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?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Korean star soccer player Son donates to the military before Asian Games win. Son Heung-min, a professional soccer player who plays for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and who captains the Korean national team, donated around £70,000 (approximately US$90,100) to his country’s armed forces prior to the victory in this year’s Asian Games, which allowed him to be exempted from Korea’s mandatory military service. “Son Heung-min called us by himself saying he’d like to make a donation for Korean soldiers and their families,” Kookbang Ilbo, the army’s official daily newspaper, revealed.

THE THINKERS

Indonesia tops the World Giving Index 2018. Through a survey of over 150,000 people in 146 countries, this year’s World Giving Index by the Charities Aid Foundation places Indonesia as the most generous country, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Singapore and Myanmar are Asia’s other representatives in the Index’s top ten at seventh and ninth, respectively. Termed as “quite remarkable,” Singapore turned around its poor showing in previous versions of the Index, jumping 23 spots from its standing in 2017, a change led primarily by increased volunteering. Myanmar had topped the Index in 2017, and Indonesia was placed second.

THE NONPROFITS

BTS’ UNICEF “Love Myself” campaign raises over US$1.4 million. Last year, BTS, a globally popular K-Pop group, teamed up with UNICEF Korea for their “Love Myself” anti-violence campaign, and it was recently revealed that the initiative had raised over US$1.4 million. “In the year since UNICEF and BTS joined together to eradicate violence against children, we have raised over ₩1.6 billion,” said UNICEF Korea in a statement.

Hong Kong nonprofit raises US$2 million for the Philippines’ poorest. Through a number of auctions and activities held in Hong Kong as part of the “Stepping Free from Poverty” banquet, the International Care Ministries (ICM) managed to raise US$2 million. Founded in 1992, the ICM is the brainchild of interior designer Sharon Tang. The Hong Kong charity provided training and resources to its one millionth family this year, and the money raised will be utilized to bring the next million out of extreme poverty. 

THE BUSINESSES

India’s CSR funding set to reach Rs20,000 crore. CSR funding in India is poised to grow to Rs20,000 crore (approximately US$274.9 million) over the next three years. That is the estimate made in a new report by the Indian School of Development Management in association with Sattva Consulting which also says CSR funding has been growing at the rate of 9% per year. With 33 lakh nonprofit institutions employing over 1.82 crore individuals, supported by contributions from funders, enabling organizations, the government, and businesses, India’s development sector is one of the largest and most active social economies in the world. It also has a huge potential to become an aspiring and mainstream career option for India’s young leaders and managers.

12,000 Samsung employees participate in the company’s Global Volunteer Month. Each year in October, Samsung employees all over the world look to give back through volunteering and community engagement. This year, across regions and countries such as the United States, Latin America, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, China, Myanmar, and Thailand, a total of 12,000 volunteers engaged in the program and contributed to diverse areas such as education, immigrant integration, school refurbishments, and cyberbullying among others.

THE INNOVATORS

Blockchain-based plastic recycling centers in Indonesia. Plastic Bank recently partnered with SC Johnson to open plastic recycling centers across Indonesia. Recent scientific data revealed that Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are responsible for more than 55% of the plastic waste found in the ocean. The organization plans to open eight plastic waste collection centers across Indonesia by May 2019. The program aims to act as a means of income for the local waste collectors who live below the poverty line and also to encourage recycling. The collectors can bring the plastic they collect to the center and receive digital tokens in exchange.

THE VOLUNTEERS

President of Singapore promises more opportunities for senior volunteers. President Halimah Yacob announced yesterday that the newly appointed National Centre of Excellence in Senior Volunteerism, RSVP Singapore, will reach out to more of those in their mid-50 and 60’s to encourage them to volunteer with local charities and other organizations such as hospitals. Currently, about 60% of the organization’s 2,500 senior volunteers are in their mid-50 and 60’s. The organization will tailor its programs to suit the group of volunteers. “Some are likely to be IT savvy, higher educated, and have a stable income…, so we need to curate different programs to suit them,” said chairman Koh Juay Meng.

