Who’s Doing Good?

16 March 2020 - 29 March 2020

Philanthropists are funding vaccine research, donating supplies, and setting up funds to support hard-hit communities. Crowdfunding websites in Indonesia and Singapore are also seeing a surge in donations.

Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder, has donated millions of masks, test kits, and other relief materials to countries around the world. This includes the hardest-hit countries—the United States, Korea, Iran, Spain, and Italy—as well as other countries across EuropeAsia, Latin America, and Africa. Ma’s initiative is a collaboration between his eponymous foundation and Alibaba Foundation. The Jack Ma Foundation pledged US$14.4 million to vaccine research—including US$2.15 million to Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and US$2.15 million to researchers at Columbia University in New York. 

Anand Mahindra, Mahindra Group chairman, offered 100% of his salary to a new Mahindra Foundation fund that will assist hardest-hit communities like small businesses and self-employed individuals.

Lei Jun, Xiaomi CEO, contributed US$1.8 million to relief efforts. The donation went to his home province of Hubei—the epicenter of the outbreak.

Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong tycoon, donated US$13 million to help Wuhan amidst its outbreak. His eponymous foundation also sourced medical supplies for hospital workers in Hong Kong and Wuhan.

The Lee family, which controls Henderson Land Development, set up an anti-epidemic foundation with seed-funding of US$1.4 million.

Adrian Cheng, scion of the family group behind New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, donated over US$7 million to nonprofits, schools, and hospital in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Indonesian crowdfunding platform Kitabisa sees surge in fundraising campaigns for Covid-19. A total of 513 campaigns have been initiated by public figures, nonprofits, and members of the general public. Total donations amounted to US$1.4 million as of March 23.

Giving.sg, sees 67% spike in donations. More than US$1.5 million was raised on Singapore’s official fundraising site. 15% of the total was raised from campaigns included in the SG United Movement—a government initiative launched on February 20th to streamline contributions to coronavirus-related initiatives.

Charities in different cities are stepping up their operations and raising money for communities both at home and abroad.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust set up a HK$50 million (approximately US$6.5 million) Covid-19 Emergency Fund to provide emergency support to local communities and mitigate the health and societal impact of the outbreak.

Singapore Red Cross collected donations worth more than US$4.5 million for relief efforts related to the outbreak. Approximately US$1.7 million went to purchasing and distributing protective equipment for hospital staff and other healthcare workers in China. The charity also worked to educate Singaporeans about the outbreak by calling and visiting senior citizens to ease their concerns.

Pakistan’s largest charities, including Al-Khidmat Foundation and Saylani Welfare, are aiding the country’s Covid-19 efforts. Al-Khidmat Foundation is distributing soaps, sanitizers, and face masks across the country, and has designated isolation wards in the 52 charity hospitals it runs. Saylani Welfare has introduced a mobile phone application and telephone service where families in need can register themselves to get rations and supplies.

Companies are setting up their own Covid-19 relief funds, leveraging their resources to contribute to relief efforts, and supporting government initiatives. Others are donating through charities or donating needed medical supplies. Companies across Asia are also taking a “business not as usual” approach to help relieve financial stress.

Setting up funds to help combat Covid-19.

Tencent announced a US$100 million Global Anti-Pandemic Fund, with an initial focus on sourcing medical supplies for hospitals and healthcare workers. Prior to this global fund, Tencent had also established the China Anti-Pandemic Fund, which had allocated US$211 million towards research, medical supplies, technology support, as well as towards support for frontline workers, patients and their families. 

Alibaba set up a US$144 million fund to source medical supplies for Wuhan and Hubei province.

Godrej Group earmarked a fund of around US$7 million for community support and relief initiatives in India focused on public health.

Swire Group Charitable Trust (Swire Trust) established the HK$3 million (approximately US$400,000) “Community Fund to fight Covid-19” to support NGOs in delivering their services safely amidst the outbreak. Swire Group also donated over US$1.5 million to help combat the outbreak in Hong Kong.

K. Wah International (KWIH) announced a roughly US$500,000 donation through its KWIH Anti-Epidemic Fund for Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGH). The fund will convert part of the Jockey Club Ngai Chun Integrated Vocational Rehabilitation Centre into a surgical mask production factory. TWGH will provide job training for people with disabilities to assist in the production of an estimated 2.2 million surgical masks per month.

Samsung Group raised nearly US$1 billion for an emergency support fund to aid to its subcontractors amidst Covid-19.

HSBC announced a US$25 million Covid-19 donation fund. The money will support international medical response, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure food security around the world. US$15 million will be made available immediately, with the remaining designated for long-term Covid-19 commitments.

Supporting government initiatives.

Unilever Vietnam committed US$2.245 million and partnered with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Training to implement its “Stay Strong Vietnam” initiative. Unilever also pledged to donate 550 tonnes of personal hygiene items, sanitization products, and food products to over 1.6 million people across 3,000 schools, hospitals, and isolated communities.

Petronas contributed nearly US$5 million worth of medical equipment and supplies for medical front-liners in Malaysia through its CSR arm Yayasan Petronas. The contribution will be carried out in stages in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Agency.

Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and Government-Linked Investment Companies’ (GLICs) Disaster Response Network, is coordinating support from companies to assist the Malaysian Health Ministry in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The Disaster Response Network is managed by a joint secretariat led by Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation under Khazanah Nasional, and Telekom Malaysia. Early contributions from GLCs, GLICs, and private sector entities exceed US$9 million.

Malaysian companies including Spanco, DRB-HICOM, MMC Corp, and YTL Corp contributed donations ranging from US$230,000 to US$500,000 to the Covid-19 fund launched by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

11 Filipino-Chinese organizations, led by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced a donation of nearly US$2 million worth of medical supplies. The donation will help the Philippines’ Department of Health acquire testing kits and other protective equipment.

