Who’s Doing Good?

18 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Habitat for Humanity Philippines and University of Cebu formalize ₱5 million (approximately US$96,000) partnership. For the next three years, the University of Cebu will support Habitat for Humanity projects, including building new homes and training youth leaders through the Habitat Young Leaders Build Leadership Academy. Margarita Moran-Floirendo, Board Member and Ambassador of Habitat for Humanity Philippines stated, “The youth is one of the leading voices in supporting our advocacy. We are grateful that the University of Cebu is one with us in furthering our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” The program will focus on creating future socially conscious leaders through giving equal access to youth to gain and exercise leadership skills.

PM Narendra Modi to donate Seoul Peace Prize money to Namami Gange Programme. India’s Prime Minister received the Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, fostering economic global growth, and furthering the development of democracy. Modi has dedicated the US$200,000 prize money to the Namami Gange Programme, a flagship program of his government focused on abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganges river. Modi is the 14th recipient of the award, and past laureates include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and international organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

THE THINKERS

Despite an embryonic ecosystem, sustainable finance is growing quickly in China. High net-worth Chinese investors topped a UBS Group AG Global Survey assessing interest in sustainable investing last year, and new developments in both the public and private sectors are pushing this momentum forward. Leading impact investors highlight the array of opportunities for sustainable investing in China with an emphasis on clean energy as the country is the top target for clean energy investment globally. While 74% of wealthy Chinese investors—compared with just 32% of their U.S. and U.K. counterparts—expect sustainable investing to be the new norm in the next decade, the regulatory and legal framework that supports ESG investing still needs to be strengthened to make ESG data more reliable and impact investing less difficult.

AVPN and Prudence Foundation launch the Disaster Tech Innovation Programme. Singapore-based Asia Venture Philanthropy Network and the Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, announced the launch of their Disaster Tech Innovation Programme to raise awareness of “Disaster Tech,” innovative and viable technology solutions to protect and save lives before, during, and after natural disasters. The program will center on a competition for both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations to crowdsource innovative solutions to enhance existing disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia Pacific. The Prudence Foundation has been promoting disaster preparedness across Asia since 2013 and hopes to encourage more organizations to contribute in this area as the Asia Pacific region is the most affected by natural disasters.

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society founder, Ruth Shapiro, highlights India’s CSR mandate. In a recent interview, Shapiro discusses India’s progressive CSR requirements and the need for stronger monitoring to ensure compliance. Shapiro brings attention to India’s role as a leader in CSR and their potential to be an example for other countries in implementing similar requirements.

THE NONPROFITS

Tech platforms in India are helping CSR efforts connect with small nonprofits. As the first country to make CSR mandatory, India’s CSR initiatives have developed significantly over the past few years. However, most CSR projects partner with large nonprofits on their radar, leaving smaller nonprofits often overlooked due to lack of exposure and accessibility. Several online social platforms, such as social marketplaces, have developed in response to this geographic bias to fill the gap that exists between nonprofits and their causes, donors, volunteers, and corporates who want to collaborate. These online social marketplaces are now enabling corporates to engage with CSR activities that more closely align with their CSR mission by connecting them to nonprofits directly that are working in their selected cause.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung to invest more in education programs. As part of its CSR, Samsung Electronics plans to increase its investments in the field of youth education. On February 18, 2018, the company’s three division heads announced to employees that the renewed mission of Samsung’s social investment in education will be on “enabling people.” With this goal in mind, a particular target will be put on developing programs for teens. Although Samsung has conducted various CSR activities in the past, this announcement is notable in that it comes a month after its de facto leader and vice chairman Lee Jae-yong pledged to fully commit in taking on social responsibility as Korea’s leading conglomerate in a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House.

THE INNOVATORS

Machine learning can double social impact if sufficient data are available. Gaining attention at the center of international conferences and Davos-launched initiatives, machine learning is being heralded for its potential to drive social delivery. IDinsight, a nonprofit that uses data and evidence to help leaders in the social sector combat poverty, highlights four practical requirements for machine learning to accurately make predictions that allow nonprofits to enhance their impact. In employing machine learning tools to help Indian nonprofit Educate Girls, IDinsight discovered that high-quality predictor and outcome data, the capacity to act on predictions, and the ability to maintain the machine-learning algorithms are critical in ensuring relevant and accurate prediction models for informed decision-making. To truly drive social impact with machine learning, philanthropy and government will also have an important role to play in funding the collection of accurate and geographically representative data.

