Who’s Doing Good?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese Americans’ contributions to and role in the United States philanthropic landscape grow. The article mentions recent trends in philanthropic giving among high-net-worth Chinese Americans and features individual philanthropists as case studies. From the Huntington Library’s Chinese garden, which received gifts of US$10,000 or more from 400 Chinese American families and those of US$1 million or more from 20 Chinese American individuals, to a 418% increase in the number of Chinese American foundations between 2000 and 2014, Chinese American philanthropy is clearly shown to be on the rise. In recent days, Chinese American philanthropists have adopted new innovations in giving, including impact investing, as well as giving back more to their home countries. “Chinese Americans are now proud of ascendant China and want to support the institutions that make it both in education and culturally a powerhouse,” said Randy Shulman, vice president for advancement at the Huntington Library.

THE THINKERS

“Getting the Best Possible Failures in Philanthropy: What constitutes ‘good’ failures in philanthropy, and how can we have more of them?” In this article, Jen Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation, suggests that “not all failures are created equal” and that there needs to be another element added to our standard practice in philanthropy: “failure optimization planning.” In other words, “how can we design our strategies so that if they do fail, they will be good failures?” Three ways that a failure can be “good” include: “1) contribute knowledge to the field, 2) have a significant, positive, but unintended consequence, or 3) increase the capacity of all involved to try other approaches.”

Making bequests to nonprofit organizations rise in Japan as a new way of giving back to society. The recent trend appears to be fueled by the growing number of people living alone and heightened interest in preparations for the end of one’s life. It is also important to consider the fact that in Japan if there is no one to inherit an estate, it goes into the state coffers, so it has naturally become more popular among aged individuals living alone to consider giving back to charities of their choice. The potential for bequests is expected to be greater and greater, as time passes. According to the Cabinet Office, there were about 5.9 million households in which a person aged 65 or older lived alone in 2015. The figure is estimated to reach about 7.6 million in 2035.

THE NONPROFITS

Aid to 11 million at risk as Pakistani intelligence force 18 charities to close operations. Amidst the Pakistani government’s recent decision to inform 18 foreign nonprofit organizations to close down their operations in the country, it has been claimed that Pakistan risks losing at least £100 million (approximately US$130.6 million) worth of aid for 11 million citizens in need. The expelled organizations also directly employ more than 1,100 staff in Pakistan. According to the article, it is thought that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government made the decision under pressure from Pakistan’s powerful military spy agency which has accused foreign aid organizations of being a front for espionage. “We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children the organization is currently supporting, as well as our own staff—who are all Pakistani nationals,” said a spokeswoman for Plan International.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com’s green initiative for sustainable consumption. JD.com, China’s largest retailer, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and The China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) are partnering to launch a second annual Green Planet-Sustainable Week, raising awareness about sustainable consumption in China. JD.com plans to promote reusable shopping bags created from the fabric of discarded apparel in response to a call from the WWF to reduce pollution caused by plastics. Customers will also be able to trade in major appliances for recycling by third-party companies through JD.com’s platform. “The spectacular rise of Chinese consumption has been a major force behind the country’s incredible economic story, but has also contributed to unprecedented environmental challenges,” said Zhonghao Jin, head of market practice at WWF China. He believes this week’s activities will help “raise consumer awareness and accelerate the mainstreaming of sustainable consumption.” 

THE INNOVATORS  

A skincare social enterprise is changing the lives of women and girls in rural India. Anju Rupal, the founder of the ethically minded, charitably driven beauty brand Abhati Suisse, is an “aesthetic activist.” Before launching her company, Rupal helped run a shelter for victims of domestic violence, founded a children’s clinic in Switzerland, and created a reforestation nonprofit. During her time at the reforestation nonprofit, she identified a business opportunity to produce organic beauty items that would also help address the issue of gender inequality in India. Working with the beauty industry’s top chemists in Switzerland, Abhati Suisse utilizes locally harvested ingredients from India to produce organic beauty products, whose sales are then used to help send women and girls in India to schools. To date, Abhati Suisse has helped more than 120,000 girls.

Unilever Philippines combines e-commerce and philanthropy to help children in need. Initiated by Unilever Philippines, Shop2Give is a one-day shopping event on Lazada. On this special day of giving back to society, product illustrations on the e-commerce platform were changed into quirky illustrations reminiscent of children’s doodles, and every purchase went towards Shop2Give’s beneficiaries, which was further matched by Unilever Philippines as a donation to UNICEF.

Indian Prime Minister to unveil a CSR portal on October 24, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a portal for CSR and volunteering in an ambitious bid to consolidate such efforts to maximize their effect and help boost the government’s initiatives. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is making hectic preparations for the launch of the portal, which is being developed by MyGov and will host CSR activities that have already been kicked off. The idea is to create a resource pool and find a way to “harmonize efforts,” not just across companies, but also to “align” them with the priorities of the government in areas such as the Skill India, Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, and Swachh Bharat campaigns, said a person aware of the development.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean nonprofit head leads volunteer activity in Vietnam for 12 years. Global Friends began its volunteer work in 2006 to help bereaved family members of the Vietnamese War. Choi Kyou-take, founder of this organization, has since led volunteer medical services, offered scholarships, and donated personal computers to rural communities in Vietnam. “Global Friends isn’t a large charity group, but has conducted volunteer activity for more than 10 years in the Southeast Asian country, Choi told The Korea Times, adding, “Not many charity groups in Korea volunteer in a certain country for more than 10 years.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia claims trial to 45 charges. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and carried out investigations over alleged abuse of funds linked to his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, as well as another probe related to 1MDB over a meeting with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family. Zahid claimed trial on October 19 to 45 charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering involving some RM114 million (approximately US$27.4 million). One of the charges is believed to be related to claims that RM800,000 of funds from Zahid’s charity had been used to pay for his and his wife’s credit card bills between 2014 and 2015.

British government to fund a global register of sex offenders in the charitable sector. Following the Oxfam abuse scandal, where volunteers sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the British government has announced its decision to launch a global register of suspected sexual predators to crack down on abuse in the foreign aid sector. Named “Soteria” after the Greek goddess of protection, the register will be funded by £2 million (approximately US$2.6 million) of British aid money. The five-year program will operate from two hubs in Africa and Asia and allow charities to check the criminal records of existing and future employees. Interpol, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office, and the Department for International Development will work together on the database, which will issue international alerts if someone is deemed to be a threat to public safety.

