Who’s Doing Good?

15 April 2019 - 28 April 2019

THE GIVERS

Next-generation Asian philanthropists take an innovative approach to family foundations. Out of 146 countries and territories studied for the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2018, Hong Kong ranked 18th for charitable donations. Hong Kong family charities and foundations have long been generous givers, and the next generation is becoming more engaged and strategic in family giving. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services at HSBC Private Banking, states, “Most younger donors don’t want to be seen as a money machine. They want to bring their skills and abilities to the table.” These second- and third-generation philanthropists are moving their family foundations beyond check-writing and underscoring a larger trend of a growing formalization of philanthropy in Hong Kong.

China increasingly a nation of givers through online and mobile platforms. Chinese philanthropy has grown and evolved significantly over the past decade, exemplified by the total amount of domestic giving quadrupling from 2009 to 2017. While a total of US$3.3 billion in public donations have been made by China’s top 100 philanthropists, ordinary individuals have become vital contributors through the expansion of digital payment platforms and artificial intelligence. Through popular online and mobile payment platforms like Alipay, users have easy access to various philanthropic activities including donating second-hand items, donating blood, and planting trees. With this expansion, it is critical that online and mobile platforms improve supervising mechanisms and enhance cross-platform collaboration to strengthen, manage, and prevent crises that could damage public trust in the charitable sector.

THE THINKERS

New report highlights Asia’s growing interest and momentum in sustainable finance. Although Asia historically lags behind global counterparts in social investment, innovations are emerging throughout the region. The past decade has seen more institutional investors broaden their portfolios, governments establish social investment funds and enact supportive legislation, and corporations engage in impact investing and social enterprise mentoring. This momentum is driven by recent developments such as the growth of the green bond market, the issuance of green sukuks, and the support of ESG funds by governments across the region. While Asian businesses, governments, and investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their impact initiatives, they must collaborate to address multidimensional challenges and to catch up with more developed markets such as the United States and Europe.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong nonprofits building transitional homes to be exempted land charges. In an effort to lessen the financial burden on nonprofits and to encourage more community-initiated transitional housing projects, the Hong Kong government recently announced that charities that build transitional homes on private plots will be exempted from paying hefty land charges. According to the government statement, HK$2 billion (US$225 million) is also being set aside to support nonprofits in building transitional housing, and concessions will be given for other sites suitable for building transitional homes, such as vacant government sites and disused government premises. In Hong Kong, where the wait for public rental housing can be up to five-and-a-half years, transitional homes play a critical role in providing temporary relief for people stuck in poor living conditions.

THE BUSINESSES

Aloke and Suchitra Lohia speak with CAPS’ Chief Executive, Ruth Shapiro, on the launch of their IVL Foundation. Aloke Lohia, founder and CEO of Indorama Ventures (IVL), transformed a modest family business into a multi-billion-dollar international corporation. In addition to being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wool, yarn, and polyester, Indorama is also one of the world’s largest recyclers of plastic and leverages its global operations to promote the circular economy. In conversation with Ruth Shapiro for Hong Kong Tatler, Bangkok-based tycoons Aloke and Suchitra Lohia discuss the company’s initiatives supporting education, economic development, women’s empowerment, healthcare, and social enterprises. Through the IVL Foundation, the couple aims to further create meaningful change through strategic philanthropy that amplifies impact and spreads value throughout the company and the communities they work with.

Japan-based Kao Corporation announces new global ESG strategy. Kao Corporation, whose brand portfolio includes Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, and Molton Brown, recently announced its new global ESG strategy to promote a more sustainable way of living. The corporation’s “Kirei Lifestyle Plan” has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030. Kao aims to build upon the success of past initiatives, such as the adoption of refills and replacement packaging and the development of more compacted formulas, which together reduced the company’s plastic use in its packaging by 93,100 tons in 2018. For five years running, Kao has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

THE INNOVATORS

Jakarta-based investors weigh in on the difference between impact investors and traditional VCs. While tech-focused startups have the potential to create jobs and improve social welfare, there is debate on whether venture funds that invest in these startups should be labeled as social impact funds. There is difficulty in demarcating the boundaries of impact investors and VCs, but some practitioners encourage impact investors to differentiate themselves by justifying why they use that label, providing advice on measuring and monitoring impact, and investing where other people are not to close funding gaps. David Soukhasing, managing director at ANGIN, Tanisha Banaszczyk, investment manager at Convergence Ventures, and Melisa Irene, partner at East Ventures, weigh in on key characteristics that distinguish impact funds from their VC counterparts.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Healthcare workers, caregivers, and volunteers awarded for their work in Singapore. At the 16th Healthcare Humanity Awards organized by The Courage Fund, 83 people were recognized for their work in taking care of the sick and elderly in Singapore. One of the four categories recognizes volunteers who provide care or commit personal time to helping the nominating healthcare, social, and community care organizations. From fundraising by running ultra marathons to helping sailors with physical disabilities, the work of local volunteers was celebrated at the ceremony, and medals and cash awards were given by Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former mosque chairman jailed for siphoning SG$371,000 in donations. A former chairman of a mosque management board in Singapore was sentenced to jail for two years and three months for siphoning around SG$371,000 (approximately US$300,000) from donations over seven years. While delivering the sentence, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu highlighted that the use of the money was perhaps the most controversial aspect, as the former chairman had used some of the donations to pay off personal expenses and donated other large sums to charities for which he worked for and drew a monthly salary from. The judge underscored the detriment of any crime involving the misuse of charity funds and its consequent of public distrust in the charity sector as a whole.

