Who’s Doing Good?

04 February 2019 - 10 February 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

28 January 2019 - 03 February 2019

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

21 January 2019 - 27 January 2019

THE GIVERS

India’s most respected business tycoons attend The Economic Times Family Business Awards. At the second annual ceremony, those who received an award shed light on their family businesses’ key to success. Shekhar Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Electricals, highlighted the importance of exercising leadership by example. Arun Bharat Ram, chairman of SRF, noted the importance of governance structure and cohesion. Vinati Saraf, managing director and CEO of Vinati Organics, brought attention to the need to recognize the role of women, and her message was echoed by Rafique Abdul Malik, chairman of Metro Shoes. At large, many agreed that giving back to society was a key element to their family businesses, as Yusuf Hamied, chairman of Cipla, stated, “Success doesn’t make a company, an individual, or a family great. What matters is the social contribution.”

THE THINKERS

China’s philanthropy booming alongside the growth of billionaires. From 2010 to 2016, donations from the top 100 philanthropists in China more than tripled, reaching US$4.6 billion. In 2016, the National People’s Congress (NPC) enacted the Charity Law, attempting to add transparency and accountability to the broader social sector. The article also notes that Chinese philanthropic foundations now function more like traditional for-profit enterprises with specialized management teams that operate under strict guidelines. The concept of philanthropy is a cornerstone to Chinese culture, revered throughout Confucian texts, and now, the growing number of billionaire philanthropists is trailblazing a new path for more impactful philanthropic giving by expanding the volumes and areas for charitable support.

President Arif Alvi calls on Pakistani businesses to engage in CSR work. At the 11th International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit and Awards organized by the National Forum for Environment and Health, Pakistan President Arif Alvi highlighted the need for legislating regulations that bind the local corporate sector to commit a minimum of 1% of annual profits to projects in health, education, and social development. Alvi’s message closely resembles and mirrors a trend first set by the Indian government, which requires large companies to spend at least 2% of their profits for CSR.

Bain report on digital philanthropy in China raises six questions for stakeholders to consider when developing digital strategies. Digital philanthropy has grown precipitously over the past decade, and online fundraising platforms have made individual giving easier and more accessible. Beyond the oft-reported Tencent and Alibaba and their control of 90% of China’s online fundraising, new players are diversifying the digital philanthropy landscape, including China’s two largest banks, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which obtained approval to operate online donation platforms last year. The report highlights the need to pursue digital opportunities and six key areas organizations should consider when developing their digital strategies.

THE NONPROFITS

Malaysian nonprofit opens “The Big Heart” learning center. The Dignity for Children Foundation (DFCF) was founded in 1998 by Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina to educate and train impoverished children and refugee youth in urban Kuala Lumpur. The Sharjah-based Big Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, organizes the annual Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support. In the 2018 edition last April, DFCF won and received an award of AED 500,000 (approximately US$136,000). At the awards ceremony, Sharjah ruler Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi donated an additional US$1 million to DFCF, which was used to expand its flagship project, the Urban Youth Education Village, into the organization’s newly opened learning center, “The Big Heart.”

THE BUSINESSES

Google set to fund a 10MW solar farm in Taiwan, its first renewable project in Asia. As the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, Google is funding a solar farm of 40,000 solar panels in Tainan City to compensate for the energy consumed by its nearby data center. Google has been lobbying the Taiwanese government for years, trying to permit non-utility companies to purchase renewable energy from producers directly. Ultimately, amendments in 2017 to the country’s energy regulations gave the green light for Google’s first renewable project in Asia. While the 10MW solar farm in Tainan City will not measure up to the full consumption of Google’s data center, this renewable project and its preceding lobbying efforts will pave the way for more clean energy projects to come in the region.

US$225 million raised from AC Energy’s maiden green bond issuance will bankroll renewable energy portfolio expansion. The energy platform of the Philippines’ Ayala conglomerate, AC Energy, issued its inaugural senior green bonds, a drawdown from the recently established US$1 billion medium-term note program. The bonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), and they will be the first publicly syndicated CBI-certified dollar-denominated green bond in Southeast Asia. On the US$225 million successfully raised, AC Energy chairman, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, expressed, “We are very pleased to see the success of our maiden green bond. This will enable AC Energy to scale up its renewable energy investments in the region.”

THE INNOVATORS

Tata Trusts and New America launch blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. New America’s Blockchain Trust Accelerator and the Tata Trusts publicly announced at the Global Blockchain Business Council their ambitious blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. The blueprint outlines practical examples of blockchain projects that can be translated to the social impact and government technology arena. It also brings attention to efforts on part of governments to embrace blockchain, highlighting ways in which blockchain can contribute to social good, social justice, broad-based economic participation, and enhanced trust in the public square. Blockchain was one of the most cited words at last year’s World Economic Forum, and projects like this blueprint are proving that blockchain is quickly gaining interest and support within the social innovation space as well.

“eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN” workshop fosters the growth of young regional entrepreneurs. The ASEAN Foundation and the Maybank Foundation held a five-day workshop to train 100 Southeast Asian entrepreneurs in program development and field-work. These young entrepreneurs will be implementing pilot programs that provide social and economic benefits and services in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This program was a result of Maybank’s efforts to scale its 2016 program that trained students from top universities in Singapore to a regional level with the goal of empowering the youth and fostering the growth of sustainable development innovation throughout Southeast Asia.

Who’s Doing Good?

14 January 2019 - 20 January 2019

THE GIVERS

Henry Sy, Philippine’s’ wealthiest man and notable philanthropist, passes away. The “Retail King”, as Sy was cordially known, immigrated from China and transformed a small shoe business into a thriving retail empire over the years. His company, SM Investments, owns three of the most valuable companies in the Philippines today, spanning extensive retail, banking and real estate operations. Sy was also regarded for his philanthropy. In 1983 he founded the SM Foundation to undertake efforts mainly in education which the he saw as a way out of poverty. The foundation’s generous scholarships to thousands of deserving but underprivileged Filipino youth enabled them to attain college education. Sy was aged 94.

Chinese scientist Qian Qihu to donate science award worth ¥8 million (US$1.2 million) to children’s education. Two Chinese scientists, Qian Qihu and Liu Yongtan, were honored the highest science and technology award by President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People earlier this month. Each received ¥8 million (approximately US$1.2 million) for the award. Qian, who was recognized for his work on the country’s underground defense infrastructure, has decided to use the award money to set up a fund to help low-income children gain access to schools in his hometown of Kunshan. Qian has a history of charitable giving to education: since 2006, he has personally donated more than ¥200,000 (approximately US$29,500) to 17 low-income students.

The 2018 edition of Operation Santa Claus raises more than HK$17 million (approximately US$2.2 million). The latest edition of the Christmas fundraising drive, organized by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK, included a variety of fundraising events held across the city from mid-November 2018 to mid-January 2019. The 13 charities receiving the funding offer an array of services ranging from supporting vulnerable youths and the elderly to bringing therapeutic art to hospitals. The drive has now raised more than HK$300 million (approximately US$38 million) in total since its inception in 1988.

THE THINKERS

Education and digitization key to reducing poverty in China, argue Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai. Leaders of the world’s fifth-biggest internet company, Alibaba, put forth the argument at two annual philanthropy events in Sanya and Hangzhou, China. Ma said the use of new technologies allows farmers to become more competitive and in turn boost profits. For example, an analysis of shoppers’ preferences on Alibaba’s platform revealed a consumer preference for sweet melons weighing around two pounds. This insight was passed to farmers who altered their practices to meet these demands and were subsequently able to generate much higher revenues. Tsai quoted government figures which state that 42% of the 14 million middle-school graduates in China move straight to low-skilled jobs instead of high school. He argued skills training can make this transition smoother. Ma added further that these problems can only be solved if Chinese business leaders and the government work together.

THE NONPROFITS

India relaxes requirements on nonprofits looking to receive foreign donations. Nonprofits registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) are no longer required to sign-up to a government portal to receive foreign donations. Before the changes to the FCRA, organizations were required to undergo a tedious registration process before being able to receive foreign donations. This requirement was instituted in October 2017 to enhance accountability of organizations receiving foreign funding. The move will provide relief to thousands of nonprofits who faced difficulties in fulfilling this requirement.

THE BUSINESSES

The Independent lists Singaporean social enterprises making an impact. The enterprises on the list – CrushXO, I-Drop and Bookshare – achieve social objectives through their business models. CrushXO is a beauty startup which sells vegan-friendly makeup products. It donates 5% of its total sales to charities working on a range of social missions, including breast cancer awareness. I-Drop sells purified water through dispensing machines in grocery stores. Users fill their own multi-use water containers allowing prices to be as low as one-fifth of the cost of a traditional water container. Bookshare provides customized reading experiences to individuals facing health issues such as blindness and cerebral palsy. The platform boasts a library of over 670,000 books and charges S$1 (approximately US$0.74) for a weekly subscription.

“Breaking Bread Together” campaign provides freshly baked bread to children of low-income families in Korea. More than 400,000 children in Korea are estimated to be at risk of being underfed or malnourished. In response, Sun-in Co., a leading Korean specialty food manufacturer and distributor, partnered with Goldman Sachs and the Korean Red Cross to launch the “Breaking Bread Together” campaign. This campaign distributes fresh bread to children of low-income families on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A pilot program had been running since last year, and this month the campaign will expand the program to 16 cities across Korea. As a result, the number of families receiving freshly baked bread is expected to exceed 1,100 households.

THE INNOVATORS

Billionaire donors team-up for collaborative impact fund, Co-Impact. The impact fund is supported by 25 backers including Bill and Melinda Gates and Indian billionaires Rohini and Nandan Nilekani. As part of the effort, partners will fund and provide technical assistance to projects aimed at driving large-scale impact in Africa, South Asia and South America. The fund’s first US$80 million in grants will support five projects. One of these is an implementation of an education program developed by Pratham, one of India’s largest nonprofits, in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Around 3 million students are expected to benefit from Pratham’s knowledge of boosting reading and math proficiency. Together, the five programs are expected to impact over 9 million lives.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal rights leader refuses to step down despite euthanasia scandal. Park So-youn, the head of one of Korea’s largest animal rights groups, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), was accused of euthanizing more than 250 dogs earlier this month. Park claims the move was driven by mercy towards sick animals, however CARE staff and other animal rights groups reject Park’s view and have called for her resignation. According to one of the staff members: “Park is trying to justify her indiscriminate behavior (of administering euthanasia). Instead she is saying she will lead the social discussion on animal euthanasia.” Funding for animal rights groups in Korea is reported to have fallen drastically in the wake of the incident.