Who’s Doing Good?

24 September 2018 - 30 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese entrepreneur donates US$5 million for blockchain research. Feng Han, co-founder of the blockchain company Elastos, has donated US$5 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish the university’s blockchain research wing. The “Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) Blockchain Pillar and Activities Fund” will foster the development of a diverse range of blockchain projects, connecting emerging talent with thought leaders in the industry. “I am excited to facilitate the development of blockchain ecosystems through partnerships with organizations and universities, similar to MIT,” said Feng. “Leaders throughout the blockchain landscape should seize opportunities to support research and development of the industry, to ensure it matures in a regulatory compliant, transparent, and responsible manner. This is not the last incubator that I hope to establish to shape the parameters of a healthy blockchain ecosystem.”

Singaporean university receives SG$9 million (approximately US$6.5 million) to attract top young Swedish scientists. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the largest private financier of research in Sweden, is making a SG$9 million cash donation to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to establish a new postdoctoral fellowship program to support up to 40 fellows over the next six years. Through the fellowship, some of Sweden’s most outstanding young scientists will spend two years at the Singaporean university to conduct postdoctoral research. “We are deeply grateful to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, whose new generous gift comes after their SG$12.6 million donation to NTU just three months ago. The Wallenberg family is known for their passion for cutting-edge research and technologies, and NTU is privileged to be one of only three international universities to benefit from the Wallenberg Foundation’s recognition and support,” said Professor Subra Suresh, president of NTU.

THE THINKERS

China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) hosts the Global Social Finance Forum (GSFF) in Shenzhen. On September 21, 2018, the CGPI hosted the second GSFF in Shenzhen, China, under the guidance of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Futian District People’s Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and China International Center for Economic & Technical Exchange (CICETE). The theme of this year’s GSFF was “Social Investing as a Force for Good, and leaders in social finance and impact investing were invited as guests and participants.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong charity diverts annual mooncake waste. The Chinese tradition of exchanging boxes of mooncakes with friends and family during the Mid-Autumn Festival is now a staggering US$2 billion international industry. However, most are leftovers from manufacturers who overproduced in an attempt to cash in on the tradition. More than two million mooncakes, valued at least US$12.8 million, will be thrown out in Hong Kong alone after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Food Grace, a local charity, collected the leftovers this holiday season to redistribute them to low-income families and individuals. Convincing individuals, however, to donate their mooncakes is still taking time to catch on, according to Conrad Tsang, a project officer at the charity. “We have to educate and encourage them [to donate] and that [even if] you are not sending a mooncake as a gift, [it] does not harm your relationship with your partners or with your employees,” said Casey Ng, founder of Food Grace.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies’ CSR spending to depend only on previous year’s profit. India’s 2013 CSR law mandates that companies must spend 2% of their three-year average annual net profit towards a social cause. The amended law that came into effect on September 19 of this year states that companies will have to consider only their previous year’s net profit. A recent study of 1,186 eligible and listed companies by CRISIL, a credit rating agency, showed that over the past two financial years the amount spent on CSR surged at a compound annual growth rate of 14%, despite a lukewarm 5% growth in net profit.

Samsung extends helping hand during major national holiday. During Chuseok, one of Korea’s largest holidays, Samsung employees carried out various volunteer activities to provide assistance to residents in need of help. Along with the Korean Red Cross, Samsung employees delivered groceries to senior citizens and other residents in need for three weeks. They visited 780 social welfare facilities, including a children’s center, senior’s welfare center, and support center for migrant workers.

THE INNOVATORS

Using online platforms to help Palu earthquake victims in Indonesia. On September 28, 2018, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, Donggala, and Mamuju in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, claiming 832 lives (as of yesterday) and injuring many others. The Jakarta Post has highlighted different ways that people can help through donations. Notably, Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding website, and Tokopedia, an e-commerce platform with various donation channels (such as Donasi Palu), were featured. Both platforms have been recognized by the publisher for their transparency and accountability.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Miss Nepal on a social mission. Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Miss Nepal 2018, is on a mission to contribute to society after her coronation in April. In an effort to address post-earthquake reconstruction, she is building health posts in rural villages and raising funds in London for this cause. As a former architecture student, she is exploring the concept of healing by architectural design. “This is just the beginning of my work in philanthropy and architecture. Eventually, I want to use my fame to build more of what Nepal needs, whether it is health posts in remote areas or schools and homes in disaster zones,” she said.

Japanese firms prepare for large-scale volunteering during 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has started its search for 80,000 volunteers on Wednesday. Major companies in Japan are encouraging employees to volunteer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Many are even sending employees in order to show their support. Brokerage giant Nomura Holdings Inc., for example, has picked 300 employees through an internal application process to volunteer for the 2020 Games.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Website duplicates Giving.sg campaigns; site admin apologizes, says it was a mistake. A website has been found falsely canvassing donations for various fundraising campaigns that were originally posted on the national giving portal Giving.sg, which is managed by the National Volunteering and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The campaigns’ webpages indicated that they had garnered Nepalese Rs. 17,290 (approximately US$147) in donations. The website, Giving Nepal, claims to have posted the design mock-ups online by mistake and that no funds were actually collected. The NVPC clarified that Giving.sg is still a safe and secure online platform that has not been affected by any security breach. It also said that none of its donors’ information has been leaked.

Singaporean watchdog body introduces transparency guide for charities. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) introduced a new Visibility Guide framework to help charitable organizations be in a better position to present their financial information, use of donations, and activities. The framework by the COC not only helps charities put out key information to its stakeholders in a simple manner, but it also guides donors on each charity’s causes and impact. The framework was introduced together with an annual report template for nonprofit organizations. To encourage more giving, trust is crucial, and to build trust, good governance is necessary, said the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who also launched the framework during the 2018 Charity Governance Conference.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

University in Hong Kong gets HK$100 million in donations for a smart city and sustainable energy research. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been given a generous donation of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) from Otto Poon, a graduate of the university and chairman of ATAL Engineering Group, for a smart city and sustainable energy research. The gift was made under the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation and represents the largest personal donation to the university in the past decade. The funds will be used for the establishment of two research institutes and two professorships.

Jeff Bezos creates new philanthropy: the Bezos Day One Fund. Via Twitter, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shared a statement announcing the creation of his new charitable organization: the Bezos Day One Fund. Through the fund, Bezos will initially invest US$2 billion of his US$150 billion into existing homelessness charities and in the development of early childhood education centers.