Who’s Doing Good?

8 April 2019 - 14 April 2019

THE GIVERS

GS Group makes US$400,000 donation to help victims of recent Gangwon wildfire. In line with the GS Group chairman’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, GS Group affiliates have been engaging in various partnerships to address social needs. Last year, GS Retail signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to annually donate relief supplies worth ₩50 million (approximately US$40,000) and to transform GS25 convenience stores into emergency shelters during natural disasters. GS Retail quickly responded to the Gangwon wildfire that broke out earlier this month, teaming up with other relief organizations to provide emergency supplies to those who suffered from the wildfire. GS Group made an additional contribution to relief efforts with a ₩500 million (US$400,000) donation to Community Chest of Korea, the country’s largest welfare institution, to support the victims.

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun to give nearly US$1 billion to charity. The founder and CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, is receiving a bonus of more than 636.6 million shares for his eight years of contributions to the company. The Chinese smartphone maker went public in Hong Kong in 2018, and based on the stock’s current price, Lei Jun’s shares amount to approximately US$961 million. Last Wednesday, Xiaomi stated in a regulatory filing that Lei Jun promised to donate all the shares to charitable purposes. This comes weeks after another fresh bequest of shares, worth around US$7.5 billion, was made by Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, to his philanthropic initiatives.

THE THINKERS

Indian philanthropy still faces limitations, but leaders in the field can pioneer change. Education programs continue to receive the majority of philanthropic funding in India, and some analysts have suggested that too much philanthropic funding has been going to the education sector to the exclusion of other important social issues, such as violence against women. However, the growing philanthropic infrastructure augurs well for enhanced information about and transparency of the nonprofit sector, allowing for underrepresented nonprofits to access more partnerships and opportunities. Leaders in the field, including academic centers such as The Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University and prominent foundations such as the Azim Premji Foundation, are positioned to drive the discourse on more inclusive and impactful philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Social impact app, TangoTab, launches at Singapore’s first food bank community event.  Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Andre Angel, TangoTab is an app designed to serve the food-insecure, and it has donated over three million meals to partners in the United States. TangoTab has partnered with The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG), a registered charity that coordinates food donations with its network of over 300 nonprofits. The app was launched last week at Singapore’s first food bank community event, which fed 1,000 people. Every time a diner checks in to a partner establishment on the app TangoTab will make a donation to FBSG to feed a person in need. As studies show that seven in ten Singaporeans dine out for dinner and one in ten go to bed hungry every night, TangoTab will help the city take a step forward in assisting the food-insecure through its meal-for-a-meal platform.

THE BUSINESSES

Hilton Hotels Malaysia gives back to society. In a recent interview, the regional general manager of Hilton Hotels Malaysia, Jamie Mead, shared details of the group’s CSR initiatives that focus on education, youth development, and going green. Mead also highlighted the focus on functional CSR such as the hygienic recycling system implemented to avoid wasting the thousands of soaps that are thrown away every day. Of the ongoing CSR initiatives, Mead highlights the partnership with SK La Salle 2, Jinjang, to be especially meaningful to him as the close-knit relationships between the children studying at the school and the Hilton Hotels Malaysia volunteers greatly inspired him to continue giving back.

Tata Power trains farmers on sustainable agriculture. Exhibiting its commitment to the social development of local communities, Tata Power, India’s largest power generation company, recently trained over 950 farmers in 42 villages on sustainable farm practices. Under the Sustainable Agriculture Programme, landholding farmers were taught the best agricultural practices for staple crops, vegetables, and cash crops. The program also trained landless farmers to cultivate vegetables in their courtyards through a vertical farming program, helping tribal farmers in remote areas both raise their income and lead a healthier lifestyle with increased access to fresh vegetables.

Tata Trusts and Microsoft partner to empower handloom weaving communities. In an effort to rejuvenate handloom communities in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India, Tata Trusts and Microsoft will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education, and digital literacy to handloom weavers. The training will be delivered through Microsoft’s Project Sangam, a cloud solution for large-scale training programs with adaptive streaming and offline-mode learning, which empower communities to learn anytime and anywhere. In partnership with Tata Trusts, Microsoft aims to expand the program to the grassroots level and help weaving communities build a sustainable future. The chief program director of Tata Trusts stated, “Through this initiative, we want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”

THE INNOVATORS

BPI Foundation searches for promising social enterprises in the Philippines. The social innovation arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Foundation, has announced the launch of BPI Sinag Year 5. To widen the scope of its competition this year, BPI Sinag will hold roadshows in Davao, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Laguna. At each stop, social entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present a seven-minute business pitch, and the top 40 most promising social enterprises will win an opportunity to participate in a boot camp that will include training on business strategy, marketing, operations, finance, organization, and human resources development. Ten social enterprises with the most promising business viability and social impact will be named as awardees of BPI Sinag, with the top one to five receiving PHP 500,000 (approximately US$10,000) and the top six to ten receiving PHP 100,000 (approximately US$2,000) in grants.

