Who’s Doing Good?

6 August 2018 - 12 August 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

 THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

30 July 2018 - 5 August 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

9 July 2018 - 15 July 2018

THE GIVERS

The late HNA chairman’s stake in the conglomerate is to go to a China-based charity. Wang Jian, who has a 14.98% stake in HNA, died in an accidental fall while traveling in France earlier in the month. The China-based charity, Hainan Province Cihang Charity Foundation, already controls 22.75% of the conglomerate. The charity and another New York-based foundation already jointly hold a majority stake in the conglomerate. Shareholders had allegedly previously promised to pass their stakes to the charity fund in the event of their exit from the company or death.

Livemint interviews Rakesh Mittal, who recently pledged INR 7000 crore (over USD $1 billion) to education. The Bharti Mittal Family pledged the sum towards the creation of Satya Bharti University, a new higher education institution with a focus on Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and artificial and virtual reality. “This is the DNA of my family,” he says, referring to his family’s philanthropic tradition. “When we started out our businesses, even when we were small, we were doing a few small things or initiating or institutionalizing scholarships and higher education for engineering and management students. I personally believe that giving back to society is an obligation.”

Top Korean financier says his dream is “to become Korea’s largest donator, not the country’s richest man.” Mirae Asset Daewoo, Korea’s top securities firm, and its chairman, Park Hyeon-Joo, are providing thousands of scholarships to nurture young talented individuals. The company said the Mirae Asset Park Hyeon-Joo Foundation has supported about 230,000 students as of April 2018 since the foundation’s establishment in March 2000. Of these, the company stated that it particularly focuses on supporting study abroad programs. A company official said, “To help more Korean university students have different kinds of cultural experiences, we have been providing scholarships to 500 students every year. The number of students will be expanded to 600 in the second semester of this year.” Alongside his foundation’s charitable work, Park is known for donating his dividends every year.

Hong Kong mourns the death of great educator Tin Ka Ping. From humble beginnings on the mainland, businessman became a philanthropist who donated billions of dollars in support of education, culture and social welfare. Despite his great successes as an awardee of the MBE in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth and a Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010, by the Hong Kong government, he was a modest man and lived a simple life. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Tin and his businesses suffered a massive blow making it difficult for his foundation to complete some of the donations. In 2001, Tin made the incredible decision to sell his for HK$56 million (US$ 7.13 million). He donated all the proceeds to more than 20 secondary schools.

THE THINKERS

Singaporean businesses “fail to give back to society,” says the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The centre found that 31% of Singaporean companies are “keen to start” giving, but have yet to do so. Many are holding back out of concern about the staff and resource availability, as well as time limitations. Companies that have been successful in giving back were those that adopted a “purpose for-profit model,” using volunteer activities for purposes such as staff development and skill cultivation. Going forward, NVPC director Jeffrey Tan says that cultural change needs to start at the top: “Many of these barriers identified, and the low utilisation of paid volunteer leave, suggest a need for leaders to drive shifts in perception and organisational cultures.”

THE NONPROFITS

Five nonprofit websites that will inspire you. According to the author, “the most effective nonprofit websites provide mobile-friendly accessibility, streamlined donation pages, straightforward navigation and a growth-driven design that allows for continuous testing and improvement—all while showcasing the organization in a captivating way.” The author selected notable websites of five nonprofit organizations such as Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley, Greenpeace, Movember Foundation, World Bicycle Relief, and Sharing America’s Marrow, elaborating on the specific reasons for their effectiveness and uniqueness.

THE BUSINESS

Traveloka harnesses its customers for charitable giving. In preparation for Meraka Day and Malaysia Day, the travel booking site will donate 1 yuan from every booking to Tabung Harapan Malaysia, the national debt-relief fund set up by the Malaysian government in June of this year. To date, the fund has collected 144.6 million yuan (USD $36 million). “We are sure that many Malaysians wish to show their love for the country, which was why we set up the campaign,” Traveloka’s country manager Halif Hamzah said. Titled “Share Your Love for Malaysia,” the campaign will run until the end of September.