THE THINKERS

Conglomerate research firm finds Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed social contributions by 14.5% in two years. Following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed their charitable donations by 14.5% in the past two years. Total contributions made by the likes of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, and Lotte stood at a little over ₩838.1 billion (approximately US$743.1 million) in 2017, down ₩124.9 billion (approximately US$110.7 million) or a drop of 13% from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent a total of ₩980.2 billion (approximately US$868.76 million) on donations. “Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble,” said the local tracker of large conglomerates.

THE NONPROFITS

More social service organizations in Singapore go cashless for fundraising. In line with an increasing societal trend to rely on cashless forms of payment, individuals can now donate to charities with a few taps on their mobile phones, and Singaporean charities are tapping into this new fundraising opportunity. Since May 2018, 73 organizations have been actively using cashless payment technologies, according to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). NCSS’ deputy CEO, De. Fermin Diez, said, “With more Singaporeans carrying less cash, social service organizations need to be more innovative about raising funds through contactless donation technology. Otherwise, they could face a decline in donations if only cash was accepted.” Diez also added that the benefits of cashless fundraising are reduced administration costs, better governance, tighter security, and improved donation tracking.

THE BUSINESSES

BloombergQuint identifies India’s most and least philanthropic large companies. According to BloombergQuint, about a fifth of Nifty 50 companies failed to spend the minimum required on CSR for the fourth straight year. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. was the most generous in the 2017-2018 financial year, spending nearly 10% of its average three-year net profit on CSR. Following Vedanta Ltd. were UPL Ltd. and state-owned Coal India Ltd. Notably, Dilip Shanghvi-controlled Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. were the only two Nifty 50 companies that contributed towards CSR despite reporting losses.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs awards Infinitus the China Charity Award. The China Charity Award is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy in China from a government authority. Infinitus was recently honored with this award for its continuing contributions to society and its longstanding commitment to CSR. In 2016, Infinitus kicked off a volunteer project and set up the Infinitus Volunteers Association. To date, the association has had more than 6,000 individual volunteers, organized 230 volunteering events, and accumulated more than 27,000 hours of volunteer work.

THE INNOVATORS

Chinese government to use blockchain technology for tracking charitable donations by 2019. In order to increase transparency of public donations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in charge of social services and the broader social sector, is planning to adopt blockchain technology for an upgrade of its current charity tracking system. The plan dictates that the existing government charity databases will be integrated into the new blockchain network. In this way, data on charitable donations made through a variety of services will become visible to the public faster using a distributed network.

Philanthropic foundations launch US$11 million impact bonds to improve education in India. The largest development impact bond (DIB) has been launched by the UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The bond promises to improve the educational outcome of 300,000 students in Delhi and Gujarat. A DIB is not a money market instrument. Risk investors put money to roll out a program in order to address a cause. They earn a return if the program is successful. “This landmark financial instrument applies an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy… If the potential of this type of funding is unleashed, it could improve the lives of generations to come,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. 

THE VOLUNTEERS

Divers volunteer as “gardeners” to restore dying corals in Thailand. It is widely known that coral reefs are in danger due to climate change. A group of divers is trying to tackle this environmental problem in Koh Ha, Thailand. Inspired by reforestation techniques employed in tropical forests, conservationist Anuar Abdullah began research into how those same methods might be applied to coral reefs, which are often referred to as “underwater rainforests.” Eventually, the solution of coral gardening was devised, growing corals in nurseries and then replanting them on reefs. Anuar also founded Ocean Quest, a conservation organization that organizes courses at dive schools and resorts in Southeast Asia. To date, the organization has certified more than 800 trainers and 1,000 coral gardeners.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

In response to potential cases of fraud, Singaporean crowdfunding website offers “donation back guarantee.” The Raye of Hope Initiative, a crowdfunding website based in Singapore, recently announced it would start the “donation back guarantee” in cases of fraudulent fundraising projects. The move came after the Commissioner of Charities launched a campaign last Friday to get donors to do more checks before giving. The website has had more than 170 fundraising projects. “We need to give donors the confidence that they are giving to people who genuinely need help and depend on crowdfunding to tide them over a difficult period,” said Tan En, director of the crowdfunding website.

Japan to reform “hometown tax donation” program to address excessive competition among local governments to provide expensive gift incentives. The furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system was originally introduced in 2008 to ease the disparity in tax revenue between urban and rural areas by incentivizing individual giving to local governments. The government said Tuesday it will reform this system in order to curb extravagant gift incentives from local governments, as the system has led to fierce competition among local governments to lure donations with expensive gifts that are excessive in price and that are oftentimes not locally produced. As such, the government is specifically considering to limit gifts to those produced locally and keep their value below 30% of donations.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 September 2018 - 9 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Alibaba’s Jack Ma announces plans to focus on philanthropy. China’s richest man and chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma is set to retire from his corporate position next week to focus on philanthropy and his passion for teaching. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ma said that he would like to lay the groundwork for the Jack Ma Foundation to help teachers and kindergartens in rural areas. “There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates. I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier,” Ma said in the interview. “I think someday, and soon, I’ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.” 

Asteroid named after Taiwanese philanthropic vendor. Chen Shu-chu, a retired vegetable vendor and philanthropist, recently had an asteroid named after her by the Lulin Observatory operated by Taiwan’s National Central University. Chen is known for her good deeds that were brought to light by local and foreign media. She was honored as one of the 100 most influential figures listed by the Time magazine in 2010 for contributing over NT$10 million (US$325,000) to different charitable causes. In 2012, Chen was one of six winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for helping the poor, receiving a US$50,000 cash prize which she donated to the Taitung branch of Mackay Memorial Hospital. “Money serves its end only when it can help people in need,” said Chen.

THE THINKERS

“Minds Wide Open” documentary shows that increased support for fundamental brain research is crucial to achieving major breakthroughs. Earlier this month, the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI), a nonprofit aiming to deepen the understanding of the human brain, hosted an international meeting in Shanghai. The event brought together top scientists and doctors working on brain-related topics in the United States and China. TCCI also released the “Minds Wide Open” documentary this week in the hopes that it would make the case that more support for fundamental brain science is needed if we are to keep achieving significant breakthroughs. The Chens, founders of the TCCI, have committed US$1 billion for this cause. The documentary will be available on Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play from September 19 onwards. All proceeds from the film will be donated to causes chosen by Brandon, Chelsea, Eric, Lisa, and Violet—five patients featured in the film. Watch the 25-minute version of the film here.

