Who’s Doing Good?

12 February 2018 - 18 February 2018

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

5 February 2018 - 11 February 2018

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

29 January 2018 - 4 February 2018

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


Indian-born Middle East billionaire joins the Giving Pledge. Shamsheer Vayalil, founder of VPS Healthcare whose net worth is projected to be around US$1.7 billion, joined the Giving Pledge along with his wife on his 41st birthday. On top of this commitment, Vayalil is also in the process of forming the VPS Foundation for providing healthcare and education to “those people who tend to be forgotten.”

Apple teams up with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai to fund education for 100,000 girls. The support from Apple will help the Malala Fund double the number of grants to fund secondary education for girls in India and Latin America. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, will also join its leadership council.


With the right policies and incentives, the Doing Good Index claims Asia can unlock over US$500 billion in philanthropy. The DGI is a groundbreaking inaugural study by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society that maps the philanthropic and charitable landscape in Asia and looks at the enabling environment for “doing good.”

Rati Forbes argues, “Impact is not limited to big philanthropy.” In her opinion editorial, Forbes laments the lack of supporting ecosystem and resources for smaller individual givers, who are more than eager to ensure that their giving is making an impact. Her four-point advice includes: 1. Identify a cause that resonates with you; 2. Build a long-term association with a nonprofit; 3. Think about sustainability; and 4. Collaborate.


Singaporean charities help bridge economic, religious, and racial divides. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and its Harmony Fund, various community organizations have stepped up to address societal issues facing Singapore. While Beyond Social Services have helped convene residents of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to mediate their complaints against one another, Roses of Peace and More Than Just have addressed interfaith and interethnic conflicts.


A New York Stock Exchange-listed company wins top awards at the China Charity Festival. Air Products, a world-leading industrial gases company serving China for 30 years, has won the “2017 Overall Community Care Award” and “The Best Community Program of 2017” at the China Charity Festival, a nonprofit event co-organized by over 30 Chinese media outlets advocating philanthropic spirit and behavior of individuals and organizations. Air Products has been consistently recognized for its services that help Chinese manufacturers improve their environmental performance and for its many CSR initiatives such as the LIN Ambassador Program, an education initiative that fosters the next generation’s interest in science and innovation.

PetroChina does good and does well in Indonesia and Myanmar. PetroChina, the country’s largest oil supplier and distributor, has gone philanthropic, thereby earning trust from the foreign local markets. In Indonesia, the company has helped with the long-term sustainability, capacity, upscaling of local coffee farmers. In Myanmar, it donated more than US$24 million for various infrastructure projects.


South Korean city debuts “smart donation box” for charitable contributions. Incheon, known for its international airport, became the first in Korea to offer high-tech donation boxes that allow passersby to use credit, debit, or transportation cards for charitable giving. The machines are run by a local social enterprise that also selects a portfolio of beneficiary organizations.


Jet Airways’ internal employee-driven volunteering program continues to help the underprivileged in India. “Joy of Giving,” branded in line with its corporate slogan of “Joy of Flying,” is an annual corporate volunteering program that engages with a host of NGOs serving the cause of the less privileged such as children, women, and senior citizens. This year, Jet Airways’ employees not only spent time with those affected, but also donated cash and other resources.


Major charitable crowdfunding scam hits Singapore. A scammer has been targeting people who raised money on crowdfunding websites for charitable purposes. One case includes losing SG$53,000 raised via Give.asia for a baby’s surgery. This scandal ironically comes at a time when the Commissioner of Charities-led code of practice for online charitable fundraising was launched only last month.

TAKING HEART: Singapore ranks among places in Asia where it’s easiest to do good

The Business Times

Regulatory and institutional setup make it easier to give, and tax breaks for charitable donations are high: report



SINGAPORE is one of the easiest places in Asia to be philanthropic, says a report by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), a Hong Kong-based philanthropy think-tank.

Along with Japan and Taiwan, the island-state outperformed 12 other Asian economies in regulatory and institutional infrastructure enabling philanthropic giving.

The report also notes that Singapore may be the only economy in the world to offer a 250 per cent tax deduction for charitable donations.

“This is more than double that of any other economy in Asia in our sample.”

“Even better, there is no limit on the income eligible for individual or corporate tax deductions. It is encouraging that from 2014 to 2015, when the higher rate of tax deduction was instituted, tax deductible donations jumped by almost 25 per cent.”

The report, titled “Doing Good Index 2018”, was written by Ruth A. Shapiro and Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, respectively the chief executive and director of research in CAPS.

Fifteen Asian economies are analysed, among them China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. The report uses the findings from a 2017 survey of 80 experts in philanthropy policy across Asia and also 1,516 social delivery organisations (SDOs), which are organisations engaged in delivering a product or service that engages a societal need.

Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) of SDOs in Singapore agree that it is relatively easy to claim a tax reduction.

Singapore may offer a 250 per cent tax reduction rate, but seven other markets offer a 100 per cent deduction rate.

The report puts Singapore in second place in the number of clearances required to register an SDO – two.

The republic is in third place in the area of the number of people who find relevant laws difficult to understand, at 23 per cent; it is also one of six markets where it takes less than a month to register an SDO.

However, the report says that nearly three-quarters of all respondents (74 per cent) find it difficult to recruit skilled staff. This figure is even higher in Asia’s most developed economies such as Japan and Singapore, “possibly because the opportunity cost of a relatively lower-paid job in the non-profit sector is higher for skilled workers in these economies”.