Joint philanthropy and impact investing can enhance efforts to meet SDGs. While impact investing and philanthropic giving have traditionally been seen as separate silos in the financial world, efforts to meet the demands of the SDGs are bringing the two forms of financing together. Many social and environmental projects that may have the potential to become viable impact investments need assistance in their early stages. Philanthropic financing can play a pivotal role in helping these organizations and projects evolve and become mature enough to attract impact investments. While the SDGs have been pushing both philanthropy and impact investing towards a common goal, stronger linkages between the two forms of financing can complement each other’s needs and requirements and scale impact to meet the huge demand.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore nonprofit, Willing Hearts, serves customized meals to the aging poor. Former businessman, Tony Tay, founded Willing Hearts, a nonprofit aid organization wholly run by volunteers that serves the aging poor in Singapore. With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, Willing Hearts prepares and delivers customized meals to more than 6,000 low-income elderly individuals every day of the week. Tay’s nonprofit has grown significantly over the years in response to the growing demand of an aging society, and Willing Hearts now offers additional services including dental care, optical care, and legal aid.

Who’s Doing Good?

21 January 2019 - 27 January 2019

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

17 December 2018 - 23 December 2018

THE GIVERS

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.

THE THINKERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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.

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

THE VOLUNTEERS

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?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

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

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

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

Who’s Doing Good?

8 October 2018 - 14 October 2018

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

1 October 2018 - 7 October 2018

THE GIVERS

China’s first female paratrooper donates life savings to hometown. Ma Xu, 83, participated in the Korean War in 1950 and then trained as a military doctor. She then joined the then newly formed Chinese airborne troops in 1961 as a medical supporter, after which she was trained as the country’s first female paratrooper. Throughout her career, she was honored with several medals and made several records, including becoming the country’s first female paratrooper, a female paratrooper with the most parachute jumps, and the oldest female paratrooper to parachute. Since retiring, she has set her mind to donate over 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) to Mulan County for educational, cultural, and charitable purposes.

American family foundation pledges US$5 million to disaster relief, including Asia. The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, based in the United States, has pledged US$5 million to support disaster relief efforts in North and South Carolina, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The donation will be immediately made to Save the Children and Direct Relief to support the most timely and urgent relief needs, as well as the long-term recovery strategy.

THE THINKERS

Forbes’ new 400 ranking methodology to now include philanthropy score. For the first time, Forbes 400 members (American) will be ranked not only on their total wealth and on how self-made they are, but also on their philanthropic generosity. The philanthropy score will be on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most philanthropic. For those whom Forbes was not able to find any information of charitable giving, they received an N.A. (not available). To come up with the scores, Forbes journalists estimated each list member’s total lifetime giving and looked at what percent of their fortune they had given away. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on other factors such as whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed funds.

Two university professors discuss why charities are accepting increasing amounts of Bitcoin. In this article, Philip Hackney, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and Brian Mittendorf, Professor of Accounting at The Ohio State University, discuss why nonprofit organizations in the United States have begun to accept increasing amounts of Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as addressing other relevant issues and implications. Most notably, the two scholars emphasize the tax benefits that come with donating appreciating non-cash financial assets that may cost governments more in tax deductions than it raises in actual donations.

THE NONPROFITS  

Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief launch fundraising appeals. The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and Mercy Relief, Singapore’s homegrown humanitarian nonprofit organization, are making fundraising appeals to the public to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The SRC has pledged SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000) in humanitarian aid to support affected communities. The SRC and Mercy Relief are also planning to send an advance response team to conduct ground assessments and support the Indonesian Red Cross Society and to distribute relief supplies to displaced families.

Pakistani government orders international nonprofits to end their operations and leave the country within 60 days. ActionAid, one of the 18 charities affected, said the move was part of a “worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society” in Pakistan. Since the 2011 discovery of a fake vaccination program run by the Central Intelligence Agency aiming to track down Osama bin Laden, nonprofits have been viewed with suspicion and wary by the country’s intelligence services. ActionAid and other international nonprofits were similarly ordered to leave the country at the end of last year in 2017 but were allowed to stay upon appeal and following pressure from Western governments. For the recent order, subsequent appeals have been unsuccessful.

THE BUSINESSES

Korean firms offer aid for earthquake-hit Indonesia. Joining international efforts to help rebuild Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi, Indonesia, a group of Korean businesses have offered to make donations to support relief efforts. Most recently, Hyundai Motor Group and KT&G Corporation said it will donate US$500,000 and US$88,700, respectively. Other donations include a US$199,000 donation from the retail conglomerate Lotte and a US$300,000 donation from the SK Group.