Tencent joined Baidu and ByteDance to donate a total of US$115 million towards researching new treatments and helping authorities in the most affected areas in China.

Adaro Energy, Indonesia’s major coal producer, gave the government US$1.3 million to help it fight Covid-19 through its task force.

Leveraging their own resources.

Alibaba Cloud, DAMO Academy, and DingTalk together launched a series of AI technologies and cloud-based solutions to support companies and research organizations worldwide.

Mahindra Group offered resorts owned by the company to be used as Covid-19 hospitals. The Group’s chairman announced that the company is prepared to help government efforts. The Group’s engineering team also indigenously developed a prototype for a ventilator that could cost less than US$100 each.

Reliance will make 100,000 masks per day and offer free fuel to emergency vehicles. Reliance’s CSR arm has prepared one of its hospitals in Mumbai to be India’s first 100-bed facility for Covid-19 patients, and is offering free meals in various cities to support affected communities.

New World Development is outfitting a factory to manufacture more than 200,000 masks per day, and it has partnered with a nanotechnology company to research how nanodiamonds can be used to make masks more protective against bacteria and viruses.

Donating through charities or donating supplies.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs in India announced that the spending of CSR funds towards Covid-19 initiatives is eligible to be counted as CSR activity under the Companies Act. This frees up around US$2 billion in philanthropic capital to go towards combatting Covid-19.

Tata Trusts has committed nearly US$200 million to fight Covid-19. The funds will be used to buy protective equipment for medical workers, respiratory systems, testing kits, as well as for setting up modular treatment facilities for patients.

Shimao Property Holdings donated around US$4 million, via the Red Cross Society of China, to help combat the outbreak.

APP, a subsidiary of Indonesia-based Sinar Mars Group, donated US$14.4 million to the Overseas Chinese Charity Foundation of China.

Huawei contributed to the construction of the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan and donated medical supplies, computer tablets, and other technological equipment to several European countries. This includes 2 million face masks.

Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, and LG Group donated over US$4 million each to the Community Chest of Korea to assist the hardest-hit city of Daegu and North Gyeongsang province.

Samsung Group donated a combined US$24.6 million to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Hana Financial Group, Shinsegae Group, Doosan Group, and CJ Group each offered nearly US$1 million in donations to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Lotte Group donated nearly US$1 million, of which US$254,000 went to the Korean Red Cross.

For hard-hit communities, including those in North Gyeongsang province, SK Group’s SK Siltron announced nearly US$400,000 for face masks and hand sanitizers. LG Household & Healthcare announced nearly US$1 million for hand sanitizer. Lotte provided meals and hygienic supplies to welfare facilities and gave sanitization products, food, and daily necessities to lower-income households, senior citizens, and healthcare workers.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pledged to donate 1 million masks to elderly care facilities and doctors in Japan.

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is donating 10 million masks to medical institutions in Japan and around the world. It’s also donating garments for medical staff and 1 million masks to countries with high infection rates—including the United States and Italy. 

Shiseido Group donated US$1.43 million to the Shanghai Charity Foundation and US$143,000 to the Charity Foundation of Wuhan. It also announced the Relay of Love Project, which will allocate 1% of the Group’s sales in Asian markets, between February and July this year, as in-house funds to support regions most affected by Covid-19.

Ayeyarwady Foundation together with Max Myanmar Group, AYA Bank, and AYA Sompo Insurance contributed over US$72,000 worth of medical supplies, hospital equipment, and protective materials to Waibargi Hospital and Yankin Children Hospital.

“Business not as usual” approach.

Gojek is offering a stipend to its driver-partners that test positive for Covid-19. Gojek is also extending support to healthcare workers in Indonesia by waiving food delivery fees in areas near hospitals and offering vouchers for trips to and from hospitals and testing centers.

Ayala Group announced around a US$47 million response package to offer financial relief to businesses within its ecosystem. This includes salary continuance for affected employees and partners, as well as rent-free periods for tenants of Ayala malls, which are closed during the community quarantine till April 14.

Bangkok Bank donated over US$300,000 to Thammasat University Field Hospital, the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and Thai Red Cross Society. The bank is also introducing financial relief measures such as reducing minimum payment rate for credit card customers to 5%.

CIMB in Malaysia is offering a six-month moratorium for customers on all types of financing payments except for credit cards. Credit card customers can now opt in to convert their outstanding balances into a term loan/financing over a period of up to 36 months.

Social enterprises are adjusting their work to address the needs arising from Covid-19.

Hong Kong social enterprises are rising to the occasion to help combat the outbreak. SoapCycling has distributed masks and soap salvaged from local hotels to nearly 3,000 of the city’s street cleaners. Sew On Studio is selling face mask kits with fabric made by the city’s elderly tailors. Rooftop Republic, which usually promotes urban farming, is making washable, eco-friendly masks that can be worn over surgical masks.

Chinese social enterprise Yishan, a data-driven donor advisor, has built a platform for donations towards supporting Covid-19 relief efforts. So far, Yishan has registered over 40,000 grantmakers and 5,000 public charities, who have raised over US$4.5 billion thus far for their efforts in fighting Covid-19.

New volunteers are stepping up and coming together to help their communities during the crisis.

A new generation of volunteers emerges in Wuhan. Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, ordinary people stepped up and joined forces to take care of emergency needs unmet by an overwhelmed government. Networks of young volunteers were formed over social media to respond to a variety of needs, from sourcing masks for hospitals to driving medical staff to and from work.


In this section, we usually share stories about scandals that are having negative repercussions for the social sector. With the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, there are some trust-breaking stories circulating from price-gouging to faulty medical supplies. Fortunately, the stories of people being constructive during these times far outnumber them. We look forward to bringing more of these positive stories to you in the coming weeks.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought much attention to financial markets and businesses, but the nonprofit sector has also been severely impacted in these unprecedented times. These resources offer guidelines for how the sector can weather the storm.

