Who’s Doing Good?

12 November 2018 - 18 November 2018


Forbes releases “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy,” shedding light on Asia’s leading do-gooders. In its twelfth iteration now, Forbes’ “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy” highlights entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities who have made considerable philanthropic contributions in the previous year. With a total of seven representatives on the 40-member list, India and China have produced the highest number of “heroes,” while Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia follow with three to four members each.

Elderly couple in Korea donates millions to Korea University to fund scholarships for students in need. Kim Yeong-seok and Yang Young-ae have decided to make a property donation worth ₩40 billion (US$35.3 million) to Korea University for funding need-based scholarships. After the announcement of their donation, many expressed their concern over whether the university might misuse the funds for its own gains, but university officials clearly stated that they will make sure the money goes to students in need. “All the income from the building will be used to give scholarships to students in need. We all know how hard it was for the couple to accumulate such wealth, which is why we will make sure that no penny goes to waste,” said Yoo Byung-hyun, vice president for development, external affairs, and capital planning at Korea University.

Singaporean university gets SG$4 million gift from late philanthropic couple. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is the latest institution to benefit from a late elderly couple who had donated millions of dollars to several charitable causes. The SG$4 million (approximately US$2.9 million) gift will help fund NTU’s development of teachers, with the introduction of scholarships for master’s degrees and grants for trainee teachers at the university’s National Institute of Education. The scholarships will be named after the couple: Mr. Ong Tiong Tat, 74, who died in 2013, and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, 73, who died in 2016.


Trust deficit to blame for the slow growth of Indonesia’s social sector. Billionaires in Indonesia continue to enjoy enormous growth in wealth in spite of economic downturns, but philanthropy, on the other hand, has not taken off, highlighted Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS. According to Shapiro, who spoke as a panelist at the Indonesia Philanthropy Festival, the trust deficit between givers and charitable organizations is primarily to blame. Unlike the private sector, the entire charitable sector is painted as corrupt in the wake of major public scandals, and a lack of purported transparency can often reflect capacity constraints and not actual corruption. Shapiro also stated that Indonesia’s unsupportive regulatory environment is an additional impediment.


Pakistani nonprofits face funding squeeze and delays in approvals as state paranoia peaks. According to the author, the Pakistani government, in its recent condemnation of the entire social sector, has failed to differentiate between legitimate social service providers and those involved in terrorism financing. For the government, nonprofits are increasingly viewed as fronts for international “agents” with “ulterior” motives. The ensuing clampdown has involved making it difficult for charities to access financing and to obtain government approvals for projects. This article paints a bleak picture for Pakistan and its social sector, as this tightening slows the country’s progress in core development areas such as education and health.


The Business Times releases “Champions of Good 2018.” Through a seven-part series, The Business Times spotlights best practices in volunteering and philanthropy from Singapore. Some of the areas covered by this wide-ranging series include CSR programs which tap into companies’ skills and resources to drive change and impact measurement as a tool to learn and refine social work. Across these seven articles, a myriad of organizations—mostly corporate, as well as nonprofits—are studied and showcased as role-model examples of doing good.

UNIQLO partners with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop to support refugees. Under this proposed partnership, customers at UNIQLO outlets will be able to shop for “Cards for Hope,” which are special greeting cards that feature artwork by Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. All proceeds will be channeled towards the Sesame Workshop and IRC’s early childhood development programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Promotional campaigns seeking to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian crises surrounding refugees will also be conducted through drawing workshops at UNIQLO outlets participated by elementary school groups and Sesame Street characters.


Alipay launches “Social Innovation Challenge” in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise. The initiative seeks to attract, promote, and support digital technology innovations geared towards social good in Southeast Asia. As part of the challenge, individual innovators and entrepreneurs will receive up to SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000), as well as a complete suite of support services from mentoring to acquiring access to potential investors. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of Asia’s leading universities, have committed in a joint effort to tap into their rich networks and share their resources in order to support aspiring entrepreneurs focused on creating positive social impact. 

Hong Kong Tatler lists five impact funds and ventures that contribute to social well-being. First, on the list, The Rise Fund was setup by TPG, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The fund is worth US$2 billion and makes investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy. Hong Kong Tatler also features a sustainable rubber plantation in Indonesia worth US$95 million and owned by Michelin and Indonesia’s Barito Group. Responsible meat producers such as Impossible Foods and companies in the electric vehicle sector also made the cut.


Japanese teen volunteers and funds library in Cambodia. Miyu Ozawa, now 16, saved every New Year’s gift money and decided to use the collected funds for a good cause. Having spent her spring vacation following her graduation from junior high school, she worked as a volunteer on a 10-day tour in Cambodia, where she helped with classes at a primary school. After returning to Japan, Ozawa began thinking about building a library in Cambodia because it appeared that while the country had schools, it did not have enough teachers or teaching materials. “Books will give you a first step for studying on your own,” said Ozawa.