Empress Michiko’s proactive involvement in society. The article spotlights Japanese Empress Michiko’s contributions to society and passion for helping the disadvantaged. From promoting Braille translations of music to serving as the honorary president of the Japanese Red Cross Society, Empress Michiko has gradually expanded her commitment to society. Her involvement in society is part of the Japanese royal family’s often publicly stated role of acting as the symbol of the state and unity of the Japanese people.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

Chinese Apple Watch supplier under fire for “forcing students to work like robots.” Apple is investigating a factory in Southwest China after a labor rights group claimed that the technology giant’s supplier forced student workers to work “like robots” to assemble the Apple Watch. The Chongqing factory is operated by Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. According to an investigation by the Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), many were forced to work to get their vocational degrees and had to do night shifts. These students were made to work under the guise of an internship. “Our graduation certificate will be withheld by the school if we refuse to come,” said one student majoring in e-commerce, according to SACOM.

Who’s Doing Good?

22 October 2018 - 28 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo donates RMB 200 Million to Tsinghua University. One of the richest businessmen in Hong Kong and chairman of the K.Wah Group, Lui Che-woo has donated RMB 200 million (approximately US$28 million) to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, to establish the Biomedical Sciences Building. The building is planned to enhance the university’s teaching and research capabilities, as well as house leading medical research centers, including the National Centre for Protein Science.

Hong Kong billionaire and alumni to match all donations to Hong Kong scholarships. Billionaire and chairman and CEO of Melco International and Melco Crown Entertainment, Lawrence Ho and his sister, Daisy Ho, who are both alumni of the school, have pledged to match every donation received by the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation in a new initiative called HK Match and help expand its existing scholarship program so that it fully covers tuition and living costs.

THE THINKERS

Proposed changes to India’s CSR laws could deplete motivation. As the world’s only economy with mandatory CSR, India is expected to collect upwards of Rs50,000 crore (approximately US$7 billion) from corporations by March 2019. But recent amendments have “hardened” the law, argues Shashwat DC. The author suggests corporations could turn away and treat CSR as a mere requirement. Grassroots beneficiaries, he adds, stand to lose out most as corporations may re-center towards low-hanging, low-impact contributions in their CSR approaches.

Private sector’s push in higher education and ease in regulation necessary says vice-chancellor of India’s rising university. Professor C. Raj Kumar, a former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and the founding vice-chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), has cited government regulations and lack of attention to research among Indian private universities as important contributors to India’s struggle in global university rankings. His remarks came as JGU, established in 2009, broke into the 2019 QS Asia University Rankings. 

THE NONPROFITS 

Group of eight corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and individuals win President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards in Singapore. Launched in 2012, the annual President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards honor individuals, companies, ground-up movements, nonprofits, and educational institutions who give back to the community. The winners for 2018 were picked from nearly 100 nominations. Notable corporate and academic winners include Citi Singapore and the National University of Singapore. Assisi Hospice was chosen as the nonprofit winner for providing end-of-life care as a health-oriented nonprofit organization. President Halimah Yacob said, “I’m heartened that this year’s winners include firms that made giving an integral part of their corporate culture, as well as individuals who are passionate in helping those around them.”

Opportunities for Indian women grow as social and economic restrictions are addressed. This brief case study notes an increasing focus towards women in India, the participation of whom is seen as central to sustaining the Indian economy. Through a handful of profiles including that of a former expat now turned entrepreneur running Asia’s first commercial biobank and Katalyst, an initiative helping women from low-income communities, JPMorgan Chase presents an optimistic outlook for women in India.

THE BUSINESSES 

Sustainable exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry to be worth over US$400 billion by 2030, says BlackRock chairman. Larry Fink, chairman of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, expects sustainability to form the core of all investments made in the future. Following the announcement of the plan to launch six Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)-screened ETFs in Europe, Fink also opined that rates of returns on social investments would also outpace those on traditional investments. However, BlackRock was the subject of protests in September during which the company was alleged to be the largest owner of fossil fuels companies and hence “failing to walk the talk.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Binance releases 2018 donation report for West Japan disaster. Having delivered cryptocurrency donations to flood victims in West Japan via its Blockchain Charity Foundation, Binance has released its 2018 donation report. The Blockchain Charity Foundation and other external donors sent in around a total cryptocurrency amount worth US$1,410,000. With these funds, over 41,000 individuals in three prefectures received medicine, shelter, and other resources.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Malaysian university students raise funds and volunteers to help those in need. Organized by students of KDU Penang University College, the Technicolor Festival brought the student community together to raise funds and conduct volunteering activities for those in need. Students raised RM138,000 (approximately US$33,000), as well as collaborating with the Penang Social Welfare Department to help underprivileged families. Dr. Chong Beng Keok, the university’s vice chancellor, commented, “It is about different communities coming together and a platform for them to showcase their creativity, talents, and skills. This festival is not only to celebrate culture but the proceeds will also be channeled to the underprivileged.” 

