Who’s Doing Good?

7 January 2019 - 11 January 2019


Need for innovation and imagination more pressing as India’s social sector matures, says philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. Recent developments in the Indian philanthropic ecosystem are cause for excitement, according to Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. She mentions the India Leaders for Social Sector as a vital ecosystem enabler, training citizens to serve as future leaders in the social sector. However, a trust deficit between donors and civil society is yet to be alleviated—philanthropists are often unsure about the impact that their contributions will create. Despite this uncertainty, Rohini claims philanthropists are in the best position to embrace innovation. Unlike the government, the wealthy can afford to take risks, contributing to areas such as climate change.


International conference recognizes the role of social workers in Indonesia’s health sector. Titled the “International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health,” the conference is the brainchild of Dr. Adi Fahruddin, a social welfare professor at Muhammadiyah Jakarta University’s School of Social and Political Sciences. Fahruddin opines social workers are rarely credited for their work in the health sector despite heavy involvement. Social workers are also notable for their diverse perspectives and tools which they acquire in training alongside other professionals. Apart from crediting them for their work, the conference explored the potential of social workers in building the future of health management in Indonesia. 


Indian nonprofit to light up the 400th village with solar power. Chirag Rural Development Foundation is set to light up its 400th village in India with solar power. Founded in 2010 by Professor Prathiba Pai, the Indian charity has so far introduced solar lamps in 16,000 homes, covering 100,000 people across seven states in India. “We used solar power for lighting up homes, street lighting, and now have solar-powered lift irrigation to water the fields for farming also, “said Pai. Chirag also involves the youth in this cause. “We take our college students on field trips to these villages to sensitize them about the scenario in rural India,” she said. By 2020, the organization wants to light up 15,000 more homes in the country, taking their total to 30,000 homes and impacting 200,000 lives. 


SingPost launches a home-visiting initiative for the elderly. National postal operator SingPost has commenced its Postman Home Visits initiative, in which postal carriers volunteer to check in with elderly customers while making their delivery rounds. Following the success of the pilot program last year, SingPost will gradually roll out the initiative to all districts across Singapore. During their visits, the volunteers make simple observations about the elderly under their charge and fill in a checklist for the relevant social service agency overseeing the area, updating on the elderly’s mental and physical well-being. Woo Keng Leong, SingPost’s CEO, said, “Postal workers have been a ubiquitous part of the community for more than a century. The Postman Home Visits initiative is a natural extension of their service to the community, as it offers kind-hearted staff the opportunity to do good during the course of their work.”

Kirin restructures donation policy after Amnesty report. Between September and October 2018, Kirin’s subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery, made three donations totaling US$30,000 for humanitarian purposes, which an Amnesty International report suggested were actually given to the Myanmar military linked to war crimes in Rakhine State. In response, Japanese brewer Kirin has tightened its donation policy and will facilitate a human rights impact assessment on its operations. The firm’s plan includes suspending donations made Myanmar Brewery, tightening its donation policy, holding regular internal audits to ensure the new policy is being followed, and conducting a human rights impact assessment on its operations by an external independent consultant.


New online shopping mall to donate up to 40% of each sale to social projects. The Korea National Council on Social Welfare and Vastan Co., Ltd. developed a new online shopping mall to connect “good consumers” and “good suppliers” and to make social contributions. Known as the Value Creator Platform (VCP), the online shopping platform allows customers to select various social projects at the time of purchasing a product, whose supplier will donate 20-40% of each sale to the designated project. All donations collected will be used for charitable projects dedicated to helping children, teenagers, persons with disabilities, multicultural families, and other vulnerable groups. Seo Sang-mok, president of the Korea National Council on Social Welfare, said, “ VCP is at the center of innovation that could generate new values at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where consumption means social contribution.”

Creative public donation machines arrive in Taiwan’s Hualien. Ten interactive public donation machines, which are each designed in the shapes of different popular dolls, were jointly launched by four charitable organizations and 7-Eleven for the benefit of poor and lonely senior citizens in Taiwan. Inserting coins or bills into the slots of the machines initiates an arm-wrestling match with the machines, and if defeated, the machines award a special “sticky monster” card. Since December 2018, the ten machines have toured Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung, having attracted more than 50,000 people to contribute.


