Who’s Doing Good?

7 May 2018 - 13 May 2018

THE GIVERS

China’s “super rich” joins the world in upping their commitment to philanthropic causes. Who’s the most generous in China? According to the latest Hurun USA-China Philanthropy List 2018, which ranks the most generous individuals from the U.S. and China, He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group, an electrical appliance manufacturer, ranked fifth on the list with a US$1.18bn donation he made last July. Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande, a property developer, made it to the eighth with his donation of US$540m last year. Other renowned philanthropists on the top ten list include Bill Gates, George Soros, and Mark Zuckerberg. 76 in China, and 290 in the U.S donated more than US$5m in the last 12 months till March; education, in the form of scholarship, and healthcare remain the two most preferred cause among philanthropists in the two countries.

Regulatory hurdles hinder foundations and social enterprises in China to jump on the impact investing bandwagon. Charitable foundations and social enterprises in China are keen to allocate capital to impact investing funds that are in alignment with their social or environmental agenda, but many are struggling with regulations in using their funds as a non-profit entity, observed Amanda Zheng, principal at China Impact Ventures, adding that similar restrictions do not exist in markets such as Hong Kong.

THE THINKERS

Philanthropists and technologists discuss their role in unleashing tech potential for social good. Paula Goldman, vice president of Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, led a panel discussion at the Global Philanthropy Conference on ways to leverage data with sensitivity to tackle the world’s greatest social challenges. The funders and practitioners in attendance contemplated the implications to humanitarian sector in unleashing data, such as satellite imagery, and geolocation data for humanitarian work. Attendees also talked about the risks, tradeoffs, and the norms to be set for ethical data usage. Despite skepticism in Facebook’s data privacy policy as the data breach scandal continues to unfurl, Chaya Nayak, who leads Facebook’s “data for good” initiative, said “the same data that is really powerful in building profit for the company could be equally, if not more, powerful in solving some of the world’s biggest challenges,” with reference to the disaster map work Facebook developed for humanitarian purpose.

THE NONPROFITS

China-NGO relations: ten years on after Wenchuan earthquake. Many sees the 2008 earthquake at Sichuan a watershed towards greater trust between the Chinese government and the nonprofits, but they remain uneasy bedfellows: the government may have realized the prowess and agility of the NGOs in disaster relief, but suspicion of some of these NGOs’ motives remain.

THE BUSINESSES

Ride-hailing with a cause in India. Ola has recently launched a crowdsourcing initiative on its ride-hailing platform to support India’s critical social issues. Riders in India can opt to contribute a sum of one rupee per ride. In partnership with Tata Trusts’ Alamelu Charitable Foundation, the crowdsourced sum will be allotted to strengthen cancer care in India.

THE INNOVATORS

Virtual technologies can transform how nonprofits communicate their message. Virtual technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have huge potential to transform how social messages are delivered. In this article, Susan Bales and Andrew Goldstein share their experience in adoption and utilization of these technologies for social good, as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Ageing in place: Singapore trains volunteers to assist elderly in the community. The Singaporean government has trained volunteers, young and old, to engage with elderly in their neighborhood during their free time. Healthcare services and active ageing schemes available in Singapore are introduced to these volunteers in their training. As “Silver Generation Ambassadors”, they are expected to help point elderly residents in the community to the relevant support schemes depending on their needs.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

South Korea regulator steps up its battle in taming the chaebols (article written in Korean). The Fair Trade Commission (FTC), which is the most powerful economic/private sector-regulating body in Korea, officially announced in its meetings with corporate executives of top ten chaebols in Korea that it will investigate into 57 corporate foundations of major conglomerates to identify issues of corporate foundations in aspects of tax and corporate ownership succession planning. FTC is expected to roll out comprehensive regulations in regard to these particular aspects of corporate foundations in the near future.

Child rape charge against Canadian aid worker raises alarm on loopholes in monitoring humanitarian staffers. The recent arrest of a prominent Canadian aid worker on suspected child molestation in Nepal brings to the fore once again the issue of monitoring international humanitarian NGO staffers dispatched to areas in crisis. This issue is only aggregated by limited government oversight common under such circumstances. “The absence of strict regulations means aid groups can be used as a cover for human traffickers and predatory behavior by humanitarian workers,” said Pushkar Karki, the head of Nepal’s Chief Investigation Bureau, the agency overseeing the case.

Who’s Doing Good?