India Development Review highlights five ways funders around the world are helping their partners cope with Covid-19. IDR has also crowdsourced guidelines and practices that social sector organizations—from donors to field workers—are taking in response to Covid-19.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 November 2019 - 9 December 2019


Forbes announces Asia’s 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy. In its 13th iteration this year, the list honors Asia’s leading philanthropists who are helping solve some of the region’s most pressing challenges through donations and their personal involvement. The unranked list features 30 individuals including Azim Premji from India, Jack Ma from China, and Theodore Rachmat from Indonesia. Broadly, 6 individuals from China, 4 from India, 3 each from Indonesia, Singapore and Australia, and 2 each from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Thailand are featured. Korean singer and actress Lee Ji-eun, 26, known by her stage name IU, is the youngest honoree on the list.

Seal of Love Charitable Foundation donates HK$40 million (approximately US$5 million) to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The gift, channeled into the “Seal of Love Foundation Innovation Service Fund,” is aimed at empowering HKUST students to solve real-world problems through innovation and technology. The fund’s first donation is to the pre-existing Student Innovation for Global Health (SIGHT) project, which has been devising creative and affordable solutions to global health issues since 2014. Inventions by SIGHT include a mobile electronic health record system for slums and rural areas in Cambodia and Ghana. The Seal of Love Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 by Lawrence Chan, the heir to Chan Chak-Fu, a pioneer in the global hotel industry.


Asia home to the majority of people fleeing ‘climate chaos,’ Oxfam study finds. The study examines the number of people displaced within their home countries by climate-fueled disasters between 2008 and 2018. While the study looks at the impact of ‘climate chaos’ globally, it offers timely insight into displacement finding that 80% of all people forced from their homes by weather disasters over the last decade were in Asia. The report also finds that people are three times more likely to be displaced by environmental disasters (such as cyclones, floods, or fires) than by conflicts. Large populations in some Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, live in areas threatened by cyclones or flooding. For example, this past May, Cyclone Fani alone led to the displacement of 3.5 million people in Bangladesh and India.


Piramal Foundation and Gates Foundation join hands in tribal health collaborative. The partnership leverages support from the Gates Foundation and other stakeholders including the Indian government to achieve SDG 3, “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.” India’s tribal communities are home to more than 150 million people and have poorer health standards than the national average. For instance, the average maternal mortality rate in India is 130 per 100,000 births while it can be as high as 230 deaths per 100,000 in tribal communities. The goal of the partnership is to build a high-performing and sustainable health ecosystem to address the needs of these marginalized populations. Speaking at the occasion, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Given the complexity and magnitude of the problem, we believe that partnerships with like-minded, values-based organizations such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that seek to complement the Government’s efforts, will provide the much needed impetus.”


Hong Kong millennials are investing family wealth sustainably, but the learning curve can be steep. Young heirs of family wealth want their money to do more than just generate returns—they want to make a difference. But doing so has not been straightforward. According to Michael Au, the managing director of District Capital, “One of the hurdles is the lack of advisers who understand the contemporary impact investing dialogue from an Asia perspective.” On the other hand, Ronnie Mak, the managing director of RS Group, states that they have been able to build and manage a fully sustainable portfolio and achieve a net annual return of 5 percent over the last 10 years. The old-guard is viewing these experiences with caution, according to Au, since they continue to believe that generating returns and doing good are mutually exclusive. CAPS’ newest report, “Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia” challenges this perception. Viewing social enterprises as a critical vehicle for doing good, it offers actionable strategies to investors and philanthropists to maximize their impact.

World Bank’s catastrophe bonds provide US$225 million cover to the Philippines for dealing with natural disasters. Two tranches of the catastrophe-linked bond (CAT bond), the first of its kind, were released last week. The bond will provide immediate liquidity and insurance cover to the Philippines for three years. Issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, up to US$150 million will be channeled towards tropical cyclone-related losses while the remaining US$75 million will cover losses from earthquakes. The bond transfers risks related to natural disasters from developing countries to capital markets. According to Mara K. Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, the CAT bond “demonstrates the Philippines’ capability to develop innovative financial solutions to mitigate impacts of extreme climate and weather-related events as well as major earthquakes.”

UNDP and Government of India launch accelerator to champion innovative approaches to development challenges. The India chapter of “Accelerator Labs,” a new UNDP initiative, will be part of a global network of 60 labs where innovative and homegrown solutions to global challenges such as climate change and inequality will be tested and scaled. The labs will employ real-time data and experimentation to quicken progress towards meeting the SDGs by 2030. The Government of India’s Atal Innovation Mission, part of a national effort to harness the potential of entrepreneurship, serves as the lab’s key partner in the country. At the launch, Mr. R. Ramanan, Mission Director of the Atal Innovation Mission said, “We remain committed to finding local solutions that can be scaled up not only in India, but also across the Accelerator Lab network.” The launch also featured #DateForDevelopment, a matchmaking activity aimed at fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Policymakers, impact investors, experts from civil society, scientists, and members of the private sector interacted in the activity to iterate over proposed innovations.

Social stock exchange in the works in India. A 15-member working group, constituted under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), is likely to present a blueprint for a stock exchange for the social sector this month. According to Vineet Rai, co-founder of Avishkaar, a pioneering social enterprise, the social stock exchange will help potential donors find and fund credible organizations that are doing good. As these efforts proceed apace some concerns have also arisen. Former Sebi chairman, UK Sinha, opines that robust impact measurement will be a critical ingredient in the exchange’s success, and yet there are few metrics that combine social impact and financial success and can serve as an effective basis for qualification on the exchange. Despite these hurdles, however, Sinha agrees that the social stock exchange is a step in the right direction.