Arrest of fake Chinese monk in Myanmar highlights the increase in sham begging. Ashin Dhamma Rakhita, associated with the Guan Yin San Tart Pain Temple in Yangon, Myanmar, has stated and clarified that monks do not and should not engage in commercial activities or ask for donations. In recent days, individuals in the garb of monks have appeared in markets, schools, and restaurants in Yangon, publicly asking for donations and selling beads. Videos on social media of their activities have also been doing the rounds. As a result, authorities have arrested one such trickster, while a few have returned to China.

View From Asia-Pacific: The Art of Giving

Campden FB

Susan Lingeswaran

Asia’s story over the past few years has been a tale of rapidly rising wealth and with it, increased philanthropic giving. In 2014, Hong Kong real estate moguls Ronnie and Gerald Chan hit western headlines when they pledged a $350 million gift to Harvard University through their charitable foundation—the largest in the institution’s history. In its 2016 study on philanthropy, BNP Paribas said that 27% of high net worth Asians planned to leave at least a third of their fortune to charity.

But in 2018, at a time when personal wealth in Asia is at an all-time high, new reports have suggested that the Asia region is lagging further behind than it should be.

According to the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society’s Doing Good Index 2018, the region’s philanthropists are capable of giving around 11 times more than the $45.5 billion it currently gives. The report’s researchers reasoned that with a combined GDP of $25.4 trillion, charitable giving by philanthropists across South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific could potentially reach $500 billion. This level would be reached if the region gave the same 2% share of GDP that the United States does.

Elsewhere, the Global Family Office Report 2018 by Campden Research and UBS finds that the average Asian family office gave an average of only $1.3 million to philanthropic causes—almost five times less than Europe’s average of $6.4 million.

Are these comparisons perhaps a little unfair? And do they illustrate the wider story in Asia?

Historically, charitable giving in Asia has been seen as a personal affair and not something to declare publicly. Because of this, it has been difficult for researchers to chart the scale and scope of philanthropy in the region. The Doing Good Index 2018 notes that far from not wanting to donate to charitable causes, Asian philanthropists have hesitated to give to charitable organizations in their region, due to a lack of clarity; and scandals involving charities. Philanthropists say governments could help address this by encouraging more transparency and accountability, and ensuring relevant regulations for the sector are easily understood.

Headlines this year too suggest that the tide of Asian giving could be turning, despite these reservations around transparency.

In March, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing said he would retire to focus on his charitable foundation, which he affectionately calls his “third son”. Four months later, Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men and co-founder of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, also announced his plan to retire to pursue philanthropy in an area close to his heart—education. In announcing his next move, Ma credited Microsoft’s Bill Gates for inspiring him to create a personal foundation for his philanthropic ventures.

“There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates,” he said at the time.

“I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier.”

As more wealthy investors get inspired to follow suit, and with the region’s wealth projected to keep growing, could Asia become the new world leader in philanthropy?


To view this article on Campden FB’s website, click here.

Indonesia, Myanmar Worst at Providing Good Environment for Philanthropy: Study

Jakarta Globe

The nonprofit organization works to increase the quality and quantity of philanthropy in 15 Asian countries by helping to improve governance and aiding the efficacy of philanthropists and social delivery organizations working on education, health, the environment, and poverty alleviation.

Both Southeast Asian nations are “not doing enough,” or the most left behind, in creating an environment that promotes philanthropic activities, according to CAPS’s Doing Good Index, which examines fiscal, cultural and social incentives to donate to charitable causes.

Countries are grouped into four clusters, with the best performers (Japan, Singapore and Taiwan) in the “Doing Well” cluster, the second-best performers (Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) in the “Doing Better” cluster and the third-best performers (China, India and Pakistan) in the “Doing Okay” cluster.

Countries are categorized based on whether their fiscal and regulatory policies and cultural and social environments enable, or impede private social investments, including donations, charity, and philanthropic activities.

CAPS also examines whether so-called social delivery organizations, including nongovernment organizations, foundations and charity organizations, can access funds from philanthropists or donors and ultimately deliver the money to address societal needs.

“This is a study, first of its kind in the world, that looks at the factors that either enable or impede private social investment,” said Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS.

CAPS released its inaugural Doing Good Index in January this year and plans to issue a new report every two years.

However, Shapiro emphasized that none of the 15 countries surveyed had reached their maximum potential.

“This scale is up to five; no country passes a four. So even the countries that do well could do better,” she said.