Who’s Doing Good?

7 January 2019 - 13 January 2019

THE GIVERS

Need for innovation and imagination more pressing as India’s social sector matures, says philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. Recent developments in the Indian philanthropic ecosystem are cause for excitement, according to Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. She mentions the India Leaders for Social Sector as a vital ecosystem enabler, training citizens to serve as future leaders in the social sector. However, a trust deficit between donors and civil society is yet to be alleviated—philanthropists are often unsure about the impact that their contributions will create. Despite this uncertainty, Rohini claims philanthropists are in the best position to embrace innovation. Unlike the government, the wealthy can afford to take risks, contributing to areas such as climate change.

THE THINKERS

International conference recognizes the role of social workers in Indonesia’s health sector. Titled the “International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health,” the conference is the brainchild of Dr. Adi Fahruddin, a social welfare professor at Muhammadiyah Jakarta University’s School of Social and Political Sciences. Fahruddin opines social workers are rarely credited for their work in the health sector despite heavy involvement. Social workers are also notable for their diverse perspectives and tools which they acquire in training alongside other professionals. Apart from crediting them for their work, the conference explored the potential of social workers in building the future of health management in Indonesia. 

THE NONPROFITS 

Indian nonprofit to light up the 400th village with solar power. Chirag Rural Development Foundation is set to light up its 400th village in India with solar power. Founded in 2010 by Professor Prathiba Pai, the Indian charity has so far introduced solar lamps in 16,000 homes, covering 100,000 people across seven states in India. “We used solar power for lighting up homes, street lighting, and now have solar-powered lift irrigation to water the fields for farming also, “said Pai. Chirag also involves the youth in this cause. “We take our college students on field trips to these villages to sensitize them about the scenario in rural India,” she said. By 2020, the organization wants to light up 15,000 more homes in the country, taking their total to 30,000 homes and impacting 200,000 lives. 

THE BUSINESSES

SingPost launches a home-visiting initiative for the elderly. National postal operator SingPost has commenced its Postman Home Visits initiative, in which postal carriers volunteer to check in with elderly customers while making their delivery rounds. Following the success of the pilot program last year, SingPost will gradually roll out the initiative to all districts across Singapore. During their visits, the volunteers make simple observations about the elderly under their charge and fill in a checklist for the relevant social service agency overseeing the area, updating on the elderly’s mental and physical well-being. Woo Keng Leong, SingPost’s CEO, said, “Postal workers have been a ubiquitous part of the community for more than a century. The Postman Home Visits initiative is a natural extension of their service to the community, as it offers kind-hearted staff the opportunity to do good during the course of their work.”

Kirin restructures donation policy after Amnesty report. Between September and October 2018, Kirin’s subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery, made three donations totaling US$30,000 for humanitarian purposes, which an Amnesty International report suggested were actually given to the Myanmar military linked to war crimes in Rakhine State. In response, Japanese brewer Kirin has tightened its donation policy and will facilitate a human rights impact assessment on its operations. The firm’s plan includes suspending donations made Myanmar Brewery, tightening its donation policy, holding regular internal audits to ensure the new policy is being followed, and conducting a human rights impact assessment on its operations by an external independent consultant.

THE INNOVATORS

New online shopping mall to donate up to 40% of each sale to social projects. The Korea National Council on Social Welfare and Vastan Co., Ltd. developed a new online shopping mall to connect “good consumers” and “good suppliers” and to make social contributions. Known as the Value Creator Platform (VCP), the online shopping platform allows customers to select various social projects at the time of purchasing a product, whose supplier will donate 20-40% of each sale to the designated project. All donations collected will be used for charitable projects dedicated to helping children, teenagers, persons with disabilities, multicultural families, and other vulnerable groups. Seo Sang-mok, president of the Korea National Council on Social Welfare, said, “ VCP is at the center of innovation that could generate new values at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where consumption means social contribution.”