China’s star healthcare crowdfunding portal, Waterdrop, mired in scandal. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that an undercover media report has shed light on a series of lapses and wrongdoings on the part of Waterdrop and its staff. SCMP reports that Waterdrop staff asked hospital patients to initiate crowdfunding projects and exaggerate their stories to garner sympathy. Waterdrop’s model incentivizes project creations according to one staff member who said he would lose his job if he did not meet the target of 35 projects initiated per month. The report also states that the financial situations of targeted families was not being verified and patients were not required to submit proof of how they were using the donated money. According to SCMP, verification and supervision are the most frequently raised issues about crowdfunding platforms in China. Shen Peng, 32, founder of Waterdrop, has vowed to transfer ownership of the platform to an NGO if he cannot manage it better in the future. Waterdrop had raised CNY1 billion (approximately US$145 million) in June this year.

Environment for NGOs likely to become grim under Sri Lanka’s new president. In an interview for the The Diplomat, Taylor Dibbert, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum, opines: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see NGOs throughout the country–particularly in the heavily militarized north and east–getting visits from security personnel. Offices may be raided.” Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as the island nation’s eighth president earlier this month.

Who’s Doing Good?

2 September 2019 - 15 September 2019


US$442 million donated via online platforms in China in 2018. According to a recent report by China Philanthropy Research Institute, Chinese donations to online charity platforms increased nearly 27 percent in 2018 to more than ¥3.17 billion (approximately US$442 million). A total of 20 online platforms attracted donations from 8.46 billion internet users. The report also notes a 34.5 percent increase in the number of registered charitable organizations in China putting the total at 5,620. Guangdong ranks first in the country with 748 charitable organizations, followed by Beijing and Zhejiang.

Donations to earthquake-hit towns in Japan rose sharply in 2018. Through the Japanese government’s furusato nozei (hometown tax donation) system, taxpayers can contribute to their hometowns or other municipalities in return for tax cuts. The Japan Times reports that donations to three earthquake-hit towns in Hokkaido have risen sharply, most notably to Atsuma where they grew 5.4 times from the previous year to over ¥1 billion (approximately US$9 million). The Atsuma Municipal Government intends to channel donations towards reconstruction efforts, among others.


BRAC, one of the world’s largest charities, charts new path. Founded in 1972, BRAC has grown into one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGO) with 100,000 full-time staff. According to the The Economist, BRAC lent money to almost 8 million people and educated more than 1 million children across Bangladesh and ten other countries in 2018 alone. NGO Advisor has ranked BRAC as the world’s best charity for the past four years.  However, there are challenges ahead. As Bangladesh’s annual GDP continues to grow and government spending on public services continues to increase, large charities are having to think about where else they can contribute. In response, BRAC is venturing into new directions and shifting to income-generating activities to subsidize its philanthropic activities. The Economist notes that, by charting this new path, BRAC can serve as a model for other charities to follow.  


Japanese companies lead world in disclosing climate risks. According to the Financial Times, more than 60 Japanese companies threw their support behind the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in May, surpassing companies in the US and the UK. Nearly 200 Japanese companies back TCFD measures now. This has been applauded by investors and lenders as a valuable opportunity for obtaining consistent information about companies’ climate risks. The country has also seen a sharp increase in ESG investing. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance reported that Japan’s ESG investing assets quadrupled from US$474 billion to US$2 trillion from 2016-18. 

China’s Xiamen Airlines vows to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At a recent industry expo, Chairman of Xiamen Airlines (XiamenAir) Zhao Dong confirmed the airline’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2017 XiamenAir was the first airline to sign a cooperation agreement with the United Nations  to formally support the SDGs. Since then the airline has adopted a range of measures including providing passengers with sustainable tissues and bamboo cups, and offering digital news services instead of printed newspapers. According to Zhao, XiamenAir has also achieved a 14.8 percent drop in fuel consumption per ton-kilometer, exceeding the global average of fuel efficiency improvement. At the event, the airline committed to continuing its support for sustainable development in the aviation industry. 

Global Reporting Initiative Regional Hub officially opens in Singapore. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that helps businesses, governments, and other organizations understand and communicate their sustainability standards. The organization officially launched its GRI Regional Hub in Singapore earlier this month, adding to six other hubs around the world. The Singapore hub will support ASEAN companies by helping them “identify, manage, and report their most material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts.” The Hub will be headed by Michele Lemmens, a business executive from Tata Consultancy Services.


With the help of 12,000 volunteers, No Food Waste redistributes surplus food to the needy in India. The food-recovery startup, No Food Waste (NFW), was founded in 2014 to redistribute surplus food to the needy in Tamil Nadu. With the support of a network of 12,000 volunteers, NFW now serves an average of 900 people per day. The organization collects surplus food from banquets at social functions, corporate canteens, and hotels. After being notified of a food pick-up, a city-specific NFW coordinator gets their team of volunteers together to collect and distribute the food. Recently, the startup has been working to incorporate more sustainable measures by banning single-use disposable containers and shifting to serving food on plantain leaves. The food-recovery startup has received a number of awards recognizing its work.


Singapore-based IIX and Korean government agency commit US$1.2 million to accelerate high-impact enterprises in Asia. Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), a global organization that provides funding and support to social enterprises, has announced a new partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). IIX and KOICA will jointly contribute US$1.2 million over five years to support 18 social enterprises across South and Southeast Asia. Through its Acceleration and Customized Technical Services (ACTS) program, IIX will select the social enterprises and offer them capacity building and technical assistance to ensure they are investment-ready. The enterprises will also gain access to mentors and over 1,000 accredited investors from around the world. This joint initiative aims to impact the lives of 8 million people.