THE INNOVATORS

A debut development-impact bond performs beyond expectations. UBS Group’s Optimus Foundation launched the Educate Girls Development Impact Bond in 2015 to fund a program in rural India to improve educational opportunities for girls. The program outperformed expectations, generating a 15% rate of return for the foundation. The bonds are one example of innovative ways that foundations are raising money for charitable causes. Over 108 social-impact bonds have raised $392 million since 2010. “When people make philanthropic investments, especially international ones, there’s a lot of risk with that, but in a development-impact bond the investor is the one taking the risk,” says Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation. “This could potentially be a really powerful financing tool.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Thailand honors foreign volunteers in cave rescue. The Thai government has honoured over 100 foreign volunteers who took part in the dramatic rescue mission to free 13 Mu Pa Academy football club members from Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai. The Royal Household Bureau, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and Tourism Authority of Thailand will also host sightseeing trips in Chiang Rai and Bangkok for those who wished to stay in Thailand after their volunteer work. For those returning back home, Thai authorities will sponsor a single trip back to Thailand within the next five years.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Maharashtra state charity commission asks NGOs, trusts to remove ‘human rights’ or ‘corruption’ from their registered names. Around 400 non-profits and trusts established with the words ‘human rights’ or ‘corruption’ in their names and are risking suspension under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act 1950. The charity commissioner states that the government has the machinery to eradicate corruption and protect human right and that many organizations were misusing the words and deceiving people. Several NGOs have objected to the State’s move, arguing that the Charity Commissioner’s office should have raised objections while registering their organizations. Many propose to challenge the order in court.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 June 2018 - 1 July 2018

THE GIVERS

The PepsiCo Foundation announces a US$4.2 million grant for WaterAid to provide clean water access to communities in southern India. The grant came as the foundation announced that its safe water access initiative had reached nearly 16 million people, achieving more than 60% of the company’s CSR goal. On top of this, the foundation announced last week an additional US$2 million donation to the China Women’s Development Foundation’s “Water Cellars for Mothers” initiative, which provides solutions to improve water access in areas presently lacking water infrastructure.

Bloomberg Philanthropies donates US$2.4 million to prevent drowning deaths in Vietnam. Bloomberg Philanthropies has donated US$2.4 million to fund the first two years of a five-year program to prevent drowning deaths among children in Vietnam. The program will hold swimming lessons for children in eight drowning-prone provinces, with a particular on those below five years of age. The donation was announced at a seminar held in Hanoi on June 26, 2018.

The Walmart Foundation invests nearly US$2 million in a farmer market readiness program in India. The foundation has partnered with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropic (ICRISAT) to further the goals of doubling farmers’ incomes and addressing malnutrition in rural areas. An international research institution with United Nations status in India, ICRISAT aims to support small farmers in harnessing markets as a means of poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Half of Singaporean firms practice corporate giving, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) finds. According to its recently released Corporate Giving Survey 2017, about half of the 707 firms surveyed engage in corporate giving. Nearly two-thirds of them have integrated the giving process into their core operations. With the overwhelming majority of giving coming from philanthropy (90%), NVPC encouraged companies to engage in other forms of giving: “beyond cash donations, there (are) a lot of different ways companies can give, and a lot of times we miss the obvious ways–the giving of skills, services or products that companies can provide to communities in need.”

THE NONPROFITS

Charity’s food donation platform serves 2.6 million meals. Food-Co, an online platform run by the charity St. James Settlement and funded by the Hong Kong government’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund, has helped distribute about 200 tons of food to thousands of needy people in Hong Kong over the past year. The platform connects the food industry, both restaurants and companies, with charities that help channel surplus food to those in need.

THE BUSINESSES

The Business Times interviews Singaporean impact investor Declan Ee. The partner and founding investor of TLG Capital, Ee was an early advocate of socially responsible investing at a time when others in Asia were still skeptical of its effectiveness. One of TLG’s first investments was in a medical manufacturing plant in Uganda, which produces affordable anti-retroviral drugs that help treat HIV. With access to generic drugs, HIV patients in Africa “can now have a normal life because the anti-retroviral treatment is so effective. The average lifespan of someone who is on it could be 60-80 years.”