Apple donates US$1 million to disaster relief efforts in Indonesia. To support relief efforts after the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Apple announced its donation of US$1 million. On October 2, 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in his tweet, “Our hearts go out to the people of Sulawesi and all of Indonesia after this weekend’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Apple is donating $1 million to aid relief efforts as this beautiful country starts to rebuild.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Southeast Asia found to be the top destination for impact investments. Southeast Asia has seen a significant increase in impact investments in recent years, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Private impact investors—fund managers, family offices, pension funds, and other types of private capital—poured nearly US$1 billion into the region from 2007 to 2017, while development finance institutions deployed US$11.2 billion. Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam were the three largest markets in the region, having attracted 60% of the capital deployed. A key theme in the region is poverty alleviation. “In many countries in the region, large swathes of the population live below the poverty line. So, the provision of basic services, such as clean energy, affordable housing, healthcare, and financial services, is a core focus of impact investors,” said GIIN’s director of research Abhilash Mudaliar.

Singaporean private bank focuses on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing to win over Asia’s next-generation clients. According to Marc Lansonneur, Managing Director and Head of Managed Solutions, Balance Sheet Products and Investment Governance in the Wealth Management group, DBS Bank is increasingly providing ESG investing solutions and services to its current and future next-generation high-net-worth clients, who are expressing interest in this form of investing. In fact, Lansonneur stated that DBS has assembled considerable evidence that companies that perform well in ESG tend to also show higher profitability, higher dividend yield, and lower idiosyncratic tail risks, demonstrating that doing good can lead to doing well financially.

THE VOLUNTEERS

On Children’s Day, Singaporean children do good for one another. “Children for Children” is a day of giving and doing good by children for children. It is an annual fundraising and charity event jointly organized by The Business Times, CHIJ (Kellock), and The Rice Company Ltd. Since 2008, it has brought more than 10,000 children under the Ministry of Education’s financial assistance scheme to various iconic destinations throughout the city. This year, 1,000 children benefited from the program, and a total of SG$337,793 (approximately US$243,000) was raised. Shuanne Seah, 10, who was part of the musical’s choir, said, “We’re doing this for a cause, so all the effort is worth it. We want to use our gifts to help others achieve their dreams.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

“Voluntourism and the white savior complex: travelers may be doing more harm than good.” Mercedes Hutton, the article’s author, argues for a different perspective on the increasingly popular trend of “voluntourism,” a form of traveling to other countries and communities in need for volunteer work. Although the seemingly more hands-on voluntourism may appear to be better than “slacktivism,” supporting a cause without moving from the comfort of the couch, Hutton claims that there are challenges, weaknesses, and gaps in this form of doing good. For example, in regards to the popular package of traveling to orphanages in developing economies, the author cites The Guardian to point out that “there is no such thing as a ‘good’ orphanage,” suggesting that children simply do best by being in a family instead of staying at an orphanage. Another point pertains to the lack of qualified individuals who usually partake in these kinds of programs and packages, with most of them being pre-college gap-year high school students and fresh college graduates. Perhaps, from the author’s standpoint, donating on one’s couch at home, yet doing so more deliberately and strategically, may be more efficient than rolling up one’s sleeves to do volunteering for those in need.

Who’s Doing Good?

17 September 2018 - 23 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Baidu executive donates US$14.5 million to university. Ma Dongmin, an executive at Chinese internet giant Baidu, has donated 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) to the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC). The money will be used to support the university in several areas, including the development of the School of the Gifted Young. The class, the first of its kind in China, permits students to skip a few years of middle school and high school before entering university. Ma also added that she made the donation partly to congratulate the university on its 60th anniversary.

THE THINKERS

Bridgespan publishes a new study on “bold philanthropy” in India. The Bridgespan Group’s new report, “Bold Philanthropy in India: Insights from Eight Social Change Initiatives,” found India is experiencing a surge in philanthropic activity, with donors increasingly using their resources to take on some of the country’s biggest social challenges. “Many philanthropists in India are pivoting from checkbook giving—investing mostly in infrastructure projects, such as building schools or hospitals—to thinking strategically and ambitiously about how to drive social change. However, because there is so little information on their approaches to bold giving, other philanthropists with similar aims lack reference material to build on,” said Pritha Venkatachalam, a partner at Bridgespan and co-author of the report. To help fill these knowledge gaps, Bridgespan’s recently published report researches and showcases a wide array of philanthropic initiatives in India and identifies unique roles that bold philanthropy can play in improving people’s lives.