Businesses thrive when they benefit society, says Hiroaki Nakanishi. Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) chair and chairman of Hitachi, Hiroaki Nakanishi preached the values of a sustainable and socially responsible business in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun. In fact, Keidanren made the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the guiding principles of its Charter of Corporate Behavior when it was revised in November. Explaining that Japanese businesses previously thought creating high-quality products and generating profits was the end of their responsibility to society, Nakanishi said that this attitude and way of thinking is increasingly changing in the private sector in Japan. 

THE NONPROFITS

Five moon bears rescued by Hong Kong-based charity from a bile farm in Vietnam after being trapped in cages for 21 years. Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity, has rescued five moon bears from a bile farm in Vietnam after more than 21 years in cages. After a five-day journey, the bears are now at the organization’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Center, a sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park. In 2017, Animals Asia signed a deal with the Vietnamese government to relocate the around 800 bears who remain on farms in the country to sanctuaries. So far, the charity has rescued 177 bears. 

THE BUSINESSES

Didi Chuxing to pay promised reward to rescue team via charity donation. Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-hailing company, is to pay the reward of 1 million yuan (US$160,000) it promised for information relating to the whereabouts of a driver suspected of killing a passenger earlier this year. A Zhengzhou-based water rescue team found a body in a local river and after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the company and claim the reward, filed a lawsuit in August. The reward money will reportedly be donated to a charity in Zhengzhou and be dedicated to the water rescue team that received the body of the suspect. Niu Zhenxi, head of the rescue team, said that members of his team have agreed to accept the donation via the Zhengzhou Charity Federation. Didi Chuxing has also announced that it will donate another 1 million yuan to the China Foundation for Justice and Courage, a national public fundraising foundation headed by China’s Ministry of Public Security.

THE INNOVATORS

Volunteering mobile application allows users to get points to redeem gifts. Chen Yew Nah, managing director of Zeles, always had a passion for helping others but soon realized that there was a gap in the feedback system. Zeles aims to encourage more volunteers to come forward, connects them with various corporations and causes, and allows users to redeem food and retail vouchers in return. Additionally, the in-application chat function allows volunteers to send feedback to the organizations they are working at. The application currently has 2,000 volunteers and numerous voluntary host organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Association for Persons With Special Needs.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Army of volunteers boosting support for the Thai King. The Volunteer Spirit scheme, officially started last year by Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has created a new army of civilians who have pledged allegiance to the King and are boosting his image ahead of his formal coronation at the year-end. Over four million volunteers have joined the scheme, carrying out a range of tasks from cleaning public spaces to helping police direct traffic. Their most high-profile activity came when the volunteers joined an international effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave last month.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

China continues to toughen the crackdown on dishonest behaviors in charity work. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has intensified its campaign to crack down on dishonest behaviors in charity work. Most recently, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released a regulation that required charities to provide factual information to the public, putting it into effect on September 1, 2018. The ministry has also established the “Charity in China” website that publishes information about charities. Early this year, the government established a mechanism that shares information on charities’ credibility, specified five types of dishonest entities, and stipulated 24 punishment measures.

Korean tax agency clamps down on tax-evading foundations. A conglomerate-affiliated cultural foundation received cash from three corporate subsidiaries under the pretense of building a memorial hall, which instead was revealed to have been used to purchasing land surrounding the birthplace of the conglomerate’s founder. The National Tax Service (NTS), Korea’s governmental tax agency, retracted the gift tax exemption given to this foundation and slapped a ₩3 billion (US$2.67 million) tax. The NTS said that since the second half of last year, a special team has investigated nearly 200 charitable foundations owned by conglomerates and found 36 instances of tax evasion, totaling a tax figure of ₩41 billion (approximately US$36.3 million). “In recent years, the founding families of conglomerates have been using their charity foundations for personal purposes, including strengthening their governance, said an NTS official.

Who’s Doing Good?

30 July 2018 - 5 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Evergrande’s Xu Jiayin comes out as top Chinese philanthropist in the annual list. According to Forbes, Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Real Estate Group, hold the top position on the 2018 Forbes China Philanthropy List, followed by He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group, and Zhang Jianbin, chairman of Jiangsu Winfast Investment Holding Group. Xu gave away 4.21 billion yuan (US$617 million) for poverty reduction. Those on the list had donated 17.31 billion yuan in cash donations, a 66% increase from the previous year’s figure. The minimum donation amount required to be on the list increased from 5 million yuan to 13 million yuan. The list also found education, poverty alleviation, and medical care was the main focus of donations.

THE THINKERS

Amid sexual harassment scandals, Beijing nonprofits and law firm launch anti-sexual harassment network. Following recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault against prominent Chinese media professionals, charity activists, and intellectuals, two nonprofit organizations in Beijing—the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center and Equality—and Qianqian Law Firm have launched a joint network aimed at stopping sexual harassment. The network will provide services such as legal consultations, legal aid, psychological counseling, media assistance, and training courses. “We want to offer reliable help for women who suffer from sexual harassment. We hope more victims would come forward to make the authorities aware of the seriousness of the situation,” said Lin Lixia, an employee at the law firm.

Charities in Hong Kong forced to reveal finances. Charities will have to disclose their financial accounts on a designated government webpage for public inspection as a measure to promote transparency. The administrative action was announced in response to the government audit chief’s criticism last year over lax rules in the sector. A “good practice guide,” covering donors’ rights and fundraising practices, has also been made available. However, critics claim this measure will not go very far. “The guidelines are too mild and non-binding,” said Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung. Other critics urge the government to step up public education “to arouse the awareness of donors of their rights.”

Government too charitable to charities. The Hong Kong government is facing criticism for the recently launched administrative measure to include financials of charities on a government website: that these measures are voluntary in nature and not mandatory. Reports state many charities exploited the loopholes to claim tax exemption status, with tax forgone amounting to HK$1.5 billion between 2005 and 2016.

THE NONPROFITS

Chinese charities donate stationery and sports items to Nepali school. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and Beijing Ciai Charity Foundation distributed school bags, stationery items, and sports accessories to students of the Mahendra Adarsha Vidyashram school, a public school in Nepal. “The Chinese support is very instrumental for the bright future of our students. It will not just boost the quality education of the country, but also strengthen the people-to-people ties between the two countries,” Pampha Bhusal, who is chairman of the school committee, said.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung donates ₩50 billion (US$44.7 million) to support small business factories. Samsung Electronics will donate ₩50 billion to the Korea Smart Factory Foundation, which will help small businesses set up smart-factory infrastructure in their production centers. The donation will be made in ₩10 billion per year over the next five years. Samsung will also allocate a separate ₩10 billion to help these small businesses educate their staff and find new markets for the next five years.