Korean animal rights charity caught secretly exterminating hundreds of rescued dogs. Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), a leading animal rights group in Korea with some 23,000 members and around ₩2 billion (approximately US$1.8 million) in annual donations, was leaked to have killed 230 rescued dogs—despite a declared no-kill policy—because of a shortage of shelter space and to ensure a continued stream of donations. This figure was equivalent to around a quarter of the animals the group rescued in the same period. Only 10% of the 230 dogs were suffering from incurable illnesses, and most were killed due to their large size. On the other hand, the organization’s head, Park So-yeon, refuted that a “small number” of exterminations had been “inevitable” since 2015 due to a “surge in requests for rescue missions” and that only severely aggressive ones or those with incurable illnesses were killed. Staff members of CARE, who originally leaked the story to a local news outlet, mounted a protest in the organization’s offices on the weekend to demand Park’s resignation.

Who’s Doing Good?

17 December 2018 - 23 December 2018


Hong Kong Tatler profiles Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s most influential businessmen and philanthropists. Born in 1928 in Chaozhou, Guangdong, Li Ka-shing rose from humble beginnings, sweeping floors in factories and caring for his ailing father after his family migrated to Hong Kong. His business acumen led to a successful plastic flower manufacturing business and, eventually, a real estate empire. In May 2018 the former chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings retired after 68 years in business, and pledged a third of his wealth to philanthropic projects. Despite his vast net worth, Hong Kong’s richest man is popular for maintaining a humble outlook and engaging in philanthropy. The Li Ka Shing Foundation is considered second in influence only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with contributions totaling HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) in a range of areas including education and social development.


Indian companies rally to support Arianna Huffington’s mental health initiative, Thrive. During a recent trip to India, the acclaimed businesswoman and author won the support of several Indian companies as well as the Indian chapters of American Express and Microsoft. These companies are now finalizing a partnership with Huffington’s productivity and well-being platform, Thrive Global, through which they will receive coaching on creating a positive work culture for employee well-being. Thrive Global centers efforts on alleviating stress and burnout, which it sees as a modern epidemic. Arianna Huffington is recognized as a strong advocate for addressing this issue. Her 2014 book, “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder”, was a New York Times bestseller.


Rockefeller Foundation vows to encourage collaborative problem solving in Asia. Deepali Khanna, Managing Director of the foundation’s Asia office, says that collaboration as a means of generating impact will underscore their work in the region for the next few years. A collective mandate for all stakeholders, from philanthropists to corporations to governments, can help streamline deliverables as well as align impact measurement. The Foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development initiative, worth US$75 million, has helped bring together seven energy companies as well as local and national governments to expand grid systems in a cost effective and decentralized manner.


Operation Santa Claus raises HK$7.6 million (approximately US$980,000) in Hong Kong. Morgan Stanley, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Swire Pacific are among the many businesses participating in this year’s Operation Santa Claus, an annual charity drive to support the needy in Hong Kong. Over a hundred Morgan Stanley employees participated in various activities to raise a record HK$3.55 million (approximately US$453,000). Toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is offering gift-wrapping services in exchange for donations. Individuals can also donate to the drive directly. Operation Santa Claus is a collaboration between the South China Morning Post newspaper and Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK. Since its inception in 1988, the charity drive has raised a total of HK$290 million (approximately US$37 million).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending in India jumps 14%, and is expected to reach ₹500 billion (approximately US$6 billion) by March 2019. A law requiring companies valued at over ₹5 billion (approximately US$71 million) to spend 2% of average net profits on CSR is bearing fruit. The increase in CSR spending is providing cover to India’s poor, estimated to number north of 170 million. An example is India’s biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, partnering with Gujarat-based hospital, Zydus, to set up a polyclinic. In Haryana, Maruti Suzuki has also set up automated water dispensing facilities. Clean water can be purchased from these facilities at one-thirtieth the retail price. Other notable initiatives in fulfilling the CSR law have included an AIDS campaign led by the Tata Group and an agricultural technology program funded by HDFC Bank.