Ruth Shapiro is the founder and chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Double Whammy for Philanthropists

The study analyzes regulations to determine whether governments make it easier for charity organizations to set up as legal entities.Shapiro said tax policies are another important factor in the equation.

“It’s a double whammy, right? You’re giving your money away and you get taxed… Indonesia does not have tax-exempt organizations, so nonprofits have to pay taxes in this country. It’s not very helpful,” said Shapiro, who is the editor of “The Real Problem Solvers,” a book about social entrepreneurship in the United States.

“And then you have to raise even more money so you can pay the government,” she said. “The government doesn’t give any kind of incentives to do the right thing.”

Is Indonesia Still the Most Generous Nation? 

In contrast to another recent study, the two worst performers in the Doing Good Index are the top two in the World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation, which measures the generosity of 146 countries, which have a combined population of around 5.2 billion.Shapiro explained the difference between the two indices. “This is because the three questions included in the World Giving Index emulated Indonesians as a whole: ‘Have you given money to a stranger in the past month? Have you helped a stranger in the past month? Have you volunteered your time in the past month?'”

The Doing Good Index survey consisted of 150 questions and the results were adjudicated by an expert panel and members of nonprofit organizations, she said.

Shapiro said the small amounts of money Indonesians generally give to local mosques, nongovernmental organizations or beggars on the street do not bring about systematic change.

“We think you need institutions, governments, structures to really bring about change. That’s what our study looks at. That’s the difference,” she said.

Being generous may be a positive characteristic, but it does not benefit any stakeholders in the charity sector, she added.

Shapiro also pointed out that there was no correlation between a country’s economic development and how it rates in the index.

Philanthropy is equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product in the United States, while it is not even 1 percent in Indonesia, according to Shapiro.

She said CAPS calculated through the Doing Good Index that if philanthropy in the 15 Asian countries also reached 2 percent of GDP, the value would be equivalent to $504 billion every year.

“It’s a lot of money; it’s 11 times the amount of foreign aid that comes into this region,” Shapiro said.

Less Government Support in Indonesia, but It Doesn’t Matter

The CAPS study also found that 66 percent of NGOs in Indonesia get funding from foreign sources, compared to an average of 45 percent in Asia as a whole. Only 10 percent of NGOs in the archipelago receive state support, either through grants or contracts.But despite the lack of good policies and tax benefits, Indonesians still volunteer, help and spread awareness of social entrepreneurship.

“People are ready; they’re doing things anyway. But they must fight against the system. Why? The government should want to make it as easy as possible to do good,” Shapiro said.


To view this article on Jakarta Globe’s website, click here.

‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ – Trust Deficit Costs Indonesian Charities Billions of Dollars

Jakarta Globe

Indonesia is one of the three Asian economies with double-digit growth in both high-net-worth individuals (13.7 percent) and financial wealth (14.3 percent), according to a joint report by Paris-based consultancy CapGemini and wealth management firm RBC Wealth Management.

GlobeAsia magazine recently reported that most Indonesian billionaires and the country’s 100 largest business groups still enjoy good revenues, despite the current global financial turbulence, a weakening rupiah, and stagnating economic growth.

The country’s rising middle-income class, abundant natural resources, and healthy economic fundamentals provide a strong foundation for companies to expand.

This raises questions of why their philanthropic money cannot play a bigger role in addressing some the country’s most daunting problems, such as inequality, poverty, and unemployment.

Ruth Shapiro, founder and chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), said, “from the middle class to the super-rich” there is more disposable income, which should contribute to “making philanthropy much more possible.”

From a regional perspective, Asia is also home to most of the world’s dollar billionaires with a new success story written every two days.

Hong Kong-based CAPS is a research and advisory organization active in 17 economies in Asia. Founded five years ago, the nonprofit produces policy research on philanthropy, analyzes government policies in the selected economies and conducts research. It also looks at how companies can better spend their charity money.

Trust Deficit

“When I ask a lot of philanthropists, ‘why don’t you give more in your home country?’ they say: ‘I don’t trust the organizations, so I’m going to give to nonprofits abroad instead. It is because I can trust those places that the money is going to be spent the right way. Here, it’s more difficult,’­” said Shapiro, who was in Jakarta for the three-day Indonesia Philanthropy Festival (FIFest), which showcased innovations in the country’s philanthropic activities.Shapiro said there is a “trust deficit” in the entire charity sector, adding that the “lack of trust is debilitating.” The charity sector includes stakeholders such as nongovernmental organizations, businessmen, companies, and the government.