CapitaLand launches SG$2 million (approximately US$1.46 million) fund to empower vulnerable elderly in Singapore. In response to the issue of an aging population, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, has set up a SG$2 million fund with the aim of improving the quality of life for the vulnerable elderly in Singapore through deeper social integration, better healthcare, and better living conditions. The CapitaLand Silver Empowerment Fund marks the first time the foundation has expanded its mandate from helping underprivileged children to the elderly. In addition to the fund, the foundation will also partner with Community Chest Singapore to identify, fund, and volunteer in projects to support vulnerable seniors of 60 years or above. Lim Ming Yan, CapitaLand’s chief executive, said, “As we expand the foundation’s mandate to support the healthcare and well-being of the vulnerable elderly, CapitaLand is looking forward to working together with long-time partners like President’s Challenge and Community Chest to improve the quality of aged care in Singapore.”

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) donates SG$350,000 (approximately US$256,000)to 20 social service organizations. SPH and its philanthropic arm, SPH Foundation, donated SG$350,000 to 20 social service organizations via Community Chest Singapore. The donation is part of SPH and SPH Foundation’s yearly efforts to support charities serving disadvantaged families, senior citizens, and special-needs students.

A big number of corporations come forward to clear up the Ganga. Companies like Shipping Corporation of India, Indusland Bank, Bajaj Electricals, Reliance Industries, and others have undertaken ghatcleaning and development, afforestation, and provision of amenities as part of their CSR projects under the Namami Gange Programme. Rs 255.02 crore (approximately US$37.13 million) have been received as a contribution to the fund from public sector units, private companies, individuals, the India Development Foundation, and others.

A tribute and “thank you” to Khazanah Nasional. Via this article, social workers pay a special tribute to Khazanah Nasional for their donations during the 2014 floods in Malaysia. Khazanah supported many nonprofits with their flood relief efforts by donating RM250,000 (approximately US$62,000). The company was able to support outreach programmes to help marginalized communities. These included the Orang Asli, refugees, and immigrant communities.

THE INNOVATORS

Asia tackles its plastic problem with a mix of tradition and technology. Plastic is considered one of the most useful products, yet the most environmentally harmful. Many are taking the initiative to tap into Asia’s cultures and crafts in order to invent a better and safer alternative. Poramet Sai-Uparach of Leaf Creation created a wide range of products—bags, lampshades, wallpaper, and furniture—made from teak tree leaves that are widely available in northern Thailand. Indian entrepreneurs are coming up with edible cutlery and bags made of tapioca and vegetable starch. Big multinational corporations like KFC are also starting to ban straws, while IKEA plans to phase out oil-based plastics from its 363 furniture stores and restaurants around the world by 2020.

THE VOLUNTEERS

10-day commitment likely to be a hurdle for Tokyo Olympic Games volunteers. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has initiated a drive to encourage university students and others to work as volunteers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The officials urge them to volunteer for at least 10 days, in a bid to enable them to best take advantage of the skills they will acquire during the training sessions prior to the sporting event. Many universities in Tokyo have supported the committee by changing schedules for classes and exams.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Indian government shuts down charity as women go missing and girls claim rape. Seva Sanklap Ewam Vikas Samiti, a nonprofit organization that runs shelters for destitute women, has been closed down by the local police amid reports that 11 of the women are missing. The charity’s director and nine staffers have been arrested on rape charges. Another shelter under the organization was closed in June after dozens of girls said they had been raped there. Earlier this year, the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences found evidence of trouble during an audit of the charity, leading state investigators to interview girls at the shelter and learn of the rape incidents.

Who’s Doing Good?

16 July 2018 - 22 July 2018

THE GIVERS

Warren Buffett donates US$3.4 billion to the Gates Foundation and family charities. Marking the billionaire’s largest charitable contribution, Buffett has donated roughly US$3.4 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to five charities. The largest funding went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the rest going to Buffett’s own foundation and three charities run by his children.

Hong Kong family donates rare Chinese artworks to Hong Kong museum to promote traditional culture. Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion, an organization by late philanthropist Ho Iu- kwong and now run by his family, has donated over 350 Chinese paintings and calligraphy works to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The donated collection will be permanently displayed in a dedicated gallery named the “Chih Lo Lou Gallery of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy” after the museum finishes its renovation and reopens in 2019.

Indian Americans are donating US$1 billion a year, a new survey has found. They are among the ethnic groups with the highest per capita incomes in the United States and volunteer at nearly double the national average at 220 hours per year, according to the Indiaspora-Dalberg Community Engagement Survey. Still, researchers have found that the potential for giving by the community is vast, at more than US$3 billion annually. “We hope that the results of this study [can] help galvanize philanthropic efforts among this important—and influential—community,” says Joe Dougherty, Dalberg Advisors’ regional director for the Americas.

Bridgespan conducts in-depth interviews with major philanthropists in India. The Bridgespan Group, a philanthropy and non-governmental advisory firm, initiated the “Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India” series, which is a video series that provides a behind-the-scenes look at philanthropy in India from the perspectives of eminent givers. The videos were made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the series this year include Senapathy (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, Rajashree Birla, Rakesh Mittal, Sunil Munjal, and Sunil Wadhwani. These philanthropists have shared their perspectives on their personal giving journeys, choice of issues to advance, collaborations with grantees, vision for Indian philanthropy, and much more.

THE THINKERS

Fill the nonprofit skill gap with corporate know-how, write Ratan Tata and Ruth Shapiro. Examining India’s CSR legislation four years after its implementation, Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, and Shapiro, chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, discuss promising signs that the law has led to an uptick in CSR spending. A significant number of companies are spending more than the minimum required two percent on CSR, and projects are becoming more strategic and widespread. Still, nonprofits’ knowledge gaps remain an issue, with many lacking skills such as financial planning, accounting, and impact measurement. “We suggest that the ministry of corporate affairs incentivise companies to encourage employees to provide technical assistance as a volunteer or a board member, for those nonprofits also receiving grant support.”