Creative public donation machines arrive in Taiwan’s Hualien. Ten interactive public donation machines, which are each designed in the shapes of different popular dolls, were jointly launched by four charitable organizations and 7-Eleven for the benefit of poor and lonely senior citizens in Taiwan. Inserting coins or bills into the slots of the machines initiates an arm-wrestling match with the machines, and if defeated, the machines award a special “sticky monster” card. Since December 2018, the ten machines have toured Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung, having attracted more than 50,000 people to contribute.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal rights charity caught secretly exterminating hundreds of rescued dogs. Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), a leading animal rights group in Korea with some 23,000 members and around ₩2 billion (approximately US$1.8 million) in annual donations, was leaked to have killed 230 rescued dogs—despite a declared no-kill policy—because of a shortage of shelter space and to ensure a continued stream of donations. This figure was equivalent to around a quarter of the animals the group rescued in the same period. Only 10% of the 230 dogs were suffering from incurable illnesses, and most were killed due to their large size. On the other hand, the organization’s head, Park So-yeon, refuted that a “small number” of exterminations had been “inevitable” since 2015 due to a “surge in requests for rescue missions” and that only severely aggressive ones or those with incurable illnesses were killed. Staff members of CARE, who originally leaked the story to a local news outlet, mounted a protest in the organization’s offices on the weekend to demand Park’s resignation.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong Tatler names top 50 Asian philanthropists. The list features 50 of the most notable Asian philanthropists who have established charities or contributed generously to society through their donations. This year sees Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person, topping the list. Through his foundation, Li has committed to donating approximately US$10 billion, a third of his fortune. Other notable philanthropists on the list include Ronnie Chan, Lui Che-woo, and Peter Woo. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, made the largest donation to Harvard University when he donated US$350 million in 2014. Contributions from these 50 individuals span a variety of domains, including the arts, education, cancer research, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Mainstreaming of impact investment necessary to meet funding gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton featured observations from Fran Seegull, executive director of the United States Impact Investing Alliance, and Jonathan Wong of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The experts argue that private investment can not only meet the current funding gap, but also do so in a more sustainable fashion. According to Seegull, however, only the right mix of supportive and mandatory policy instruments can encourage this investment. Governments, therefore, must balance providing incentives and simultaneously preventing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Wong adds that greater rigor in measuring social impact can assist governments in creating relevant evidence-based policy instruments, as well as informing and motivating investors with a clearer idea of potential returns.

Ronnie Chan and Ruth Shapiro’s pioneering journey to understand and promote Asian philanthropy. Ruth Shapiro, chief executive of CAPS, credits Ronnie Chan, one of Asia’s leading philanthropists, for his generous support in establishing CAPS. As per the interview published by Hong Kong Tatler, the modern Asian context served a precursor to CAPS. Chan and Shapiro saw that the exponential increase in private wealth across the region brought with it an increasing desire to give back to society. In order to facilitate this growing interest in philanthropy, CAPS launched its inaugural flagship research, the Doing Good Index, which seeks to measure the regulatory, fiscal, and societal infrastructure and ecosystem that makes it easier to “do good.”

Regaining public trust key to businesses and governments meeting societal goals. At two events organized in Singapore by French business school INSEAD, participants agreed that alleviating a rampant trust deficit was essential to creating social impact. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that trust in businesses, governments, and media remains dismal, as 60% agree globally that CEOs are driven by greed rather than a desire to “do good.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, recommended that businesses and governments embrace rules-based trading, implement meritocracy, and place societal interests before personal ones to regain trust. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean of INSEAD, argued that training business leaders to understand the relationship between business and society rigorously would also help regain lost trust.

THE NONPROFITS

Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through Indonesia Masters to support tsunami and earthquake victims. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, is serving as the sustainable partner for the 2018 Asian Golf Tour. As part of this partnership, Asian golfers took upon the role of ambassadors during the season to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work. At the Indonesia Masters, spectators and golf enthusiasts will be able to contribute by purchasing merchandise and participating in charity games. The defending champion of the event, English golfer Justin Rose, has already donated US$50,000 to the nonprofit’s work in Indonesia for rehabilitating those affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Sulawesi and Lombok.

THE BUSINESSES

Impact investment asset manager Aavishkaar-IntelleCap Group receives ₹32 crore (approximately US$32 million) in investment from Nuveen, an American asset management firm. Nuveen’s investment will be used by Aavishkaar-IntelleCap to further increase its stakes in its subsidiaries. Nuveen is the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and holds over US$950 billion in assets. Aavishkaar-IntelleCap, based in India, is considered one of the world’s largest impact investing firms and offers a range of services including microfinance, equity financing, and consulting. The current investment by Nuveen follows Aavishkaar-IntelleCap’s efforts to raise US$300 million for its fund focused on Southeast Asia, which scouts opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos. Founded in 2001, Aavishkaar-IntelleCap currently manages a portfolio worth US$155 million spanning high-impact businesses at various stages of growth.

Indian personal care company, Himalaya, releases film to raise awareness about cleft-affected children. Titled “Ek Nayi Muskaan” (loosely translated to “A New Smile”), the film documents the story of Munmun, an eight-year-old girl from a village near Lucknow, India. Each year, over 35,000 babies are born in India with cleft lip and/or palate, and fewer than half receive treatment due to ignorance or poverty. Children with this condition are known to face difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking. The surgery required is considered safe, immediate, and transformative. Munmun is shown in the film to receive support from “Muskaan,” an initiative of Himalaya in partnership with Smile Train, a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. As part of the initiative, money from every purchase of a Himalaya lip-care product will be donated for this cause.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister charged for criminal breach of trust involving charity organization. Beleaguered former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was found to have misappropriated funds worth RM10 million (US$3.2 million) originally meant for Yayasan Akalbudi, his personal charity organization. The loan was discovered to have been passed to Armada Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate. The current Criminal Breach of Trust ruling sees the number of charges against Hamidi swell to 46, amounting to a total of RM223 million (approximately US$53 million).