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister faces six new corruption charges. A Malaysian court on Thursday charged former Prime Minister Najib Razak with six new corruption charges in relation to alleged embezzlement involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. The new charges were added to the existing 32 cases of corruption against him in regards to the 1MDB fund. Former Prime Minister Razak denied the allegations, claiming that the money was a donation from a Saudi Arabian prince and that he was cleared by Malaysian authorities during his time as Prime Minister.

Who’s Doing Good?

8 October 2018 - 14 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Taiwan’s philanthropic vegetable seller donates millions for rural healthcare. Chen Shu-chu, who sold vegetables in eastern Taiwan’s Taitung for more than half a century, donated two insurance policies worth a total of NT$16 million (US$516,500) to local hospitals to foster the provision of rural healthcare services. The donation will be mainly used to treat cancer patients and provide the poor with proper medical care. Chen designated Taitung MacKay Memorial Hospital and Taitung Christian Hospital as the beneficiaries of the policies, which are currently worth NT$7.7 million and NT$8.3 million, respectively.

Hong Kong movie star announces plans to donate most of his net worth for charity. Chow Yun-fat, one of the biggest movie stars in Hong Kong and best known for his performances in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Bulletproof, Monk, and Anna and the King, recently revealed that he plans to leave the bulk of his fortune for charitable giving. His net worth is estimated to be HK$5.6 billion (US$714 million). No specific details and information was provided in regards to his planned philanthropy.

President’s Star Charity 2018 raises a record amount of funding from the general public. This year’s President’s Star Charity raised a record total of SG$8.3 million (approximately US$6 million), the highest amount raised for the annual event. All proceeds will go to the 59 charities under the President’s Challenge 2018. The event featured performances from various individual artists and groups. Donations will continue to be collected until the end of October.

THE THINKERS

Global Impact and KPMG release a new report on tax and fiduciary requirements for philanthropic giving. Global Impact and KPMG have released a new report, titled “2018 Giving Global Matrix: Tax, Fiduciary and Philanthropic Requirements,” which provides a snapshot of the complex and varied tax laws that incentivize or disincentivize philanthropic giving in 60 countries across North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The first edition was produced by the two organizations in 2015, with the recent report expanding its coverage to 60 countries from 40 and broadening the scope of research from four to ten questions. “In today’s global environment, this updated report provides timely information to nonprofit and private sector entities who want to understand the different approaches to philanthropy that geographic regions and countries are taking, and be able to plan their engagement more strategically,” said Anita Whitehead, tax principal at KPMG.

How governments can “turbo-charge” impact investing. In this article, the author shares three ways that governments and politicians can bolster the impact investing sector. The article particularly highlights three roles that governments can play: as a market facilitator, as a market participant, and as a market regulator. As a facilitator, governments would help build the capacity of social enterprises and impact investors. As a participant, governments would actively collaborate with investors via, for example, social outcomes contracts. As a regulator, governments would step in to help define the overall sector and create relevant legal and fiduciary infrastructure for social enterprises and impact investors.

THE NONPROFITS

Indian nonprofit wins the 2018 Positive Energy Prize under the Lui Che Woo Prize. Pratham Education Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in India, has won the 2018 Positive Energy Prize for its contributions to helping eliminate illiteracy. With a focus on high-quality, low-cost interventions, Pratham addresses gaps in the education system through innovative models and result-driven methods, changing the education landscape across 23 states and union territories in India.