Millennials are at the forefront of surge in social enterprises in Indonesia. A recent study commissioned by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific notes rapid growth in Indonesia’s social enterprise ecosystem. Over 70% of the sampled enterprises were set up in the last two years, and almost half of all leaders are aged between 25 and 34. This sharp rise in social enterprises is having a positive impact on the economy and society. The number of full-time workers employed by the sector is up by 42% since 2016, and 20% of all enterprises target creative industries (including crafts and knowledge generation) considered key in modern development. Gender equality has also benefited: the growth of social enterprises has led to a 99% increase in the number of full-time females employed by the sector since 2016. Despite this surge, financing remains difficult to access, indicating that efforts to support the ecosystem must continue.


Filipino volunteer crowned Miss Universe 2018. During the final question round of the pageant, Catriona Elisa Gray from Philippines, said, “I work a lot in the slums of Manila and life there is very poor and sad. I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in the faces of the children, and I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something and provide something.” Gray was noted for being an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself, an advocacy and awareness NGO in the Philippines as well. She has also served as a teaching assistant at Young Focus which provides education to underprivileged children.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018


Hong Kong Tatler names top 50 Asian philanthropists. The list features 50 of the most notable Asian philanthropists who have established charities or contributed generously to society through their donations. This year sees Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person, topping the list. Through his foundation, Li has committed to donating approximately US$10 billion, a third of his fortune. Other notable philanthropists on the list include Ronnie Chan, Lui Che-woo, and Peter Woo. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, made the largest donation to Harvard University when he donated US$350 million in 2014. Contributions from these 50 individuals span a variety of domains, including the arts, education, cancer research, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.


Mainstreaming of impact investment necessary to meet funding gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton featured observations from Fran Seegull, executive director of the United States Impact Investing Alliance, and Jonathan Wong of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The experts argue that private investment can not only meet the current funding gap, but also do so in a more sustainable fashion. According to Seegull, however, only the right mix of supportive and mandatory policy instruments can encourage this investment. Governments, therefore, must balance providing incentives and simultaneously preventing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Wong adds that greater rigor in measuring social impact can assist governments in creating relevant evidence-based policy instruments, as well as informing and motivating investors with a clearer idea of potential returns.

Ronnie Chan and Ruth Shapiro’s pioneering journey to understand and promote Asian philanthropy. Ruth Shapiro, chief executive of CAPS, credits Ronnie Chan, one of Asia’s leading philanthropists, for his generous support in establishing CAPS. As per the interview published by Hong Kong Tatler, the modern Asian context served a precursor to CAPS. Chan and Shapiro saw that the exponential increase in private wealth across the region brought with it an increasing desire to give back to society. In order to facilitate this growing interest in philanthropy, CAPS launched its inaugural flagship research, the Doing Good Index, which seeks to measure the regulatory, fiscal, and societal infrastructure and ecosystem that makes it easier to “do good.”

Regaining public trust key to businesses and governments meeting societal goals. At two events organized in Singapore by French business school INSEAD, participants agreed that alleviating a rampant trust deficit was essential to creating social impact. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that trust in businesses, governments, and media remains dismal, as 60% agree globally that CEOs are driven by greed rather than a desire to “do good.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, recommended that businesses and governments embrace rules-based trading, implement meritocracy, and place societal interests before personal ones to regain trust. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean of INSEAD, argued that training business leaders to understand the relationship between business and society rigorously would also help regain lost trust.


Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through Indonesia Masters to support tsunami and earthquake victims. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, is serving as the sustainable partner for the 2018 Asian Golf Tour. As part of this partnership, Asian golfers took upon the role of ambassadors during the season to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work. At the Indonesia Masters, spectators and golf enthusiasts will be able to contribute by purchasing merchandise and participating in charity games. The defending champion of the event, English golfer Justin Rose, has already donated US$50,000 to the nonprofit’s work in Indonesia for rehabilitating those affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Sulawesi and Lombok.


