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?

23 July 2018 - 29 July 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

 

 

 

Who’s Doing Good?

16 July 2018 - 22 July 2018

THE GIVERS

Warren Buffett donates US$3.4 billion to the Gates Foundation and family charities. Marking the billionaire’s largest charitable contribution, Buffett has donated roughly US$3.4 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to five charities. The largest funding went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the rest going to Buffett’s own foundation and three charities run by his children.

Hong Kong family donates rare Chinese artworks to Hong Kong museum to promote traditional culture. Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion, an organization by late philanthropist Ho Iu- kwong and now run by his family, has donated over 350 Chinese paintings and calligraphy works to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The donated collection will be permanently displayed in a dedicated gallery named the “Chih Lo Lou Gallery of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy” after the museum finishes its renovation and reopens in 2019.

Indian Americans are donating US$1 billion a year, a new survey has found. They are among the ethnic groups with the highest per capita incomes in the United States and volunteer at nearly double the national average at 220 hours per year, according to the Indiaspora-Dalberg Community Engagement Survey. Still, researchers have found that the potential for giving by the community is vast, at more than US$3 billion annually. “We hope that the results of this study [can] help galvanize philanthropic efforts among this important—and influential—community,” says Joe Dougherty, Dalberg Advisors’ regional director for the Americas.

Bridgespan conducts in-depth interviews with major philanthropists in India. The Bridgespan Group, a philanthropy and non-governmental advisory firm, initiated the “Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India” series, which is a video series that provides a behind-the-scenes look at philanthropy in India from the perspectives of eminent givers. The videos were made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the series this year include Senapathy (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, Rajashree Birla, Rakesh Mittal, Sunil Munjal, and Sunil Wadhwani. These philanthropists have shared their perspectives on their personal giving journeys, choice of issues to advance, collaborations with grantees, vision for Indian philanthropy, and much more.

THE THINKERS

Fill the nonprofit skill gap with corporate know-how, write Ratan Tata and Ruth Shapiro. Examining India’s CSR legislation four years after its implementation, Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, and Shapiro, chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, discuss promising signs that the law has led to an uptick in CSR spending. A significant number of companies are spending more than the minimum required two percent on CSR, and projects are becoming more strategic and widespread. Still, nonprofits’ knowledge gaps remain an issue, with many lacking skills such as financial planning, accounting, and impact measurement. “We suggest that the ministry of corporate affairs incentivise companies to encourage employees to provide technical assistance as a volunteer or a board member, for those nonprofits also receiving grant support.”

When it comes to resolving today’s challenges, family philanthropy will become even more crucial, says Peter Vogel. In an opinion editorial for Forbes India, Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), writes that as well-off baby boomers prepare to pass on their wealth to a younger generation of more socially conscious individuals, an “astonishing number of next-generation philanthropists” are set to emerge. “While it is true that there is a growing gap between rich and poor,” he writes, “…there is a growing breed of self-made wealth owners and inheritors who are cognizant of their disproportionate amount of wealth and who have committed to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”

“Do social enterprises work?” Hannah Jun, Ph.D., director of the Center for Global Social Responsibility at Ewha’s Graduate School of International Studies, shares her thoughts on the rising social enterprise scene in Korea. Most notably, the author identifies gaps from her insider’s knowledge of the sector, for example, that university curricula’s focus on long-term sustainability does not match well with the reality of focusing on short-term gains and returns.

THE NONPROFITS

Singaporean bone marrow nonprofit renews charitable status and names a new chief. Following a special audit in 2016 that uncovered governance and administrative lapses such as “excessive” use fo donations on marketing and entertainment, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) has obtained a one-year renewal of its Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) status, which is the official legal charitable status in Singapore. The BMDP also announced the appointment of its new chief Charles Loh, who was previously a senior vice president at Certis Cisco from 2006 to 2016. In regards to the BMDP, a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said, “BMDP has been taking steps to improve its administration and governance. MOH continues to monitor their government and administration.”

Top talent from the world’s universities is going to work for the Tata Trusts. The philanthropic arm of India’s Tata Group, the Tata Trusts are aggressively hiring from top higher education institutions around the world, from The Indian Institute of Technology to Harvard University. “We are enhancing both our functional competencies and general management bandwidth,” says Debasis Ray, spokesperson for the Tata Trusts. With their added manpower, the Tata Trusts hopes to enhance its work in seven portfolio areas, including, but not limited to, health, water, energy, rural uplift, and urban poverty alleviation.

