Who’s Doing Good?

16 March 2020 - 29 March 2020

Philanthropists are funding vaccine research, donating supplies, and setting up funds to support hard-hit communities. Crowdfunding websites in Indonesia and Singapore are also seeing a surge in donations.

Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder, has donated millions of masks, test kits, and other relief materials to countries around the world. This includes the hardest-hit countries—the United States, Korea, Iran, Spain, and Italy—as well as other countries across EuropeAsia, Latin America, and Africa. Ma’s initiative is a collaboration between his eponymous foundation and Alibaba Foundation. The Jack Ma Foundation pledged US$14.4 million to vaccine research—including US$2.15 million to Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and US$2.15 million to researchers at Columbia University in New York. 

Anand Mahindra, Mahindra Group chairman, offered 100% of his salary to a new Mahindra Foundation fund that will assist hardest-hit communities like small businesses and self-employed individuals.

Lei Jun, Xiaomi CEO, contributed US$1.8 million to relief efforts. The donation went to his home province of Hubei—the epicenter of the outbreak.

Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong tycoon, donated US$13 million to help Wuhan amidst its outbreak. His eponymous foundation also sourced medical supplies for hospital workers in Hong Kong and Wuhan.

The Lee family, which controls Henderson Land Development, set up an anti-epidemic foundation with seed-funding of US$1.4 million.

Adrian Cheng, scion of the family group behind New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, donated over US$7 million to nonprofits, schools, and hospital in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Indonesian crowdfunding platform Kitabisa sees surge in fundraising campaigns for Covid-19. A total of 513 campaigns have been initiated by public figures, nonprofits, and members of the general public. Total donations amounted to US$1.4 million as of March 23.

Giving.sg, sees 67% spike in donations. More than US$1.5 million was raised on Singapore’s official fundraising site. 15% of the total was raised from campaigns included in the SG United Movement—a government initiative launched on February 20th to streamline contributions to coronavirus-related initiatives.

Charities in different cities are stepping up their operations and raising money for communities both at home and abroad.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust set up a HK$50 million (approximately US$6.5 million) Covid-19 Emergency Fund to provide emergency support to local communities and mitigate the health and societal impact of the outbreak.

Singapore Red Cross collected donations worth more than US$4.5 million for relief efforts related to the outbreak. Approximately US$1.7 million went to purchasing and distributing protective equipment for hospital staff and other healthcare workers in China. The charity also worked to educate Singaporeans about the outbreak by calling and visiting senior citizens to ease their concerns.

Pakistan’s largest charities, including Al-Khidmat Foundation and Saylani Welfare, are aiding the country’s Covid-19 efforts. Al-Khidmat Foundation is distributing soaps, sanitizers, and face masks across the country, and has designated isolation wards in the 52 charity hospitals it runs. Saylani Welfare has introduced a mobile phone application and telephone service where families in need can register themselves to get rations and supplies.

Companies are setting up their own Covid-19 relief funds, leveraging their resources to contribute to relief efforts, and supporting government initiatives. Others are donating through charities or donating needed medical supplies. Companies across Asia are also taking a “business not as usual” approach to help relieve financial stress.

Setting up funds to help combat Covid-19.

Tencent announced a US$100 million Global Anti-Pandemic Fund, with an initial focus on sourcing medical supplies for hospitals and healthcare workers. Prior to this global fund, Tencent had also established the China Anti-Pandemic Fund, which had allocated US$211 million towards research, medical supplies, technology support, as well as towards support for frontline workers, patients and their families. 

Alibaba set up a US$144 million fund to source medical supplies for Wuhan and Hubei province.

Godrej Group earmarked a fund of around US$7 million for community support and relief initiatives in India focused on public health.

Swire Group Charitable Trust (Swire Trust) established the HK$3 million (approximately US$400,000) “Community Fund to fight Covid-19” to support NGOs in delivering their services safely amidst the outbreak. Swire Group also donated over US$1.5 million to help combat the outbreak in Hong Kong.

K. Wah International (KWIH) announced a roughly US$500,000 donation through its KWIH Anti-Epidemic Fund for Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGH). The fund will convert part of the Jockey Club Ngai Chun Integrated Vocational Rehabilitation Centre into a surgical mask production factory. TWGH will provide job training for people with disabilities to assist in the production of an estimated 2.2 million surgical masks per month.

Samsung Group raised nearly US$1 billion for an emergency support fund to aid to its subcontractors amidst Covid-19.

HSBC announced a US$25 million Covid-19 donation fund. The money will support international medical response, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure food security around the world. US$15 million will be made available immediately, with the remaining designated for long-term Covid-19 commitments.

Supporting government initiatives.

Unilever Vietnam committed US$2.245 million and partnered with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Training to implement its “Stay Strong Vietnam” initiative. Unilever also pledged to donate 550 tonnes of personal hygiene items, sanitization products, and food products to over 1.6 million people across 3,000 schools, hospitals, and isolated communities.

Petronas contributed nearly US$5 million worth of medical equipment and supplies for medical front-liners in Malaysia through its CSR arm Yayasan Petronas. The contribution will be carried out in stages in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Agency.

Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and Government-Linked Investment Companies’ (GLICs) Disaster Response Network, is coordinating support from companies to assist the Malaysian Health Ministry in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The Disaster Response Network is managed by a joint secretariat led by Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation under Khazanah Nasional, and Telekom Malaysia. Early contributions from GLCs, GLICs, and private sector entities exceed US$9 million.

Malaysian companies including Spanco, DRB-HICOM, MMC Corp, and YTL Corp contributed donations ranging from US$230,000 to US$500,000 to the Covid-19 fund launched by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

11 Filipino-Chinese organizations, led by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced a donation of nearly US$2 million worth of medical supplies. The donation will help the Philippines’ Department of Health acquire testing kits and other protective equipment.

Tencent joined Baidu and ByteDance to donate a total of US$115 million towards researching new treatments and helping authorities in the most affected areas in China.

Adaro Energy, Indonesia’s major coal producer, gave the government US$1.3 million to help it fight Covid-19 through its task force.

Leveraging their own resources.