When it comes to resolving today’s challenges, family philanthropy will become even more crucial, says Peter Vogel. In an opinion editorial for Forbes India, Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), writes that as well-off baby boomers prepare to pass on their wealth to a younger generation of more socially conscious individuals, an “astonishing number of next-generation philanthropists” are set to emerge. “While it is true that there is a growing gap between rich and poor,” he writes, “…there is a growing breed of self-made wealth owners and inheritors who are cognizant of their disproportionate amount of wealth and who have committed to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”

“Do social enterprises work?” Hannah Jun, Ph.D., director of the Center for Global Social Responsibility at Ewha’s Graduate School of International Studies, shares her thoughts on the rising social enterprise scene in Korea. Most notably, the author identifies gaps from her insider’s knowledge of the sector, for example, that university curricula’s focus on long-term sustainability does not match well with the reality of focusing on short-term gains and returns.

THE NONPROFITS

Singaporean bone marrow nonprofit renews charitable status and names a new chief. Following a special audit in 2016 that uncovered governance and administrative lapses such as “excessive” use fo donations on marketing and entertainment, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) has obtained a one-year renewal of its Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) status, which is the official legal charitable status in Singapore. The BMDP also announced the appointment of its new chief Charles Loh, who was previously a senior vice president at Certis Cisco from 2006 to 2016. In regards to the BMDP, a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said, “BMDP has been taking steps to improve its administration and governance. MOH continues to monitor their government and administration.”

Top talent from the world’s universities is going to work for the Tata Trusts. The philanthropic arm of India’s Tata Group, the Tata Trusts are aggressively hiring from top higher education institutions around the world, from The Indian Institute of Technology to Harvard University. “We are enhancing both our functional competencies and general management bandwidth,” says Debasis Ray, spokesperson for the Tata Trusts. With their added manpower, the Tata Trusts hopes to enhance its work in seven portfolio areas, including, but not limited to, health, water, energy, rural uplift, and urban poverty alleviation.

THE BUSINESSES

SK Innovation begins mangrove donation drive in Vietnam. SK Innovation, the battery-making subsidiary of SK Group, is holding a donation campaign to restore a mangrove forest in Vietnam. This campaign is in line with the memorandum of understanding that SK signed with the Vietnamese government and the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the company, over 3,000 people have contributed, donating roughly 5,000 saplings of mangrove trees in just eight days. The campaign will close once it reaches a total of 10,000 trees.

Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society charity run raises SG$1.1 million (approximately US$807,000). Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer charity run raised more than SG$1.1 million for charity. The money will go towards the society’s programs to support cancer patients and their families. The charity run event took place at East Coast Park in Singapore on Sunday morning and was flagged off by Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

THE INNOVATORS

A step towards transparency in philanthropy: The Giving Bank. The Giving Bank is a platform that combines crowdfunding and philanthropy. Since its conception 18 months ago, it has so far completed 45 projects and raised nearly US$123,000. “I have been giving from the time I drew my first salary. But at one point, I felt tired and troubled with giving and not knowing how the funds were used. So, I came up with this idea,” says founder Jason Ang. The system is built to send out reports on how the funds are used automatically to all donors. The Giving Bank itself follows a transparent fee structure on gross donations and has its own ecosystem. The dream, he says, is to be able to donate with a click or swipe.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Chinese volunteer recalls long, lonely fight to protect the forest. Volunteer Liu Zhenmao has protected a mountain forest in Hunan province for the past 38 years, spending 22 Chinese New Year Eves at his sentry post. In 2016, the local government offered financial support and reformed a team of volunteers that was disbanded 23 years earlier. In a letter to Chenzhou’s vice mayor last month, Liu wrote, “I want the Chenzhou government to further control grazing near Shizikou Mountain in order to protect the forests and grasslands and prevent soil erosion.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity faces investigations due to allegations that it has been selling babies. The Indian government is now inspecting the charity’s various centers across India. The order for an investigation came after a nun and an employee were arrested earlier this month for allegedly selling a baby in Jharkhand. The charity said it had also begun investigating internally.

Amid public scandal involving Asiana Airlines, Korean corporate foundations come under public scrutiny. In the aftermath of Asiana Airlines’ in-flight meal scandal, much media spotlight and public attention have been directed toward chairman Park Sam-Koo of Kumho Asiana Group. In particular, how Park has utilized the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation and its funds for the corporate takeover infighting with his brother has led to calls for more scrutiny into Korean conglomerates’ use of private foundations. Other examples noted by the media outlet include Samsung and Hyundai, who have both used foundations for the purpose of corporate succession planning and evasion of fair trade and business regulations.

Who’s Doing Good?

2 July 2018 - 8 July 2018

THE GIVERS

“Retirement is too busy,” says Li Ka-Shing, while discussing the future of his foundation. His comments came as he announced his retirement as chairman of Shantou University, the higher-ed institution he funded in his hometown in Guangdong Province, China. At the same press conference, Li announced that he would eventually hand over the reins of his foundation to his two sons: the elder, Victor, would take over as chairman, with his brother Richard as vice-chairman.

Over US$38 million was donated to arts and culture in Singapore last year, marking the second year in a row where donations to the sector have fallen. National Arts Council director Paul Tan says that part of the reason why donations have fallen is that major donations clustered around the city-state’s Jubilee Year in 2015, where large donations were collected to fund large projects such as the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. He adds: “What is perhaps more important is sustaining the level of giving to arts organizations year on year so that we continue to create a vibrant arts scene. As such, we are pleased to see an increased number of Friends of the Arts this year.”

CNBC profiles Charles Chen Yidan, “China’s most charitable man.” In 2007, Chen and his fellow co-founders at Tencent, the tech giant owner of WeChat, founded the Tencent Foundation with the aim of investing a portion of their profits into charitable projects. Through WeChat, Tencent has been able to spur hassle-free donations towards charitable causes, raising 1.5 billion yuan (US$230 million) from 140 million individual donations in the last 11 years. He says: “Chinese traditional culture encourages people to benefit the world. Many ideas from Chinese culture encourage people to give more, have more and also encouraged people in that if you do a good thing, you will have a good result. So it’s in every Chinese person’s mind. But how to do it?”

Keppel Corporation donates SG$1 million (approximately US737,000) to the President’s Challenge. As part of the company’s 50th anniversary, Keppel Corporation made SG$1 million donations to the President’s Challenge. Keppel chairman Lee Boon Yang presented the donation cheque to President Halimah Yacob at the company’s charity run event. “Our aim is also to do good as we do well. We are committed to making a positive impact on the community wherever we operate,” Lee said.

