Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Giving Back to the Future

Scholarships for Higher Education

Our study finds that scholarships for higher education are highly impactful, at the individual, community, and country levels.

For an individual, receiving a scholarship makes attending university possible. It means greater earning power, greater confidence and motivation, and a greater desire to influence other lives through leadership.

At the community level, we observe that most scholarship recipients want to give back and do so by volunteering. They want to change society for the better by pursuing careers in education, the government, and the social sector.

The aggregate effect for the country is human capital development, which drives economic growth. Scholarships also help offset increasing tuition costs across Asia and mitigate income inequality by making it possible for low-income students to attend university.

A single scholarship enhances 26 lives on average, including the scholar, her family, the students she mentors and leads, and the community members she volunteers for.

We also present a toolkit for enhancing the effectiveness of scholarship programs. The toolkit showcases both the “why” and “how” of setting clear goals, improving communication and engagement with scholars, and enhancing their employability and career success. These strategies can magnify the impact of scholarships for students, donors, and governments.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 September 2018 - 9 September 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

27 August 2018 - 2 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Indonesian medal winners contribute towards Lombok cause. The series of earthquakes that hit Lombok has killed more than 500 people and caused damages worth more than US$500 million. In support of the relief efforts, Indonesian athletes and medalists at the Asian Games have offered to contribute a share of their winnings. Badminton men’s singles winner Jonatan Christie said he would contribute part of his US$102,000 winnings to the cause, while other badminton medalists offered to auction off their jerseys and rackets to raise funds.

THE THINKERS

Alibaba Foundation and UCWeb to host philanthropy conference in New Delhi, India. The Alibaba Foundation and UCWeb, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group, will host a week-long global forum of the Xin Philanthropy Conference 2018 in India starting September 5, marking the first time that part of the conference is to be held outside China. The conference will focus on education, child protection, and women’s empowerment and feature prominent public speakers from public policy, global welfare, business, and science.

THE NONPROFITS

Chinese charities required to disclose information starting in September. According to a regulation issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, charities should publicize various information in a complete and timely manner starting September 1. The range of information includes a charity’s yearly work, financial accounting reports, major asset changes, transactions, investments, public funding, and other projects. According to the newly issued regulation, which is based on the Charity Law from 2016, charities that fail to disclose such information can be reported to civil affairs authorities by any other organization or individual.

THE BUSINESSES

China’s Huawei appeals to Korea through CSR programs. As part of its ongoing efforts to give back to Korean society since it first entered the Korean market in 2013, Huawei launched an incubating program for young local information technology talents. Named “Seeds for the Future,” the two-week-long program hosted 10 Korean engineering students at its headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The students were additionally invited to visit the Beijing Language and Culture University to experience China. Other CSR projects in Korea run by Huawei include granting scholarships and running annual contests for young female software engineers.

Hermes Taiwan collaborates with an intellectually disabled student artist to sell limited edition scarves for charity. Hermes Taiwan teamed up with Chou Ti-chuan, an intellectually disabled student at Taipei City Yangming Home for the Disabled, to design and create a limited edition scarf whose proceeds will be donated for charity. The scar will be priced at NT$6,800 (US$221.67) each, with only 600 available in the market.

THE INNOVATORS

Singaporean social enterprise baits charity donors with luxurious lucky draw prizes. The Given Company, a new social enterprise in Singapore, is raising money for charities by enticing donors with luxurious lucky draw prizes such as cars and private apartments. The company plans to take a commission of about five to 10 percent from each donation for subsequent draws to help pay for the prizes and other operating costs. The Given Company’s business model is triggering controversies and public debates around what the right motivation should be behind individual giving and the legal validity of this fundraising model in terms of Singapore’s relevant regulations and legislation.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Pilot program for youth leadership partners young leaders with social service organizations. Youth Corps Singapore initiated a new 10-week immersion program that placed 22 youth leaders for full-time work at 12 social service organizations, helping more than 1,900 beneficiaries and tackling social issues like care for the environment, the elderly, and people with special needs. “The objective is for our Youth Corps aspirants to develop a better understanding of the social sector and to acquire skills in serving the community,” said Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Facebook donation drive scam uses a photo of a comedian’s sick daughter. A picture of comedian Mark Lee’s sick five-year-old daughter was allegedly used in a Facebook donation drive scam. Lee and his wife said on social media last week they were alerted to a Facebook post soliciting donations using a picture of their daughter in a hospital war. The post had asked for SG$200,000 (approximately US$146,000). Such scams highlight the potential risks of donation drives done online and on social media, said multiple charity experts in the country. Andy Sim of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre said online fundraising is a useful tool but faces a risk of fraud, while Tan En of crowdfunding platform Ray of Hope Initiative said, “The crowdfunding sector here is very small. There are only a few platforms, so whenever there is a scandal, people get skeptical.”