Alibaba Cloud, DAMO Academy, and DingTalk together launched a series of AI technologies and cloud-based solutions to support companies and research organizations worldwide.

Mahindra Group offered resorts owned by the company to be used as Covid-19 hospitals. The Group’s chairman announced that the company is prepared to help government efforts. The Group’s engineering team also indigenously developed a prototype for a ventilator that could cost less than US$100 each.

Reliance will make 100,000 masks per day and offer free fuel to emergency vehicles. Reliance’s CSR arm has prepared one of its hospitals in Mumbai to be India’s first 100-bed facility for Covid-19 patients, and is offering free meals in various cities to support affected communities.

New World Development is outfitting a factory to manufacture more than 200,000 masks per day, and it has partnered with a nanotechnology company to research how nanodiamonds can be used to make masks more protective against bacteria and viruses.

Donating through charities or donating supplies.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs in India announced that the spending of CSR funds towards Covid-19 initiatives is eligible to be counted as CSR activity under the Companies Act. This frees up around US$2 billion in philanthropic capital to go towards combatting Covid-19.

Tata Trusts has committed nearly US$200 million to fight Covid-19. The funds will be used to buy protective equipment for medical workers, respiratory systems, testing kits, as well as for setting up modular treatment facilities for patients.

Shimao Property Holdings donated around US$4 million, via the Red Cross Society of China, to help combat the outbreak.

APP, a subsidiary of Indonesia-based Sinar Mars Group, donated US$14.4 million to the Overseas Chinese Charity Foundation of China.

Huawei contributed to the construction of the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan and donated medical supplies, computer tablets, and other technological equipment to several European countries. This includes 2 million face masks.

Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, and LG Group donated over US$4 million each to the Community Chest of Korea to assist the hardest-hit city of Daegu and North Gyeongsang province.

Samsung Group donated a combined US$24.6 million to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Hana Financial Group, Shinsegae Group, Doosan Group, and CJ Group each offered nearly US$1 million in donations to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Lotte Group donated nearly US$1 million, of which US$254,000 went to the Korean Red Cross.

For hard-hit communities, including those in North Gyeongsang province, SK Group’s SK Siltron announced nearly US$400,000 for face masks and hand sanitizers. LG Household & Healthcare announced nearly US$1 million for hand sanitizer. Lotte provided meals and hygienic supplies to welfare facilities and gave sanitization products, food, and daily necessities to lower-income households, senior citizens, and healthcare workers.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pledged to donate 1 million masks to elderly care facilities and doctors in Japan.

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is donating 10 million masks to medical institutions in Japan and around the world. It’s also donating garments for medical staff and 1 million masks to countries with high infection rates—including the United States and Italy. 

Shiseido Group donated US$1.43 million to the Shanghai Charity Foundation and US$143,000 to the Charity Foundation of Wuhan. It also announced the Relay of Love Project, which will allocate 1% of the Group’s sales in Asian markets, between February and July this year, as in-house funds to support regions most affected by Covid-19.

Ayeyarwady Foundation together with Max Myanmar Group, AYA Bank, and AYA Sompo Insurance contributed over US$72,000 worth of medical supplies, hospital equipment, and protective materials to Waibargi Hospital and Yankin Children Hospital.

“Business not as usual” approach.

Gojek is offering a stipend to its driver-partners that test positive for Covid-19. Gojek is also extending support to healthcare workers in Indonesia by waiving food delivery fees in areas near hospitals and offering vouchers for trips to and from hospitals and testing centers.

Ayala Group announced around a US$47 million response package to offer financial relief to businesses within its ecosystem. This includes salary continuance for affected employees and partners, as well as rent-free periods for tenants of Ayala malls, which are closed during the community quarantine till April 14.

Bangkok Bank donated over US$300,000 to Thammasat University Field Hospital, the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and Thai Red Cross Society. The bank is also introducing financial relief measures such as reducing minimum payment rate for credit card customers to 5%.

CIMB in Malaysia is offering a six-month moratorium for customers on all types of financing payments except for credit cards. Credit card customers can now opt in to convert their outstanding balances into a term loan/financing over a period of up to 36 months.

Social enterprises are adjusting their work to address the needs arising from Covid-19.

Hong Kong social enterprises are rising to the occasion to help combat the outbreak. SoapCycling has distributed masks and soap salvaged from local hotels to nearly 3,000 of the city’s street cleaners. Sew On Studio is selling face mask kits with fabric made by the city’s elderly tailors. Rooftop Republic, which usually promotes urban farming, is making washable, eco-friendly masks that can be worn over surgical masks.

Chinese social enterprise Yishan, a data-driven donor advisor, has built a platform for donations towards supporting Covid-19 relief efforts. So far, Yishan has registered over 40,000 grantmakers and 5,000 public charities, who have raised over US$4.5 billion thus far for their efforts in fighting Covid-19.

New volunteers are stepping up and coming together to help their communities during the crisis.

A new generation of volunteers emerges in Wuhan. Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, ordinary people stepped up and joined forces to take care of emergency needs unmet by an overwhelmed government. Networks of young volunteers were formed over social media to respond to a variety of needs, from sourcing masks for hospitals to driving medical staff to and from work.


In this section, we usually share stories about scandals that are having negative repercussions for the social sector. With the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, there are some trust-breaking stories circulating from price-gouging to faulty medical supplies. Fortunately, the stories of people being constructive during these times far outnumber them. We look forward to bringing more of these positive stories to you in the coming weeks.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought much attention to financial markets and businesses, but the nonprofit sector has also been severely impacted in these unprecedented times. These resources offer guidelines for how the sector can weather the storm.

India Development Review highlights five ways funders around the world are helping their partners cope with Covid-19. IDR has also crowdsourced guidelines and practices that social sector organizations—from donors to field workers—are taking in response to Covid-19.

Who’s Doing Good?

02 March 2020 - 15 March 2020


Jack Ma to donate test kits, masks to US in fight against coronavirus. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announced a donation of 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and 1 million masks to the United States, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Ma’s initiative, a collaboration between his eponymous foundation and Alibaba Foundation, also includes donating relief materials to Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran, and Spain. Ma has also urged for international cooperation and speedy, accurate testing to fight the health crisis. “The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country,” he said in a statement. As the number of cases rise in the United States, American billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have also recently announced initiatives to expand testing in their localities.