UNDP and 500 Startups launch accelerator for social enterprises in Indonesia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and 500 Startups have launched ImpactAim Indonesia, a social accelerator that aims to boost social entrepreneurship in the country. The accelerator will support eight to ten startups that are serving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a 10-week program in Jakarta. These startups will receive guidance on impact measurement and gain access to prospective impact investors from around the world. According to the article, ImpactAim hopes to amplify social impact through three main objectives: “growing impact ventures, assessing their contribution to the SDGs, and connecting them to networks and funding opportunities.”

Who’s Doing Good?

5 August 2019 - 18 August 2019


Li Ka-shing donates HK$500 million (approximately US$64 million) to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Hong Kong’s richest man and notable philanthropist Li Ka-shing is helping establish the city’s first synthetic biology institute through his most recent donation. Synthetic biology is a cross-disciplinary area of research in which genomes are designed and modified to help resolve challenges in life sciences. Advances in the field can impact key areas of human development such as manufacturing, medicine development, and food production. The need for innovations in such areas is urgent: current and future increases in global population are straining resources and necessitate the development of alternatives. Speaking on the occasion, Li underscored the vision behind his gift, “Just as synthetic chemistry and petroleum was central to the 20th Century, synthetic biology and DNA are the technology engines of this century, bringing disruption to traditional manufacturing and new opportunities in the industrialization of biology.”

Mano Amiga Philippines and She Talks Asia co-founder, Lynn Pinugu, discusses why she gives back to society. Lynn Pinugu traces the roots of her philanthropy to a financial crisis her family went through when she was in university. Her writing skills helped her win a journalism competition, which awarded her with a scholarship that supported her studies. She realized that children who lacked basic education would struggle to access such opportunities. After graduating, Pinugu volunteered in Mexico where she came across Mano Amiga, a network of low-cost schools transforming the lives of underprivileged students. She replicated their model in the Philippines in 2008, impacting over seven hundred lives since. Pinugu further expanded her work and founded She Talks Asia to support women in her country who are confined by traditional gender roles. Through She Talks Asia, Pinugu is offering them a safe space to discuss these issues. She concludes that humility and an eagerness to learn have kept her motivated in this journey.


Singapore falls quite behind Malaysia in responsible investing, according to Blooomberg. Singapore edges its regional competitor in several metrics such as efficiency and quality of life. In fact, CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018 found that Singapore is one of Asia’s three economies doing the most to catalyze private social investment—Malaysia ranked a tier below. But a new Bloomberg report finds that fewer asset managers in Singapore have incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decisions relative to their Malaysian counterparts. In fact, nearly twice as many asset managers in Malaysia have developed their own ESG scoring models as compared to Singapore. These discrepancies, according to Ben McCarron, founder of sustainable finance analysis firm Asia Research & Engagement, are attributable to Malaysia’s clear regulatory push towards responsible investing. As a global center for Islamic finance, Malaysian investors are also more familiar with the use of social factors to guide their investments. Overall, however, Asia still lags behind financial centers in Europe and the United States when it comes to responsible investing.

The Economist Intelligence Unit profiles the impact investing landscape in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa in new report. Commissioned by Standard Chartered Private Bank, the report aims to create knowledge for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on sustainable finance and its intersection with philanthropy. The goal of the study is to help HNWIs decide how to allocate their portfolios to achieve the best return against their requirements. The report—based on desk research and in-depth interviews of eight experts—focuses on Asia, the Middle East, and Africa as these regions are witnessing the highest growth in either receiving or propelling sustainable finance, impact investing, and philanthropy. One of the report’s five main observations concerns definitions: there are often very subtle differences between terms such as impact investing and sustainable investing. The report recommends HNWIs to set clear parameters and objectives to navigate gray areas in the definitions.  

The path to scale is broken for nonprofits. In an opinion piece published by India Development Review, Dhananjay Rohini argues that the support ecosystem surrounding nonprofits may be failing them in their pursuit of scale. Nonprofits often find themselves solving “inherently harder” problems such as those arising out of market failures or weak institutions. Amid these challenges, nonprofits must also bear the high transactional costs of seeking funding for one project at a time. The successful delivery of projects may improve the chances of future funding, but “donor fatigue” could still be an impediment. This situation is quite contrary to the private sector where multiple mechanisms exist for raising funding and where unremarkable but stable companies often succeed in attracting funding. Among the strategies Rohini lays down to alleviate some of these failings are: donors paying the entire costs of programs, and funding large-scale initiatives instead of individual projects. Non-pecuniary support in payroll management, reporting, and HR can also help nonprofits focus on the core problems they seek to solve.   


Founder of nonprofit helping trafficking victims named among 2019 Class of Asia 21 Young Leaders by Asia Society. Ta Ngoc Van is the chief lawyer at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit based in Hanoi which rescues Vietnamese women and girls who fall victim to human trafficking. Van is credited with helping 800 trafficking victims and has provided legal representation to nearly a hundred. Human trafficking affects over 40 million women, children, and men and according to the International Labour Organization, citizens of the Asia Pacific region are twice as likely to be at risk as those of a developed country. The Ministry of Public Security in Vietnam reports that about 80% of human trafficking victims end up in China. According to the article, this is in part due to the country’s gender imbalance, which is seen to exacerbate the issue. Van’s fellow honorees are playing their part in alleviating the region’s challenges through journalism, policy advocacy, and technology among others.  