 

Who’s Doing Good?

20 August 2018 - 26 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese billionaire shares his story of donating for brain research. Shanda Investment Group founder Chen Tianqiao has dedicated US$1 billion to help with brain research, saying that a better understanding of how the brain works could help better treat mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. His donations include a US$115 million gift to the California Institute of Technology and a 500 million yuan (approximately US$72.9 million) to the Fudan University-affiliated Huashan Hospital. In this interview with Bloomberg, Chen shares his thought on the field of brain research and his philanthropy.

THE THINKERS

New financial disclosure requirement brings further confusion to the charitable sector in Hong Kong. Vincent Cheng (CAPS) analyzes the Hong Kong government’s requirement stipulating all charities to release audited financial accounts of their public fundraising activities. Intended to address public concerns over costly charity fundraisers, he believes the measure will instead further deepen public misperception and mistrust of overhead costs, and penalize less established charities with an even greater administrative burden. For the English version, click here.

Corporate giving – when cash isn’t always best. Cash continues to be the preferred form of giving for the company in Singapore, with perceptions that larger the monetary donation the merrier, a program of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre finds. SME which makes up over 90% of enterprises in Singapore suffer from this mindset, leaving them feeling like they have nothing to give. But the trend is gradually shifting in a healthy way. Companies are found to diversify their engagement with charities, such as in-kind donations, purchase of goods and service from non-profits, and volunteerism. They are also exploring ways to give more effectively.

Study finds Korean conglomerates’ dominance in the economy, including corporate donations. A new study by the Korea Economic Research Institute found that the 31 largest conglomerates in Korea account for two-thirds of the country’s facilities investment and exports, as well as close to half of research and development investment, donations, and market capitalization. In particular, with 2.4 trillion (approximately US$2.4 billion) in 2016, these companies made up 51.4% of all corporate donations. “The chaebol groups are leading Korea’s economic development and playing an important role in boosting the people’s quality of life,” said Yoo Hwan-ik, the head of innovative growth at the institute.

THE NONPROFITS

Chinese NGOs to offer its development model abroad. A MoU between China NGO Network for International Exchanges and Social Welfare Council (SWC) of Nepal has initiated a deal to allow 30 Chinese NGOs to enter Nepal. This deal is seen to be a part of China’s “Going Global” formulated in 2001 to further its “public diplomacy” abroad. Chinese NGOs, such as One Foundation, and the Amity Foundation, first entered Nepal in 2015 to support victims of a mega-earthquake.

THE BUSINESSES

Apple donates US$1M to Kerala flood relief efforts. After opening iTunes’ donation mechanism earlier this week to help victims of the Kerala floods in India, Apple pledged Rs 7 crores (approximately US$1 million) to support Mercy Corps efforts in the region. Apple has in the past made direct contributions to relief and rehabilitation efforts, including a US$2 million donation for Hurricane Harvey relief, and US$1 million for last year’s Southern California wildfires. The company also donated US$1 million to a Chinese NGO after heavy rains caused massive flooding along the Yangtze river in 2016.

First National CSR Awards in India now opens for nominations. The Corporate Affairs Ministry of India has invited entries for nominations for the first-ever National CSR Awards. “MCA has instituted National CSR Awards 2018 to recognize corporate initiatives in the area of CSR to achieve inclusive growth along with inclusive and sustainable development,” the Ministry said. The enactment of Companies Act, 2013 has made the CSR mandate a part of corporate functioning.

THE INNOVATORS

Crowdera: This crowdfunding platform is creating a ‘giving economy’ by connecting do-gooders with those in need. India is well-versed with the concept of crowdfunding, especially when it comes to seeking aid in the form of donations during medical emergencies and natural calamities. Crowdera has launched the latest efforts “Stand with Kerala”, where the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund is accepting donations made through Internet banking, RuPay cards, Paytm and bank transfers. The startup is also working to make fundraising “a sustainable process”, so that, in a year or a two, fund-seekers can look at previous donors on the platform for further fundraises.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean Air volunteers build homes in Bicol, Philippines. Korean Air’s volunteer group “Didimdol” flew to the Bicol region of Philippines to volunteer for the local community. They helped the local residents of the village to build homes as well as provide free meals at the slum areas and elementary schools. As one of the world’s top 20 airlines, Korean Air continuously supports global volunteer activities in order to perform its corporate social responsibility.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Japanese charity telethon faces criticism over squanders on charitable donations. People—with great goodwill—donate money to support charitable endeavors. To their dismay, they soon find out that a considerable portion of their donation does not go to the intended cause. The donor feels deceived. This was the case of Nippon TV’s charity telethon, “24-Hour Television”, which raises money for charitable causes. Much of the 7 billion yen (approximately US$ 63 million) raised last year is said to be deducted for production expenses: two emcees of the show last year were allegedly paid 5 million yen (approximately US$50,000) each, and a celebrity “volunteer” was paid 10 million yen (approximately US$90,000) to participate in the show. Many deemed the show hypocritical.