Gates Foundation and Wellcome set up US$125 million coronavirus drug fund. The world’s two largest medical research foundations are committing US$50 million each in “seed funding” for a Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, according to Financial Times. Mastercard’s Impact Fund charity is joining the effort with a US$25 million contribution. The Accelerator aims to develop treatments for Covid-19 and serve as a catalyst to draw in more funding. Wellcome director Jeremy Farrar expressed hope that other donors will see the Accelerator as an attractive vehicle to support research and development of Covid-19 treatments. Farrar sits on the board of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which recently estimated that US$1.5 billion will be required for research and development of a portfolio of four Covid-19 treatments. The Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, governments and the private sector to provide fast and flexible funding at all stages from research to scale-up.

Coronavirus-battered NGOs say Hong Kong’s charity sector needs government aid to keep doing their work, avoid redundancies. A group of larger Hong Kong nonprofits is calling for help as donations decline amid the coronavirus outbreak. The nonprofits told South China Morning Post that the sector is struggling to stay afloat as many fundraising events have had to be cancelled. This comes after a difficult year for nonprofits, who were already facing fundraising challenges amidst last year’s anti-government protests. While the government rolled out a HK$30 billion (approximately US$4 billion) relief package last month, nonprofits are saying the sector—which employs 52,000 people—is not among those benefiting from the relief package. Sue Toomey, executive director of HandsOn Hong Kong, a charity that connect volunteers with community needs, noted “In the same way as the government seems to be acting quickly to help small businesses, we’d like to see similar consideration given to nonprofit organizations.”

Which charities to donate to? Singapore’s new index to help public decide at a glance. Charities in Singapore could be “graded” by next year in a new initiative announced by the Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community, and Youth. The new regulatory compliance indicator is expected to be rolled out next year on the government’s charity portal website. Aiming to help donors make informed choices, the new indicator will show whether a charity has met the minimum 80% regulatory compliance prescribed in the Code of Governance for Charities and IPCs, and whether its audit opinion has been qualified. A national initiative will also be rolled out to encourage legacy giving (planned donation from a person’s assets). The Community Foundation of Singapore’s chief executive underscored its importance, saying, “There are donors interested in making legacy gifts, but they want more knowledge to make informed choices. They want accountability for their gifts and trust is important before they are willing to donate.” An online pledge system will also be introduced, streamlining the process.


Hong Kong’s social enterprise sector needs HK$40 million (approximately US$5.2 million) relief package to survive coronavirus crisis, government told. Similar to the nonprofit sector in Hong Kong, the social enterprise sector is also seeking assistance. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) surveyed 214 social enterprises, around a third of the city’s social enterprise sector, to showcase the challenges social enterprises are facing during the coronavirus outbreak. The survey revealed that nearly 20% had no revenue at all, and one in four had either closed or suspended operations. The average turnover of most companies interviewed more than halved in January and February, compared with the same period last year. With around 40% reporting that their cash flow will only sustain them for less than three months, the HKGCSE is urging the government to phase in a series of measures to help such as HK$80,000 (approximately US$10,000) for each social enterprise which has received government funding, rent waivers, and special subsidies to cover the salaries of handicapped staff. Perhaps in response, the Hong Kong government has just announced a HK$5.6 billion (US$722 million) “Retail Sector Subsidy Scheme” under the “Anti-epidemic Fund,” which is open to applications from social enterprises. The Scheme will provide a one-off subsidy of HK$80,000 to retailers facing financial difficulties amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Retail stores of social enterprises are eligible to apply through the Social Enterprise Business Centre (SEBC).


United Nations ESCAP and SEAF partner to unlock US$150 million in capital to advance female entrepreneurship in Asia. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) have partnered to “catalyze women’s entrepreneurship through impact investing in Asia.” The collaboration aims to unlock growth capital through the development and management of private equity impact funds focused on women. SEAF will launch and manage the SEAF Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund as well as expand SEAF Bangladesh Ventures. ESCAP will support SEAF with technical assistance and grant support. Together the two funds will collectively bring over US$150 million in capital towards catalyzing the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in ASEAN and Bangladesh.


Singapore sees spike in donations, volunteers in February. Giving.sg, a fundraising website run by the Singapore’s National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), supports over 500 organizations in sourcing volunteers and donations. Donations to the site significantly increased last month amid the coronavirus outbreak, raising more than SG$2.2 million (approximately US$1.5 million). According to NVPC, this is 67%, or almost SG$900,000 (approximately US$650,000), more than that raised in the same period last year. The number of people who volunteered through the site in February also rose to over 1,000 volunteer sign-ups, a 10% uptick from February last year, according to Straits Times. The NVPC reported that 15% of the amount raised last month was from its 19 campaigns that are part of the SG United Movement—which the government launched on February 20th—to “streamline contributions to help those affected by the virus outbreak, including linking to coronavirus-related initiatives on the Giving.sg site.”

Who’s Doing Good?

28 October 2019 - 10 November 2019


RS Group and Convergence launch US$3 million blended finance funding window for natural capital in Asia. Convergence, a global network for blended finance, and RS Group, a Hong Kong-based family office, have launched the Asia Natural Capital Design Funding Window to support “practitioners who are finding new ways to enhance and protect the world’s stock of natural assets, including water, land, soil, air, plants, and animals.” By using blended finance solutions, the Window aims to draw new investors into this underfunded development area. Channeling investment into natural capital is especially important for bridging the US$200-300 billion annual funding gap in preserving the world’s last healthy ecosystems. 

Programs by National Parks Board and donation from billionaire Peter Lim will help young Singaporeans develop green thumb. Together with partner organizations, National Parks Board (NParks) will create more opportunities for young Singaporeans to learn about greenery and biodiversity. These efforts are bolstered by billionaire Peter Lim’s SG$10 million (approximately US$8 million) donation to NParks’ Garden City Fund–the single largest donation by any individual to the fund. Thanks to Lim’s generosity, students from less-privileged backgrounds will have access to NParks’ programs including the new Green Friends Forum and Youth Stewards for Nature. NParks offers programs for students from pre-school to university. 