23 April 2018 - 29 April 2018

THE GIVERS

China’s tech billionaires make major donations to domestic universities. As President Xi Jinping urged businesses to step up innovation, CEOs of Baidu and JD.com and their spouses pledged hundreds of millions to Peking University and Tsinghua University. Baidu’s Robin Li Yanhong, his wife Melissa Ma, and the company jointly donated 660 million yuan (US$104 million) to Peking University, supporting cutting-edge research into areas that complement the company’s artificial intelligence technologies. Similarly, JD.com’s Richard Liu Qiangdong and his wife Zhang Zetian gave 200 million yuan (approximately US$31.6 million) to Tsinghua University for research into artificial intelligence, logistics, and other fields.

THE THINKERS

Singaporean government sets new guidelines for healthier food donations. Donating food products is one popular form of individual giving. In line with this trend, the Singaporean government’s Health Promotion Board has released its first set of guidelines for charities, voluntary welfare organizations, and individual donors to choose healthier products when making food donations for low-income families. Recommendations include having at least one item from each of the five main food groups (staples, oils, meat and alternatives, diary and alternatives, and fruit and vegetables) in each donation pack.

THE NONPROFITS

Malaysian charity wins award for refugee support. In recognition of its contributions to approximately 1,100 refugees, stateless people, undocumented students, and other marginalized groups in Kuala Lumpur, the Dignity for Children Foundation was awarded the second edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), which was established by The Big Heart Foundation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. As part of the award, the charity received US$136,000, also receiving a personal donation of US$1 million from Sharjah’s Dr. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi.

Vietnam Red Cross Society launches Humanitarian Month. On April 28, 2018, the Vietnam Red Cross Society and its Hanoi chapter launched the Humanitarian Month to promote good deeds among the public and enhance authorities’ sense of responsibility towards humanitarian activities.

THE BUSINESSES

Multinational pharmaceutical companies donate ₩25.9 billion (US$24 million) in South Korea last year. According to the Korea Research-based Pharma Industry Association, a total of 26 multinational drug companies donated a combined ₩25.9 billion (US$24 million) in South Korea last year. The 2017 amount accounts for 0.48% of their total revenues and represents a five percent increase from the previous year. The calculated amount includes money donated to various charities, as well as goods and merchandise used during CSR activities.

THE INNOVATORS

Korean steelmaker builds sustainable steel housing. Posco, a major steelmaker in Korea, is using its business expertise to provide sustainable steel homes, playgrounds, and bridges in Vung Tau, Vietnam. This “Steel Village” program has been selected by the United Nations as a leading best practice model for the Sustainable Development Goals.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Meet the Chinese charity worker helping children in Syria. Through his small nonprofit organization called LoveZone Charity Foundation based in Suzhou, China, Zhuang Zhi supplies prosthetic limbs to children in Syria. Zhuang first thought access to education for Syrian children was an important area for him to work in, but after consulting the Syrian ambassador in China and his wife, he shifted his focus to providing mobility to disabled children. As a first step, Zhuang and his organization sent about 300,000 yuan (US$47,300) in donations and visited Damascus in last August. Zhuang now has an ambitious goal of building a factory that could make artificial limbs for about 3,000 children a year.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Singapore Commissioner of Charities finds “severe mismanagement” at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. The Commission of Charities (COC) found instances of “severe mismanagement” at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple at Serangoon Road, one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples. In particular, suspected offenses pertained to mismanagement of the religious charity’s funds and assets. For example, key officers had “prevalently issued uncrossed cheques and allowed uncrossed cheques to be exchanged for cash in the Charity’s premises.”

Who’s Doing Good?

26 February 2018 - 4 March 2018

THE GIVERS

President and First Lady of Korea donates to Winter Olympics figure-skating pair. President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook each donated US$500 to a crowdfunding campaign for figure-skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin, who shared stories of how they worked part-time to cover training expenses due to lack of private and public funding. With the news of this donation from the President and the First Lady, the campaign was able to receive widespread public spotlight and has raised over US$100,000 so far.

Korean gaming company launches charitable foundation. Nexon, a major gaming publisher in Korea, launched the Nexon Foundation, donating ₩5 billion (US$4.7 million) from the company’s funds. The foundation will lead the company’s CSR efforts and initiatives, including the construction of a children’s rehabilitation hospital. Kim Jung-wook, vice president of the company, will serve as the Chairman of the foundation. The foundation will also push for projects outside of Korea under a separate entity, Soho Impact.

THE THINKERS

UNDP says Indonesians have the potential to donate US$16 billion through zakat to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP Indonesia has launched the Innovative Financing Lab, a Country Support Platform that aims to contribute to the SDGs by harnessing the country’s potential for religious giving and private investment. According to UNDP Indonesia, 79% of Indonesians donated money in the past month, and if every eligible Muslim pays US$74 annualy, the country could generate US$16 billion. UNDP Indonesia will also partner with BAZNAS, the state zakat collection agency, marking the first time a zakat organization committing to the SDGs.