Impact investment asset manager Aavishkaar-IntelleCap Group receives ₹32 crore (approximately US$32 million) in investment from Nuveen, an American asset management firm. Nuveen’s investment will be used by Aavishkaar-IntelleCap to further increase its stakes in its subsidiaries. Nuveen is the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and holds over US$950 billion in assets. Aavishkaar-IntelleCap, based in India, is considered one of the world’s largest impact investing firms and offers a range of services including microfinance, equity financing, and consulting. The current investment by Nuveen follows Aavishkaar-IntelleCap’s efforts to raise US$300 million for its fund focused on Southeast Asia, which scouts opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos. Founded in 2001, Aavishkaar-IntelleCap currently manages a portfolio worth US$155 million spanning high-impact businesses at various stages of growth.

Indian personal care company, Himalaya, releases film to raise awareness about cleft-affected children. Titled “Ek Nayi Muskaan” (loosely translated to “A New Smile”), the film documents the story of Munmun, an eight-year-old girl from a village near Lucknow, India. Each year, over 35,000 babies are born in India with cleft lip and/or palate, and fewer than half receive treatment due to ignorance or poverty. Children with this condition are known to face difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking. The surgery required is considered safe, immediate, and transformative. Munmun is shown in the film to receive support from “Muskaan,” an initiative of Himalaya in partnership with Smile Train, a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. As part of the initiative, money from every purchase of a Himalaya lip-care product will be donated for this cause.


Ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister charged for criminal breach of trust involving charity organization. Beleaguered former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was found to have misappropriated funds worth RM10 million (US$3.2 million) originally meant for Yayasan Akalbudi, his personal charity organization. The loan was discovered to have been passed to Armada Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate. The current Criminal Breach of Trust ruling sees the number of charges against Hamidi swell to 46, amounting to a total of RM223 million (approximately US$53 million).

Chinese businessman jailed for running a pyramid scheme in the name of the poor worth RMB 20 billion (approximately US$2.9 billion). Zhang Tianming and 17 other individuals associated with him have been found guilty of running a pyramid and multi-level marketing scheme, which affected nearly six million people. Zhang’s company had lured investors with promises of high rates of return on projects that were meant to help the poor, but had instead paid out early members purely using funds from new joiners, a court investigation found.

Sexual abuse in the Nepali aid sector puts children at risk. The arrest of five foreign aid workers over the last year for alleged sexual abuse of children in Nepal has escalated fears that the country has become a target of pedophiles. These individuals are thought to be working under the cover of aid work or philanthropy. The most high-profile case of this alarming trend is that of Canadian aid worker Peter Dalglish. After spending nearly 20 years helping some of the world’s poorest children, Dalglish was arrested this year, and police found two boys, aged 12 and 14 respectively, inside his residence. Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker, opines that these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that more or such incidents are to come and to be revealed.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

26 November 2018 - 2 December 2018


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018


Michael Bloomberg makes record US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, marking the largest contribution to a private educational institution in modern history. Michael Bloomberg’s donation has allowed his alma mater, one of the world’s leading private universities in the world, to adopt need-blind admissions forever. Bloomberg announced the donation through an opinion editorial for The New York Times in which he added that his own fortunate access to the university motivated him. As the son of a bookkeeper, it was only through a loan that he was able to afford the university’s elite education, Bloomberg wrote. For him, college education is a “great leveler” and providing an equality of opportunity to access it may be the best form of private social investment today.

Hyosung chairman Cho Hyun-joon supports rehabilitation program for families with disabled children. Hyosung executives and employees took a trip with the families of disabled children as part of a rehabilitation program in partnership with the Purme Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to support the independence and rehabilitation of disabled individuals. The effort follows six years of continued support by Cho for the rehabilitation of disabled children. By coming together as part of the initiative, families who otherwise find it hard to enjoy such trips were able to spend quality time outside their homes.