THE INNOVATORS

Technology to help modernize donation marketplace in the Philippines. The founders of Charity Byes and Albert, two mobile applications that focus on creating an online donation marketplace between those who have (such as companies) and those who are in need (such as nonprofits), were inspired by the need to forward excess company resources like food, which would otherwise be wasted, to the causes that most need them.

THE VOLUNTEERS

A Singaporean pair raises over US$42,000 USD for migrant workers in need. Shirin Chua and Ameera Begum started a crowdfunding campaign to raise US$7,300 for Muslim migrant workers in Singapore and were surprised to find that the campaign generated vastly more money than they had expected. Funds raised will go to the Transient Workers Count Too’s meal program, which feeds up to 800 destitute workers every month.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Nonprofits in Malaysia call for regulations on political donations and gifts. The acting chairman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (better known as BERSIH) stressed the importance of transparency in the political donations process. “Any donation received cannot go into a personal account, and there must be documentation or receipts for all contributions.” The calls for greater oversight over donations comes as Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, imposed a no-gif tpolicy for cabinet officials: gifts from now on should only be limited to flowers, food, and fruits.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 June 2018 - 24 June 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

Source: India Development Review

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

How Can Asia Boost Philanthropy?

AsiaGlobal Online

Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.

This article looks at how the Doing Good Index can help governments improve regulations and policies relevant to the philanthropic and charitable sectors by identifying the levers that best enhance local philanthropy across 15 Asian economies.

This article was first published in AsiaGlobal Online.

Who’s Doing Good?

4 June 2018 - 10 June 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

14 May 2018 - 20 May 2018

THE GIVERS

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ask for donations to charity in lieu of wedding gifts. The couple has asked for donations to a number of charities, instead of traditional presents for those who wish to send a wedding gift to them. 7 charities are chosen to represent a range of issues they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces.

THE THINKERS

Funders, get out of your own way to achieve greater impact. Funders can be nonprofits and social enterprises’ greatest enemy, according to Open Road Alliance, a philanthropic initiative that provides bailout grants to social impact organizations that encounter mission-crippling obstacles. Its newly released Roadblock Analysis Report, which looks into the 102 applications for support the initiative received over the last five years, reveals that “Funder-Created Obstacles”, such as delay of disbursement, a change in funder strategy, and funder policy inflexibility, made up of half of the roadblocks nonprofits and social enterprises face during project implementation. Other factors, including weather event or market change under the “Act of God/Economics” category, and fraud/theft filed under “Organizational Misfortune”, tied at 27% each.

THE NONPROFITS

NGOs can play a bigger role to protect migrant fishing workers in Thailand. Natthaya Phetcharat, a labor rights activist, said members of legally registered NGOs should be allowed to collaborate with Thai officials to help migrant workers in fishing industry, as they have more confidence in the networks and feel more comfortable talking to NGO advocates than to just the authorities, according to a survey which interviewed 300 migrant workers in the industry.

THE BUSINESSES

Nokia vows to digitize 500 Indian villages in five years’ time. Through its newly launched “Smartpur” project, Nokia vows to bring connectivity and enable digital applications in education, healthcare, governance, and finance to 500 villages and rural communities across the country in 5 years. The initiative aims to bring efficiency in daily lives, transparency in governance, economic prosperity for households and ease of access to various government services and information, the Finnish telecom gear maker said.

Samsung vice-chairman holds on to foundation chairmanship. Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronic’s vice-chairman, will serve as chair of Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation for another term, despite speculations of the contrary after criticisms of him using the chairmanship to garner more control of the Korean conglomerate. The board re-appointed him last Friday in the belief that Lee “best understands the vision of the foundation and is the most suitable person to carry out its social contribution activities”.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Kodak expands global literary program with local printers and staffers. More printers across the globe are signing up for Kodak’s Print for Good initiative, which aims to print and donate children’s book titles and school notebooks. Last year, the initiative placed more than 30,000 books and printed materials to thousands of children in Europe, the US, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Kodak staffers are also encouraged to support their own community’s literacy initiatives, including participation in local school reading programs. This year, the imaging company will establish a new partnership with Room to Read, a global nonprofit focusing on literary and girls’ education in low-income countries to roll out a literacy program for an Indian community.

Who’s Doing Good?

7 May 2018 - 13 May 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

23 April 2018 - 29 April 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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