Guilty ‘Till Proven Innocent

Shapiro, who also founded the Asia Business Council and served as its executive director from its inception in 1997 until 2007, said one important reason for this trust deficit is confusing, or constantly changing laws in a country like Indonesia.The Asia Business Council is a Hong Kong-based organization focused on creating sustainable economic growth in Asia.

“In this country, there is a law on foundations, on social organizations, national laws, local laws and they are not aligned. So the message is what you have to do is different. Plus, they are not always enforced, even if you follow any. So it’s very difficult to navigate, or even do things right because it’s confusing what the laws are,” she said.

Shapiro also highlighted the many scandals in the social and charity sectors. “Then people say, ‘oh they’re all corrupt, all fraudulent,’­” she said.

“If you think about it, it doesn’t happen in the private sector. If a company engages in fraud, you won’t have people saying things like ‘oh now the entire private sector is bad,’ but it does happen in the charitable sector; so, it’s now guilty till proven innocent,” she said.

Shapiro also touched on the lack of transparency in many nonprofit organizations.

“It’s very difficult to look at nonprofit organizations in this country and know where they get their money from, what they do with the money and the impact they’re having. It’s not like they’re bad people, it’s just that often, they don’t have the skills to tell you,” she said.

“A lot of the time if you ask a nonprofit, ‘where does your money come from, what are you spending it on?’ – they’re going to be like, ‘why do you want to know?’­” Shapiro said.

Money for Advocacy or Social Delivery?

To Shapiro, the term “nongovernmental organization” means many things and these different definitions play roles in both issue advocacy and social causes.She said most companies are happy to give to nonprofit organizations engaged in social causes, such as helping children or eradicating malnutrition.

“But you don’t know what they are doing, so you get nervous because you don’t want to be caught funding an organization that’s going to turn around and criticizes the government… In some countries, including the US, there are legal differences between these two different types of organizations,” she said.

Shapiro said one of the things Indonesia must, therefore, do to unleash the potential is to develop “more accountability and transparency that will make people feel that they can trust the sector and work on things.”

Dr. Ruth Shapiro obtained a doctorate from Stanford University and master’s degrees from Harvard University and George Washington University. She is the primary author of “Pragmatic Philanthropy: Asian Charity Explained,” published by Palgrave Macmillan in January this year. She currently resides in Hong Kong.


To view this article on Jakarta Globe’s website, click here.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018


Tmall.com Double Eleven Festival lucky draw winner donates prize money to children’s charity. The winner of the Double Eleven Festival draw, a shopping festival now greater in value than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, donated most of her prize money to a charity dedicated to finding lost children. The prize allowed the Hangzhou-based woman to spend up to 100 million yuan (approximately US$14 million).


Bill Gates demoes “reinvented” toilets, calling attention to over 4.5 billion people without proper sanitation. A result of US$200 million invested by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years, Bill Gates demoed innovative toilet designs this week in Beijing, China, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo. Requiring no water or electricity to run, the designs can also treat waste into water and fertilizer. A lack of access to proper sanitation costs half a million lives and over US$2 billion in associated expenses annually.


Charity groups can apply for grants up to SG$900,000 (approximately US$650,000) to improve processes. The Tote Board, Singapore’s largest grant-making organization, has launched the “Nonprofit Sector Transformation Initiative” worth SG$10 million (approximately US$7.26 million) to help charities boost their operational capabilities. The money will be given to 10 nonprofit organizations and can be used to hire external consultants or staff to improve internal processes and capacities or to boost their IT systems.


JD.com launches program to support children with special needs through art therapy. The new program from the Chinese e-commerce giant aims to raise money for the World of Art Brut Culture (WABC), a Shanghai-based non-governmental organization which highlights artistic talents of those with developmental disabilities.  As part of the initiative, JD.com sought out paintings designed by WABC-supported children to feature their artwork on 100,000 of its delivery packages.


Boys’ Brigade Singapore launches PayNow QR code for donations to its Share-A-Gift project. Boys’ Brigade’s Christmas charity project this year is going cashless by introducing PayNow QR codes. The project provides food hampers for the needy and grants wishes for items. Going cashless allows the organization to reach a wider base of donors, claims Mr. Lui Chong Chee, chairman of the project. In its 31st year now, requests from 41,756 beneficiaries, including 9,053 needy families and individuals, will be catered.


Kottayam to be India’s first hunger-free district, thanks to volunteer groups. Various volunteer groups, nonprofit organizations, and support from the locals have allowed the Kottayam district in India to be the first hunger-free district in the country. In addition to systematic contributions from the local Red Cross and other eateries, individuals leverage Facebook groups, as well as deposit boxes, to provide for the homeless and hungry.