“Social business cities” could ease urban growing pains, says Nobel laureate. Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum in Hong Kong, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus argued cities around the world should tap ethical entrepreneurs to tackle various urban challenges from homelessness to unemployment. He also added that inviting social businesses, which aim to solve social problems while turning a profit, to invest in areas like health and housing could free up money for cash-strapped cities to spend on development.

THE NONPROFITS

China’s charities receive record donations in 2017. According to a report released by the China Charity Alliance at an event in Shenzhen, China, local charities received record donations in 2017, totaling nearly 150 billion yuan (US$22 billion). The amount represents a 7.68% year-on-year increase and a 385% increase compared with donations received a decade ago. The report also noted a 20% increase in donations from foreign-funded enterprises and companies in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

THE BUSINESSES

Macquarie Group launches AU$50 million (approximately US$36.3 million) philanthropic award to mark its 50th anniversary. On September 18, 2018, Macquarie Group announced the launch of its AU$50 million philanthropic award to initiate or build on bold ideas to address the social need. The Macquarie Group Foundation will select five nonprofit organizations for funding (AU$10 million each) over a five-year period to fund projects globally that will have a lasting community benefit. “Supporting the communities in which we live and work has been an important part of Macquarie’s activities since our inception in 1969,” said Macquarie Group CEO Nicholas Moore. “In that time, our people have devoted thousands of hours to work with nonprofit organizations around the world and contributed over AU$330 million to drive social change at the local community level. We are delighted to mark our 50th anniversary by extending this tradition with a further AU$50 million commitment to initiate or build on bold ideas which address areas of social need.”

THE INNOVATORS 

Yes Foundation shortlists social enterprises for three-year accelerator support. Yes Foundation, the social development arm of Yes Bank, has selected 23 social enterprises and nonprofits for the inaugural cohort of the “YES! I am the change (YIAC) Grant & Accelerator” program. The shortlisted enterprises were awarded a grant of Rs 7.5 crores, as well as three-year accelerator support. The accelerator supports social impact organizations working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with scalable solution models, helping them achieve higher efficiency and scale and thereby maximizing impact. “India is in a revolutionary phase with the nation’s youth driving social impact by developing innovative solutions to social challenges. Through YIAC, we are delighted to provide a platform to young changemakers and development sector organizations to accelerate and maximize their social impact,” said Prerana Langa, Yes Foundation’s CEO.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Post-typhoon, people in Hong Kong join hands for clean-up. Typhoon Mangkhut, which hit Hong Kong on September 16, 2018, left more than 300 people injured, buildings rocked, windows smashed, and more than 1,000 trees fallen. However, by Monday morning, people had joined hands to help with the clean-up. In the residential neighborhood of Tseung Kwan O, around 40 local volunteers set to work. In the district of To Kwa Wan, home to many low-income families, a group of around 25 ethnic minority residents, asylum seekers, and refugees helped cleaners with their overwhelming amount of work. In the seaside village of Shek O, a mix of local and expatriate residents, as well as volunteers, have been clearing roads, bagging up debris, and taking washed-up sand in baskets back to its popular beach.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

President urges to skip television networks and make donations through military and government. President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently visiting areas affected by Typhoon Ompong, cautioned donors from giving donations through prominent television stations. He urged them instead to course these through the military and the government. He claims he has seen first-hand how donations of clothes do not directly reach the intended beneficiaries. He also spoke against giving cash donations via networks. “I’m giving you my testimony. Personal… because I have a TV program, I saw old people at the office, they’re sorting out the things that were unusable or are usable for them,” he added.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

University in Hong Kong gets HK$100 million in donations for a smart city and sustainable energy research. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been given a generous donation of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) from Otto Poon, a graduate of the university and chairman of ATAL Engineering Group, for a smart city and sustainable energy research. The gift was made under the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation and represents the largest personal donation to the university in the past decade. The funds will be used for the establishment of two research institutes and two professorships.

Jeff Bezos creates new philanthropy: the Bezos Day One Fund. Via Twitter, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shared a statement announcing the creation of his new charitable organization: the Bezos Day One Fund. Through the fund, Bezos will initially invest US$2 billion of his US$150 billion into existing homelessness charities and in the development of early childhood education centers.