Binance donates US$1 million to Japanese flood victims. Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, donated US$1 million to flood victims in West Japan. The exchange has also called for its cryptocurrency friends and partners to join this charitable initiative. To contribute in cryptocurrency, one can make an anonymous donation by sending ETH or ERC20 tokens directly to the Binance donation address.

The Wallenberg Foundation donates to Nanyang Technological University, the largest gift in perpetuity in its history. The endowed gift is targeted towards the creation of a fellowship to nurture early-career scientists at NTU, recently ranked top in a list of the world’s best young universities. Its goal is to help attract top talent to the university, building on the momentum already achieved by NTU’s highly competitive Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, which has already attracted hundreds of applications around the world.

THE THINKERS

To strengthen social bonds, nurture altruism, says the director of the Hong Kong Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. Paul Yip and the Centre recently conducted a study that found that Hong Kong people are generous with their monetary donations but reluctant or unable to volunteer their time for charitable causes. Rates of volunteerism have fallen from year-to-year, from 51.5% to 47.3% from 2016 to 2017. With the average Hong Konger facing long workdays, Yip advocates for companies to offer volunteer leave so that people can take time out to engage in the community.

THE NONPROFITS

Jakarta food donation program takes leftovers from lavish weddings. Founded by Astrid Paramita, “Blessing To Share” supplies leftover wedding dishes to the poor. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Indonesia bins more edible food per person than any other country except Saudi Arabia. Primarily operating in Jakarta, Paramita has aspirations to expand his program to other cities and to start sourcing edibles from company meetings and conferences.

Islamic philanthropy at work in Indonesia. Dompet Dhuafa, an Islamic philanthropy organization in Indonesia, was founded by the former editor-in-chief of the Republika daily newspaper, Parni Hadi, to collect various forms of alms and raise funds for planned programs that empower the poor. Having begun with a modest first year of collecting Rp 425,000 (US$30), the organization has reached 25 years of age and has helped more than 16 million people. “Dompet Dhuafa is an Islamic philanthropy organization that is devoted to empowering the poor through compassionate socio-technopreneurship,” said Hadi.

THE BUSINESSES

A report finds that CSR giving in India is projected to reach US$7.4 billion (INR 50,000crore) by 2019. The research conducted jointly by CSRBOX and NGOBOX finds that by the financial year 2019-20, compliance with India’s mandatory 2% giving under the 2013 Companies Act will reach 97-98%. Education and skills development is expected to be the preferred areas of spending, with US$2.2 billion expected to pour into the sector between 2014 and 2019. “Mandatory CSR has made a lot of change in India’s development landscape. It has gradually formalized the corporate philanthropy with an emphasis on impacts on the ground.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Arrested last week, Najib maintains that the US$681 million found in his account is a donation. The donation was placed in his account prior to Malaysia’s general election in 2013, but Najib stressed that the sum was returned to its donor, the Saudi royal family, shortly after the election. “As far as I am concerned, I acted in good faith. On top of it, King Abdullah awarded me the highest decoration from Saudi Arabia. Only (former US) president (Barack) Obama and (Russian president Vladimir) Putin have the same. That shows the level of trust he had in me.”

Who’s Doing Good?

18 June 2018 - 24 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Malaysia finance minister defends collecting public donations to help settle national debt. Amidst a public movement among companies and individuals to donate to the state, Minister Lim Guan Eng has defended this collection of public donations through the “Fund of Hope,” which he said will go towards settling the nation’s debt. The fund was created after Malaysians started crowdsourcing donations themselves. As of June 21, 2018, the fund had reached more than RM90 million in contributions.

THE THINKERS

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society presents the Doing Good Index in Singapore. CAPS visited Singapore to present the Doing Good Index to nonprofit and foundation professionals, CSR executives, academics, journalists, and philanthropists in the country. In particular, CAPS highlighted the challenge in recruiting high-quality talent into the sector. 94% of organizations surveyed agreed that there was a public perception that nonprofit employees should earn less than their private sector counterparts, while 84% indicated that they had difficulty recruiting skilled staff. The below cartoon by the India Development Review well represents this talent dilemma and challenge faced by many nonprofits.

Source: India Development Review

The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network hosted its annual conference in Singapore. Investors seem to agree that there remains a persistent early-stage capital gap problem, leading to insufficient support for early-stage social enterprises. Other challenges include a need for more expertise on business building, more persistence on developing standardized impact measurements, and a reframing of sector’s approach to gender equality.

Hong Kong is underestimating its altruism, according to a recent poll by The University of Hong Kong. While scoring just above average in The University of Hong Kong’s altruism poll, the study nonetheless found that 83.5% of respondents had donated money to charity, while nearly half said that they did volunteer work. Paul Yip Siu-far, the poll’s research director, says that while Hongkongers are doing more than they think, there is still room to do more: “The government should do more to encourage people to donate blood, such as extending the hours of blood donation services since most people work from nine to six.”

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofit brings aid and hope to Penan settlements. Hope Place, a Malaysian nonprofit, has been providing the Penan community in Ulu Baram with health checks, haircuts, and solar panels. After conducting a survey to identify the needs of the people, Hope Place realized that the villagers needed more than just food supplies. Hence, Hope Place has gathered a team of volunteers to provide services such as health checks, haircuts, and installing solar panels.

THE BUSINESSES

Vietnamese companies begin to embrace the environment and community. The article aptly summarizes an increasing trend among Vietnamese companies to embrace environmental protection and community contributions. For example, Traphaco, a leading Vietnamese pharmaceutical company, devised a sustainable development strategy to attach its business growth to environmental protection and CSR. A notable project by Traphaco includes the “Green Plan” whose goal is to produce materials made from herbs, as well as helping local farmers eradicate hunger and reduce poverty. With this emphasis on sustainable business practices, Traphaco is now spending approximately 1-3% of its total revenue on CSR. The article cites many other noteworthy examples from the private sector.

THE INNOVATORS

“From Malaysia to Myanmar, social ventures build homes and safe spaces.” Touching upon the rise of social enterprises in Asia, the Thomson Reuters Foundation highlights two social ventures in Malaysia and Myanmar. While Epic Homes builds houses for mainland Malaysia’s indigenous Orang Asli people, Myanmar’s Doh Eain is helping residents conserve older homes, as well as open up public spaces for women and girls.