KKR’s Global Impact Fund exceeds US$1 billion fundraising goal. The global investment firm, which manages assets worth US$148 billion, announced the Global Impact Fund as its first impact-focused fund in 2018. This new fund employs UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide investment decisions. The actual “investment playbook,” concerning the type, duration, and commitment to value-add, however, remains the same. The Global Impact Fund joins the likes of TPG’s US$2 billion Rise Fund, the world’s largest impact investing pool, and similar funds from Bain Capital and Partners Group. Co-head of KKR Global Impact, Ken Mehlman, states that the fund will allow KKR to access investment opportunities that previously had to be let go due to their size; the new fund will prioritize deals worth US$100 million or below. The fund has already deployed two investments: US$32.4 million in Singapore-based energy-saving company Barghest Building Performance, and about US$510 million in Indian environmental management company, Ramky Enviro Engineers. The latter investment is understood to have been funded in part from the Global Impact Fund and KKR’s 2017 Asian Fund III worth US$9.3 billion.


Korea’s SK Group developing blockchain donation platform. The donation platform will enable direct, low-cost, and peer-to-peer foreign currency donations that will be settled immediately without requiring any input from external or intermediary institutions. Cross-border money transfers are subject to various fees if sent through traditional intermediaries, and blockchain technology has emerged as a promising solution to the problem. This application of the technology, however, is yet to achieve mainstream approval despite its merits. While no firm deadline has been quoted for the project, SK Group has committed that the platform will be open sourced. Interested developers will be able to replicate the platform and alter parameters such as transaction terms. Donations on the platform will be settled in Korean won through the Social Value Coin (SVC), which will be pegged to the won in a 1:1 ratio. Another token, Social Value Power (SVP), will be distributed as reward to donors at the ratio 1:1000 SVCs (or Korean won).

Who’s Doing Good?

10 June 2019 - 23 June 2019


Li Ka-shing donates HK$118 million to Shantou University. Every undergraduate attending Shantou University in China will have their tuition paid for thanks to Hong Kong’s richest man. Li Ka-shing established the university in 1981 to aid the development of his hometown of Shantou. His donation of HK$118 million (approximately US$15 million) will grant a full scholarship to every student enrolled in the university for the next four years. The donation will be administered through his eponymous foundation, which he founded in 1980. The Hong Kong billionaire has exhibited great dedication to philanthropy, having donated over HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) to schools, hospitals, and universities in 27 countries and regions. Li has stated that he plans to bequeath a third of his wealth to philanthropy and charitable causes.

Indian billionaire Azim Premji’s retirement casts spotlight on private philanthropy in India. Azim Premji announced last week that he will retire from his position as executive chairman and managing director of Wipro. As India’s second-richest person with an estimated net worth of US$22.4 billion, Premji has grown to be an inspiring philanthropist, committing over half of his wealth to philanthropy. Premji was the first Indian to sign The Giving Pledge and has donated US$21 billion to date. While ultra-high-net-worth individuals in India are giving less than they did five years ago, according to Dasra and Bain’s 2019 India Philanthropy Report, Premji is a notable exception. His retirement casts a spotlight on private philanthropy in India and the opportunity for more business leaders and philanthropists to invest their wealth in the social sector.

Japan’s Rugby World Cup mascots call on fans to help disadvantaged children in Asia. ChildFund and World Rugby are partnering for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by Japan this fall. As part of their Impact Beyond legacy program, the Rugby World Cup’s two mascots will be ambassadors to ChildFund Pass It Back, a sport-for-development organization. Pass It Back has benefited more than 10,000 disadvantaged children across Asia–over half being girls and young women–by integrating life skills curricula with tag rugby. With a pledge of a record £1.5 million (US$1.9 million), the global rugby community and commercial partners for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will enable over 25,000 disadvantaged youth from across Asia to participate in the Pass It Back program.


Japan’s social investment funds connect social enterprises to private capital. As interest in social ventures increases among investors, third-party organizations in Japan are stepping in to connect social enterprises with private capital. This includes Kamakura Investment Management, which works to facilitate a cross-sector ecosystem by connecting companies it invests in to social ventures it supports. Kamakura’s flagship mutual fund, Yui 2101, which initially received skepticism from people in the industry, now boasts assets under management of US$340 million from more than 19,000 investors. Another key player working to foster a cross-sector ecosystem is the Japan Social Impact Investment Foundation (SIIF), which invested in Japan’s first health-care social impact bond.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) releases its 2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey. In its ninth iteration, GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey provides data on and insights into the increasing scale and maturity of the global impact investing industry. The report draws on responses from 266 leading impact investing organizations from around the world who collectively manage US$239 billion. The report also includes Asia-specific findings. South Asia is reported to be the second-fastest-growing region of interest among four-year repeat respondents, with 40 percent of all respondents planning to increase their allocations to it. For the array of actors entering Asia’s nascent impact investing industry, this report offers a snapshot of impact investing activity from global counterparts.


Cambodian nonprofit wins Australian award for film addressing domestic violence. Siem Reap-based nonprofit This Life Cambodia won the “Best Social Media Campaign of the Year” at the Not-For-Profit Technology Awards in Australia. The nonprofit leveraged the power of social media to run its End Violence Together campaign for 16 days in November and December 2018. The campaign included a two-minute film depicting “a world in which women and children weren’t wearing helmets to protect themselves from road accidents, but wore them inside their homes to protect themselves from domestic violence.” According to The Phnom Penh Post, the video went viral and was viewed more than a million times. This Life Cambodia is also a finalist for the global Grassroots Justice Prize.


Korea’s Amorepacific signs MOU with TerraCycle to recycle empty bottles. Recycling efforts will soon get a boost with an agreement signed between Amorepacific Corporate and global environment company TerraCycle. A memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties in June includes objectives to recycle at least 100 tons of empty plastic bottles annually for three years and to increase the usage of recycled empty bottles for Amorepacific products. Amorepacific is a leading Korean beauty company and has collected 1,736 tons of empty cosmetic bottles over the last 15 years. The company has been running its Greencycle campaign to recycle these empty cosmetic bottles or upcycle them into creative artworks. The company is also currently studying different recycling opportunities to mitigate environmental harm caused by used cosmetic bottles.