THE THINKERS

Conglomerate research firm finds Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed social contributions by 14.5% in two years. Following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed their charitable donations by 14.5% in the past two years. Total contributions made by the likes of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, and Lotte stood at a little over ₩838.1 billion (approximately US$743.1 million) in 2017, down ₩124.9 billion (approximately US$110.7 million) or a drop of 13% from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent a total of ₩980.2 billion (approximately US$868.76 million) on donations. “Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble,” said the local tracker of large conglomerates.

THE NONPROFITS

More social service organizations in Singapore go cashless for fundraising. In line with an increasing societal trend to rely on cashless forms of payment, individuals can now donate to charities with a few taps on their mobile phones, and Singaporean charities are tapping into this new fundraising opportunity. Since May 2018, 73 organizations have been actively using cashless payment technologies, according to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). NCSS’ deputy CEO, De. Fermin Diez, said, “With more Singaporeans carrying less cash, social service organizations need to be more innovative about raising funds through contactless donation technology. Otherwise, they could face a decline in donations if only cash was accepted.” Diez also added that the benefits of cashless fundraising are reduced administration costs, better governance, tighter security, and improved donation tracking.

THE BUSINESSES

BloombergQuint identifies India’s most and least philanthropic large companies. According to BloombergQuint, about a fifth of Nifty 50 companies failed to spend the minimum required on CSR for the fourth straight year. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. was the most generous in the 2017-2018 financial year, spending nearly 10% of its average three-year net profit on CSR. Following Vedanta Ltd. were UPL Ltd. and state-owned Coal India Ltd. Notably, Dilip Shanghvi-controlled Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. were the only two Nifty 50 companies that contributed towards CSR despite reporting losses.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs awards Infinitus the China Charity Award. The China Charity Award is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy in China from a government authority. Infinitus was recently honored with this award for its continuing contributions to society and its longstanding commitment to CSR. In 2016, Infinitus kicked off a volunteer project and set up the Infinitus Volunteers Association. To date, the association has had more than 6,000 individual volunteers, organized 230 volunteering events, and accumulated more than 27,000 hours of volunteer work.

THE INNOVATORS

Chinese government to use blockchain technology for tracking charitable donations by 2019. In order to increase transparency of public donations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in charge of social services and the broader social sector, is planning to adopt blockchain technology for an upgrade of its current charity tracking system. The plan dictates that the existing government charity databases will be integrated into the new blockchain network. In this way, data on charitable donations made through a variety of services will become visible to the public faster using a distributed network.

Philanthropic foundations launch US$11 million impact bonds to improve education in India. The largest development impact bond (DIB) has been launched by the UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The bond promises to improve the educational outcome of 300,000 students in Delhi and Gujarat. A DIB is not a money market instrument. Risk investors put money to roll out a program in order to address a cause. They earn a return if the program is successful. “This landmark financial instrument applies an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy… If the potential of this type of funding is unleashed, it could improve the lives of generations to come,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. 

THE VOLUNTEERS

Divers volunteer as “gardeners” to restore dying corals in Thailand. It is widely known that coral reefs are in danger due to climate change. A group of divers is trying to tackle this environmental problem in Koh Ha, Thailand. Inspired by reforestation techniques employed in tropical forests, conservationist Anuar Abdullah began research into how those same methods might be applied to coral reefs, which are often referred to as “underwater rainforests.” Eventually, the solution of coral gardening was devised, growing corals in nurseries and then replanting them on reefs. Anuar also founded Ocean Quest, a conservation organization that organizes courses at dive schools and resorts in Southeast Asia. To date, the organization has certified more than 800 trainers and 1,000 coral gardeners.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

In response to potential cases of fraud, Singaporean crowdfunding website offers “donation back guarantee.” The Raye of Hope Initiative, a crowdfunding website based in Singapore, recently announced it would start the “donation back guarantee” in cases of fraudulent fundraising projects. The move came after the Commissioner of Charities launched a campaign last Friday to get donors to do more checks before giving. The website has had more than 170 fundraising projects. “We need to give donors the confidence that they are giving to people who genuinely need help and depend on crowdfunding to tide them over a difficult period,” said Tan En, director of the crowdfunding website.

Japan to reform “hometown tax donation” program to address excessive competition among local governments to provide expensive gift incentives. The furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system was originally introduced in 2008 to ease the disparity in tax revenue between urban and rural areas by incentivizing individual giving to local governments. The government said Tuesday it will reform this system in order to curb extravagant gift incentives from local governments, as the system has led to fierce competition among local governments to lure donations with expensive gifts that are excessive in price and that are oftentimes not locally produced. As such, the government is specifically considering to limit gifts to those produced locally and keep their value below 30% of donations.