Asia inches closer to realizing its potential as wealthy investors actively pursue philanthropy. Asian High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) have hesitated to engage in philanthropy in the past due to a lack of clear regulations and lack of trust from scandals involving charities. This hesitation represents an enormous missed opportunity: Asian philanthropists are capable of giving eleven times more than the US$45.5 billion they give right now. However, recent cases of high-profile CEOs retiring to pursue philanthropy full-time provides hope. Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing are inspiring their peers in the region and could help Asia realize its true philanthropic potential.

Michael Bloomberg’s record-breaking donation does little for students most at risk, argues author. In the wake of Bloomberg’s recent US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, Helaine Olen argues that the money could have been spent better. The recipient university admits only 10% of its undergraduate applicants, and only a tiny fraction are first-generation or minority students. Olen suggests Baruch College, a public institution, as a direct contrast that provides education to a significant number of low-income and minority students. However, recent budget cuts and declining official support for Baruch College have contributed to declining standards and infrastructure. Olen concludes that Bloomberg’s donation is situated within the trend of “top-heavy” philanthropy, whereby the giver’s own interests are the chief driver of such mega-donations.

Doing Good Index 2020 will ascertain effectiveness of Myanmar’s attempts to catalyze philanthropy. The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business has partnered with CAPS to study the country’s philanthropic ecosystem. Data collected from social delivery organizations and relevant experts will determine whether policy instruments have assisted in increasing philanthropic activity or streamlined processes for social delivery organizations. The study’s pan-Asian approach will allow Myanmar’s performance to be compared to that of its Asian peers, creating invaluable insights for stakeholders such as policymakers. Myanmar was found to be not doing enough to encourage philanthropy and charity in the index’s first iteration in 2018.


Tata Trusts and Tata Football Academy partner with Atlético Madrid to develop football in India. The Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organization, has partnered with the Spanish football giant to further its extensive youth development portfolio. The partnership will provide expert coaching to budding footballers and training on all aspects of football such as video analysis and strength training. Talented players will also partake in a residential program in Madrid, Spain. The Tata Trusts has been an active contributor to the global sport in India, managing over 80 training centers, producing 24 members who served as national team captains across different age groups, and boasting a winning record in various tournaments in the country.


India’s “solar gal pals” bring clean, renewable energy to rural homes and fight patriarchy. Indian social enterprise Frontier Markets is on a mission to promote the use of clean energy products. The social enterprise does so by placing women at the center, helping them receive training and serve as entrepreneurs who persuade families in remote villages to adopt solar energy. One of such “Solar Sahelis” (or “friends of solar power”), Bassi from Rajasthan is profiled in the story. Through her work with Frontier Markets, Bassi sells rugged solar torches to families, earning up to US$28 per month. This income has helped women such as Bassi to command greater share in household decisions amid a deeply patriarchal social fabric. To date, “Solar Sahelis” have earned more than US$2.5 million and reached over 500,000 homes.


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with Japan Sports Agency to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The initiative named “Our Global Goals” will involve using the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a platform for raising awareness of the 17 SDGs listed by the United Nations. These goals cover areas such as education, climate change, poverty, economic development, and clean water. Speaking at a press conference, Bill Gates, co-chair, and trustee stated that the global love for sports can be channeled to develop interest in the challenges faced by the world. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are expected to attract over 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.


Support campaign for wartime sex victims led by fans of K-Pop band goes viral. Fans of the globally popular group, BTS, donated generously to help elderly Korean women who had been forced to serve as “comfort women” in World War II. Responding to a controversy involving a shirt worn by member Jimin, fans began channeling small individual donations to the House of Sharing, a shelter for wartime sexual slavery victims in Korea. The organic campaign spread largely over social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram and has led to donations totaling US$3,300 and counting in just a single weekend. The House of Sharing provides individual rooms to former “comfort women,” as well as three meals through the facility’s own restaurant. Ahn Shin-kwon, head of the shelter, said their organization was overwhelmed by the flurry of incoming donations.

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?


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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.


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‘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.