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Responding to Covid-19: Who’s Doing Good?

12 May 2020 - 24 May 2020

THE GIVERS
Individuals continue to donate cash, services, and supplies to Covid-19 relief efforts.

Donations to the Cambodian government’s efforts to fight Covid-19 pour in. An estimated US$23 million in donations have come in from local donors and civil servants—64,000 of whom pledged to donate portions of their salaries to help fight Covid-19. Another US$40 million has come in from international partners.

Popular TV talent Shinobu Sakagami and Japanese rock star Toshiki of X Japan are going public with their donations to Covid-19 relief efforts in hope that it will nudge others toward charity. Both stars upped their charitable giving during the crisis—Sakagami pledged to donate his entire salary for the duration of Japan’s state of emergency and Yoshiki donated ¥10 million (nearly US$95,000) to Japan’s National Center for Global Health and Medicine. They aim to fight the stigma around publicizing one’s charity and hope to tap into what Sakagami calls a “hidden reservoir of generosity” in Japan. CAPS’ upcoming Doing Good Index 2020 shows that 88% of surveyed social delivery organizations in Japan believe that individual giving remains low in their economy.

THE THINKERS

Fixing the trust deficit in our sector. Rachita Vora, co-founder and director of India Development Review (IDR), writes about how Covid-19 has irradiated the value of the nonprofit sector, offering a unique opportunity for the sector to rebrand itself. In this article, Vora outlines how the sector can “tell a different story about the work nonprofits do, why it matters, and why the sector must be a crucial part of any effort at strengthening our influence in society.”

THE NONPROFITS
Charities continue to serve communities affected by Covid-19, even as they deal with economic hardship and disrupted operations.

BRAC has allocated BDT 30 million (approximately US$355,000) for low-income families in Bangladesh who were impacted by Cyclone Amphan. Funds will focus on repairing households and water sanitation and hygiene facilities damaged to ensure people living in these areas can continue hygiene practices during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. BRAC is also providing cash assistance to 100,000 families affected by Covid-19 in Bangladesh.

ChildFund Korea is donating US$77,000 to a ChildFund Cambodia project that will help educate more than 275,000 children and their families across 334 villages in Cambodia. The project will help commune councils strengthen their relief plans as well as provide educational materials across national television and social media. Videos produced by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, UNICEF, and Save the Children will be part of the campaign focusing on disease prevention amidst Covid-19, learning from home, and mental and physical well-being, among other topics. Khmer Times interviewed other NGOs in Cambodia to highlight the impact of Covid-19 on nonprofits and how they are soldiering on.

THE BUSINESSES
Companies continue to donate cash and needed supplies to communities affected by Covid-19. For organizations dependent on CSR funding, the pouring of such funds into Covid-19 relief efforts is leaving them uncertain about their future projects. 

In Bangladesh, mobile finance service provider Bkash is the latest company to add a ‘Donation’ button to the main menu of its mobile app to streamline donations to 11 humanitarian organizations aiding Covid-19 relief efforts. Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh (DHPB) will donate hygiene products such as Dettol soaps, Harpic cleaners, and other products to 50,000 families across the country, in partnership with BRAC and Bangladesh Scouts. The company will also partner with BRAC to provide cash donations to 500 poor and needy families in rural Bangladesh. 

In China, Ant Financial Services Group released its 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, detailing its efforts to leverage digital technology for social good. The report also details the variety of digital services and measures launched to help fight Covid-19 and mitigate its impacts. 

In India, ET Intelligence Group looks at how Covid-19 is likely to have a severe impact on traditional CSR expenditure and the ecosystem dependent on it, as donations to the PM Cares Fund and Covid-19 relief work qualify as CSR expenditure. The article highlights how some companies in India have already exceeded their FY19 CSR expenditure on Covid-19 related efforts. Whether companies will expand their CSR budgets given the pandemic is still a question to be answered. According to an official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on May 13, the PM CARES fund will allocate ₹3,100 crore (approximately US$410 million) to Covid-19 relief measures, including funds for ventilators, migrant workers, and vaccine development. The announcement comes one and a half months after the fund was established on March 27. SBI Foundation, the CSR arm of State Bank of India, has committed ₹30 crore (approximately US$4 million) to implement various Covid-19 relief programs across the country.