I never lied about RM2.6 billion donation, says Razak. Najib Razak, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, is facing 38 criminal charges, including 25 charges for money laundering and abuse of power that are related to purported donations. Amidst the charges, he claims he did not lie about the RM6.2 million (approximately US$1.48 million) donation that he received in his personal account. He maintained that the funds came from the late monarch of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud. “All business regarding the receipt and return of the funds is within the knowledge of Bank Negara Malaysia, the corresponding banks, and my officers. Throughout the handling of the funds I received, no doubts were raised by Bank Negara, or the recipient’s banks, or the officers who handled my accounts,” he said in an interview.

Indonesian charities at risk of being used to launder cash and finance terrorism. Australia’s financial intelligence and counter-terrorism agency, Austrac, has found that Indonesia is at “high” risk of suffering consequences from financing terrorism (often inadvertently) along with Australia. Asia’s other representatives in the report, Singapore and Thailand, face a “medium” risk, while the problem is less severe in Brunei. The report calls individuals to always donate to “recognized, well-established” charities.

Who’s Doing Good?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018


Korean star soccer player Son donates to the military before Asian Games win. Son Heung-min, a professional soccer player who plays for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and who captains the Korean national team, donated around £70,000 (approximately US$90,100) to his country’s armed forces prior to the victory in this year’s Asian Games, which allowed him to be exempted from Korea’s mandatory military service. “Son Heung-min called us by himself saying he’d like to make a donation for Korean soldiers and their families,” Kookbang Ilbo, the army’s official daily newspaper, revealed.


Indonesia tops the World Giving Index 2018. Through a survey of over 150,000 people in 146 countries, this year’s World Giving Index by the Charities Aid Foundation places Indonesia as the most generous country, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Singapore and Myanmar are Asia’s other representatives in the Index’s top ten at seventh and ninth, respectively. Termed as “quite remarkable,” Singapore turned around its poor showing in previous versions of the Index, jumping 23 spots from its standing in 2017, a change led primarily by increased volunteering. Myanmar had topped the Index in 2017, and Indonesia was placed second.


BTS’ UNICEF “Love Myself” campaign raises over US$1.4 million. Last year, BTS, a globally popular K-Pop group, teamed up with UNICEF Korea for their “Love Myself” anti-violence campaign, and it was recently revealed that the initiative had raised over US$1.4 million. “In the year since UNICEF and BTS joined together to eradicate violence against children, we have raised over ₩1.6 billion,” said UNICEF Korea in a statement.

Hong Kong nonprofit raises US$2 million for the Philippines’ poorest. Through a number of auctions and activities held in Hong Kong as part of the “Stepping Free from Poverty” banquet, the International Care Ministries (ICM) managed to raise US$2 million. Founded in 1992, the ICM is the brainchild of interior designer Sharon Tang. The Hong Kong charity provided training and resources to its one millionth family this year, and the money raised will be utilized to bring the next million out of extreme poverty. 


India’s CSR funding set to reach Rs20,000 crore. CSR funding in India is poised to grow to Rs20,000 crore (approximately US$274.9 million) over the next three years. That is the estimate made in a new report by the Indian School of Development Management in association with Sattva Consulting which also says CSR funding has been growing at the rate of 9% per year. With 33 lakh nonprofit institutions employing over 1.82 crore individuals, supported by contributions from funders, enabling organizations, the government, and businesses, India’s development sector is one of the largest and most active social economies in the world. It also has a huge potential to become an aspiring and mainstream career option for India’s young leaders and managers.

12,000 Samsung employees participate in the company’s Global Volunteer Month. Each year in October, Samsung employees all over the world look to give back through volunteering and community engagement. This year, across regions and countries such as the United States, Latin America, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, China, Myanmar, and Thailand, a total of 12,000 volunteers engaged in the program and contributed to diverse areas such as education, immigrant integration, school refurbishments, and cyberbullying among others.


Blockchain-based plastic recycling centers in Indonesia. Plastic Bank recently partnered with SC Johnson to open plastic recycling centers across Indonesia. Recent scientific data revealed that Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are responsible for more than 55% of the plastic waste found in the ocean. The organization plans to open eight plastic waste collection centers across Indonesia by May 2019. The program aims to act as a means of income for the local waste collectors who live below the poverty line and also to encourage recycling. The collectors can bring the plastic they collect to the center and receive digital tokens in exchange.


President of Singapore promises more opportunities for senior volunteers. President Halimah Yacob announced yesterday that the newly appointed National Centre of Excellence in Senior Volunteerism, RSVP Singapore, will reach out to more of those in their mid-50 and 60’s to encourage them to volunteer with local charities and other organizations such as hospitals. Currently, about 60% of the organization’s 2,500 senior volunteers are in their mid-50 and 60’s. The organization will tailor its programs to suit the group of volunteers. “Some are likely to be IT savvy, higher educated, and have a stable income…, so we need to curate different programs to suit them,” said chairman Koh Juay Meng.