Asia Pacific region found to be the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. A global survey by BNP Paribas of 347 institutional investors who have US$23 trillion in assets under management found that despite lagging behind other regions on sustainable investing, the Asia Pacific region is the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. While the survey showed that Asia Pacific institutional investors only allocated 15% of funds to ESG investment, falling short of the 18% global level, over half of Asia Pacific investors stated that they would allocate up to 75% of their funds towards ESG by 2021. As green investment gains traction, the region is also set to see new job opportunities emerge as around 50% of Asia Pacific institutional investors plan to hire external ESG specialists, while only 34% of global counterparts expect to do the same.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Youth volunteers in Bangladesh lead the way on climate action. Bangladeshi State Minister of Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, recently participated in an interactive roundtable, “Youth 2030: Working with and for Young People,” organized by the United Nations in New York. At the event last Tuesday, the state minister commended the nation’s young volunteers, stating, “The youth, especially the volunteers, have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s efforts on disaster risk reduction in early warning of the cyclone and emergency evacuation, effectively reducing deaths and injuries from natural disasters.” The state minister also highlighted the leading role of youth in not only volunteering efforts, but also in taking charge of on-the-ground climate action and social media campaigns against climate change.

Who’s Doing Good?

1 April 2019 - 7 April 2019

THE GIVERS

Korean celebrities give generously to Gangwon wildfire victims. On Friday, President Moon Jae-in declared a state of national disaster over the wildfire that affected the counties of Goseong, Inje, and Sokcho and the cities of Gangneung and Donghae. In the following days, the President designated these areas as a special disaster zone, which funneled in state money to help victims and support recovery, and a number of public figures made donations to support the affected communities. The largest donor was singer IU with a ₩100 million (approximately US$90,000) donation to ChildFund Korea, an international welfare service organization’s Korean arm. Coming from a range of celebrities, including K-pop idols and athletes, donations to victims in Gangwon Province have totaled US$330,000 as of Saturday and have complemented government efforts to respond to the disaster.

Tata Trusts awards 361 scholarships to students of Jammu and Kashmir. A new scholarship program, launched this year by the Tata Trusts, has selected 350 applicants for a two-year scholarship to pursue degree and diploma courses in education. A spokesperson for the Tata Trusts stated, “The Trusts had conducted an exercise to find out which states would benefit the most through support in promoting teaching as a career. Jammu and Kashmir emerged as one of the top choices.” In addition, 11 fine arts students of the University of Kashmir have been selected for the Tata Trusts Students’ Biennale National Award. The Tata Trusts has been supporting higher education since 1892 with the founding of the J.N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians, which was featured in CAPS’ report, “Giving Back to the Future: Scholarships for Higher Education.” This new annual scholarship underscores the Tata Trusts’ continued commitment to supporting higher education.

Azim Premji Foundation highlights the Wipro founder’s unwavering support and patience. With a strong belief that education is the fundamental non-violent way to bring about lasting social change, Azim Premji chose education to be a primary beneficiary of his philanthropic initiatives. Out of Premji’s initial dream of starting a liberal arts school in 1997 grew a philanthropic effort of around 2,000 people working in 50 districts across six Indian states and a university dedicated to education and development domains. CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, Dileep Ranjekar, lauds the Wipro founder’s continued support for the foundation’s work, stating that Azim Premji’s ability to appreciate and accept the inordinately long cycle time for social and educational change has enabled the foundation to work towards its long-term vision of social and educational change across the nation.

THE THINKERS

China’s philanthropy to unlock great potential. China’s philanthropy sector has quadrupled over the last decade, and private wealth has been a critical contributor to this growth. Donations from private companies and corporate foundations have dominated philanthropic giving, followed by affluent individuals and other types of organizations such as government agencies and public institutions. A recent report, published by AVPN and the Rockefeller Foundation, pointed out that the overwhelming share of corporate giving and individual donations in China has been largely stimulated by a rising awareness of social responsibility, favorable corporate tax incentives, and the country’s Charity Law passed in March 2016. While the report cautioned some barriers in China’s philanthropy ecosystem, such as a limited number of intermediaries able to help in sophisticated areas of philanthropy and a lack of data transparency, it expressed optimism as Chinese philanthropy burgeons alongside cutting-edge technology and a thriving digital sector, both of which are sparking a greater public interest in charity.

THE NONPROFITS

Pakistani nonprofit’s CEO named on Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs. The 28-year-old CEO of Seed Out, Zain Ashraf Mughal, secured a spot on the prestigious list of Asia’s top social entrepreneurs. Seed Out, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that works to eradicate poverty through interest-free micro-financing, has raised over 600 entrepreneurs in four Pakistani cities and put at least 1,600 children into schools. According to the World Bank in Pakistan, 90% of the workforce is highly entrepreneurial but it is estimated that 80% of them cannot apply for a traditional loan. Through Seed Out, donors can support social entrepreneurs through donating or lending to projects listed on the nonprofit’s website, ultimately providing social entrepreneurs the tools, training, and support to bring about innovative solutions to social and environmental issues.

THE BUSINESSES

Citi Foundation and United Nations Development Programme host second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit. On April 4th, the United Nations Development Programme and Citi Foundation collaborated with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Viet Nam Volunteer Center to host the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit in Hanoi. The project is the largest youth-led social entrepreneurship movement driving the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The event brings together over 500 delegates, including hundreds of youth, partners, and government officials from 20 countries, to exchange ideas and experiences and to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation. The initiative has benefitted over 2,500 young social entrepreneurs and has helped launch or improve nearly 500 social enterprises.