THE BUSINESSES

Hong Kong-listed companies donated US$2.1 billion to charity in 2017, an increase of 28% from the previous year. According to the Sodata Analytics Foundation Association, a nonprofit group that tracks corporate philanthropy, companies listed in Hong Kong made record charitable donations last year to narrow the gap with their American counterparts. Led by property developers and financial institutions, 959 out of 1,826 main-board companies donated HK$16.3 billion (US$2.1 billion) in 2017. China Evergrande the list with a total donation amount of HK$5 billion. On the other hand, 47% of these list companies did not a single donation last year.

Nexon Foundation committed to promoting creative play culture. The Nexon Foundation, Korean gaming developer Nexon’s corporate foundation, announced that it has forged a partnership with two nonprofit organizations in the United States to promote creative play and the education of talent in convergence fields. The two partners are the Imagination Foundation and Two Bit Circus Foundation, both of which focus on the promotion of creativity.

SM Investments Corporation takes an active private sector role in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. SM Investments Corporation, a major conglomerate in the Philippines, is taking an active role in the private sector’s involvement in sustainability reporting and sustainable development. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair, said that the agenda of businesses are closely linked with sustainability and all are faced with greater unpredictability due to the devastating effects of climate change and the widening gap in social and economic opportunities in the world. A part of SM’s commitment to sustainability includes allocating 10% of its capital expenditures to incorporate disaster-resilient features in the design and construction of its property developments.

Maybank Foundation committed to helping disadvantaged communities become financially independent. Maybank Foundation, Malaysian financial services firm Maybank Group’s independent corporate foundation, is working to help disadvantaged communities become financially independent. For example, the Reach Independence and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (RISE) program is an economic empowerment program designed to support disadvantaged communities, particularly people with disabilities, to increase their income and help them become financially independent. Its 2014 pilot project saw the average income of 40% of the initial 280 participants increase by 411.7%. The program has since then expanded into Indonesia, the Philippines, and Laos.

THE INNOVATORS

Global impact investor launches its first two India funds. Social Finance, a global impact investment firm, has launched its first two India funds that will each raise US$1 billion. Social Finance said in a statement that the first fund will be called the “India Impact Fund.” In partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Finance group, it will raise US$1 billion to target equity funding for small lenders in priority sectors, namely agriculture, education, housing, and so forth. The second fund named the “India Education Outcomes Fund,” will, as its name suggests, focus solely on education. It aims to improve learning outcomes by technology-aided interventions in subjects such as mathematics and to improve education complete rate among girls.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers bring laughter to Indonesian children. Volunteers across Palu, Indonesia, are cheering children up with songs and games as a way of offering a distraction from the earthquake that struck the area. Erna, a volunteer, drove three hours with her friends and dressed up as popular cartoon characters to bring smiles on the children’s faces. Aid workers on the ground said that many children were shocked and distressed by the scale of the disaster. Many were orphaned or separated from their families in the terrifying aftermath as buildings crumbled and a tsunami crashed over the city.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Couple barred from raising funds for charities. Jailed for duping donors into parting with almost SG$10,000 (approximately US$7,200) for the Bedok Youth Society for the Disabled, a Singaporean couple was barred from conducting any fundraising appeals for charitable purposes. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) issued a prohibition order under the Charities Act against Noryana Mohamed Salleh and her boyfriend Rajzaed Sedik, who were both former employees of the voluntary welfare organization. The COC said, “Both individuals are not fit and proper persons to conduct fundraising appeals for charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purposes.”

Who’s Doing Good?

24 September 2018 - 30 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese entrepreneur donates US$5 million for blockchain research. Feng Han, co-founder of the blockchain company Elastos, has donated US$5 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish the university’s blockchain research wing. The “Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) Blockchain Pillar and Activities Fund” will foster the development of a diverse range of blockchain projects, connecting emerging talent with thought leaders in the industry. “I am excited to facilitate the development of blockchain ecosystems through partnerships with organizations and universities, similar to MIT,” said Feng. “Leaders throughout the blockchain landscape should seize opportunities to support research and development of the industry, to ensure it matures in a regulatory compliant, transparent, and responsible manner. This is not the last incubator that I hope to establish to shape the parameters of a healthy blockchain ecosystem.”