Manish Dubey explains “why middle-class India hates NGOs.” In his opinion editorial, Dubey argues that middle-class Indians hate NGOs primarily due to their advocacy-oriented activities against the government’s development agenda and due to raising their issues of concern in the international arena. These two behaviors, according to Dubey, portray NGOs as “anti-development” and “treasonous.” “At the heart of middle class Indians’ contempt for NGOs lies the fear that NGO action may at some point in time achieve the re-setting of power balances and the re-ordering of development priorities it aspires to.”

In collaboration with Dasra, Bain & Company releases its eighth annual India Philanthropy Report. Through case studies and in-depth interviews with more than 33 philanthropists, Bain & Company identified four key mindsets that will help philanthropists achieve their full potential. Most notably, the management consultancy has recommended that philanthropists adopt a “future back” lens in planning their philanthropic journeys. That is, they should begin with a greater, long-term vision and work backwards to identify key steps necessary to execute the vision.

Two Singaporean Members of Parliament (MPs) propose to allow people to donate their government-granted one-off hongbao (red envelop of monetary gift). In this year’s government budget, Singapore announced it will grant a one-off hongbao of between SG$100 (approximately US$75) and SG$300 (approximately US$227). Two MPs, Denise Phua and Lim Wee Kiak, proposed that the government allow Singaporeans to choose if they want to donate this money to charity, arguing that their proposal is in line with one of the focuses of this year’s budget in fostering a spirit of giving. Lim added that the government should also provide dollar-for-dollar matching to incentivize this proposed hongbao giving.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong organization highlights the concerning issue of homeless people who spend their nights in McDonald’s. According to a study by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), the number of homeless people who spend their nights in McDonald’s, often known as McSleepers or McRefugees, has increased by 50% in three years. SoCO has also highlighted the issue of vulnerability of women within this group of people, finding that 11.2% of the people surveyed in its study were women. SoCO has called on the government to provide more subsidized dormitories for women and in the long run, to turn vacant public spaces into social housing.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean pharmaceutical company aligns sales performance and strategy with social contribution. Under the “Action Contribution Campaign,” Dong-A ST will set aside a donation fund whose amount will depend on the number of client visits made by the company’s in-house sales representatives. The campaign will last until October 2018, and the company plans to donate the funds to a charity organization on December 1, 2018, the anniversary of the Dong-A Socio Group.

Small market research firm overcomes size with pro bono work in giving back to the community. Toluna’s Singapore office was not stopped by its lean team of 15 staffers in doing good. Unable to schedule manpower to take time off for consistent volunteering, Toluna as a firm decided to instead provide pro bono use of its expertise and services. Experienced in digital analytics, Toluna has worked in collaboration with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre to provide quality data analysis helpful for encouraging people to start giving back to society. With upcoming expansion in the region, Toluna is looking forward to being involved in hands-on volunteering projects as well.

Korean retail conglomerate donates ₩240 million (US$222,000) as reward money to national curling team. Shinsegae announced its decision to give funding in rewards to the country’s national curling team. The prize money will be given to 21 members of the national team, including 12 athletes and the coaching staff. Shinsegae’s involvement in the curling sport in Korea dates back to its first sponsorship agreement with the Korea Curling Federation in 2012.

THE INNOVATORS

Code for Nepal comes up with Merobook, an online platform for book donation. Lack of access to basic educational resources such as textbooks is a major challenge facing students in Nepal, particularly those in remote areas. Even government-owned publishing organizations are not able to deliver the books on time. Code for Nepal has come up with an alternative solution, an online book donation platform where students in need can communicate with book donors to find their own ways to receive the necessary materials.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Filipino volunteers help with Greenpeace “Rainbow Warrior” ship’s journey around the country. “Rainbow Warrior,” Greenpeace’s iconic environmental awareness campaign ship, arrived in Manila last month for a 20-day tour around the country to promote climate justice. The article highlights several volunteers from different walks of life across the country who have come on board to support the cause of climate justice.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Chinese ministry identifies suspicious NGOs. Since the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has identified about 250 suspicious NGOs in the country. A staff member said that the list of names was released to alert the public about potential fraud. Oftentimes, the names of these NGOs would contain “China,” “national,” “global,” or “UN,” all of which suggest government endorsement, affiliation, and support. According to the ministry, more than 300 fakes and illegal organizations have been banned in the last three months.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 February 2018 - 11 February 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese home appliance-maker’s founder tops the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists for the first time. He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group Co., Ltd., donated 6.8 billion yuan (US$1.09 billion) to charity last year, topping for the first time the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists published by Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute. According to the same report, the top 100 givers in China donated a total of 23.3 billion yuan (US$3.68 billion). In comparison, the top 50 givers in the United States donated US$12.2 billion to charity in 2016.