THE BUSINESSES

SK Innovation begins mangrove donation drive in Vietnam. SK Innovation, the battery-making subsidiary of SK Group, is holding a donation campaign to restore a mangrove forest in Vietnam. This campaign is in line with the memorandum of understanding that SK signed with the Vietnamese government and the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the company, over 3,000 people have contributed, donating roughly 5,000 saplings of mangrove trees in just eight days. The campaign will close once it reaches a total of 10,000 trees.

Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society charity run raises SG$1.1 million (approximately US$807,000). Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer charity run raised more than SG$1.1 million for charity. The money will go towards the society’s programs to support cancer patients and their families. The charity run event took place at East Coast Park in Singapore on Sunday morning and was flagged off by Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

THE INNOVATORS

A step towards transparency in philanthropy: The Giving Bank. The Giving Bank is a platform that combines crowdfunding and philanthropy. Since its conception 18 months ago, it has so far completed 45 projects and raised nearly US$123,000. “I have been giving from the time I drew my first salary. But at one point, I felt tired and troubled with giving and not knowing how the funds were used. So, I came up with this idea,” says founder Jason Ang. The system is built to send out reports on how the funds are used automatically to all donors. The Giving Bank itself follows a transparent fee structure on gross donations and has its own ecosystem. The dream, he says, is to be able to donate with a click or swipe.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Chinese volunteer recalls long, lonely fight to protect the forest. Volunteer Liu Zhenmao has protected a mountain forest in Hunan province for the past 38 years, spending 22 Chinese New Year Eves at his sentry post. In 2016, the local government offered financial support and reformed a team of volunteers that was disbanded 23 years earlier. In a letter to Chenzhou’s vice mayor last month, Liu wrote, “I want the Chenzhou government to further control grazing near Shizikou Mountain in order to protect the forests and grasslands and prevent soil erosion.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity faces investigations due to allegations that it has been selling babies. The Indian government is now inspecting the charity’s various centers across India. The order for an investigation came after a nun and an employee were arrested earlier this month for allegedly selling a baby in Jharkhand. The charity said it had also begun investigating internally.

Amid public scandal involving Asiana Airlines, Korean corporate foundations come under public scrutiny. In the aftermath of Asiana Airlines’ in-flight meal scandal, much media spotlight and public attention have been directed toward chairman Park Sam-Koo of Kumho Asiana Group. In particular, how Park has utilized the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation and its funds for the corporate takeover infighting with his brother has led to calls for more scrutiny into Korean conglomerates’ use of private foundations. Other examples noted by the media outlet include Samsung and Hyundai, who have both used foundations for the purpose of corporate succession planning and evasion of fair trade and business regulations.

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

11 June 2018 - 17 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Realizing sustainable quality education, Harvard style. The Straits Times profiled Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, the Malaysian construction magnate who donated all of his equity in Sunway Education Group, valued at more than RM1 billion (approximately US$250.1 million), to a foundation dedicated to realizing sustainable quality education. This structure models that of universities in the West, mirroring in particular John Harvard’s contribution to Harvard University over 400 years ago. “It is my personal goal to award more than RM1 billion in my lifetime in scholarships,” says Cheah. As of 2017, his foundation is already one third of the way there, having given out RM330 million in scholarships and grants.

Japanese anime creator donates US$8 million for earthquake relief. Eiichiro Oda, famous for his hit anime series One Piece, donated US$8 million for Kumamoto earthquake relief. In commemoration of his donation, a statue of the anime series’ protagonist will be constructed in Kumamoto.

THE THINKERS

“Switching the donor-grantee relationship.” In this article, Ashok Alexander reflects on the problematic “heads and legs” relationship between donors and grantees. Unlike in the business sector, where entrepreneurs conceive up ideas and then approach investors for funding, Alexander notes that in the social social sector, it is the funders who come up with ideas and then look for recipients to carry out the legwork. “Donors should reject donees who don’t have new ideas; donees must be willing to walk away from donors who tell them exactly what they should do.”

THE NONPROFITS

Poverty alleviation charity project aids 120,000 children. A project by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation has raised nearly 21 million yuan (US$3.3 million) in donations and aided 120,000 children since 2014. The donations have been used to provide stationery, clothes, and fine arts equipment for more than 32,000 children and to build 146 kitchens in schools, providing better meals for 60,000 students. The project also employed “companion mothers” to care for more than 30,000 rural children whose parents migrated to larger cities for employment opportunities.

THE BUSINESSES

Garuda Indonesia launches “umrah” donation program. Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s national flag carrier, has launched a donation program that allows its GarudaMiles members to contribute miles toward an “umrah” pilgrimage trip for underprivileged people. Garuda Indonesia is currently aiming for this program to benefit 100 individuals.