“A preference for stable, socially respected jobs in professional services is another possible explanation.”

The economies on the index range from those with still-developing infrastructure to those with infrastructure that is better than the Asian average. The overall performance of each economy falls into one of four categories:

  • “Not doing enough”: Examples are Indonesia and Myanmar;
  • “Doing okay”: China, India and Pakistan;
  • “Doing better”: Hong Kong, Malaysia;
  • “Doing well”: Singapore, Taiwan, Japan.

But the report says all have room for improvement. Only Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines have tax incentives for giving upon death through bequests.

Recruitment of skilled talent in the social sector in Singapore is perceived to be challenging. Dr Shapiro says: “There is unprecedented space and opportunity for Asia to leapfrog ahead and be on par with donors in the West, but for this to happen, Asian governments need to lay the right regulatory, institutional and even cultural and social foundations for private social investments to thrive.”

The report says: “Our conversations with donors and our prior study of high-performing SDOs in the region lead us to this observation: Asian philanthropists have tended to support projects and initiatives aligned with their own government’s development goals. If we accept this premise, there is a strong case for policymakers to make local giving as easy as possible.”

  • Taking Heart is a weekly series highlighting meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

To view the article on The Business Times‘ website, click here.

Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, Director of Research, on Channel NewsAsia

Channel NewsAsia

Click here to see the full interview of Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed on Channel NewsAsia’s Asia Business First.

Unleashing Philanthropic Capital in Asia

Bloomberg Radio

Click here to listen to the full radio interview of Ruth Shapiro on Bloomberg Daybreak Asia.

Asian philanthropists can potentially give twice as much as US

Nikkei Asian Review

Charitable donations can top $500 billion with proper tax incentives, regulatory reforms

MASAYUKI YUDA, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO — Thanks to rapid economic growth, personal wealth in Asia is at an all-time high, with more billionaires in the region now than anywhere else in the world. But have charitable donations grown proportionally to the region’s wealth? The answer is not as fast, but the potential is huge.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, or CAPS, the region can potentially give more than $500 billion to charity per year, if the environment is improved. Such an advancement would mark a new dawn for Asia, with philanthropy becoming a new norm for the rich.

U.S. philanthropists donate around $250 billion yearly, which amounts to roughly 2% of the country’s gross domestic product. CAPS calculated Asia’s charity potential by also taking 2% of regional GDP.

In Western culture, philanthropy is considered a form of noblesse oblige. From entrepreneurs to sportsmen, the genuinely successful do their part by donating to existing charity organizations or forming their own foundations.

For example, investor Warren Buffett has given away nearly $50 billion since 2000. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page are all also well-known alms-givers. In 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to public-interest causes.

Asia has certainly been no stranger to philanthropy. Former NBA star Yao Ming formed his own foundation in 2008, in response to the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, and played a fundraising game in Hong Kong last year. Tecent Holdings co-founder Charles Chen left the Chinese tech giant to become full-time philanthropist in 2013.

Yet compared to the U.S., not many billionaires in Asia donate to charity, at least openly. What stops them? CAPS pointed out burdens such as insufficient tax incentives and slow regulatory reforms.

CAPS came up with a new guidepost, called the Doing Good Index, to evaluate how well the economies are effectuating philanthropic giving. It examines 15 Asian economies’ tax incentives, regulatory regimens, procurement procedures and cultural conditions. According to its analysis for 2018, only Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan were “doing well.”  Conversely, Indonesia and Myanmar were seen as “not doing enough.” Seven economies including South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam were “doing better,” while China, India and Pakistan were evaluated as “doing OK.”

In terms of tax incentives, Singapore allows the largest deduction by far for individuals and for corporations, in order to draw in more rich people and competitive companies. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines are the only four among the 15 economies with a tax incentive to bequeath funds to charity.

The process and quickness of registering a charitable enterprise vary widely across the region. The laws related to giving in Japan and South Korea, for example, were characterized by charitable entities as very difficult to understand. Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, on the other hand, scored well on the regulatory ease of doing good.

The lack of talent is another difficulty that Asia’s philanthropists share. Among Asia’s charitable foundations, the CAPS survey showed half of them found it difficult to recruit general staff. The number jumped to some 74% for recruiting skilled staff. The survey indicates that such charitable foundations or organizations are not yet considered attractive destinations for Asia’s best and brightest.

The official development assistance, or ODA, provided for Asia amounted $45.5 billion in 2015. If the potential materializes in the future, philanthropic giving in the region will have an economic impact 11 times more than the most recent ODA figure.

Asia’s higher contribution to philanthropy may be an important force for the world to achieve the United Nations’ $1.4 trillion funding target for financing low- and lower-middle-income countries, which is part of the international body’s Sustainable Development Goals it hopes to meet by 2030.

But no Asian economy has yet reached its potential. CAPS constructed the Doing Good Index with a top score of 5 and lowest of 0. Although the organization did not disclose the rating each economy received, it did reveal that none scored higher than 4.

“There is unprecedented space and opportunity for Asia to leapfrog ahead and be on par with donors in the West,” said CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro. “But for this to happen, Asian governments need to lay the right regulatory, institutional, and even cultural and social foundations for private social investments to thrive.”

Asian governments can do more to help philanthropic efforts


Click here to see the full interview of Ruth Shapiro on CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia.

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.