The Macquarie Group Foundation and Seefar Enterprise launch new report on forced labor in Asia. Seefar Enterprise, a social enterprise that conducts research and supports vulnerable groups in Asia, recently launched their report, “Making Migration Work: Understanding forced labour amongst migrant domestic workers in Asia.” The report focuses on the forced labor of migrant domestic workers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation, the study surveyed over 3,000 returned and current migrant domestic workers, of whom 77% reported indicators of forced labor. The report shares migrant workers’ perspectives and compares recruitment processes and working conditions across the four economies. 


Philippine private sector responds to Mindanao earthquake. Through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), the Philippine private sector has provided air and ground transportation, relief goods, water, and sanitation support to those affected by the magnitude 6.5 Mindanao earthquake. Private sector actors who have stepped up include Aboitiz Foundation/Aboitiz Power, the Ayala Foundation, Globe Telecom, Manila Water, and Air Asia, among others. Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, who is also co-chair of PDRF, stated, “The private sector is committed to helping people affected by the Mindanao earthquake. Through PDRF, we are extending assistance and mobilizing resources for relief and recovery.”

DBS Asia Hub 2 opens Digital Literacy Centre in Hyderabad, India. In partnership with the NASSCOM Foundation, DBS Asia Hub 2 opened its Digital Literacy Centre in Hyderabad. The center aims to facilitate training infrastructure in support of the National Digital Literacy Mission initiative by the Government of India. This includes teaching basic computer and digital skills as well as empowering beneficiaries to leverage the power of social media and the internet. Alex Woo, CEO of DBS Asia Hub 2, stated, “Digital Literacy Centre aligns with the larger ethos of being purpose-driven and making a positive impact on lives. This initiative is a step towards fulfilling our vision to become the best bank for a better world.”

Samsung and LG reach out to society by donating electronics. The Korea Herald highlights how Korea’s leading conglomerates are donating their signature electronic devices to meet societal needs in tangible ways. Samsung Electronics plans to donate a total of 1,000 sets of thermal imaging cameras and other equipment to every fire station across the country. This came to fruition after a fire department official took park in the company’s new CSR program, “Samsung Tomorrow Solution,” and proposed the idea of developing thermal imaging cameras and telecom equipment. LG Group had earlier announced plans to donate over 10,000 air purifiers to schools across Korea in response to heightened concerns about unprecedented levels of fine dust. 

Hong Kong companies rank highest in Asia for environmental sustainability. According to Refinitiv’s inaugural “Financing a Sustainable Future in Asia” report, companies in Hong Kong recorded the best overall performance in Asia for environmental sustainability. The report is the first in a series which examines the ESG (environmental, social, governance) performance of the largest companies across Asia. Asia’s regional average score—based on emissions, resource use, and innovation—scored slightly higher than the global average. While Hong Kong leads the region in adopting emissions policies, Japan ranks the best for emissions reductions targets. China has the largest gap between intention and action, where 77% of companies have emissions policies but only 8% have reduction targets. The report also highlights the notable growth of green finance in Asia.


Temasek-backed ABC World Asia closes inaugural fund for impact investing at US$385 million. ABC World Asia is a private equity fund for impact investing established by Temasek Trust, the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment company Temasek. It will invest in companies that commit to generating measurable social and environmental impact, alongside a compelling risk-adjusted return. The fund will focus on themes including financial and digital inclusion, health and education, climate and water solutions, sustainable food and agriculture, and smart and livable cities. Investments will be made in China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.

Who’s Doing Good?

2 September 2019 - 15 September 2019


US$442 million donated via online platforms in China in 2018. According to a recent report by China Philanthropy Research Institute, Chinese donations to online charity platforms increased nearly 27 percent in 2018 to more than ¥3.17 billion (approximately US$442 million). A total of 20 online platforms attracted donations from 8.46 billion internet users. The report also notes a 34.5 percent increase in the number of registered charitable organizations in China putting the total at 5,620. Guangdong ranks first in the country with 748 charitable organizations, followed by Beijing and Zhejiang.

Donations to earthquake-hit towns in Japan rose sharply in 2018. Through the Japanese government’s furusato nozei (hometown tax donation) system, taxpayers can contribute to their hometowns or other municipalities in return for tax cuts. The Japan Times reports that donations to three earthquake-hit towns in Hokkaido have risen sharply, most notably to Atsuma where they grew 5.4 times from the previous year to over ¥1 billion (approximately US$9 million). The Atsuma Municipal Government intends to channel donations towards reconstruction efforts, among others.


BRAC, one of the world’s largest charities, charts new path. Founded in 1972, BRAC has grown into one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGO) with 100,000 full-time staff. According to the The Economist, BRAC lent money to almost 8 million people and educated more than 1 million children across Bangladesh and ten other countries in 2018 alone. NGO Advisor has ranked BRAC as the world’s best charity for the past four years.  However, there are challenges ahead. As Bangladesh’s annual GDP continues to grow and government spending on public services continues to increase, large charities are having to think about where else they can contribute. In response, BRAC is venturing into new directions and shifting to income-generating activities to subsidize its philanthropic activities. The Economist notes that, by charting this new path, BRAC can serve as a model for other charities to follow.  


Japanese companies lead world in disclosing climate risks. According to the Financial Times, more than 60 Japanese companies threw their support behind the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in May, surpassing companies in the US and the UK. Nearly 200 Japanese companies back TCFD measures now. This has been applauded by investors and lenders as a valuable opportunity for obtaining consistent information about companies’ climate risks. The country has also seen a sharp increase in ESG investing. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance reported that Japan’s ESG investing assets quadrupled from US$474 billion to US$2 trillion from 2016-18. 

China’s Xiamen Airlines vows to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At a recent industry expo, Chairman of Xiamen Airlines (XiamenAir) Zhao Dong confirmed the airline’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2017 XiamenAir was the first airline to sign a cooperation agreement with the United Nations  to formally support the SDGs. Since then the airline has adopted a range of measures including providing passengers with sustainable tissues and bamboo cups, and offering digital news services instead of printed newspapers. According to Zhao, XiamenAir has also achieved a 14.8 percent drop in fuel consumption per ton-kilometer, exceeding the global average of fuel efficiency improvement. At the event, the airline committed to continuing its support for sustainable development in the aviation industry. 