In the wake of the Hualien earthquake, donations from Taiwanese philanthropists pour in. Including those from ultra-high-net-worth philanthropists, total donations (as of February 8, 2018) to disaster relief funds for people affected by the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, is reported to have exceeded NT$600 million (US$20.42 million). List of notable companies and organizations includes: Hon Hai Precision Industry, Formosa Plastics Group, Lin Rung San Foundation of Culture and Social Welfare, Union Bank of Taiwan, Pegatron, and Fubon Financial Holding.

Prince Charles launches education impact bond for India. With the support of the British government’s Department for International Development, Comic Relief, the Mittal Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and philanthropists like Sir Ronald Cohen, the US$10 million Development Impact Bond (DIB) aspires to help improve education for over 200,000 children in India. The DIB is the largest bond of its type in South Asia and is the latest fundraising initiative by the British Asian Trust, which was set up by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia.

THE THINKERS

SK plans to launch research unit on social enterprises. In March, the South Korean conglomerate will establish and fund a nonprofit research foundation on issues relating to social enterprises. Chey Tae-won, Chairman of the SK Group, has been a longtime supporter of social enterprises in Korea.

THE NONPROFITS

Doctor and his healthcare charity win the The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award. Dr. Goh Wei Leong and his team have been named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year, an award organized by The Straits Times and sponsored by UBS Singapore. Dr. Goh co-founded HealthServe, a healthcare charity in Singapore that provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare and other social services.

THE BUSINESSES

Hyundai Motor supports the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics by providing 4,100 vehicles and ₩50 billion (US$46.95 million) donation. On top of the logistical and financial contributions it has made to PyeongChang, Hyundai has been an active supporter of winter sports in Korea, developing upgraded bobsleighs and providing coaching staff for the country’s national team.

THE INNOVATORS

Grab and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) join forces to raise funds for supporting vulnerable communities. Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading on-demand transportation and mobile payments platform, and its customers will now be able to convert GrabRewards loyalty points to a donation to the IFRC. Such partnership is the IFRC’s first fundraising initiative globally to use a smartphone application.

The Tata Trusts launches the “Social Alpha Energy Challenge” to find high-impact innovations that could catalyze system change in the field of energy. The challenge is managed and run by the Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), which supports innovative, technology-based solutions for social impact. It specifically focuses on clean technology, sustainability, and energy efficiency and will select a maximum of 10 winners, whose ideas will receive incubation and other forms of support from the Tata Trusts.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Charity and volunteerism help fight aftermath of the Hualien earthquake in Taiwan. On top of the reported total of NT$600 million (US$20.42 million) in charitable donations, many are offering to help as volunteers utilizing their resources and skills. Hsu Tang-yu from Taichung, for example, showed up in Hualien to provide rescue workers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart, while a team of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners set up a station to treat rescue workers’ back pain and sore muscles.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

A Hong Kong millionaire’s bribery case in Africa shows another incident where a donation and NGO status are abused as a bribery vehicle. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary and founding chairman of an energy NGO registered in Hong Kong and the United States, was alleged to have drafted a letter to the President of Chad expressing a Chinese company’s desire to make a US$2 million “donation” to support “social and other programs as [the President] see[s] fit.” Ho’s bail application and request to be put under house arrest were rejected.

The Business of Green

Society of Ecology & Entrepreneurs (SEE): Creating the conditions for environmental philanthropy to thrive

A community of like-minded business leaders joined forces to fight deforestation and drive forward China’s environmental movement.

“It started with planting trees,” said Zhang Li, the current secretary general of SEE Foundation. The original aim of the association was to mobilise the resources of China’s newly rich entrepreneurs to take on the problem of desertification in the Alashan Region.

But this would be merely the opening act of an organization that grew into a national network of nearly 600 entrepreneur members, including high-profile figures from the real estate, construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors. SEE’s members would come to include some of China’s most successful and prolific corporate faces, including Wang Shi, chairman of Vanke, the world’s largest real estate developer; Feng Lun, chairman of real estate leader Vantone Holdings; Chen Dongsheng, chairman of Taikang Life Insurance; and Pan Shiyi, chairman of property company SOHO China. The work of the organization would expand to include support for national ecosystem conservation and nature education, green supply chains, pollution prevention, and development of China’s grassroots environmental NGOs.