Collaboration among stakeholders key to achieving development goals. In the lead-up to the G-20 Osaka Summit, Japan has outlined action plans for achieving the SDGs through regional revitalization, women empowerment, and Society 5.0–a program based on human-centered society, leveraging data, and new technologies. Business leaders have also been vocalizing their support. The Keidanren, also known as the Japan Business Foundation, has updated its Charter of Corporate Behavior to support efforts for achieving the SDGs. The integration of SDG principles and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into business strategies and investments is promising, but the article highlights the need for more collaboration at the global level to achieve the SDGs. At the first SDG Summit in New York this September, the international community will need to discuss progress made and a collaborative way forward.


Asian banks curb lending to coal plants after pressure from investment funds. Asian banks are stopping loans to coal plants as investors increasingly adopt environmentally conscious investment principles. The latest move came from Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in May and banks across Asia, such as DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation in Singapore, have also announced similar measures. This is in line with a surge in global investments based on ESG factors, which have reached US$30.7 trillion as of 2018–a 34 percent increase in just two years–according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. George Iguchi of Nissay Asset Management stated, “These three factors [environment, social, and governance] are good indicators of what vision each company has for its business. Businesses with a good vision can generate better returns [that are] sustainable.”

UOB Venture Management expands its impact investing initiative. UOB Venture Management will be launching a new impact fund in the second half this year. Named the Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF II), it will continue the Fund’s focus on investment in education, healthcare, and agriculture as well as extend into new areas like clean energy and affordable housing. Deals for the Fund will be assessed based on a company’s ability to scale its business and the company’s impact on low-income communities. UOB Venture Management started the first series of the Fund in 2015 and has invested in nine companies across China, Indonesia, and Myanmar. These companies have strived to improve the lives of low-income communities by including them as consumers, suppliers, or distributors.

Who’s Doing Good?

28 January 2019 - 03 February 2019


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

17 December 2018 - 23 December 2018


Hong Kong Tatler profiles Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s most influential businessmen and philanthropists. Born in 1928 in Chaozhou, Guangdong, Li Ka-shing rose from humble beginnings, sweeping floors in factories and caring for his ailing father after his family migrated to Hong Kong. His business acumen led to a successful plastic flower manufacturing business and, eventually, a real estate empire. In May 2018 the former chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings retired after 68 years in business, and pledged a third of his wealth to philanthropic projects. Despite his vast net worth, Hong Kong’s richest man is popular for maintaining a humble outlook and engaging in philanthropy. The Li Ka Shing Foundation is considered second in influence only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with contributions totaling HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) in a range of areas including education and social development.


Indian companies rally to support Arianna Huffington’s mental health initiative, Thrive. During a recent trip to India, the acclaimed businesswoman and author won the support of several Indian companies as well as the Indian chapters of American Express and Microsoft. These companies are now finalizing a partnership with Huffington’s productivity and well-being platform, Thrive Global, through which they will receive coaching on creating a positive work culture for employee well-being. Thrive Global centers efforts on alleviating stress and burnout, which it sees as a modern epidemic. Arianna Huffington is recognized as a strong advocate for addressing this issue. Her 2014 book, “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder”, was a New York Times bestseller.


Rockefeller Foundation vows to encourage collaborative problem solving in Asia. Deepali Khanna, Managing Director of the foundation’s Asia office, says that collaboration as a means of generating impact will underscore their work in the region for the next few years. A collective mandate for all stakeholders, from philanthropists to corporations to governments, can help streamline deliverables as well as align impact measurement. The Foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development initiative, worth US$75 million, has helped bring together seven energy companies as well as local and national governments to expand grid systems in a cost effective and decentralized manner.


Operation Santa Claus raises HK$7.6 million (approximately US$980,000) in Hong Kong. Morgan Stanley, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Swire Pacific are among the many businesses participating in this year’s Operation Santa Claus, an annual charity drive to support the needy in Hong Kong. Over a hundred Morgan Stanley employees participated in various activities to raise a record HK$3.55 million (approximately US$453,000). Toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is offering gift-wrapping services in exchange for donations. Individuals can also donate to the drive directly. Operation Santa Claus is a collaboration between the South China Morning Post newspaper and Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK. Since its inception in 1988, the charity drive has raised a total of HK$290 million (approximately US$37 million).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending in India jumps 14%, and is expected to reach ₹500 billion (approximately US$6 billion) by March 2019. A law requiring companies valued at over ₹5 billion (approximately US$71 million) to spend 2% of average net profits on CSR is bearing fruit. The increase in CSR spending is providing cover to India’s poor, estimated to number north of 170 million. An example is India’s biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, partnering with Gujarat-based hospital, Zydus, to set up a polyclinic. In Haryana, Maruti Suzuki has also set up automated water dispensing facilities. Clean water can be purchased from these facilities at one-thirtieth the retail price. Other notable initiatives in fulfilling the CSR law have included an AIDS campaign led by the Tata Group and an agricultural technology program funded by HDFC Bank.


Millennials are at the forefront of surge in social enterprises in Indonesia. A recent study commissioned by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific notes rapid growth in Indonesia’s social enterprise ecosystem. Over 70% of the sampled enterprises were set up in the last two years, and almost half of all leaders are aged between 25 and 34. This sharp rise in social enterprises is having a positive impact on the economy and society. The number of full-time workers employed by the sector is up by 42% since 2016, and 20% of all enterprises target creative industries (including crafts and knowledge generation) considered key in modern development. Gender equality has also benefited: the growth of social enterprises has led to a 99% increase in the number of full-time females employed by the sector since 2016. Despite this surge, financing remains difficult to access, indicating that efforts to support the ecosystem must continue.