Global Reporting Initiative Regional Hub officially opens in Singapore. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that helps businesses, governments, and other organizations understand and communicate their sustainability standards. The organization officially launched its GRI Regional Hub in Singapore earlier this month, adding to six other hubs around the world. The Singapore hub will support ASEAN companies by helping them “identify, manage, and report their most material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts.” The Hub will be headed by Michele Lemmens, a business executive from Tata Consultancy Services.


With the help of 12,000 volunteers, No Food Waste redistributes surplus food to the needy in India. The food-recovery startup, No Food Waste (NFW), was founded in 2014 to redistribute surplus food to the needy in Tamil Nadu. With the support of a network of 12,000 volunteers, NFW now serves an average of 900 people per day. The organization collects surplus food from banquets at social functions, corporate canteens, and hotels. After being notified of a food pick-up, a city-specific NFW coordinator gets their team of volunteers together to collect and distribute the food. Recently, the startup has been working to incorporate more sustainable measures by banning single-use disposable containers and shifting to serving food on plantain leaves. The food-recovery startup has received a number of awards recognizing its work.


Singapore-based IIX and Korean government agency commit US$1.2 million to accelerate high-impact enterprises in Asia. Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), a global organization that provides funding and support to social enterprises, has announced a new partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). IIX and KOICA will jointly contribute US$1.2 million over five years to support 18 social enterprises across South and Southeast Asia. Through its Acceleration and Customized Technical Services (ACTS) program, IIX will select the social enterprises and offer them capacity building and technical assistance to ensure they are investment-ready. The enterprises will also gain access to mentors and over 1,000 accredited investors from around the world. This joint initiative aims to impact the lives of 8 million people.

UNDP and 500 Startups launch accelerator for social enterprises in Indonesia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and 500 Startups have launched ImpactAim Indonesia, a social accelerator that aims to boost social entrepreneurship in the country. The accelerator will support eight to ten startups that are serving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a 10-week program in Jakarta. These startups will receive guidance on impact measurement and gain access to prospective impact investors from around the world. According to the article, ImpactAim hopes to amplify social impact through three main objectives: “growing impact ventures, assessing their contribution to the SDGs, and connecting them to networks and funding opportunities.”

Who’s Doing Good?

19 August 2019 - 1 September 2019


Bangladesh set to receive US$22.7 million from UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched its Refugee Zakat Fund as a new structure of its zakat program that was founded in 2016. The fund has already surpassed its US$26 million target for 2019, raising just over US$38 million in the first half of the year. Most of this came from donors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, and Egypt. The fund has already disbursed over half a million dollars to benefit 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, which is set to receive a total of US$22.7 million. The UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific noted that Islamic philanthropy has yet to realize its full potential within the global humanitarian sector and underscored the important role zakat can play.

Simon and Eleanor Kwok donate HK$5.2 million to injured jockey Tye Angland. According to Hong Kong Tatler, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent horse racing aficionados, the Kwok family, recently announced a HK$5.2 million (approximately US$700,000) donation to jockey Tye Angland. After a jockeying accident in Hong Kong last November, the Australian suffered career-ending spinal injuries which left him a quadriplegic. In an interview with Sky Sports Radio, Angland responded to the donation with gratitude, noting that it will be going into three different trusts for his children’s education and life expenses. The former jockey has been overwhelmed with support from the racing community and hopes to be a role model for others living with disabilities.


Levelling up: shattering myths about philanthropy in Asia. Asia is home to more billionaires now than any other region, and this article explores the intricacies of giving among Asia’s fastest-growing economies. CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro weighs in, noting the difficulties of gathering data in this space as most giving is done through companies and often without proclamation. The article discusses the findings of CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, including the trust deficit in the social sector and the important role governments can play. As the region witnesses growing inequality, governments are increasingly looking to private players for support. With more wealth than ever before, Shapiro concludes that Asia has enormous potential to be a world leader in philanthropy.


The Philippines’ Aboitiz Group supports young robotics enthusiasts. The Aboitiz Group has long supported STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the Philippines, and it recently reinforced its commitment through the launch of the ‘Kabataan Inyovator: An Aboitiz Robotics Competition.’ The competition aims to encourage innovation in solving community problems through robotics. Together with Davao Light and Power Company, the Aboitiz Foundation led the competition launch on August 12 in Davao City. Pinoy Robot Games offered training sessions on robot programming, and project ideation and evaluation, for 20 Davao City public elementary and high school teams. The winning team will have its prototype deployed in its host community, and represent the Philippines in the World Robot Olympiad in Canada.  

Macronix donates NT$420 million to National Cheng Kung University to build Macronix Innovation Center. Macronix International, a global manufacturer of integrated non-volatile memory components headquartered in Taiwan, has made a generous donation to Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). The NT$420 million donation (approximately US$13.5 million) will be used to build the Macronix Innovation Center, a historic new space on campus that will leverage the talent of Macronix and NCKU collaboratively. Miin Wu, the founder and chief executive officer of Macronix is an alumnus of the university, where he studied electrical engineering. Macronix hopes the new creative space will foster new talent as well as demonstrate the company’s dedication to corporate social responsibility. The Macronix Innovation Center adds to NUCK’s nine existing schools by housing the School of Computing, modeled after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) College of Computing.


Volunteer-based emergency response system offers solution to road traffic accidents in Bangladesh. Featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, TraumaLink’s pragmatic model shines a spotlight on volunteer-based emergency response systems. In Bangladesh, road traffic injuries (RTIs) are the leading cause of death and disability, with nearly 25,000 road traffic deaths in 2016 according to the World Health Organization. In 2013, TraumaLink co-founders Jon Moussally, an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Mridul Chowdhury, CEO of mPower Social Enterprises, introduced a volunteer-based solution. TraumaLink enlists local volunteers, who live or work along the highway, to provide more immediate first aid to RTI victims. As of mid-2019, almost 2,000 patients have been treated by nearly 500 TraumaLink volunteers.


Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya to issue first private-sector gender bonds in Asia-Pacific. The IFC (International Finance Corporation) and DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft) have agreed to subscribe to the first private-sector gender bonds in Asia, set to be issued in the amount of up to US$220 million by Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya. These gender bonds are supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, a join initiative of the IFC and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative. Together they aim to increase access to finance for as many as 100,000 women in emerging markets. This inaugural gender bond issuance will help expand credit lines to women-led small- and medium-sized enterprises in Thailand, as well as promote the transparency and integrity of Asia’s nascent social bond market. The Bank of Ayudhya is expected to issue the bonds this October. 

Japan’s MUFG Bank joins ESG wave with new unit. Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) will set up a department specializing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funding to develop financial products for companies focused on responsible investing. This sustainable business office will encourage customers to work on ESG issues and provide financing to companies based on ESG ratings and benchmarks. With an aim to improve its ESG performance groupwide, MUFG Bank has already taken concrete steps itself, such as sourcing all power for its Tokyo headquarters from hydroelectric sources. Further, by signing on to the Principle for Responsible Banking which will be launched by the United Nations this month, MUFG Bank will also set publicly disclosed environmental and social impact goals.

Who’s Doing Good?

24 June 2019 - 7 July 2019


Alibaba to contribute US$145 million donation to women’s football. The Chinese women’s national football team will receive ¥1 billion (US$145 million) in donations from Chinese online giant Alibaba. Alipay, the mobile payment platform of Alibaba, will fund the bulk of the initiative. Additional contributions will come from the respective foundations of Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. The donation will be deployed over the coming decade towards injury prevention and treatment, career development of retired players, technical development, coach education, and youth development. According to this Channel News Asia article, the three parties aim to make football “more sustainable and accessible to girls and women across the nation.” Despite underfunding, the Chinese women’s national team has qualified for seven of the eight Women’s World Cups, including this year’s Cup in France. 

East Asia’s young rich redefine the concept of family legacy. A recent report, Passing the Torch: Bridging mindset gaps between high-net-worth generations in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore, highlights a shift in family business and philanthropy. The study, which was conducted by HSBC and commissioned by The Economist, reveals that high-net-worth individuals are giving their heirs flexibility in taking the family business in a new direction. Increasingly, the younger generation is redefining their family legacies through establishing charitable foundations or engaging in new CSR initiatives under the umbrella of their family business. At the intersection of new wealth and new ideas, the younger generation is redefining family legacy as they strive to create long-term social or environmental impact at the helm of their family business.


Muhammad Yunus underscores the power of social enterprises run by women and young people. Ahead of a social business event in Thailand, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus talks about the impact of social enterprises, especially those run by women and young people. In conversation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he highlighted, “Women and young people perhaps understand these problems better because they are most affected by them.” As social entrepreneurship burgeons across the region, some Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have passed legislation or revised laws to support social business ventures. To aid these developments, Yunus highlights the importance of adapting educational institutions and financial systems to encourage entrepreneurship and social business.

Philanthropy is still the backbone of social action. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro’s letter in the Financial Times gives insight into the relationship between philanthropy and impact investing. In a recent study, CAPS found that 59 percent and 66 percent of social enterprises in Hong Kong and Japan respectively report receiving philanthropic or government grants. In fact, many social enterprises in Asia depend on philanthropy and government grants as angel investment. Shapiro’s letter is a prelude to CAPS’ upcoming report on effective social enterprise ecosystems in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand, set to be published this fall.


Prudence Foundation and AVPN announce winners of inaugural Disaster Tech Innovation Competition. Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, and AVPN launched the Disaster Tech Innovation Competition earlier this year. The competition aims to “leverage technology solutions for disaster prevention and recovery efforts in the region.” The finalists, comprised of both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations, covered markets including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Taiwan. FieldSight, a mobile platform that supports disaster reconstruction activities, won First Prize. According to FieldSight director Justin Henceroth, the mobile platform was first launched in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes and has since been implemented at 60,000 sites in 16 markets. The organization received a grant of US$100,000 to help fund the implementation and scaling up of its Disaster Tech solution.

Development impact bond (DIB) boosts education in India. The Quality Education India DIB was launched in September 2018 by the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and Tata Trusts, together with local partners. As the largest development impact bond in the area to date, the bond funds initiatives towards improving literacy and numeracy skills for more than 300,000 children in India. According to a recent evaluation, “40 percent of participating schools met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy outcomes compared with non-participating schools.” The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation country director for India highlighted, “The early signs are that outcome-based funding models, with an incentive attached, have the potential to drive quality in education and attract new forms of capital to sustain it.”

Japan’s Suntory joins rival Coca-Cola to encourage plastic recycling in Vietnam. Reuters reports on a new alliance between Suntory, Coca-Cola, and Nestle–the latest in partnerships among global plastics and consumer goods companies. The Japanese beverage giant, Suntory Holdings, plans to switch out pure petroleum-based plastic bottles for bottles made from recycled or plant-based materials by 2030. However, achieving this goal will be challenging due to a lack of sophisticated recycling systems in Suntory’s Southeast Asian markets, such as Vietnam. The alliance, which also includes the local operations of Tetra Pak and NutiFood, will call on the Vietnamese government to, “plan a system spanning collection and facilities for recycling.” This push comes at a time when Vietnam is among the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean. Earlier this month Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that he wants Vietnam to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, but companies are pushing for large-scale recycling systems in addition to government restrictions on plastic bottles.


Sustainable investments make up nearly a fifth of rich Asian investors’ portfolios. According to a survey by Standard Chartered Private Bank, high-net-worth (HNW) investors in Asia have increased their allocation to sustainable investments to almost a fifth of their portfolios. The survey covered 416 HNW individuals residing in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India with a minimum of US$1 million in investments. Chinese investors are leading as the survey found “a majority of [Chinese] respondents have already allocated between a quarter to half of their funds to sustainable investments.” The study also revealed that in Asia knowledge of sustainable investing among investors has improved by 20 percent from 2018. The top cited motivation among the HNW investors was to “create a better future,” followed by “doing good while earning a profit.” The growing interest and awareness of sustainable investing among HNW investors is an encouraging trend for the region.