Who’s Doing Good?

13 August 2018 - 19 August 2018

THE GIVERS

United Arab Emirates-based Indian-origin tycoons pledge Rs 12.5 crore for Kerala flood victims. Nearly 200 people have been killed in Kerala since August 8 due to floods caused by rains and landslides. Indian-origin businessmen from the United Arab Emirates have sworn to do their bit by donating money. Born in Kerala, Yusuff Ali M.A., chairman and managing director of Lulu Group, has announced a Rs 5 crore (approximately US$717,600) donation. K.P. Hussain, chairman of Fathima Healthcare Group, has donated the same amount. Additionally, Hussain said that his group has coordinated with the state’s health secretary to send volunteers from its medical faculty.

THE THINKERS

Malays have done well, but more can volunteer, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In his speech at the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee said that while Malays in Singapore have taken great strides to build a strong culture of self-reliance and cooperation, more can step forward to volunteer with community groups. He added that by volunteering more, Malays can make more progress in tackling challenges faced by the community, including getting more children to attend pre-school, empowering and mentoring youth, and supporting those left behind because of drugs or social problems.

Cost is a concern for seniors who want to “age in place.” The Lien Foundation’s study found that the elderly in Singapore are “aging in place” with home and center-based care services rather than nursing homes. However, these services are far more expensive with costs going up to SG$3,100 (approximately US$2,260) to look after a disabled senior at home, as opposed to the median full cost of SG$2,400 (approximately US$1,749) for looking after the same person in a nursing home. The study also found that the demand for center-based services has exceeded its capacity with the Ministry of Health spending close to SG$800 million (approximately US$583 million) on long-term care in 2016

THE NONPROFITS

China’s Red Cross donates mobile clinics and ambulances to Syria. The Red Cross Society of China donated two bus-turned mobile medical clinics and two ambulances to Syria’s Arab Red Crescent. Wang Qinglei, the representative of Beiqi Foton Motor, the company that took part in the funding of the donation under China’s Red Cross, said the mobile clinics are equipped with X-ray machines, ultrasound scanner, defibrillator, distance diagnosis, and treatment system. The donation by Beiqi Foto Motor is estimated at 6 million yuan (approximately US$900,000). Following the delivery of the donated clinics and ambulances, Chinese engineers and technicians also trained their Syrian counterparts to operate the equipment and do the maintenance work.

THE BUSINESSES

Five impressive CSR initiatives for Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations. As a way of celebrating the country’s Independence Day on August 14, various companies have hosted CSR projects and initiatives. Ranging from paper shopping bags embedded with seeds that can be planted after use by customers to promoting diversity across the country, the article features five innovative cases of CSR projects and initiatives.

 THE INNOVATORS 

Indian startup digs into data to make small farms smarter and says transparency can solve mismatch of poor growers and starving people. MyCrop Technologies has produced a mobile application that it says can help raise agricultural productivity in Asia and beyond, benefiting both farmers and consumers. The application uses big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to provide insights on how to increase yields, the best crops for a given type of soil, and the timing on when to grow them. The service is free for farmers to use, as MyCrop charges a fee to fertilizer companies and financial institutions for the data that it accumulates and shares and as it also receives a significant amount of government funding.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Samsung Electronics employees volunteer to support overseas startups. Since 2010, Samsung Electronics has been assisting startups in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and South Africa with pricing strategy, market research, and planning. On August 13, the Korean conglomerate conducted intensive training for its startup accelerating program with the International Information Technology Graduate School in Bangalore, India, as part of its volunteer service work. The company mentored around 20 new venture startups over the last two months.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Jackie Chan criticized online for giving 50,000 copies of his autobiography to disability charity. The Chinese public has been questioning Hong Kong martial arts celebrity Jackie Chan’s donation of 50,000 copies of his autobiography to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. One Weibo user commented, “If you were disabled and still rose to fame, I’d acknowledge that; but stuff like this where you’re bragging about yourself, how is this related to people with disabilities? Shameful!” According to the announcement of the donation made by the Beijing-based charity, Chan hopes “the stories and life experience in the book can bring pleasure and inspiration to people with disabilities.”