Singaporean university receives SG$9 million (approximately US$6.5 million) to attract top young Swedish scientists. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the largest private financier of research in Sweden, is making a SG$9 million cash donation to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to establish a new postdoctoral fellowship program to support up to 40 fellows over the next six years. Through the fellowship, some of Sweden’s most outstanding young scientists will spend two years at the Singaporean university to conduct postdoctoral research. “We are deeply grateful to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, whose new generous gift comes after their SG$12.6 million donation to NTU just three months ago. The Wallenberg family is known for their passion for cutting-edge research and technologies, and NTU is privileged to be one of only three international universities to benefit from the Wallenberg Foundation’s recognition and support,” said Professor Subra Suresh, president of NTU.

THE THINKERS

China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) hosts the Global Social Finance Forum (GSFF) in Shenzhen. On September 21, 2018, the CGPI hosted the second GSFF in Shenzhen, China, under the guidance of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Futian District People’s Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and China International Center for Economic & Technical Exchange (CICETE). The theme of this year’s GSFF was “Social Investing as a Force for Good, and leaders in social finance and impact investing were invited as guests and participants.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong charity diverts annual mooncake waste. The Chinese tradition of exchanging boxes of mooncakes with friends and family during the Mid-Autumn Festival is now a staggering US$2 billion international industry. However, most are leftovers from manufacturers who overproduced in an attempt to cash in on the tradition. More than two million mooncakes, valued at least US$12.8 million, will be thrown out in Hong Kong alone after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Food Grace, a local charity, collected the leftovers this holiday season to redistribute them to low-income families and individuals. Convincing individuals, however, to donate their mooncakes is still taking time to catch on, according to Conrad Tsang, a project officer at the charity. “We have to educate and encourage them [to donate] and that [even if] you are not sending a mooncake as a gift, [it] does not harm your relationship with your partners or with your employees,” said Casey Ng, founder of Food Grace.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies’ CSR spending to depend only on previous year’s profit. India’s 2013 CSR law mandates that companies must spend 2% of their three-year average annual net profit towards a social cause. The amended law that came into effect on September 19 of this year states that companies will have to consider only their previous year’s net profit. A recent study of 1,186 eligible and listed companies by CRISIL, a credit rating agency, showed that over the past two financial years the amount spent on CSR surged at a compound annual growth rate of 14%, despite a lukewarm 5% growth in net profit.

Samsung extends helping hand during major national holiday. During Chuseok, one of Korea’s largest holidays, Samsung employees carried out various volunteer activities to provide assistance to residents in need of help. Along with the Korean Red Cross, Samsung employees delivered groceries to senior citizens and other residents in need for three weeks. They visited 780 social welfare facilities, including a children’s center, senior’s welfare center, and support center for migrant workers.

THE INNOVATORS

Using online platforms to help Palu earthquake victims in Indonesia. On September 28, 2018, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, Donggala, and Mamuju in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, claiming 832 lives (as of yesterday) and injuring many others. The Jakarta Post has highlighted different ways that people can help through donations. Notably, Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding website, and Tokopedia, an e-commerce platform with various donation channels (such as Donasi Palu), were featured. Both platforms have been recognized by the publisher for their transparency and accountability.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Miss Nepal on a social mission. Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Miss Nepal 2018, is on a mission to contribute to society after her coronation in April. In an effort to address post-earthquake reconstruction, she is building health posts in rural villages and raising funds in London for this cause. As a former architecture student, she is exploring the concept of healing by architectural design. “This is just the beginning of my work in philanthropy and architecture. Eventually, I want to use my fame to build more of what Nepal needs, whether it is health posts in remote areas or schools and homes in disaster zones,” she said.

Japanese firms prepare for large-scale volunteering during 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has started its search for 80,000 volunteers on Wednesday. Major companies in Japan are encouraging employees to volunteer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Many are even sending employees in order to show their support. Brokerage giant Nomura Holdings Inc., for example, has picked 300 employees through an internal application process to volunteer for the 2020 Games.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Website duplicates Giving.sg campaigns; site admin apologizes, says it was a mistake. A website has been found falsely canvassing donations for various fundraising campaigns that were originally posted on the national giving portal Giving.sg, which is managed by the National Volunteering and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The campaigns’ webpages indicated that they had garnered Nepalese Rs. 17,290 (approximately US$147) in donations. The website, Giving Nepal, claims to have posted the design mock-ups online by mistake and that no funds were actually collected. The NVPC clarified that Giving.sg is still a safe and secure online platform that has not been affected by any security breach. It also said that none of its donors’ information has been leaked.