Chinese businessman jailed for running a pyramid scheme in the name of the poor worth RMB 20 billion (approximately US$2.9 billion). Zhang Tianming and 17 other individuals associated with him have been found guilty of running a pyramid and multi-level marketing scheme, which affected nearly six million people. Zhang’s company had lured investors with promises of high rates of return on projects that were meant to help the poor, but had instead paid out early members purely using funds from new joiners, a court investigation found.

Sexual abuse in the Nepali aid sector puts children at risk. The arrest of five foreign aid workers over the last year for alleged sexual abuse of children in Nepal has escalated fears that the country has become a target of pedophiles. These individuals are thought to be working under the cover of aid work or philanthropy. The most high-profile case of this alarming trend is that of Canadian aid worker Peter Dalglish. After spending nearly 20 years helping some of the world’s poorest children, Dalglish was arrested this year, and police found two boys, aged 12 and 14 respectively, inside his residence. Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker, opines that these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that more or such incidents are to come and to be revealed.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Singapore-based Vietnamese private equity veteran champions social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. Lam Nguyen-Phuong, who was co-founder and senior managing partner of the private markets division of the Capital Group before his recent retirement in January, supports social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. However, Nguyen-Phuong is not in it for profit, steering clear of impact investments for his personal portfolio: “I’ve been approached by social impact [investment] firms to invest, and I refused… Impact investments have a built-in conflict, as investors may say—why can’t we limit the social impact for a higher return? But profit has to come after purpose, and only to make it self-sustainable. When I used to make investments for [private equity] clients, the main objective was to make a profit. If in the process there was a social benefit, that was good.” In his personal capacity, Nguyen-Phuong has supported Ashoka and is a donor through an Ashoka endowment fund set up in his family’s name to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as well as personally mentoring social entrepreneurs under organizations that he personally supports.

Samsung Welfare Foundation names tycoon’s daughter as new chief. Stepping down from her position as president of the fashion division of Samsung C&T Corporation, Lee Seo-hyun, a daughter of hospitalized Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, will now assume a new role as chairman of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. She will start her four-year term on January 1, 2019. Samsung Welfare Foundation, one of Samsung’s four foundations, was established in 1989 by Lee Kun-hee in an effort to expand Samsung’s charity projects and initiatives.

Japanese actress’ fund helps renovate school in Nepal. A fund run by Japanese actress Norika Fujiwara has been used to renovate a high school in Nepal. Fujiwara’s “Smile Please World Children’s Fund” helped provide the previously dilapidated Shree Ganesh High School with five new classrooms and a water facility for its 447 students. Nepal represents the third country after Afghanistan and Cambodia where the actress has helped build schools. It is uncommon for Japanese actresses to do charity work, she said, adding, “I want to tell the reality of the world to the Japanese society.”

K-Pop girl group member donates ₩50 million to charity. Seol-hyun of K-Pop girl group AOA recently donated ₩50 million (approximately US$44,385) to the Community Chest of Korea for supporting children from low-income families. This particular donation marks the third donation that Seol-hyun has individually made to various causes. In the previous year, she made two donations of the same amount to help victims of an earthquake in Pohang, Korea, and to help deaf children in Seoul.

Lego Foundation grants US$100 million to help refugee children. In its first major humanitarian project, the Lego Foundation announced its decision to provide US$100 million over the next five years to Sesame Workshop’s work with the International Rescue Committee and with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC. The aim is to create play-based learning programs for children up to the age of six in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. “We do risk losing a whole generation if we don’t help the children who find themselves in these emergency settings,” said John Goodwin, the chief executive of the Lego Foundation.

THE THINKERS

“A few NGOs are getting a lot of bad press. What’s the overall track record?” Having observed an increasing number of nonprofits coming under fire, The Washing Post explores recent cases and incidents that may explain why. From multiple sexual abuse scandals in developing economies to lack of accountability to meet organizational goals and targets, nonprofits dominated many frontpage headlines throughout the year. At the same time, there were several favorable polls that attested to society’s positive perception of and trust in the nonprofit sector. To figure out the true impact of nonprofits beyond perception, the authors studied a random selection of 300 published articles and reports on nonprofits and found that nearly 60% of them reported solely favorable effects of nonprofits on development outcomes, while just 4% reported that they had only unfavorable effects.

“Impact investing can be next growth and job engine for India: Amit Bhatia, Global Steering Group.” In this e-mail interview with The Economic Times, Amit Bhatia, global chief executive officer of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, speaks about the growing market of impact investing and its significance. Most notably, Bhatia shares how the impact economy is now worth US$23 trillion—US$16 trillion in responsible investing, US$6 trillion in sustainable investing, and US$0.25 trillion in impact investing. In terms of the future growth trajectory, Bhatia refers to his organization’s recent study with KPMG, sharing that by 2020, impact investments will cross US$468 billion.