Evolution and Revolution

Telapak: Seeking Natural Resource Justice for Communities

From investigative journalism to sustainable logging — and now advising the world’s largest companies on community engagement — Telapak has been unwavering in its mission for an environmentally conscious Indonesia.

Telapak began life as a group of young activists, conducting investigations on illegal
logging activities and raising awareness of the detrimental effects on the environment and local communities. Over the years, Telapak has shifted from investigating environmental and social injustice toward finding solutions. “History has shown us that investigation and criticizing the government alone is not enough,” said Zaini. “So we now have to become part of the solution.” This pivot has paid off for Telapak, which has since assisted the development of dozens of sustainable logging cooperatives, and it has implemented numerous development projects to help communities protect and benefit from their environmental resources.

Landwasher: Guardian of the Blue Earth

Leveraging business solutions for environmental impact in China

Recognizing the severity of the environmental challenges facing China, investor-turned-entrepreneur Hao Wu set up an environmental enterprise for waterless toilet solutions to directly address issues of water scarcity, sanitation and hygiene.

Under Wu’s leadership, Landwasher has become China’s top waterless toilet-solution provider, growing from a team of three to a RMB 60 million (around US$10 million) company employing some 160 people by 2013. Landwasher has so far installed more than 10,000 of its toilets across the country, posting average annual revenues of RMB 40 million (around US$7 million), making it China’s market leader in environmental toilets. The environmental value of its waterless toilets has been at the heart of Landwasher’s mission from its inception, which according to Wu, has helped to differentiate the product from the competition.

Changing Lives with the Gift of Water

Lien AID: Enabling the Rural Poor to Protect Their Health

By helping villagers in rural communities become owners and operators of their own water facilities, Lien AID through its clean water and sanitation programmes has improved the health and well-being of thousands of rural poor in Cambodia and elsewhere in Asia.

The Lien Foundation was established by prominent Singaporean banker and entrepreneur Dr. Lien Ying Chow. Orphaned at age 10 and without a formal education, Lien established the foundation in 1980 with almost half of his wealth to give back to society what it had given to him. Lien AID was incorporated in 2006, with the mission to improve living conditions in developing communities in Asia and as an autonomous vehicle to champion the foundation’s interests in water and sanitation.

By the end of 2014, Lien AID had reached about 682,000 direct beneficiaries in poor communities across Southeast Asia and China. It had built more than 1,300 water facilities and 22,000 toilets. It had made water and sanitation accessible for more than 200 schools and 2,800 villages as well as 59 healthcare facilities. In Cambodia alone, Lien AID had implemented 43 community-based water social enterprises by May 2015 and is looking to deliver at least 18 more by 2018.

Protecting and Saving Marine Life

Coral Triangle Center: Leading the Fight against Destruction and Extinction

A small but influential local NGO based in Indonesia is helping nations across the Indo-Pacific Ocean implement programs to promote the sustainable use and aquatic wonder of their coastlines.

The Coral Triangle Center (CTC), a local NGO headquartered on the Indonesian resort island of Bali is at the forefront of a major international movement to protect coral reefs and fish from destruction or extinction.

The NGO’s name comes from the roughly triangular shape of a 5.7 million square kilometer area of the Indo-Pacific Ocean formed by the coastlines of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. The nations are scrambling to regulate the use of coastal waters and teach the 120 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods and the millions more who come as tourists how to protect ecosystems that are under siege from many threats.  Since its founding in 2011, the CTC has been a leader in a campaign marked by growing urgency over the sustainable use of marine resources.

Turning New Leaves

TreePlanet: Changing attitudes toward forestation in South Korea

Tech-savvy social enterprise TreePlanet leverages growing environmental awareness, current cultural obsessions, and high internet productivity to develop profitable products and services that are designed to get consumers engaged with environmental causes.

“We are a tree-planting company,” said Kim Hyungsoo, co-founder and chief executive officer of TreePlanet. Since 2011, the small enterprise has used revenue from various sources — mobile game advertising, product licensing, and crowdfunding — to pay for forestry initiatives that have resulted in the planting of more than half-a-million trees across working orchards, anti-desertifi cation projects, and urban parks. But Kim’s literal description of his company belies its true purpose — TreePlanet is in fact a project in raising awareness. As important, if not more so, to funding forestation projects is the goal of changing the attitudes of its customers, which TreePlanet does by facilitating a personal
affiliation with forestry projects.