THE INNOVATORS

Fourteen young Indian social entrepreneurs make the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs. While the Forbes Billionaire List 2019 featured Indian business leaders including Mukesh Ambani and Azim Premji, a new cohort of young Indian leaders are being featured for their social-driven initiatives. Forbes Asia has released its annual Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, highlighting 300 outstanding individuals from 23 countries and territories in the Asia Pacific region. Fourteen young Indian social entrepreneurs were featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs for their work, which ranges from collecting unused clothes to making sustainable construction bricks out of plastic waste. These young social entrepreneurs are tackling pressing social and environmental issues facing their communities and are a growing cohort of leaders in the burgeoning social entrepreneurship space.

Global impact investment market rises to US$502 billion. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the size and make-up of the impact investing market and launched their landmark report, “Sizing the Impact Investment Market.” GIIN reports that the global impact investment market is sized to be currently worth at least US$502 billion, which is more than double the US$228 billion reported by GIIN last year in its “2018 Annual Impact Investor Survey.” According to the report, the majority of impact investors are based in developed markets such as the US, Canada, and Europe, and a smaller fraction of investors are based in Asia with 2% of investors in East Asia, 2% in Southeast Asia, and 3% in South Asia. While the impact investment market has grown rapidly over the past decade, there is still a need for trillions of dollars to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving significant room for the nascent impact investment sector to grow.

Villgro leads the way in supporting social enterprises through public-private partnerships. As India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators, Villgro has impacted over 19 million lives through its support for early-stage and innovation-based social enterprises. Since its founding in 2001, Villgro has been an exemplar of social enterprise incubation with its focus on deep sectoral expertise, high-touch mentoring, and public-private partnerships. Villgro has collaborated with the private sector, including Accenture and Rabobank, as well as with local and international governments to expand INVEST, one of the world’s largest social innovation programs. The incubator’s diverse partnerships serve as models for other intermediaries looking to bolster the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in their communities.

Who’s Doing Good?

11 March 2019 - 17 March 2019

THE GIVERS

Azim Premji boosts total philanthropic commitment to Rs1.45 lakh crore (US$ 21 billion). Last Wednesday, Wipro’s 73-year-old billionaire chairman announced a fresh bequest to his eponymous philanthropic initiatives. Premji stated that he will be giving 34% of his shares in Wipro, India’s fourth-largest software services exporter, to an endowment that supports the Azim Premji Foundation. This new bequest is worth about US$7.5 billion, making his endowment fund one of the five largest private endowments in the world and the largest in Asia. The India Philanthropy Report, which was released by Bain earlier this month, highlighted that India’s proportion of ultra-rich grew by 12%, and Premji’s largesse serves as a model for other ultra-high-net-worth individuals to follow and enhance their philanthropic giving.

K-pop star of the boy band BTS celebrates his birthday with US$90,000 donation. Suga, whose real name is Min Yoon-gi, celebrated his 26th birthday last Saturday with a US$90,000 donation to the Korean Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The nonprofit foundation helps fund treatment and surgery as well as provide emotional and learning support for child cancer patients. The K-pop star presented the donation, along with 329 dolls he personally designed, under the name of “ARMY,” his band’s fan club. Since debuting in 2013, the band has promoted giving back and recently expanded its worldwide anti-violence campaign in partnership with UNICEF. The band has inspired many of its loyal fans to donate to charitable organizations when it is one of its seven member’s birthday.

THE THINKERS

Research highlights public unease about doing social good and making a profit. The British Council’s latest report on social enterprises in Malaysia shows a surge in the number of social enterprises launching in the past five years; however, unfamiliarity with the concept of social entrepreneurship has stemmed the flow of capital into the growing sector. The nascent social enterprise sector, coupled with the lack of an official legal definition, has resulted in a public unease about doing social good and making a profit. While close to all of the social enterprises surveyed for the report said that they plan to grow, the flow of capital was cited as one of the biggest challenges for growth. More education on and awareness of social enterprises will be pertinent in assuaging distrust in profit-making social delivery organizations and encouraging more investment into the burgeoning sector.

Singapore’s finance minister encourages closer partnerships and more donations for building an inclusive society. The Straits Times reported last month that only an estimated five out of 100 people with disabilities are employed, and Singapore’s growing elderly population poses a greater demand for services for people at risk of age-related visual impairment. At a fundraising dinner for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat encouraged volunteers, companies, and donors to forge closer partnerships in building a more inclusive society. He also highlighted the importance of supporting organizations like SAVH to expand their services that improve the lives of the visually impaired. The government aims to also encourage more donations through its Bicentennial Community Fund, an initiative included in the 2019 Budget that will devote SG$200 million (approximately US$150 million) to the dollar-for-dollar matching of donations to registered charities in the coming financial year.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina encourages charitable work to spark social change. Last Thursday, four national celebrities were awarded the Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal for their contributions to society: politician and former Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, language movement veteran Rafiqul Islam, and painter Sahabuddin Ahmed. Prime Minister Hasina recalled the contributions of philanthropist Ranada Prasad Shaha, after whom the award is titled, and called others to take up charitable work and engage in philanthropy to propel social change in Bangladesh. As the country celebrated its National Children’s Day this past weekend, Prime Minister Hasina continued to affirm her government’s commitment to ensuring a brighter future for the country’s children through development initiatives.