Noteworthy talks and sessions at this year’s Yidan Prize Summit. Now in its second year, this Hong Kong-based education-focused forum brings together thought leaders—policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, politicians, and educators—to formulate strategies to ensure today’s education meets the needs of tomorrow. In this feature article, Hong Kong Tatler previews and spotlights seven sessions at the event—from conversations with this year’s laureates to “Growing the Right Talent for Tomorrow” with Hong Kong philanthropist and Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan.

THE NONPROFITS

Filipino government awards Singaporean nonprofit helping foreign domestic workers. President Rodrigo Duterte conferred the Kaanib ng Bayan (Nation’s Partner) Award to the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast). The organization, a charity supported by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, was recognized for its “exception or significant contribution… to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities.” Seah Seng Choon, the charity’s president, told The Straits Times, “It’s a recognition of the work that Fast is doing, and we’re glad that we have been recognized. This encourages us to do more.” Since its founding in 2005, Fast has been organizing courses and programs to help domestic workers learn skills that can add value to their work and enhance their future employability. These include cooking, baking, infant- and eldercare, foot reflexology, computer literacy, English, stress management, and entrepreneurship. Over 25,000 foreign domestic workers go through these courses each year.

Korean President invites major charity groups to top office and promotes culture of giving. President Moon Jae-in invited and hosted on Friday 15 of the country’s major charitable organizations at the Blue House. These charities included, for example, Salvation Army Korea, Good Neighbors, World Vision, and Child Fund. The Blue House said the event was arranged to imbue the public with the spirit of sharing and giving toward underprivileged neighbors during the year-end season, noting it is the first such gathering of the major charities. President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook also delivered their donations to each of the participating groups.

Delhi city government bars Bloomberg-funded charity from tobacco control work. According to a city government official and a memo seen by Reuters, a small Indian nonprofit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies will not be allowed to carry out tobacco control work in New Delhi after it failed to disclose its funding. The same official also added that other foreign-funded organizations will need to seek prior approval in the future for anti-tobacco activities. The Delhi city government’s decision comes amid similar moves by the Indian government, which has since 2014 tightened surveillance of foreign-funded charities. An anonymous anti-tobacco activist commented, “This is sending a wrong message. They are basically deterring tobacco control.”

Pakistani government officially announces expulsion of 18 charities. Pakistan announced on Thursday it was expelling 18 international charities amid growing paranoia that Western aid agencies are being used as a front for espionage. Umair Hasan, the spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation, an umbrella representing 15 of the 18 charities, said those charities alone help 11 million impoverished Pakistanis and contribute more than US$130 million in assistance, adding, “No organization has been given a clear reason for the denial of its registration renewal applications.” However, Shireen Mazari, the country’s human rights minister, said on Twitter the 18 groups were responsible for spreading disinformation. “They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do,” she said.

Number of new charities in Singapore down to 10-year low. The number of new charities in Singapore hit a 10-year low last year. According to the Commissioner of Charities’ latest annual report, only 39 groups registered as charities last year. This is down from 49 a year before and 59 in 2008. Various experts have explained this decline could be due to the rise of informal help groups and the sector reaching a saturation point. Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee said, “There are so many charities out there fighting for the same donation dollar, and it is very difficult for new charities to raise funds. So people may think it’s easier to volunteer at existing charities, doing the work they were thinking of doing, instead of starting a new charity.”

THE BUSINESSES

UBS streamlines efforts to address the rising importance of gift-giving to the world’s wealthy. Switzerland-based global bank UBS has recently streamlined its group-wide philanthropic efforts, consolidating them into a single 45-member team. Phyllis Costanza, a veteran who has served at the bank for seven years, has been tasked with leading the team. Costanza also heads the UBS Optimus Foundation, which successfully launched a high-yielding bond linked to the learning development of young girls in Rajasthan, India, in 2016. UBS executives, Hubertus Kuelps and Joe Stadler, were confident the team would achieve “measurable social impact through their philanthropic activities, while also generating enhanced business growth for UBS.”

A look at HSBC’s philanthropic activities and how it approaches maximizing social impact. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, Asia head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services for HSBC Private Banking, details in this interview the bank’s extensive work in advising and supporting its private banking clients in regards to the charitable and philanthropic sectors. According to D’Anjou-Brown, the bank has learned that matching donors with causes they feel passionate about and tapping into their expertise help maximize impact.