THE INNOVATORS

Li Ka-shing joins Bill Gates to fund probiotic product to fight child malnutrition. Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Horizons Ventures, the investment arm of Li Ka-shing’s philanthropic foundation, led a US$40 million round of funding for California-based Evolve BioSystems, which is developing an infant probiotic product that helps restore the beneficial bacteria in infants’ guts. As the funding has been widely hailed as a notable impact investment, lead investor Patrick Zhang said, “We are excited to increase our investment in Evolve, and for the tremendous societal impact that Evolve can make on restoring the infant gut microbiome, particularly in Asia.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore Children’s Society recognizes outstanding volunteers. On June 12, 2018, the Singapore Children’s Society recognized 47 volunteers and donors for their longtime service and dedication to the organization. Most notably, Kurt Wee, who received the Ruth Wong Award for volunteers, was lauded for volunteering to help raise over SG$106.8 million (approximately US$79 million) for the Singapore Children’s Society since 2008.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Amnesty International exposes questionable payments by Kirin Brewery to the Myanmar military. The human rights-focused organization published correspondences between Kirin’s Myanmar offshoot, Myanmar Brewery, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Amnesty International has urged the Japanese government to investigate the “immoral payments,” which come at a time when Myanmar’s military has been undertaking an unprecedented ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population in the Rakhine state. In the interim, Kirin has banned all new charitable donations in Myanmar, while it conducts a human rights assessment of its suppliers and partners in the country.

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?

28 May 2018 - 3 June 2018

THE GIVERS

Three more Indian billionaires pledge to donate half of their wealth. The Nilekani, Shetty, and Bhusri families have joined the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit to dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Now in its eight year, the effort has expanded internationally with the addition of 14 philanthropists in the last year alone, bringing the total number of pledgers to 183 from 22 countries.

THE THINKERS

Gendered differences in impact investing? A new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis finds differences between men and women in their willingness to learn about, and participate in, impact investing. Overall, while men and women impact invest at similar rates, women are more interested in learning about impact investing, and are more likely to impact invest on top of their existing charitable giving.

“Effective altruism”: the head or the heart? To many, altruism is an appeal to the heart. The question of having their money well spent, however, is a perennial debate that seeming one can only agree to disagree: is making a wish come true for disease-stricken children a less worthy cause to buying bed nets for people in mosquito-infested area? This Economist article on ‘effective altruism’ continues the debate.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofits in Hong Kong push ahead temporary dwellings for people rather than profit. Hong Kong’s housing is one of the most unaffordable in the world, to the point that too many dwellers of the city can only afford to live in “cage housing”–small cubicle flats of 1.4 square meter s that cost an average of HK$1,500 (or US$192) per month, making them effectively more expensive than many of the posh apartments of Hong Kong. Nonprofits such as Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) are attempting to address the issue with their social housing scheme in a bid to provide temporary relief to those in need. Under the scheme, residents usually only have to pay rent of about a quarter of their household income, and are able to stay for a few years until they are allocated a public housing flat.

THE BUSINESSES

Enterprise Asia hosts its fourth International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Manila. Through its Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA), Enterprise Asia rewards companies for responsible business leadership and outstanding CSR contributions. William Ng, Enterprise Asia’s president predicts that companies’ approaches are evolving and shifting towards a ‘shared value’ model, where companies find opportunities to solve societal problems while obtaining something in return, rather than focusing only on philanthropy: “Every organization on Earth will eventually migrate into the ‘shared value’ model. Everyone, without exception.”

THE INNOVATORS

The Gates Foundation launches a grant to better understanding how education works around the world. For a foundation known for big investments, the grant is comparatively small, at US$68 million. Yet, the fund is uniquely problem-first: it specifically tackles the challenge of comparing educational achievements between countries, with the goal of enabling greater knowledge sharing across borders. India is the grant’s pilot country, thanks to its wealth of local organizations with “enormous capability and expertise.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

62,000 employees from Korean steelmaker Posco volunteer in 53 nations in their annual “Global Volunteer Week.” This is the ninth year that the event has been held, with volunteers engaging in events both at home and abroad, as far as Thailand and Indonesia, contributing to projects such as enhancing energy efficiency in residential areas and assisting with coral reef rehabilitation.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Thai King revokes seven senior monks’ ranks for money laundering and alleged embezzlement. Five of the monks are being held in custody and were previously residents of three of Bangkok’s most popular temples. They are accused of siphoning tens of millions of baht from development and Buddhism study funds, amidst a sweeping investigation into corruption in temples countrywide.

 

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.