Empress Michiko’s proactive involvement in society. The article spotlights Japanese Empress Michiko’s contributions to society and passion for helping the disadvantaged. From promoting Braille translations of music to serving as the honorary president of the Japanese Red Cross Society, Empress Michiko has gradually expanded her commitment to society. Her involvement in society is part of the Japanese royal family’s often publicly stated role of acting as the symbol of the state and unity of the Japanese people.


Chinese Apple Watch supplier under fire for “forcing students to work like robots.” Apple is investigating a factory in Southwest China after a labor rights group claimed that the technology giant’s supplier forced student workers to work “like robots” to assemble the Apple Watch. The Chongqing factory is operated by Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. According to an investigation by the Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), many were forced to work to get their vocational degrees and had to do night shifts. These students were made to work under the guise of an internship. “Our graduation certificate will be withheld by the school if we refuse to come,” said one student majoring in e-commerce, according to SACOM.

Philanthropy In Asia Has Rich Potential

The CSR Journal

Kasmin Fernandes

Rising wealth in Asia is one of the biggest economic stories of the 21st century. We are witnessing enormous societal change as hundreds of millions leave behind a life of poverty.

As prominent Asian philanthropists Ratan Tata and Ronnie Chan have written, these changes raise some fundamental questions: What does it mean to be part of a community? What are the responsibilities of those who have toward those who have not? And how do ancient ways of interacting with one another meld with modernity, technology, and a cosmopolitan world-view?

All of these questions are embedded in an evolving notion of philanthropy and other kinds of private giving.

A culture of giving is already deeply rooted in Asia, which has a distinguished history of organized philanthropy for community welfare. What is relatively new and exciting is a growing interest in the professionalization of the sector and the emergence of SDOs (standards developing organization) that deliver services and products to meet a societal need. All signals point to an increased number of registered SDOs across Asia, with a clear focus on improving lives.

The types of SDOs are also evolving to range from traditional non-profits, to non-profits with income streams, to social enterprises that seek to be successful businesses which also provide a social good.

The potential of philanthropy to contribute to meaningful change has never been higher according to the report titled ‘Doing Good Index 2018’ by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society. However, there is much that governments and SDOs can do to encourage more philanthropic giving among the 637 or so Asia-based billionaires, the thousands of 100-millionaires and other holders of private wealth.

This means that there is an unprecedented opportunity for philanthropic giving in Asia to leap ahead. Asia can even meet and surpass, the charitable giving level in the United States. Philanthropic giving could also contribute toward the US $1.4 trillion annual global price tag for achieving the United Nation’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) by 2030, to deliver the improvements in quality of life that they promise.

There is great socioeconomic diversity across the 15 prominent economies: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. They range from high-income to low-income, indicating varied success in directing resources and providing infrastructure support to drive economic development. They also sit at either ends of the Human Development Index, which the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) uses to measure life expectancy, education, literacy, and standards of living.


To view this article on The CSR Journal’s website, click here.

Who’s Doing Good?

22 October 2018 - 28 October 2018


Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo donates RMB 200 Million to Tsinghua University. One of the richest businessmen in Hong Kong and chairman of the K.Wah Group, Lui Che-woo has donated RMB 200 million (approximately US$28 million) to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, to establish the Biomedical Sciences Building. The building is planned to enhance the university’s teaching and research capabilities, as well as house leading medical research centers, including the National Centre for Protein Science.

Hong Kong billionaire and alumni to match all donations to Hong Kong scholarships. Billionaire and chairman and CEO of Melco International and Melco Crown Entertainment, Lawrence Ho and his sister, Daisy Ho, who are both alumni of the school, have pledged to match every donation received by the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation in a new initiative called HK Match and help expand its existing scholarship program so that it fully covers tuition and living costs.


Proposed changes to India’s CSR laws could deplete motivation. As the world’s only economy with mandatory CSR, India is expected to collect upwards of Rs50,000 crore (approximately US$7 billion) from corporations by March 2019. But recent amendments have “hardened” the law, argues Shashwat DC. The author suggests corporations could turn away and treat CSR as a mere requirement. Grassroots beneficiaries, he adds, stand to lose out most as corporations may re-center towards low-hanging, low-impact contributions in their CSR approaches.

Private sector’s push in higher education and ease in regulation necessary says vice-chancellor of India’s rising university. Professor C. Raj Kumar, a former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and the founding vice-chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), has cited government regulations and lack of attention to research among Indian private universities as important contributors to India’s struggle in global university rankings. His remarks came as JGU, established in 2009, broke into the 2019 QS Asia University Rankings. 