THE INNOVATORS

Recent seminar in Thailand discusses the importance of social enterprises in boosting sustainable development. At “Thailand Social Enterprise: The Way Forward,” various stakeholders and experts gathered to discuss the role of social enterprises in contributing to Thailand’s sustainable development and growth. Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, noted that building a supportive ecosystem is important: “The law alone cannot govern every part of the ecosystem. Cooperation from all sectors, namely incubators, education sector, financial institutions, entrepreneurs’ associations, and public sector are key for the successful implementation and development of social enterprises.” Sarinee Achavanuntakul, co-founder of Sal Forest, Thailand’s first “sustainable business accelerator,” said that the biggest challenge is social entrepreneurs abandoning their mission or having very little social impact and that as such, the most important thing is evaluating the enterprise’s social impact, as well as the pressure it can have on the public. This seminar hosted by the Thailand Institute of Justice occurred amidst a recent public hearing on the Social Enterprise Promotion draft bill, which has now reached the final stage before being handed over to the National Legislative Assembly for consideration.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Student charity run in Malaysia collects RM200,000 (approximately US$50,000) to support victims of human trafficking. The race was organized as part of the global charity event, “24-Hour Race,” and saw participation from over a thousand people who completed over 15,000 laps. This year’s race was the event’s eighth iteration and increased the total amount collected by the event to RM4.85 million (approximately US$1.2 million). The money will be channeled to The Exodus Road, a nonprofit organization that will train and equip 24 national local law enforcers and help fund 24,000 hours of investigation across 2,400 locations to support victims of human trafficking.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

 Self-proclaimed Thai philanthropist organizing anti-drug campaign arrested for drug trafficking charges. Kalyakorn Siriphatarasomboon, better known by her nickname as Jay Lin, was arrested in Phrae province in northern Thailand for drug trafficking charges. The police found and seized 1.6 million tablets of methamphetamine and 10 kilograms of crystal meth aboard a pickup truck which she was driving. The suspected drug trafficker had launched an anti-drug campaign among local teenagers, especially youth soccer players, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and donated money to impoverished people in the region, but the police suspected such charitable acts and events were merely a cover-up for her drug trafficking crimes.
Seoul city government-backed foundation accused of various corruption incidents and organizational malpractices by current and former employeesThe Seoul Digital Foundation, founded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and funded by its taxpayer money, was accused of various questionable practices by current and former employees. For one, the foundation’s chairman used a corporate card under the foundation 37 times—mostly on Friday nights—for personal meals near his apartment, totaling an amount of approximately US$2,719. In public audit hearings, the foundation’s chairman would resort to the excuse of funding security and cleaning staff’s meals. It was also revealed that the chairman used the corporate card to watch professional baseball games and to pay for meals and drinks at these games. Covering up and disguising these payments was considered a daily practice within the organization, as staffers were ordered to record fake meeting minutes.
Various side effects appear for Japan’s hometown tax donation (furusato nōzei) system. What was originally intended to be a system to encourage and incentivize individual giving to local governments turned out to be a tax loophole and a profitable trade in goods and services. Over the years, some local governments began offering gifts in return for donations. The law does not prohibit gift-giving, but in principle, items on offer should be produced in the area represented by the local government in question. However, more and more governments are offering expensive gifts that have no relation to their local industry or agriculture, with competition heating up to the degree that dozens of websites have appeared to help consumers choose among gifts that are available. Some have also pointed out how the system is particularly advantageous for the wealthy who pay higher residence taxes, as they can claim a part of their residence tax payment as a deductible donation.

Who’s Doing Good?

26 November 2018 - 2 December 2018

THE GIVERS

The fund led by Vincent Tan to prevent temple from demolition reaches RM2 million (US$480,000). Vincent Tan has cited Buddhist teachings and a sense of respect for places of worship common to Malaysians for championing the cause of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple which is marked for demolition. Through the fund, the land, measuring 0.5 hectares and valued at US$3.4 million, will be bought back from its developer. Tan’s initial pledge of RM500,000 (US$164,000) grew fourfold since the announcement, with contributions from other notable Malaysian high-net-worth individuals. Malaysians interested in contributing can choose from either traditional or electronic banking channels. Crowdfunding via social media has also been proposed. In 2011, Vincent Tan was featured on Forbes‘ “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” list for pledging to donate half of his life’s savings.

THE THINKERS

Pharmacists hold key to revolutionizing heathcare in Southeast Asia but oversight is crucial. Natalia Hendrickson argues that a variety of problems with formal healthcare systems in Asia—for example, long distances and steep costs—have spurred the prominence of pharmacists. But in the absence of formal training and data, complications with dosages and diagnoses are likely to emerge. Hendrickson hails the recent Electronic Drug and Safety System (eDSS) launched in the Philippines as an innovative solution. An average of 23 million pharmacy transactions and patient prescriptions are uploaded to a database in real-time through the application software each month. The Philippines Food and Drug Administration and mClinica, developers of the software, can tap into this rich data to identify and address issues in real-time.

Foundations constantly innovating with regards to impact investing to attract investors. Foundations, namely the Ford Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, are increasingly making use of innovative strategies to attract private investors to impact investing, states a podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton. One of such strategies is the creation of safety nets for investors. Roy Swan, Director of Mission-related Investments at the Ford Foundation, argues that during a downturn, sovereign wealth funds may not be able to guarantee a 25% return on market-rate housing, but the same money, invested in affordable housing during such a downturn, can be safely predicted to generate returns of about 8%. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, too, is experimenting with “blended finance,” which combines development finance and philanthropic funding.