THE NONPROFITS

Indian government’s regulations on foreign funding of nonprofits results in 40% decline in funds. The Modi government has tightened surveillance on foreign-funded nonprofits regulated under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), and since 2014, more than 13,000 organizations have lost their licenses. Nonprofits have played an invaluable role in uplifting India’s social sector, and while a recent report by Bain shows an increase in private funding in the social sector, domestic funding in its current state is insufficient compared to the flow of funds from large foreign foundations and international organizations.

Taiwanese environmental group showcases the role of nonprofits as agents of social change. The Ministry of the Interior revealed that there were more than 60,000 nonprofits operating at national and local levels in Taiwan by the end of 2018. One leading Taipei-based nonprofit, Society of Wilderness, is an exemplar of the pivotal role of nonprofits as agents of social change. Since its establishment in 1995, the nonprofit has helped reshape government policies, business practices, and public attitudes around environmental protection and conservation. With 11 branches nationwide, 6,000 paid-up members, 3,000 volunteers, and partnerships with various government agencies, the nonprofit has achieved noteworthy reach and social impact.

THE BUSINESSES

Top Korean conglomerate donates 10,000 air purifiers to elementary, middle, and high schools. In a recent executive meeting, LG Group and its chairman, Koo Kwang-mo, decided to have LG Electronics provide 10,000 large-capacity air cleaners to schools nationwide. In addition, LG will support Internet of Things-based air quality alert services and provide artificial intelligence speakers. The total price of the donation and support services amounts to around ₩15 billion (approximately US$13 million), and this comes after a donation of 3,100 air purifiers to 262 child welfare facilities earlier this year. An LG Group official highlighted the group’s understanding of its role in society and its aim to ensure children and teens have a healthy environment to live and study in.

THE INNOVATORS

Yue-Sai Kan to launch online sustainable fashion training for Chinese executives. Television producer, entrepreneur, and fashion icon Yue-Sai Kan has announced her decision to launch an executive education program in sustainable fashion for Chinese fashion executives. The free online course will be funded jointly by the Yue-Sai Kan China Beauty Charity Fund and WeDesign Group. The program is tailored to executives and professionals of Chinese companies engaged in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products and services and aims to impart knowledge on necessary tools to integrate strategies that support the environment while growing successful businesses. “Yue-Sai Kan is a visionary who understands that the future of fashion depends on sustainability,” said Simon Collins, co-founder, and CEO of WeDesign, adding that “China will play a very, very important role. It has the scale, the capacity, and the enthusiasm to impact sustainability on a global level.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

A new program in Singapore to encourage youth volunteerism in institutes of higher learning will begin in June. First announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu during the 2019 Budget debate, the volunteer training program is the result of a partnership between Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) and various institutes of higher learning. President Halimah Yacob, who is also the patron of YCS, said, “YCS will connect these youth with the larger volunteerism ecosystem to sustain youth volunteerism even after they graduate. Through the program, we hope that the youth will rally more of their peers to give back to society and to continue to volunteer beyond their studies.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal shelter nonprofit chief grilled over alleged euthanizing of stray pets and other suspected malpractices. Allegations against Park So-yeon, chief executive of the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), first surfaced two months ago. While her charity ostensibly advocated for animal rights to raise donations, it was revealed that 250 stray pets were euthanized secretly. Police are now questioning Park for the first time since they launched a probe into the allegations two months ago. On top of the alleged euthanizing of stray pets, Park is also suspected of embezzling funds from CARE sponsors and keeping them for her personal use such as real estate purchase and insurance payments. Despite the controversy, Park pledged not to resign from her role, citing “concerns over a power struggle by former workers.” Since the allegations, more than 1,000 sponsors have withdrawn their support.

Former mosque chairman in Singapore admits misappropriating more than SG$370,000 (approximately US$274,000) from donations over seven years. Ab Mutalif Hashim, 58, pleaded guilty to six criminal breach of trust charges, with another eight charges taken into consideration. Alongside his then role as chairman of a mosque’s management board, Mutalif was the executive director of the Just Parenting Association (JPA) which he had set up and president of registered charity Association for Devoted and Active Family Men (ADAM). During this time, Mutalif used mosque donations to pay for the expenses of the ADAM charity, as well as depositing funds into his own account and the JPA’s account in amounts ranging from SG$2,200 (approximately US$1,600) to SG$39,000 (approximately US$29,000). These funds were primarily spent for his personal and household expenses, while the JPA-directed funds are suspected to have covered his own monthly salary of SG$7,000 (approximately US$5,200) as the charity’s executive director.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Habitat for Humanity Philippines and University of Cebu formalize ₱5 million (approximately US$96,000) partnership. For the next three years, the University of Cebu will support Habitat for Humanity projects, including building new homes and training youth leaders through the Habitat Young Leaders Build Leadership Academy. Margarita Moran-Floirendo, Board Member and Ambassador of Habitat for Humanity Philippines stated, “The youth is one of the leading voices in supporting our advocacy. We are grateful that the University of Cebu is one with us in furthering our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” The program will focus on creating future socially conscious leaders through giving equal access to youth to gain and exercise leadership skills.