Group of eight corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and individuals win President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards in Singapore. Launched in 2012, the annual President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards honor individuals, companies, ground-up movements, nonprofits, and educational institutions who give back to the community. The winners for 2018 were picked from nearly 100 nominations. Notable corporate and academic winners include Citi Singapore and the National University of Singapore. Assisi Hospice was chosen as the nonprofit winner for providing end-of-life care as a health-oriented nonprofit organization. President Halimah Yacob said, “I’m heartened that this year’s winners include firms that made giving an integral part of their corporate culture, as well as individuals who are passionate in helping those around them.”

Opportunities for Indian women grow as social and economic restrictions are addressed. This brief case study notes an increasing focus towards women in India, the participation of whom is seen as central to sustaining the Indian economy. Through a handful of profiles including that of a former expat now turned entrepreneur running Asia’s first commercial biobank and Katalyst, an initiative helping women from low-income communities, JPMorgan Chase presents an optimistic outlook for women in India.


Sustainable exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry to be worth over US$400 billion by 2030, says BlackRock chairman. Larry Fink, chairman of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, expects sustainability to form the core of all investments made in the future. Following the announcement of the plan to launch six Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)-screened ETFs in Europe, Fink also opined that rates of returns on social investments would also outpace those on traditional investments. However, BlackRock was the subject of protests in September during which the company was alleged to be the largest owner of fossil fuels companies and hence “failing to walk the talk.” 


Binance releases 2018 donation report for West Japan disaster. Having delivered cryptocurrency donations to flood victims in West Japan via its Blockchain Charity Foundation, Binance has released its 2018 donation report. The Blockchain Charity Foundation and other external donors sent in around a total cryptocurrency amount worth US$1,410,000. With these funds, over 41,000 individuals in three prefectures received medicine, shelter, and other resources.


Malaysian university students raise funds and volunteers to help those in need. Organized by students of KDU Penang University College, the Technicolor Festival brought the student community together to raise funds and conduct volunteering activities for those in need. Students raised RM138,000 (approximately US$33,000), as well as collaborating with the Penang Social Welfare Department to help underprivileged families. Dr. Chong Beng Keok, the university’s vice chancellor, commented, “It is about different communities coming together and a platform for them to showcase their creativity, talents, and skills. This festival is not only to celebrate culture but the proceeds will also be channeled to the underprivileged.” 


Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister faces six new corruption charges. A Malaysian court on Thursday charged former Prime Minister Najib Razak with six new corruption charges in relation to alleged embezzlement involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. The new charges were added to the existing 32 cases of corruption against him in regards to the 1MDB fund. Former Prime Minister Razak denied the allegations, claiming that the money was a donation from a Saudi Arabian prince and that he was cleared by Malaysian authorities during his time as Prime Minister.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018


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.


“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.


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.


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.” 


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.


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.”


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?

8 October 2018 - 14 October 2018


Taiwan’s philanthropic vegetable seller donates millions for rural healthcare. Chen Shu-chu, who sold vegetables in eastern Taiwan’s Taitung for more than half a century, donated two insurance policies worth a total of NT$16 million (US$516,500) to local hospitals to foster the provision of rural healthcare services. The donation will be mainly used to treat cancer patients and provide the poor with proper medical care. Chen designated Taitung MacKay Memorial Hospital and Taitung Christian Hospital as the beneficiaries of the policies, which are currently worth NT$7.7 million and NT$8.3 million, respectively.

Hong Kong movie star announces plans to donate most of his net worth for charity. Chow Yun-fat, one of the biggest movie stars in Hong Kong and best known for his performances in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Bulletproof, Monk, and Anna and the King, recently revealed that he plans to leave the bulk of his fortune for charitable giving. His net worth is estimated to be HK$5.6 billion (US$714 million). No specific details and information was provided in regards to his planned philanthropy.

President’s Star Charity 2018 raises a record amount of funding from the general public. This year’s President’s Star Charity raised a record total of SG$8.3 million (approximately US$6 million), the highest amount raised for the annual event. All proceeds will go to the 59 charities under the President’s Challenge 2018. The event featured performances from various individual artists and groups. Donations will continue to be collected until the end of October.