Who’s Doing Good?

6 August 2018 - 12 August 2018

THE GIVERS

Singaporean retiree gives SG$500,000 (approximately US$363,000) for charity. Loh Kiong Poot, a Singaporean retiree from the trading industry, has donated SG$500,000 to The Straits TimesSchool Pocket Money Fund to help troubled children in need. His contribution to the fund is his biggest donation yet, though he has given money to charities and orphanages in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. The fund was initiated in 2000 as a community project by The Straits Times, providing pocket money to children low-income families to help them through school. Since 2000, it has disbursed over SG$60 million (approximately US$43.6 million) worth of funds.

THE THINKERS

Anti-corruption rules are not clear on donations or political contributions, says author. In his opinion editorial, Thompson Chau argues that the code of ethics recently released by the Myanmar government is still unclear on what companies and their associated individuals and charities can and cannot do. This code of ethics was devised by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) under the finance ministry in order to cover all dealings and “business activities” between government organizations and the private sector. For example, giving charitable and political donations in dealing with the government is prohibited. The author, however, calls for further clarity on what constitutes as influencing a decision of the government and as an act of corruption.

THE NONPROFITS

Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Red Cross raise funds to help Lombok villagers in Indonesia. While students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are organizing a campus donation drive, the Singapore Red Cross is utilizing online fundraising platforms to raise funds for villagers hit by the recent spate of earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia. So far, the two organizations have raised SG$20,000 (approximately US$14,500) and SG$42,000 (approximately US$30,500), respectively. For students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the cause was all the more relevant at a personal level, as many of them have been traveling regularly since 2014 to Lombok for community service work.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean retail conglomerate donates US$100,000 to flood-hit Laos. Lotte Group has offered US$100,000 to Laos for disaster relief aid after the dam accident. The donation has been handed over to the Community Chest of Korea for the purchase of relief goods and restoration of the damaged area. “We hope this donation could help children, among others, who are vulnerable to heat and diseases,” Lotte’s vice president Oh Sung-yup said in a statement.

 THE INNOVATORS

Online charity platforms in China raise 980 million yuan (US$143.5 million) in the first half of 2018. According to China’s charity law that went into effect in 2016, online fundraising for charitable purposes must be conducted through government-approved platforms, and China’s first group of 11 government-approved online charity platforms have received 980 million yuan of donations in the first half of 2018. Compared to the previous year, the amount increased by 30%. The platforms have altogether publicized over 11,000 fundraising projects from 992 charitable organizations.

Alternative forms of giving and investing. Venture philanthropy and impact investing are growing among private wealth owners, especially among the millennial generation. Several factors including exposure to standards of social contribution and environmental sustainability and having resources and opportunities at their disposal are encouraging these next-generation wealth owners and controllers to contribute. In addition to money, people are also willing to offer assistance with regard to mentoring, commercial or professional expertise, and industry connections.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singaporean student ditches his corporate dreams to devote his life to volunteering. Daryl Tay, an undergraduate from Singapore Management University, took an oath to make the world a more equal place and hopes his efforts will help reduce poverty. The 29-year-old joined the Radion International with the aim to curb the rampant substance abuse problem among young children in Thailand. Today, the entire recovery program has 40 children aged six to 17.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-chief of Tokyo Medical University admits to backdoor admissions to “increase donations.” A former board chairman of Tokyo Medical University, Masahiko Usui, has admitted to padding certain students’ scores on its general entrance exam. Usui said during the school’s internal investigation that he did so to “increase donations to the school.” In the recent two examinations, Usui directed university staff to admit 19 students by adding points to their scores during the first stage of testing. Many of the students involved were the children of alumni, and in some cases, tens of millions of yen in donations were paid to the school.

Who’s Doing Good?

30 July 2018 - 5 August 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Does showing poverty affect donations? (Basic Research: Working Paper No. 7)

Frank Hubers (Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, National University of Singapore)

Abstract: This study investigates the relationship between poverty awareness and the willingness to redistribute income, using an incentivized lab experiment with a between‐subjects design. Participants watched one (randomly determined) film out of three possible films for a translation exercise. Those in the treatment condition watched a film about poverty in Singapore; the other two films served as a control condition. I find that the showing the lives of people in poverty affect preferences for redistribution, making the viewer more tolerant towards a government redistribution of income. This effect remains robust even when controlled for emotional or mood states. I find no conclusive evidence of the impact of showing poverty on the viewer’s contributions to charity. Showing poverty appears to have a positive effect on donations, but this effect reduces to close to zero when controlling for emotional and mood states. The heterogeneity analysis indicates that the more the viewer likes the film, the more influence the images have on the donations of the participant.