Singaporean watchdog body introduces transparency guide for charities. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) introduced a new Visibility Guide framework to help charitable organizations be in a better position to present their financial information, use of donations, and activities. The framework by the COC not only helps charities put out key information to its stakeholders in a simple manner, but it also guides donors on each charity’s causes and impact. The framework was introduced together with an annual report template for nonprofit organizations. To encourage more giving, trust is crucial, and to build trust, good governance is necessary, said the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who also launched the framework during the 2018 Charity Governance Conference.

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.”

 

New charity financial disclosure requirement brings further confusion to interpret charity’s financial information

Hong Kong Economic Times

Vincent Cheng (CAPS) analyzes the Hong Kong government’s latest 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.

Here is an age-old horror story of donations: people—with enormous goodwill—send money to a charity, hoping that these funds will be used to help those in need. To their dismay, they soon find out that a considerable portion of their donations goes to anything but that. The donor feels deceived, their money squandered for little or any return. These types of experiences and the worry about them, together with other mishaps or scandals, contributes to the trust deficit of the charitable sector. Hong Kong is not alone in this situation.

On 1st August 2018, the Hong Kong government issues a new regulation meant to increase transparency and accountability specifically on charities’ public fundraising activities, after complaints of the hefty price tag of fundraisers. Charitable organizations in Hong Kong are now required to place on a public website audited financial statements of each of their public fundraising activities (e.g. flag days, the sale of raffle tickets, or other charity sales). The new measure aligns with other efforts of achieving greater transparency such as HKCSS’s WiseGiving initiative, an information-sharing platform where charities can voluntarily share their mission, structure, governance, and financial information with the public.

While the government’s goal of increasing transparency is well-intentioned, this latest attempt is half-baked and will likely do more harm as it adds fuel towards the general public’s visceral, but misguided understanding regarding the administrative costs associated with both fundraising and project management. Unbeknownst to the policymaker, the new measure may also unwittingly penalize less established charities as all compliance takes time, effort, and often professional knowledge that many charities lack.

The two faces of regulations

The Doing Good Index by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Regulations, in general, have two important purposes, as the inaugural Doing Good Index published by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society explains. First, they can make it easy or more difficult to exist as a legal charitable entity. For the charitable sector to thrive, it is essential to have clear, easily understandable and enabling regulations which encourage organizations to register and operate within the law. Second, regulations can enhance transparency and accountability through, for instance, annual reporting requirements and assign legal liability for noncompliance.

Hong Kong performs reasonably well in the Doing Good Index, although it ranks behind Japan, Taiwan, and rival Singapore, and is on the same footing as developing countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Generally, the charitable sector is mature and vibrant. Laws are established, clear, and easily understandable and charities are incentivized to register and operate within the law. Hong Kong is only second to Taiwan in this regard: only 17% of HK charity respondents find laws pertain to the charitable sector difficult to follow, the second lowest across 15 economies we surveyed (the Asia average is 39%).

But, Hong Kong could do even better with some relatively accessible fixes which could propel the charitable sector further. The recent directive for charities to share audited financial statements of public fundraising is no doubt intended to increase transparency. However, there are two potential issues with this well-intended measure, one operational which can be easily mitigated; another has to do with its underlying logic, which is less easy to fix.


A blinkered perspective of understanding charities

Close to half of HK respondents said that it took them more than 3 months to comply with the annual reporting requirement, which—for many—merely requires the submission of an audited financial statement. This percentage is the highest across 15 economies. One interpretation is that many charitable organizations do not have the capacity to adequately manage and explain their accounting practices as well as measuring the impact of the projects they manage. Grappling and complying with new requirements—especially those having to do with tax and fiscal policies—often equates to extra time, manpower, and resources. For nonprofits with tight budgets and stretched staff, they find it difficult to explain their programs and outcomes as well as their budgets in clear, compelling manners. Unfortunately, the result is that many people assume that they must have something to hide. For larger charities with professional staff, additional reporting requirements may work but the burden on small organizations can be life-threatening.