PM Narendra Modi to donate Seoul Peace Prize money to Namami Gange Programme. India’s Prime Minister received the Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, fostering economic global growth, and furthering the development of democracy. Modi has dedicated the US$200,000 prize money to the Namami Gange Programme, a flagship program of his government focused on abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganges river. Modi is the 14th recipient of the award, and past laureates include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and international organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

THE THINKERS

Despite an embryonic ecosystem, sustainable finance is growing quickly in China. High net-worth Chinese investors topped a UBS Group AG Global Survey assessing interest in sustainable investing last year, and new developments in both the public and private sectors are pushing this momentum forward. Leading impact investors highlight the array of opportunities for sustainable investing in China with an emphasis on clean energy as the country is the top target for clean energy investment globally. While 74% of wealthy Chinese investors—compared with just 32% of their U.S. and U.K. counterparts—expect sustainable investing to be the new norm in the next decade, the regulatory and legal framework that supports ESG investing still needs to be strengthened to make ESG data more reliable and impact investing less difficult.

AVPN and Prudence Foundation launch the Disaster Tech Innovation Programme. Singapore-based Asia Venture Philanthropy Network and the Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, announced the launch of their Disaster Tech Innovation Programme to raise awareness of “Disaster Tech,” innovative and viable technology solutions to protect and save lives before, during, and after natural disasters. The program will center on a competition for both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations to crowdsource innovative solutions to enhance existing disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia Pacific. The Prudence Foundation has been promoting disaster preparedness across Asia since 2013 and hopes to encourage more organizations to contribute in this area as the Asia Pacific region is the most affected by natural disasters.

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society founder, Ruth Shapiro, highlights India’s CSR mandate. In a recent interview, Shapiro discusses India’s progressive CSR requirements and the need for stronger monitoring to ensure compliance. Shapiro brings attention to India’s role as a leader in CSR and their potential to be an example for other countries in implementing similar requirements.

THE NONPROFITS

Tech platforms in India are helping CSR efforts connect with small nonprofits. As the first country to make CSR mandatory, India’s CSR initiatives have developed significantly over the past few years. However, most CSR projects partner with large nonprofits on their radar, leaving smaller nonprofits often overlooked due to lack of exposure and accessibility. Several online social platforms, such as social marketplaces, have developed in response to this geographic bias to fill the gap that exists between nonprofits and their causes, donors, volunteers, and corporates who want to collaborate. These online social marketplaces are now enabling corporates to engage with CSR activities that more closely align with their CSR mission by connecting them to nonprofits directly that are working in their selected cause.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung to invest more in education programs. As part of its CSR, Samsung Electronics plans to increase its investments in the field of youth education. On February 18, 2018, the company’s three division heads announced to employees that the renewed mission of Samsung’s social investment in education will be on “enabling people.” With this goal in mind, a particular target will be put on developing programs for teens. Although Samsung has conducted various CSR activities in the past, this announcement is notable in that it comes a month after its de facto leader and vice chairman Lee Jae-yong pledged to fully commit in taking on social responsibility as Korea’s leading conglomerate in a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House.

THE INNOVATORS

Machine learning can double social impact if sufficient data are available. Gaining attention at the center of international conferences and Davos-launched initiatives, machine learning is being heralded for its potential to drive social delivery. IDinsight, a nonprofit that uses data and evidence to help leaders in the social sector combat poverty, highlights four practical requirements for machine learning to accurately make predictions that allow nonprofits to enhance their impact. In employing machine learning tools to help Indian nonprofit Educate Girls, IDinsight discovered that high-quality predictor and outcome data, the capacity to act on predictions, and the ability to maintain the machine-learning algorithms are critical in ensuring relevant and accurate prediction models for informed decision-making. To truly drive social impact with machine learning, philanthropy and government will also have an important role to play in funding the collection of accurate and geographically representative data.

Joint philanthropy and impact investing can enhance efforts to meet SDGs. While impact investing and philanthropic giving have traditionally been seen as separate silos in the financial world, efforts to meet the demands of the SDGs are bringing the two forms of financing together. Many social and environmental projects that may have the potential to become viable impact investments need assistance in their early stages. Philanthropic financing can play a pivotal role in helping these organizations and projects evolve and become mature enough to attract impact investments. While the SDGs have been pushing both philanthropy and impact investing towards a common goal, stronger linkages between the two forms of financing can complement each other’s needs and requirements and scale impact to meet the huge demand.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore nonprofit, Willing Hearts, serves customized meals to the aging poor. Former businessman, Tony Tay, founded Willing Hearts, a nonprofit aid organization wholly run by volunteers that serves the aging poor in Singapore. With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, Willing Hearts prepares and delivers customized meals to more than 6,000 low-income elderly individuals every day of the week. Tay’s nonprofit has grown significantly over the years in response to the growing demand of an aging society, and Willing Hearts now offers additional services including dental care, optical care, and legal aid.

Who’s Doing Good?

04 February 2019 - 10 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Mukesh Ambani tops Hurun India Philanthropy List 2018. From October 2017 to September 2018, Ambani and his family donated Rs 437 crore (approximately US$61.4 million). Reliance Industries’ chairman was followed by Piramal Group’s chairman, Ajay Piramal, whose son recently married Ambani’s daughter. Piramal donated Rs 200 crore (approximately US$28.1 million) during the same period, in addition to giving Rs 71 crore (approximately US$10 million) for Kerela flood relief. Other notable philanthropists on this year’s list include the Premji, Godrej, and Nadar families.