Filipino volunteer crowned Miss Universe 2018. During the final question round of the pageant, Catriona Elisa Gray from Philippines, said, “I work a lot in the slums of Manila and life there is very poor and sad. I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in the faces of the children, and I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something and provide something.” Gray was noted for being an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself, an advocacy and awareness NGO in the Philippines as well. She has also served as a teaching assistant at Young Focus which provides education to underprivileged children.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018


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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Who’s Doing Good?

12 November 2018 - 18 November 2018


Forbes releases “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy,” shedding light on Asia’s leading do-gooders. In its twelfth iteration now, Forbes’ “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy” highlights entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities who have made considerable philanthropic contributions in the previous year. With a total of seven representatives on the 40-member list, India and China have produced the highest number of “heroes,” while Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia follow with three to four members each.

Elderly couple in Korea donates millions to Korea University to fund scholarships for students in need. Kim Yeong-seok and Yang Young-ae have decided to make a property donation worth ₩40 billion (US$35.3 million) to Korea University for funding need-based scholarships. After the announcement of their donation, many expressed their concern over whether the university might misuse the funds for its own gains, but university officials clearly stated that they will make sure the money goes to students in need. “All the income from the building will be used to give scholarships to students in need. We all know how hard it was for the couple to accumulate such wealth, which is why we will make sure that no penny goes to waste,” said Yoo Byung-hyun, vice president for development, external affairs, and capital planning at Korea University.

Singaporean university gets SG$4 million gift from late philanthropic couple. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is the latest institution to benefit from a late elderly couple who had donated millions of dollars to several charitable causes. The SG$4 million (approximately US$2.9 million) gift will help fund NTU’s development of teachers, with the introduction of scholarships for master’s degrees and grants for trainee teachers at the university’s National Institute of Education. The scholarships will be named after the couple: Mr. Ong Tiong Tat, 74, who died in 2013, and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, 73, who died in 2016.


Trust deficit to blame for the slow growth of Indonesia’s social sector. Billionaires in Indonesia continue to enjoy enormous growth in wealth in spite of economic downturns, but philanthropy, on the other hand, has not taken off, highlighted Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS. According to Shapiro, who spoke as a panelist at the Indonesia Philanthropy Festival, the trust deficit between givers and charitable organizations is primarily to blame. Unlike the private sector, the entire charitable sector is painted as corrupt in the wake of major public scandals, and a lack of purported transparency can often reflect capacity constraints and not actual corruption. Shapiro also stated that Indonesia’s unsupportive regulatory environment is an additional impediment.


Pakistani nonprofits face funding squeeze and delays in approvals as state paranoia peaks. According to the author, the Pakistani government, in its recent condemnation of the entire social sector, has failed to differentiate between legitimate social service providers and those involved in terrorism financing. For the government, nonprofits are increasingly viewed as fronts for international “agents” with “ulterior” motives. The ensuing clampdown has involved making it difficult for charities to access financing and to obtain government approvals for projects. This article paints a bleak picture for Pakistan and its social sector, as this tightening slows the country’s progress in core development areas such as education and health.


The Business Times releases “Champions of Good 2018.” Through a seven-part series, The Business Times spotlights best practices in volunteering and philanthropy from Singapore. Some of the areas covered by this wide-ranging series include CSR programs which tap into companies’ skills and resources to drive change and impact measurement as a tool to learn and refine social work. Across these seven articles, a myriad of organizations—mostly corporate, as well as nonprofits—are studied and showcased as role-model examples of doing good.

UNIQLO partners with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop to support refugees. Under this proposed partnership, customers at UNIQLO outlets will be able to shop for “Cards for Hope,” which are special greeting cards that feature artwork by Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. All proceeds will be channeled towards the Sesame Workshop and IRC’s early childhood development programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Promotional campaigns seeking to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian crises surrounding refugees will also be conducted through drawing workshops at UNIQLO outlets participated by elementary school groups and Sesame Street characters.


Alipay launches “Social Innovation Challenge” in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise. The initiative seeks to attract, promote, and support digital technology innovations geared towards social good in Southeast Asia. As part of the challenge, individual innovators and entrepreneurs will receive up to SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000), as well as a complete suite of support services from mentoring to acquiring access to potential investors. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of Asia’s leading universities, have committed in a joint effort to tap into their rich networks and share their resources in order to support aspiring entrepreneurs focused on creating positive social impact. 

Hong Kong Tatler lists five impact funds and ventures that contribute to social well-being. First, on the list, The Rise Fund was setup by TPG, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The fund is worth US$2 billion and makes investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy. Hong Kong Tatler also features a sustainable rubber plantation in Indonesia worth US$95 million and owned by Michelin and Indonesia’s Barito Group. Responsible meat producers such as Impossible Foods and companies in the electric vehicle sector also made the cut.


Japanese teen volunteers and funds library in Cambodia. Miyu Ozawa, now 16, saved every New Year’s gift money and decided to use the collected funds for a good cause. Having spent her spring vacation following her graduation from junior high school, she worked as a volunteer on a 10-day tour in Cambodia, where she helped with classes at a primary school. After returning to Japan, Ozawa began thinking about building a library in Cambodia because it appeared that while the country had schools, it did not have enough teachers or teaching materials. “Books will give you a first step for studying on your own,” said Ozawa.


Arrest of fake Chinese monk in Myanmar highlights the increase in sham begging. Ashin Dhamma Rakhita, associated with the Guan Yin San Tart Pain Temple in Yangon, Myanmar, has stated and clarified that monks do not and should not engage in commercial activities or ask for donations. In recent days, individuals in the garb of monks have appeared in markets, schools, and restaurants in Yangon, publicly asking for donations and selling beads. Videos on social media of their activities have also been doing the rounds. As a result, authorities have arrested one such trickster, while a few have returned to China.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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