Who’s Doing Good?

2 July 2018 - 8 July 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

18 June 2018 - 24 June 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

Source: India Development Review

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

4 June 2018 - 10 June 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

28 May 2018 - 3 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Three more Indian billionaires pledge to donate half of their wealth. The Nilekani, Shetty, and Bhusri families have joined the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit to dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Now in its eight year, the effort has expanded internationally with the addition of 14 philanthropists in the last year alone, bringing the total number of pledgers to 183 from 22 countries.

THE THINKERS

Gendered differences in impact investing? A new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis finds differences between men and women in their willingness to learn about, and participate in, impact investing. Overall, while men and women impact invest at similar rates, women are more interested in learning about impact investing, and are more likely to impact invest on top of their existing charitable giving.

“Effective altruism”: the head or the heart? To many, altruism is an appeal to the heart. The question of having their money well spent, however, is a perennial debate that seeming one can only agree to disagree: is making a wish come true for disease-stricken children a less worthy cause to buying bed nets for people in mosquito-infested area? This Economist article on ‘effective altruism’ continues the debate.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofits in Hong Kong push ahead temporary dwellings for people rather than profit. Hong Kong’s housing is one of the most unaffordable in the world, to the point that too many dwellers of the city can only afford to live in “cage housing”–small cubicle flats of 1.4 square meter s that cost an average of HK$1,500 (or US$192) per month, making them effectively more expensive than many of the posh apartments of Hong Kong. Nonprofits such as Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) are attempting to address the issue with their social housing scheme in a bid to provide temporary relief to those in need. Under the scheme, residents usually only have to pay rent of about a quarter of their household income, and are able to stay for a few years until they are allocated a public housing flat.

THE BUSINESSES

Enterprise Asia hosts its fourth International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Manila. Through its Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA), Enterprise Asia rewards companies for responsible business leadership and outstanding CSR contributions. William Ng, Enterprise Asia’s president predicts that companies’ approaches are evolving and shifting towards a ‘shared value’ model, where companies find opportunities to solve societal problems while obtaining something in return, rather than focusing only on philanthropy: “Every organization on Earth will eventually migrate into the ‘shared value’ model. Everyone, without exception.”

THE INNOVATORS

The Gates Foundation launches a grant to better understanding how education works around the world. For a foundation known for big investments, the grant is comparatively small, at US$68 million. Yet, the fund is uniquely problem-first: it specifically tackles the challenge of comparing educational achievements between countries, with the goal of enabling greater knowledge sharing across borders. India is the grant’s pilot country, thanks to its wealth of local organizations with “enormous capability and expertise.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

62,000 employees from Korean steelmaker Posco volunteer in 53 nations in their annual “Global Volunteer Week.” This is the ninth year that the event has been held, with volunteers engaging in events both at home and abroad, as far as Thailand and Indonesia, contributing to projects such as enhancing energy efficiency in residential areas and assisting with coral reef rehabilitation.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Thai King revokes seven senior monks’ ranks for money laundering and alleged embezzlement. Five of the monks are being held in custody and were previously residents of three of Bangkok’s most popular temples. They are accused of siphoning tens of millions of baht from development and Buddhism study funds, amidst a sweeping investigation into corruption in temples countrywide.

 

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.