Prince Charles unveils US$100 million fund for women empowerment in South Asia. The proposed fund, led by the British Asian Trust (BAT), will channel bond investors’ money to give half a million women and girls access to better education, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities over the next five years. The BAT will seek funding from the charity units of big banks for the initial risk investments and from national governments and other big donors for underwriting the final payment. Announcing the initiative, Prince Charles, called it the BAT’s “most ambitious venture to date.”

THE THINKERS

The Foundation Center and GuideStar merge to create Candid, a mega data portal. Two leading nonprofit and philanthropic intermediaries merge to create a data portal with a worldwide reach, combining years of research and experience in the social sector. The merge has been a decade in the making with top funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Lodestar Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid., and Jacob Herald, president of GuideStar, will serve as executive vice president. Operating with a budget of approximately US$38 million, Candid. will leverage both organizations’ complementary missions, datasets, and networks to be at the forefront of information-sharing in the nonprofit sector.

Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah call for more philanthropic giving at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019. According to a recent Oxfam report, Indian billionaires have added Rs 2,200 crore (approximately US$307 million) per day to their wealth, however in the “commitment to reducing inequality index,” India ranked 147 out of 157 countries. Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah, two leading female entrepreneurs and philanthropists, brought light to these numbers at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019, and they advocated for more giving to causes such as healthcare, education, and social protection. In accord, they encouraged greater engagement in philanthropy, calling on community members to devote more time and money to causes that address the country’s glaring inequality.

How nonprofits can help donor-advised fund philanthropists listen and learn. The use of donor-advised funds (DAF) has increased in popularity over the years as philanthropists seek greater impact through more organized and thoughtful forms of giving. As DAF donors work to enhance their giving portfolios, they should listen to feedback from the communities and individuals they seek to help. This enhanced communication between donors, intermediaries, and communities is an emerging trend in philanthropy, and DAF donors are poised to advance the practice of listening. The article highlights new approaches such as test-and-learn gifts, volunteering, survey and focus groups, and expert consultation.

THE NONPROFITS

Five Hong Kong charities that save the environment. Hong Kong Tatler highlighted five nonprofits for their work in environmental protection: Clean Air Network, EcoDrive Hong Kong, Ocean Recovery Alliance, Project C: Change, and The Nature Conservancy. As Hong Kong faces air quality and waste management challenges, awareness, education, and policy change will be pertinent in mitigating deleterious effects on the environment. Together, these nonprofits are raising awareness, connecting key stakeholders, and building more sustainable solutions for the future.

Nonprofits join in a campaign to reduce financial support for forest-risk businesses. According to new data released by the Forests and Finance campaign by the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Malaysian banks were the biggest funders of forest-risk activities and the least likely to have internal policies restricting environmental damage. RAN is joining forces with two nonprofits, TuK Indonesia and Profundo, to campaign for less financial support for forest-risk businesses including unsustainable palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, and timber developments, thereby reducing their negative impacts on the environment.

THE BUSINESSES

Marriot, the world’s largest hotel operator, partners with Generation Water to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. According to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, as much as 60% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from five Asian countries including Thailand. The growing tourism industry in Thailand is taking a detrimental toll on the environment, and industry leaders are recognizing their need to take responsibility. Marriot International’s director of operations for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar stated that the company understands its greater obligation and responsibility as its global footprint grows, and the hotel operator has partnered with the startup, Generation Water, to implement water plants that collect 4,000 liters of water a day from vapor condensation. Marriot has now been producing its own water for four months—reducing its number of used plastic bottles by more than 100,000 plastic bottles—and plans to expand water plants to all Marriot resorts in southern Thailand.

THE INNOVATORS

Venture fund, Quest Ventures, helps social organizations create and scale impact. A recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network has highlighted the significant growth of Southeast Asia’s impact investing ecosystem over the past decade, with US$904 million invested in the region by private impact investors. The venture fund firm, Quest Ventures, is joining other impact investors through its new impact fund to support startups addressing real-world problems. In the upcoming year, Quest Ventures plans to roll out their new fund and invest in 60 companies, 50 of them being social enterprises, in Southeast Asia to help entrepreneurs create and scale social impact in their communities. In addition to capital, the firm aims to support founders through their networks and mentorship services.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Number of volunteers in China hits hundreds of millions. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 100 million Chinese have registered as volunteers by the end of 2018. Specifically, approximately 12,000 volunteering organizations were registered by the end of 2018, collectively providing more than 1.2 billion hours of community service. A statement from the China Volunteer Service Federation said that more efforts will be made to encourage volunteers’ participation in public service and social governance, as well as improving the quality of their service.

Who’s Doing Good?

28 January 2019 - 03 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Vogue India lists most generous billionaires who are using money to address the country’s income inequity. The list features India’s richest trailblazers in philanthropy from Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, to Sangita Jindal, chairperson of the JSW Foundation. The list also highlights two of India’s billionaires, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Rohini Nilekani, who have signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet that asks billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. These twelve Indian billionaires lead the way in applying financial acumen to enhance impact, and their work is an inspiration for others to dedicate their wealth to address their country’s most pressing social issues from education to healthcare development.

THE THINKERS

Rohini Nilekani urges social sector to speak up about failure. In the social sector, success stories are celebrated with awards and funding, and this leads social organizations to quieten stories of failure. Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani highlights how this fear of failure in the social sector inhibits innovation and growth. The path to change at scale in the social sector needs experimentation; thus, the acceptance of failure is essential for the success of the social sector. Nilekani calls for more candid communication between social entrepreneurs and the philanthropic community and points to leaders in the sector to collaborate more, pool resources and experience, and take bigger risks to pave way for greater social impact.