Global Impact and KPMG release a new report on tax and fiduciary requirements for philanthropic giving. Global Impact and KPMG have released a new report, titled “2018 Giving Global Matrix: Tax, Fiduciary and Philanthropic Requirements,” which provides a snapshot of the complex and varied tax laws that incentivize or disincentivize philanthropic giving in 60 countries across North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The first edition was produced by the two organizations in 2015, with the recent report expanding its coverage to 60 countries from 40 and broadening the scope of research from four to ten questions. “In today’s global environment, this updated report provides timely information to nonprofit and private sector entities who want to understand the different approaches to philanthropy that geographic regions and countries are taking, and be able to plan their engagement more strategically,” said Anita Whitehead, tax principal at KPMG.

How governments can “turbo-charge” impact investing. In this article, the author shares three ways that governments and politicians can bolster the impact investing sector. The article particularly highlights three roles that governments can play: as a market facilitator, as a market participant, and as a market regulator. As a facilitator, governments would help build the capacity of social enterprises and impact investors. As a participant, governments would actively collaborate with investors via, for example, social outcomes contracts. As a regulator, governments would step in to help define the overall sector and create relevant legal and fiduciary infrastructure for social enterprises and impact investors.


Indian nonprofit wins the 2018 Positive Energy Prize under the Lui Che Woo Prize. Pratham Education Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in India, has won the 2018 Positive Energy Prize for its contributions to helping eliminate illiteracy. With a focus on high-quality, low-cost interventions, Pratham addresses gaps in the education system through innovative models and result-driven methods, changing the education landscape across 23 states and union territories in India.


Hong Kong-listed companies donated US$2.1 billion to charity in 2017, an increase of 28% from the previous year. According to the Sodata Analytics Foundation Association, a nonprofit group that tracks corporate philanthropy, companies listed in Hong Kong made record charitable donations last year to narrow the gap with their American counterparts. Led by property developers and financial institutions, 959 out of 1,826 main-board companies donated HK$16.3 billion (US$2.1 billion) in 2017. China Evergrande the list with a total donation amount of HK$5 billion. On the other hand, 47% of these list companies did not a single donation last year.

Nexon Foundation committed to promoting creative play culture. The Nexon Foundation, Korean gaming developer Nexon’s corporate foundation, announced that it has forged a partnership with two nonprofit organizations in the United States to promote creative play and the education of talent in convergence fields. The two partners are the Imagination Foundation and Two Bit Circus Foundation, both of which focus on the promotion of creativity.

SM Investments Corporation takes an active private sector role in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. SM Investments Corporation, a major conglomerate in the Philippines, is taking an active role in the private sector’s involvement in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair, said that the agenda of businesses are closely linked with sustainability and all are faced with greater unpredictability due to the devastating effects of climate change and the widening gap in social and economic opportunities in the world. A part of SM’s commitment to sustainability includes allocating 10% of its capital expenditures to incorporate disaster-resilient features in the design and construction of its property developments.

Maybank Foundation committed to helping disadvantaged communities become financially independent. Maybank Foundation, Malaysian financial services firm Maybank Group’s independent corporate foundation, is working to help disadvantaged communities become financially independent. For example, the Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (RISE) program is an economic empowerment program designed to support disadvantaged communities, particularly people with disabilities, to increase their income and help them become financially independent. Its 2014 pilot project saw the average income of 40% of the initial 280 participants increase by 411.7%. The program has since then expanded into Indonesia, the Philippines, and Laos.


Global impact investor launches its first two India funds. Social Finance, a global impact investment firm, has launched its first two India funds that will each raise US$1 billion. Social Finance said in a statement that the first fund will be called the “India Impact Fund.” In partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Finance group, it will raise US$1 billion to target equity funding for small lenders in priority sectors, namely agriculture, education, housing, and so forth. The second fund named the “India Education Outcomes Fund,” will, as its name suggests, focus solely on education. It aims to improve learning outcomes by technology-aided interventions in subjects such as mathematics and to improve education complete rate among girls.


Volunteers bring laughter to Indonesian children. Volunteers across Palu, Indonesia, are cheering children up with songs and games as a way of offering a distraction from the earthquake that struck the area. Erna, a volunteer, drove three hours with her friends and dressed up as popular cartoon characters to bring smiles on the children’s faces. Aid workers on the ground said that many children were shocked and distressed by the scale of the disaster. Many were orphaned or separated from their families in the terrifying aftermath as buildings crumbled and a tsunami crashed over the city.


Couple barred from raising funds for charities. Jailed for duping donors into parting with almost SG$10,000 (approximately US$7,200) for the Bedok Youth Society for the Disabled, a Singaporean couple was barred from conducting any fundraising appeals for charitable purposes. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) issued a prohibition order under the Charities Act against Noryana Mohamed Salleh and her boyfriend Rajzaed Sedik, who were both former employees of the voluntary welfare organization. The COC said, “Both individuals are not fit and proper persons to conduct fundraising appeals for charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purposes.”