The more important issue, however, is understanding what is included in administrative costs (or more commonly known as overhead cost outside of Hong Kong), and why these are necessary and useful. While a blow by blow report of each public fundraising activity will quell public concerns over the costs of these fundraisers, it will not necessarily allow the public to come to a meaningful conclusion on how effective these charities are in doing their job. Why is that?

Firstly, funds for charities come from a variety of sources, so a measure that only necessitates explaining those funds raised as a result of a public exercise, only tells a portion of the story. Most charities in Hong Kong also receive funding from government and corporate sponsorship, funding streams that are not accounted for in the new regulation. In fact, those charities which raise considerable government and corporate support may rely less on the public.

More importantly, there are several points to bear in mind when thinking about administrative costs, which generally include such items as the salaries of administrative personnel and rent, in many cases of Hong Kong and internationally. Funds spent on raising more funds are also considered part of overall administrative expenses because they do not go directly to project support. Here is the main issue: these expenditures differ greatly from one charity from another due to their age, size, the nature, and function of charitable activities. Charities which require higher skilled professionals will certainly have higher overhead costs. In Hong Kong with a very low unemployment rate, charities compete with government and the private sector to find and hired skilled staff. Only by paying reasonable wages can they hope to compete for many of these employees.

But this lopsided attention on financial matters of charities is perhaps reflective of the larger context of oversight of Hong Kong’s charitable sector. With the exception of fiscal matters, there is little continual oversight for Hong Kong’s charitable sector after the approval of their tax-exempt status. For instance, charity’s eligibility to continue to be tax-exempt, which is determined by the organization’s objective and may change across time, is not a remit of any governmental body. Nor does governance mishaps of charities, except perhaps with criminalizable acts, or those receiving lump sum grant from the government.

A dedicated charity commission is needed

The Law Reform Commission (LRC)’s 2013 suggestion of having charitable organizations be registered and overseen by a future charity commission in the long run was a good step towards Hong Kong’s regulatory progression, an issue reiterated an audit report released by the Audit Commission in 2017. The LRC suggested an oversight system similar to the one used in the Philippines and currently being adopted by several countries in Asia.

The Law Reform Commission released its report on charities in December 2013. Source: The Government of the HKSAR.

The Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) in the Philippines was set up as an accreditation body with the blessing of the Filipino government to scrutinize aspects of charities’ mission, projects, governance, and financial information every one, three, or five years. Only with this accreditation can donors to the organization receive a tax subsidy. If respected charitable sectors practitioners who understand the operations, together with professionals in legal and accountancy team up to monitor, accredit, and offer timely and appropriate professional assistance to charities, as with the case the Philippines, charities in Hong Kong can become more accountable, transparent, at the same time, an enabling ecosystem for these organizations to grow and prosper. The future charity commission—as a standard bearer—can also educate to the public of the appropriate ways to understand and evaluate the work of charities they support, and show that which charities are checking all the boxes under this rubric. It will, in short, help build trust for those working in the charitable sector.

Overall, while we applaud the government’s bid to increase transparency and accountability of the social sector, the downside of the new measure requires attention. There are easy fixes to give the public a fuller picture in the shorter term: we recommend the government request charities to submit their annual audited financial statements ready for Inland Revenue Department’s review, and make them public on one centralized governmental platform for public scrutiny. Specific accounting requirements can be made to make clear of the specifics as deemed necessary for better transparency and accountability, such as fundraising administrative cost or overall administrative cost in these statements. With this measure in place, at least 74% of Section 88 charitable organizations, which are legally incorporated as a limited company, will be made more accountable and transparent. Some charities in the city have taken the initiative to achieve this goal on their own. World Vision Hong Kong, for instance, has put their audited financial statements online and gone the extra mile to lay out clearly how donations are spent. In the long run, a one-stop charity commission which registers, oversees, and provides professional support to the charitable sector should be set up to offer to inspire confidence and trust for all those endeavoring to make Hong Kong a better place.

 

This op-ed is an extended version of the Chinese op-ed ran originally in the Hong Kong Economic Times.

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.