“How charities can avoid turning off potential donors.” Sara Kim and Ann L. McGill, authors of “Helping Others by First Affirming the Self: When Self-Affirmation Reduces Ego-Defensive Downplaying of Others’ Misfortunes,” explore a common dilemma that charities face. That is, “charities dealing with distressing topics such as illness, starvation, or war have to walk a fine line: they need to increase awareness of what they do without turning off potential supports and donors.” The solution, according to Kim and McGill, lies in “self-affirmation.” The authors claim that if people were reminded of who they are at heart, they might be less likely to downplay others’ misfortunes because they would not feel threatened or defensive. Through multiple behavioral psychological experiments, the researchers observed results in which participants who completed self-affirmation tasks were more likely to donate to nonprofits with no personal relevance or connection. For example, male participants who completed the self-affirmation task read about a breast-cancer charity for longer and donated more money to it.

THE NONPROFITS

Shanghai charity makes English fun for migrant children. In recent years, a number of organizations have emerged to assist the children of migrant workers in China’s major cities. Stepping Stones, a volunteer organization that helps migrant children build fluency in English, is one of the longest-running organizations with more than 300 regular volunteer teachers. In a recent interview, the founder of Stepping Stones highlighted the legislative challenges the organization faced and the need for clearer legal guidelines and regulations for nonprofits in China. As the population of migrant workers continues to grow, organizations addressing needs of migrant children will need more support from the government and funders to emulate the same quality and scale of services that Stepping Stones has achieved over the past ten years.

Charitable foundation in China reported having spent over 250 million yuan (US$37 million) fighting poverty in 2018. Established in 2007 by the Central Committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association to prompt enterprise engagement in poverty relief and other charitable projects, the China Siyuan Foundation for Poverty Alleviation announced that it had spent over 250 million yuan to fight poverty in 2018. According to the foundation, around two million individuals benefited from its various programs—from medical care to education. In 2019, the foundation plans to spend a further increased amount of 265 million yuan (approximately US$39.3 million) for poverty alleviation.

Two Greenpeace offices shut after donation row. Environmental group Greenpeace announced it had been forced to shut two of its regional offices in India and had asked its staff to leave due to a block on its bank account after accusations of illegal donations. Since 2015, Greenpeace has been barred from receiving foreign donations, and India’s financial crime investigating agency froze the group’s bank account in October 2018.

THE BUSINESSES

Cathay Pacific enhances community engagement strategy with two new programs. Hong Kong’s home airline has partnered with Social Ventures Hong Kong to develop two new community engagement programs. The first initiative, “Cathay Changemakers,” recognizes positive contributions by Hong Kong residents and promotes their causes across a wide audience including passengers, employees, and business partners around the world. The second initiative, “World As One,” partners with the nonprofit VolTra to provide underprivileged youth, including ethnic minorities and reformed drug addicts, the opportunity to travel on volunteer work trips. Cathay Pacific hopes to effect greater social change by leveraging its strength in connecting people and places and by collaborating with partners across different sectors.

Courts Singapore employees help spring-clean homes of elderly as part of the company’s new CSR program. Courts Singapore has partnered with the nonprofit Care Community Service Society (CCSS) to launch its new CSR program: Courts Charity Home. Through the new initiative, Courts will donate products to beneficiaries served by CCSS, including elderly, at-risk youth, and disadvantaged children. To kick off the program, staff volunteers delivered new home necessities to underprivileged elderly, matched their wish-list items (such as rice-cookers and electric kettles), and helped spring-clean their homes. The launch of Courts Singapore’s new CSR program last week ushers in Chinese New Year with a strong charitable spirit and deepened commitment to service and community.

THE INNOVATORS

Globe Telecom brings digital donation channel to nonprofits. Globe Telecom, a major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines, made it easier for its over 8,000 employees and thousands of guests to donate to their chosen nonprofits through the use of GCash QR codes, raising almost ₱450,000 (approximately US$8,600) in just about two months. These funds were collected via the “Purpose Tree,” which was set up at the company’s headquarters in Manila. Any passer-by, including employees and visitors, can donate from their GCash account to their preferred charity by scanning the assigned QR code on the “Purpose Tree.” “In an era of mobile technology, potential donors want and expect to be able to act immediately. The use of GCash QR codes not only makes giving more convenient but also democratizes it. It puts control on the hands of the donors. They can choose their preferred NGO and donate any amount through GCash scan-to-pay online platform. This is much more efficient and larger in scale than traditional models like donation boxes and envelopes,” said Yoly Crisanto, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president for corporate communications at Globe Telecom.

Y Analytics launches to bring together capital and research for good. The impact measurement arm of TPG’s Rise Fund has branched off into an independent research organization—Y Analytics—to expand its research framework for informed decision-making to a larger network of investors. The organization will bring together leading economists, researchers, and capital allocators to evaluate and predict impact pre-investment and manage and measure impact thereafter. While the organization will build upon the Rise Fund’s “Impact Multiple of Money” system for informing capital in pursuit of change, it will also develop a research advisory council with partners including the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT and the World Resources Institute. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., Y Analytics will translate its new findings to both bolster the research basis for informed impact investing and advance knowledge in the field.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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.