Impact investing in Asia to gain as US$15 trillion set to change hands among world’s wealthiest families. Impact investing in Asia has an opportunity to gain from the US$15.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected to occur over the next decade, according to global wealth researcher Wealth-X. While only US$1.88 trillion of this total is expected to be transferred in Asia, the transfer of wealth will occur amidst a growing ESG sector and growing interest in impact investing. With the younger generation soon to be at the helm of their families’ wealth, this intergenerational transfer is a fruitful opportunity for impact investing to grow. Wealth-X additionally notes that the US$8.8 trillion expected to change hands in Europe and North America bodes well for Asia. Due to friendlier regulatory environments, wealthy investors are increasingly setting up family office branches in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Who’s Doing Good?

27 May 2019 - 9 June 2019


Donations by Chinese philanthropists up by 50 percent in 2018. According to the China Philanthropy List, released annually by the China Philanthropy Times, the volume of donations by Chinese philanthropists and enterprises hit a record high of ¥27.63 billion (approximately US$4 billion) in 2018. China Daily reported that this is a 50 percent increase from the previous year. Donations were made by 744 philanthropic enterprises and 274 philanthropists, with donations from individual philanthropists totaling ¥9.53 billion (approximately US$1.4 billion). Although the majority of charitable giving in China comes from private corporations, the country’s philanthropy boom has encouraged more wealthy donors to participate. The recent increase in charitable giving by individual philanthropists has also been highlighted in the Hurun Report’s Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019.

Disney in India makes donation to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. Disney in India has donated ₹20 million (approximately US$300,000) to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. The money will be donated to Save the Children in India to support disaster response and provide resources for affected communities in the Indian state of Odisha. A Disney India representative said this donation will support families affected by Cyclone Fani by providing them with critical shelter. The country manager of Disney and Star India Sanjay Gupta stated, “Our hearts go out to those affected by this severe cyclonic storm Fani. The families and communities impacted by this devastating calamity need our support as they begin to rebuild.” Disney and Star India had also supported disaster response efforts in August 2018, aiding those affected by the Kerala floods.


Philanthropy in Singapore goes mainstream. Singapore is one of the top givers among its regional counterparts, and The Business Times article highlights the transformation of the country’s philanthropy landscape over the past few years. Citing CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, the article underscores Singapore’s position in the “Doing Well” cluster, leading in the index alongside Japan and Taiwan. Singapore’s favorable tax deduction policies and relatively simple registration process are among several factors which have helped boost the country’s performance in the index. But in the face of persistent social and environmental challenges, philanthropy needs to take a more solutions-focused approach to giving. While the upward trend is promising, philanthropy in Singapore still has room to improve.

Harvard course helps next-generation philanthropists do good. A course titled, “Impact Investing for the Next Generation,” convenes heirs to some of the world’s greatest family fortunes. The course, run jointly by Harvard and the University of Zurich in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, has been equipping next-generation philanthropists to be more impactful since 2015. For some of Asia’s wealthiest millennials, inculcating a culture of impact investing is a formidable challenge. Despite holding one-third of global wealth, Asia only contributes a small portion of its total wealth to impact investing. However, notable alumni, such as Hyundai heir Kyungsun Chung who co-founded Root Impact, have worked to promote a culture of impact investing in Asia since taking the course.


Myanmar nonprofit to give 10,000 bikes to students in need. Following the collapse of bike-sharing companies ofo and oBike in Singapore and Malaysia, many bikes have been left unused in scrapyards or warehouses. Lesswalk, a Myanmar nonprofit, bought 10,000 bikes from the failed bike-sharing companies to give to students in need. The total cost of buying, shipping, and refurbishing the bikes is between US$350,000 and US$400,000, but half is expected to be paid by sponsors. More than 3,000 bikes have already been shipped to Myanmar to be given to students, and the rest is expected to arrive by the end of June. Lesswalk founder Mike Than Tun Win stated, “This movement is not about buying a new bicycle, which is actually a very straightforward process. It solves a waste problem and gets new bikes for needy children at a cheaper price.”


Singapore’s Temasek sets up Asia-focused private equity fund for impact investing. Temasek Holdings, a Singaporean investment company, has established ABC World Asia under its philanthropic arm Temasek Trust. Headquartered in Singapore, ABC World Asia is a private equity fund dedicated to impact investing, primarily in South Asia, South-east Asia, and China. Chief executive officer of ABC World Asia David Heng highlighted the opportunities for impact investing in Asia, where the industry is still nascent. Heng stated, “The complex social and environmental challenges in our region present the potential for investors to achieve substantial impact.” The new impact investment fund will allow Temasek Trust to move beyond traditional grant-making to fulfill its mission of “ensuring sustainable funding for the long-term well-being and security of communities.”

Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank promotes culture of philanthropy. Korean petroleum and refinery company Hyundai Oilbank is aiming to promote a philanthropic culture among its staff. Through its 1% Nanum Foundation, more than 95 percent of the firm’s employees donate a portion or one percent of their monthly salary to charitable work. The foundation had raised about ₩11.2 billion (approximately US$9.5 million) in the last seven years to support its expanding number of charitable projects. One of the noteworthy projects, the “1% Nanum Lunch Room,” equips senior welfare centers across Korea with an annual meal plan of ₩50 million (approximately US$45,000). Other initiatives include providing heating oil for low-income families during the winter season and building schools and libraries in Vietnam and Nepal.

The Ritz-Carlton staff and guests raise funds for children with cleft conditions. International hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton raised close to US$450,000 for charities under the Smile Asia alliance. In May, over 10,000 staff and guests of The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts across Asia Pacific participated in the sales of over 14,600 cakes. The money raised will go to Smile Asia–a global alliance of independent charities working across Asia–which deploys medical volunteers to provide corrective and reconstructive surgeries for children living in remote areas. This annual fundraising initiative is part of the Smile Asia Week started by The Ritz-Carlton in 2014, and it has garnered great support over the years. In addition to this initiative, staff from the hotel chain can volunteer in medical missions across Asia Pacific.


