions most exposed to personal misfortune and community danger that they proliferate most readily.

Click here to read the full publication. (Note: Subscription is required for access.)

Overview of Charity Sector in Singapore: 2007 – 2013 (Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 3)

Alfred Koh, Swee-Sum Lam, and Weina Zhang (Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, National University of Singapore)

Abstract: This is an exploratory study on the state of the charity sector in Singapore using the Commissioner of Charities Annual Reports from 2007 to 2013, available from the Charity Portal. The depth of analysis is much limited by the availability of inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral data as well as the length of time covered by each annual report.

While there are studies that use the same data, we attempt to rationalise the data trends and their implications for strategy making by would-be entrants, practitioners and policymakers.

We first present the broad trend in the net number and revenue growth of registered charities to understand the size of the sector and its financial health. Overall, the whole sector has been growing at a steady rate in terms of numbers and total amount of receipts which include grants, donations and others. Among the three components, grants, or the money given by the government, contributed the most to the total receipts. A more microscopic review shows that the percentages of others to total receipts are increasing.

We analyse the receipts per charity in each subsector at the level of the total receipts as well as its three components. It was observed that different subsectors have different mix of receipts with government grants dominating in the Education subsector, followed by the Arts and Heritage subsector and the Health subsector.

Taken together, this study could be of interest to aspiring entrants who wish to do good while staying afloat at the same time. For instance, the social and welfare subsector is able to generate a greater proportion of receipts from the sales of goods and services. This suggests that models employing social entrepreneurship may be appropriate in building sustainability in this sector.

Finally, subject to the data at hand, we explore the possible research questions raised in the literature that may be of relevance to practitioners and policymakers. We discuss topics such as the relation of donations and economic conditions, crowding-in or crowding-out effects of grants, the cost of donations, and fundraising strategies.

Given the trend of an ageing population, the Social and Welfare subsector may have a greater role to play in the future. Therefore, this warrants more in-depth research on these issues to bring innovation and sustainability in transforming society and community.

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank

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

Click here to read the Briefs.

The State of Individual Philanthropy in Pakistan 2016

Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy

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

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

Transparency and Accountability Practice of Vietnamese CSOs (2015 – 2016)

Nguyen Phuong Linh and Le Quang Vinh (Research Center of Management and Sustainable Development)

In this report, the Research Center of Management and Sustainable Development exemplifies the capacity and practice of Vietnamese Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in domains of transparency and accountability. With the data collected by the Center’s fieldwork assessments, the strengths and weaknesses of Vietnamese CSOs are analyzed, capacity among CSOs are compared, and recommendations are made to further inculcate the transparency and accountability culture among Vietnamese CSOs.

Click here to read the full publication.

Japan’s Civil Society from Kobe to Tohoku

Rachel Leng (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies)

Shared by Harvard University

Abstract: Although the development of civil society organisations in Japan occurred relatively late compared to Western and some developing countries, a growing number of scholarly works have documented modern Japan’s rapid growth of citizen activism and social action. However, discourse on civil society in Japan has emphasised a pattern of numerous small local groups with limited budgets and staff, and few large professionalized organisations. Nonetheless, Japan has witnessed a recent surge in civil society activism, where the number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working on international development and foreign aid issues is on the rise. As NGOs are a key source of citizens’ power, the expansion of such organisations in Japan has important implications for the shifting relationship between civil society and the state.

This paper explores the development of Japan’s civil society by focusing on patterns of citizen volunteerism and the role of NGOs in the country’s natural disaster relief and restoration efforts. By comparing the post-disaster landscape for citizen volunteering, advocacy, and NGO performance in response to the 1995 Kobe and 2011 Tohoku earthquakes, this paper aims to trace how civil society leadership in Japan has evolved. In particular, this paper examines how the disaster management infrastructure established after Kobe influenced NGO performance in volunteer training and coordination, liaison with officials, and relief efforts for Tohoku’s disaster areas. A better understanding of citizen involvement with NGOs will provide an important indicator for the future trajectory of civil society and disaster resilience in Japan in an international context.

Click here to read the full publication.