A new startup is bringing financial inclusion to unbanked Filipinos. TraXion, a Filipino blockchain enterprise, is aiming to provide savings accounts and payment and remittance services to the 82.6% of the country’s population that is currently unbanked or underbanked. By providing a low-cost and user-friendly service to its clients, the platform wants to succeed where traditional financial institutions have thus far failed. TraXion’s public initial coin offering will begin running this August.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Cristiano Ronaldo helps Singapore Red Cross in promoting blood donation drive and youth giving. Singapore Red Cross launched its “Be The 1” campaign with world-renowned football star Cristiano Ronaldo. The campaign’s aim is to encourage more youths to donate blood. The campaign will run all the way until the end of July, and those wanting to participate or show their support can take a photo and post it on their social media pages with the hashtag #BeThe1DonorSG.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Social delivery organizations in Singapore need to build up public trust. Presenting the DGI to the Singaporean audience, CAPS spoke of the “trust deficit” that plagues the nonprofit sector. 94% of organizations surveyed in the DGI indicated that there was a public perception that nonprofit employees should earn less, while 60% also felt that the level of individual giving was low. “People don’t want to give because they don’t trust the organizations to use their money,” said Ruth Shapiro, Chief Executive of CAPS.

Who’s Doing Good?

4 June 2018 - 10 June 2018

THE GIVERS

The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation donates for the preservation of the Great Wall. Sino Group’s Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation donated 10 million yuan (US$1.56 million) to the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation for preserving and protecting the Great Wall. The donation will be used to repair a 1,255-meter-long section of the Great Wall, including restoring No. 67, 68, and 69 lookout towards and reinforcing the side walls near these towers. On top of this donation, the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation will organize for Hong Kong youths to regularly visit the Great Wall.

Singtel donates to help fund Esplanade’s first medium-sized theater. Singtel, a major telecommunications company in Singapore, is donating SG$10 million (approximately US$7.49 million) to help fund the Esplanade’s first medium-sized theater, the largest single donation the national performing arts center has received since it opened in 2002. This new theater will open in 2021 and be named after the company for 15 years.

Korean conglomerate launches foundation to address social problems. SK hynix Inc., the world’s second largest memory chip producer, announced that it would set up a philanthropic foundation to foster experts in the three fields of safety, health, and the environment (SHE). The company plans to provide ₩35 billion (US$32.6 million) to the foundation over the next 10 years. The foundation will work to cultivate experts who can tackle problems related to the SHE fields. It will offer scholarships to future leaders of society, provide support to research activities focused on SHE-related issues, and promote diverse projects with stakeholders to address these issues.

George Soros donates to help boost South Korean soldiers’ human rights. The Open Society Foundations (OSF), an international group advocating democracy and human rights founded by investor George Soros, has decided to provide US$200,000 to an advocacy group in Korea to help improve enlisted soldiers’ human rights. This marks the OSF’s first donation in Korea.

THE THINKERS

“Crowdfunding is changing the world for the better.” In this article, author William Hofmann explains the rise of charitable crowdfunding.  According to the author, crowdfunding reduces operating costs that are traditionally associated with setting up a formal nonprofit organization and initiating fundraising projects. “In other words, they are democratizing philanthropy,” says Hofmann. Within Asia, Singapore was cited as a noteworthy example, where GIVE.asia more than doubled its total donations from SG$4.5 million (approximately US$3.37 million) in 2016 to SG$11.2 million (approximately US$8.39 million) in 2017.

WealthAsia Media hosts the inaugural BENCHMARK Private Wealth Awards. The company, which gives out best practice awards in the Asian financial services sector, sought to recognize “visionary service providers” emerging to meet the needs of a new generation of asset holders. As heavyweight entrepreneurs in Asia hand over their businesses to a generation that is increasingly cognizant of the importance of sustainability and leaving positive social impacts, WealthAsia aims to raise awareness about and award responsible private banking and impact investing.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofit Indian mobile application saves lives by matching blood donors with patients in need. Having experienced a personal tragedy due to a failed frantic search for blood donors, Sushil Lalwani started a new mobile application called MBLOOD to bridge the gap between donors and receivers and connect them in real time. MBLOOD has so far raised about US75,000 in funding for the application, which will be nonprofit-making. Since it was launched in January with just 150 members, MBLOOD has built a fast growing network of users and lists over 2,000 registered blood banks across India.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung Electronics Indonesia donates solar-powered lanterns. Samsung Electronics Indonesia donated 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to two regencies lacking access to electricity, the East Kutai regency in East Kalimantan and the East Flores regency in East Nusa Tenggara. Following the donation, East Flores Regent Antonius Gege Hajon said, “It is just what we need. With these lanterns, children can study in the evening and women are able to finish their woven fabric orders faster.”

Coca-Cola launches Pakistan’s first ever digital donation drive. As an extension of the company’s “Bottle of Change” campaign which urges people to support the cause initiated by Abdul Sattar Edhi, Coca-Cola launched Pakistan’s first ever digital donation drive, the Coca-Cola Digithon. The Digithon went live on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page on June 5, 2018, hosting various celebrities and prominent figures to encourage the spirit of giving.

The Godrej Group reflects on its sustainability efforts over the last seven years. The results proclaimed by the Indian conglomerate, with operations in real estate, consumer products, industrial engineering, and other industries, are impressive. Among other achievements, the company has reduced its water consumption by a third, with 35% of water consumed being recycled. Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 45%, with energy from renewable sources up to the same amount.

THE INNOVATORS

Online charity platforms in China attract one billion donors. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, China’s recent charity law that came into effect in September 2016 has helped attract more than one billion online donors. A report by the China Philanthropy Research Institute also noted that in 2017, the 12 online fundraising platforms approved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs have collectively raised over 2.59 billion yuan (US$405 million). With this increase in use of technology to encourage individual giving came the call for increased transparency and accountability to verify the authenticity of suspicious fundraising projects and initiatives.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singaporean minister calls for increased volunteerism. In an effort to better address the issue of its rapidly aging population, Singapore hopes to double its volunteerism rate from one in three currently to 70% in five years’ time. At the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network’s (AVPN) conference, Miniter for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said, “We hope for Singapore to grow as a giving nation with a volunteer in every household.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Malaysian tax agency plans to re-investigate funds originally claimed to be a donation payment. The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) asys the RM2.6 billion (approximately US$651.72 million) allegedly received by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is now subject to further examination. Based on previous findings, the amount received was found to be a donation payment and had no income characteristics to be taxed. The IRB is expected to work closely with other relevant government bodies and newly formed task forces.