THE NONPROFITS

Global health nonprofit, PATH, partners with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch key steps for HIV prevention. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services have been launched nationwide in Vietnam to help individuals at risk of HIV infection. By taking a pill every day, PrEP has been known to reduce the risk of infection by 92%. The nationwide roll-out of the service was preceded by pilots run in 2017 in collaboration with various nonprofit organizations. Vietnam is the second Asian economy to implement such a program after Thailand, which did so in August this year. The nonprofit organization at the center of this service, PATH, works to accelerate health equity through cross-sector collaborations.

Charity concert in Singapore raises SG$2 million (approximately US$1.5 million). In its 14th edition this year, the charity concert, ChildAid, involved over 140 participants aged five to 19 who sang and danced to help other children in need. The event was directed by Singaporean singer Dick Lee and involved revisiting pop music from the last 60 years. This year’s collection takes the total amount raised by the event since 2005 to SG$18 million (approximately US$13 million). Money raised by the event is channeled to The Straits Times’ School Pocket Money Fund and assists disadvantaged children with expenses such as food and transport.

THE BUSINESSES

J. Walter Thompson and Tata Pravesh release “The Positive Move” on World AIDS Day. The digital film chronicles the individual stories of HIV-positive teenagers who had to face social exclusion but refused to let that hinder them. The teenagers went onto start “Café Positive,” Asia’s first café run independently by HIV-positive staff members in Kolkata, India. A local nonprofit, Organization for Friends, Energies, and Resources (OFFER), supported the creation of the film. Speaking at the release of the film, Vijay Jacob Parakkal, senior vice president and managing partner at J. Walter Thompson, said, “We found the Café Positive story of grit, determination, and acceptance by people very touching. It does open our doors of perception.”

Nihon Kohden donates portion of sales proceeds to the American Epilepsy Society (AES). For the 10th consecutive year, Nihon Kohden, a major Japanese manufacturer of medical electronic equipment, has donated sales proceeds from one of its machines to the AES. This year’s donation takes the total amount donated by the manufacturer to the AES across the decade to over US$250,000. The AES has been allowed to fund research into significant areas such as the connection between epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries through these donations.

Dai-Ichi Life Insurance invests ¥100 million (approximately US$890,000) in Tokyo-based Molcure. In its seventh impact investment in 13 months, Japan’s third-largest insurance company, Dai-Ichi Life, has invested in Molcure, a Tokyo-based biotechnology firm. The firm is developing what will be the world’s first antibody discovery platform based on machine-learning. Pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to develop drugs that identify antibody candidates quicker. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance, which cited Molcure’s “positive social impact” as a motivator, is a pioneer in the impact investing space in Japan. Since October 2017, it has invested a total of ¥2.2 billion (approximately US$1.9 million) in seven impact investment deals.

THE INNOVATORS

Priyanka Chopra and Facebook come together for #SocialForGood. Actress and celebrity Priyanka Chopra and Facebook joined forces to host a live fundraising event to encourage individual donations for various social causes. Named #SocialForGood, the Live-athon event received 15,244 donations, which is more than a single donation per second, in four hours from more than 57 cities. Speaking about the event, Chopra said, “It was an amazing day, and I am overwhelmed by the support we have received not just from our panelists and performers, but also from all those who tuned into the Live-athon. The conversations were insightful and impactful, and what made the day a success was the number of donations received for each of these important causes. It showed that we care and that we can use #SocialForGood.”

The world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing raises US$1.5 million for solar energy business. Freyr Energy, an Indian solar solutions firm, has closed a US$1.5 million fundraising round through Impact Partners, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing. Impact Partners brought together a consortium of global investors, including the Netherlands-based C4D Partners and India-based angel investors. According to the Impact Investment Exchange’s assessment, funding will expand access to reliable and affordable solar energy to 2,275 households and 2,975 businesses, enable 675 off-grid rural villages to enjoy electricity for the first time through micro-grids, and avoid 167,270 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2022.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Indian Navy commander and captain win Asian of the Year award for Kerala flood rescue. Commander Vijay Varma and Captain P Rajkumar, both pilots, were honored at The Straits Times’ “Asian of the Year” awards for their death-defying rescue flying during the Kerala floods earlier this year. Varma, 42, winched up a heavily pregnant woman who gave birth just after being airlifted to safety, while Rajkumar, 54, rescued 26 people up from a rooftop in the port city of Kochi. A video of Varma’s rescuing of the pregnant woman went viral on social media.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Abraaj founder gets a lifeline amidst scandals and a good reputation tarnished. In recent months, Abraaj Group fell from being a respected US$14 billion impact investing powerhouse to a company offered a buyout of just US$1, additionally facing a scandal at a key lender. Facing a pressing liquidation demand from a Kuwaiti lender, Abraaj Group, fortunately, received an extension order from the Cayman court, so that it may devise a restructuring proposal over the next three months. The decision saves Abraaj investors from years of lawsuits and advisor fees. One investor said, “The fact that the court ruled in favor of an extension despite attempts to derail it means there is hope.” Had the court denied the request for a moratorium, Abraaj would have been forced to liquidate its assets at steeper discounts, seriously hurting creditor recoveries. Meanwhile, Abraaj founder, Arif Naqvi, is reported to have spent the last nine months talking to his biggest creditors, portfolio companies, and other stakeholders.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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