Who’s Doing Good?

23 July 2018 - 29 July 2018

THE GIVERS

SK chief donates US$10 million to help Laos disaster recovery. Chairman of SK Group, Chey Tae-won, made the donation pledge in a meeting with the Laotian ambassador in Seoul, offering his condolences to victims of the flooding from the dam construction site. With two Korean companies being involved in the construction project, both companies and the Korean government have offered to provide aid in cash and in physical materials.

THE THINKERS

“Help nonprofits to build long-term capacity,” says Shahira Ahmed Bazari. Writing in the New Straits Times, Bazari, managing director of Yayasan Hasanah, a Malaysian foundation, urges for a change in the way that nonprofits are perceived: to recognize that they are professional organizations that require the same kinds of financial resources and support as other organizations. “If nonprofits do not have to worry about covering basic costs and salaries regularly, they can place more focus and resources on driving real change and delivering a social impact,” she writes.

The Straits Times answers questions about crowdfunding in Singapore. Instead of viewing it as a threat, it argues that crowdfunding should be viewed as an opportunity. On the island city-state, crowdfunding is regulated by the Commissioner of Charities in conjunction with the sector’s major players: crowdfunding sites bear responsibility for assessing the legitimacy of funding appeals while taking in a near-negligible fee for their services. Thanks to its lower cost, as well as potential to help organizations reach new audiences, crowdfunding could become an invaluable tool for small charities.

Bosses treating their employees better is also a form of corporate social responsibility. Datuk Michael Tio, chief executive of PKT Logistics Group, states that company profits should be spent on employees and that CSR is more than just donating to charities. Tio was one of the three panelists for the topic “Technology – The Engine of Change” at The Star Outstanding Business Awards 2018 held in Ipoh, Malaysia.

THE NONPROFITS

Responding to the Rohingya crisis, foreign donations to Bangladesh rise nearly 16%. Over US$820 million in funds are expected to go to the 1,625 projects approved by the NGO Affairs Bureau, the highest number approved by the bureau in a single year. This comes as donations to NGOs have waned in recent years, as the government has taken punitive measures against some for regulatory non-compliance. Another US$50 million is expected to be committed by donors in the coming year.

Foodbank Vietnam helps distribute food to those in need. Foodbank Vietnam, a government-sponsored Vietnam Red Cross charity, debuted earlier this year with a pledge to reduce poverty, raise social awareness about saving food, and boost connections and coordination between food suppliers and resource centers. “More than 5,000 meals are provided each month to 10 places sheltering the homeless, many of them children. We have gradually collected the food from five suppliers in Ho Chi Minh City,” said the founder Nguyễn Tuấn Khởi.

THE BUSINESSES

PepsiCo donates US$1 million to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Along with the financial donation, the multinational corporation is also donating its new Quaker Kids Nutrition products to assist with hunger alleviation efforts in Southwest China. Many counties in the targeted provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou are among the poorest in the country. The grant will provide over 1.7 million meals benefiting approximately 10,000 students over the next three years.

THE INNOVATORS

The Korea Herald interviews the president of Hanyang University, where social innovation is “in their DNA.” At Hanyang, students are required to complete 32 hours of community service in order to graduate. The university is the first in East Asia to be designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. “Trying to find ways to help others and contribute to the society, that is the mindset we seek to deliver to our students,” says Lee Young-moo, the university’s president. Going forward, it hopes to publish a Korean version of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the preeminent publication on social innovation from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Social services sector aims to strengthen service delivery with two new digital initiatives. The IT system to improve backend processes, iShine Cloud provides a suite of integrated IT cloud services specific to the charitable sector. The system is jointly developed by the National Council of Social Service and Singapore Pools. The system will consist of tools that will help social service professionals attend to their clients without being stalled by administrative tasks. The second is a social service navigator, an interactive online platform and mobile portal that consolidates information on social service providers, programs, and resources all over Singapore. The platform aims to significantly reduce the time social service professionals spend searching for a suitable program to better address the needs of their clients.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Children take on a bike tour of Taiwan to help the elderly. Fifteen children participating in the “2018 Love and Hope in Taiwan – Bicyclists Charity” event have set out on a bicycle challenge in Taichung, including stops in Kaohsiung and New Taipei, to help and support the elderly in those communities. The children come from disadvantaged families. They will perform dances and give the elderly massages on the way.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Charity founder confesses to sexual assault in WeChat post. Lei Chuang, the founder of the Yi You Charity and a high-profile philanthropic figure in China, has admitted to sexually assaulting a woman. Lei, a respected personality in China’s charity circle, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2015 in an anonymous article posted online.