China’s new model of blockchain-driven philanthropy. Stanford Social Innovation Review covers the rise of blockchain-driven philanthropy in China, and its role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the social sector. Blockchain enables donors to monitor the entire movement of their money and the platform, monitored by the public, ensures a trustworthy framework. Pioneers in blockchain-driven philanthropy in China include the charity platform of Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Love. Since adopting blockchain technology in March 2017, Ant Love has enabled 190 million Chinese individuals to donate US$50.5 million to 799 blockchain-supported projects. The decentralized, autonomous platform is breaking ground in the philanthropic sector as it encourages collaboration and employs community resources to address social challenges. While more oversight is still needed to monitor the people involved and the data that are recorded to the platform, China’s blockchain-driven philanthropy has significantly helped expand the sector’s role in Chinese society.

Indonesia leads by mainstreaming the SDGs in country’s development agenda. Indonesia’s integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policies offers lessons for the rest of Asia. The Indonesian government has showcased its commitment to the SDGs by linking them to midterm national plans, aligning national budgets and tax policies with crucial SDGs. Indonesia recently implemented two financial programs in efforts to bridge the gap in financing the SDGs: SDG Indonesia One and Islamic Finance. Employing these two finance programs will help diversify funding sources by tapping into an array of investors. Additionally, the Indonesian government also recognizes the importance of decentralizing the implementation of SDGs across all levels of government and collaborating with key stakeholders to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

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.”

Who’s Doing Good?

1 October 2018 - 7 October 2018


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

17 September 2018 - 23 September 2018


Baidu executive donates US$14.5 million to university. Ma Dongmin, an executive at Chinese internet giant Baidu, has donated 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) to the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC). The money will be used to support the university in several areas, including the development of the School of the Gifted Young. The class, the first of its kind in China, permits students to skip a few years of middle school and high school before entering university. Ma also added that she made the donation partly to congratulate the university on its 60th anniversary.


Bridgespan publishes a new study on “bold philanthropy” in India. The Bridgespan Group’s new report, “Bold Philanthropy in India: Insights from Eight Social Change Initiatives,” found India is experiencing a surge in philanthropic activity, with donors increasingly using their resources to take on some of the country’s biggest social challenges. “Many philanthropists in India are pivoting from checkbook giving—investing mostly in infrastructure projects, such as building schools or hospitals—to thinking strategically and ambitiously about how to drive social change. However, because there is so little information on their approaches to bold giving, other philanthropists with similar aims lack reference material to build on,” said Pritha Venkatachalam, a partner at Bridgespan and co-author of the report. To help fill these knowledge gaps, Bridgespan’s recently published report researches and showcases a wide array of philanthropic initiatives in India and identifies unique roles that bold philanthropy can play in improving people’s lives.

“Social business cities” could ease urban growing pains, says Nobel laureate. Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum in Hong Kong, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus argued cities around the world should tap ethical entrepreneurs to tackle various urban challenges from homelessness to unemployment. He also added that inviting social businesses, which aim to solve social problems while turning a profit, to invest in areas like health and housing could free up money for cash-strapped cities to spend on development.


China’s charities receive record donations in 2017. According to a report released by the China Charity Alliance at an event in Shenzhen, China, local charities received record donations in 2017, totaling nearly 150 billion yuan (US$22 billion). The amount represents a 7.68% year-on-year increase and a 385% increase compared with donations received a decade ago. The report also noted a 20% increase in donations from foreign-funded enterprises and companies in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.


Macquarie Group launches AU$50 million (approximately US$36.3 million) philanthropic award to mark its 50th anniversary. On September 18, 2018, Macquarie Group announced the launch of its AU$50 million philanthropic award to initiate or build on bold ideas to address the social need. The Macquarie Group Foundation will select five nonprofit organizations for funding (AU$10 million each) over a five-year period to fund projects globally that will have a lasting community benefit. “Supporting the communities in which we live and work has been an important part of Macquarie’s activities since our inception in 1969,” said Macquarie Group CEO Nicholas Moore. “In that time, our people have devoted thousands of hours to work with nonprofit organizations around the world and contributed over AU$330 million to drive social change at the local community level. We are delighted to mark our 50th anniversary by extending this tradition with a further AU$50 million commitment to initiate or build on bold ideas which address areas of social need.”


Yes Foundation shortlists social enterprises for three-year accelerator support. Yes Foundation, the social development arm of Yes Bank, has selected 23 social enterprises and nonprofits for the inaugural cohort of the “YES! I am the change (YIAC) Grant & Accelerator” program. The shortlisted enterprises were awarded a grant of Rs 7.5 crores, as well as three-year accelerator support. The accelerator supports social impact organizations working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with scalable solution models, helping them achieve higher efficiency and scale and thereby maximizing impact. “India is in a revolutionary phase with the nation’s youth driving social impact by developing innovative solutions to social challenges. Through YIAC, we are delighted to provide a platform to young changemakers and development sector organizations to accelerate and maximize their social impact,” said Prerana Langa, Yes Foundation’s CEO.


Post-typhoon, people in Hong Kong join hands for clean-up. Typhoon Mangkhut, which hit Hong Kong on September 16, 2018, left more than 300 people injured, buildings rocked, windows smashed, and more than 1,000 trees fallen. However, by Monday morning, people had joined hands to help with the clean-up. In the residential neighborhood of Tseung Kwan O, around 40 local volunteers set to work. In the district of To Kwa Wan, home to many low-income families, a group of around 25 ethnic minority residents, asylum seekers, and refugees helped cleaners with their overwhelming amount of work. In the seaside village of Shek O, a mix of local and expatriate residents, as well as volunteers, have been clearing roads, bagging up debris, and taking washed-up sand in baskets back to its popular beach.


President urges to skip television networks and make donations through military and government. President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently visiting areas affected by Typhoon Ompong, cautioned donors from giving donations through prominent television stations. He urged them instead to course these through the military and the government. He claims he has seen first-hand how donations of clothes do not directly reach the intended beneficiaries. He also spoke against giving cash donations via networks. “I’m giving you my testimony. Personal… because I have a TV program, I saw old people at the office, they’re sorting out the things that were unusable or are usable for them,” he added.