In Malaysia, brands joined forces to launch CSR efforts that support communities in need during Ramadan. This includes Fave Malaysia, Nestle Malaysia, UMobile, Tiffin, AirAsia, Shell Malaysia, and others. Nestle has mobilized its value chain to launch a global Covid-19 response, including in Malaysia. Nestle has pledged to support 200,000 socially vulnerable Malaysians amid the crisis, committed US$3.4 million to a fund that will supplement the livelihoods of lower-income communities and small enterprises, donated US$230,000 to the Malaysian Red Crescent, donated 10,000 Nestle family food packages, and channeled US$115,000 to the Yayasan Food Bank Malaysia. 

In Pakistan, the National Bank of Pakistan has topped up earlier contributions towards Covid-19 relief with a donation of Rs80 million (approximately US$500,000) to support over 26,000 financially vulnerable households.

In the Philippines, LT Group is donating a bio-molecular laboratory, worth P15 million (approximately US$300,000), to the Philippine Red Cross in Batangas City, capable of conducting 4,000 Covid-19 tests daily. The lab is scheduled to be completed within a month. Union Bank of the Philippines’ UShare donation platform is helping ramp-up relief operations by facilitating online donations to NGOs in the largely cash-based country. Since the quarantine began, daily transactions via the platform have increased by 87%. Hyundai Motor through H.A.R.I. Foundation, the CSR arm of Hyundai Asian Resources, donated 2,200 PPE items to the Lung Center of the Philippines. Philippines Tatler gives a round up of Filipinos leading the fight against Covid-19, from conglomerates like SM Group to local mayors. The government also launched a public-private task force T3 (Test, Trace, and Treat) to urgently expand testing for Covid-19 from approximately 4,500 tests per day to at least 30,000 tests per day. The government task force is receiving support from the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), the Philippine National Red Cross, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and other private sector actors.

In Singapore, Perennial Real Estate Holding and Hong Kong-based Shun Tak Holdings have teamed up to donate five million surgical masks to the National Council of Social Service for vulnerable communities, making it the largest donation of surgical masks in Singapore for Covid-19 to date. Some Singaporean companies who do not need the Government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) payouts have decided to return the payouts to government, while others are donating the money to charity. For example, German pharmaceutical group Boehringer Ingelheim is donating its JSS payouts to five charities selected by its employees. Food firm TiffinLabs, co-founded by one of Singapore’s youngest billionaires Kishin R.K., has setup the Food is Love Foundation to give free meals to the needy during Covid-19. This includes 20,000 restaurant-quality meals in partnership with charity Free Food For All and 10,000 meals to healthcare workers, among other initiatives.

In Cambodia, Coca-Cola Cambodia diverted US$200,000 from its advertising budget to invest directly in a campaign to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The company also partnered with the Ministry of Health, City Hall, Union Youth Federations of Cambodia, and Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth and Doctors Association to help distribute anti-epidemic supplies, PPE, and educational materials to impoverished communities, front-line medical workers, tuk-tuk drivers, hospitals, health centers and quarantine facilities. 

THE INNOVATORS

Crowdfunding projects help virus-hit businesses in Japan. Popular crowdfunding sites Campfire, Readyfor, and MotionGallery have waived commission fees since late February. Since, these platforms have raised a total of over ¥1.7 billion (approximately US$16 million) for at least 1,000 projects up till May 8, including support for restaurants, hotel operators, and event hosts who suffered sharp falls in sales amid Covid-19.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Oxfam to close in 18 countries, including its country offices in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Oxfam International is to lay off almost 1,500 staff and close operations in 18 countries as the nonprofit’s funding has been impacted by Covid-19 and recent scandals, including the Haiti sex abuse scandal. The charity announced that it will focus on ushering in change and facilitating a deeper footprint of impact in the countries they will continue to operate in.

Covid-19 shrinks civic space in Southeast Asia. In a recent article for The Jakarta Post, the directors of Bangkok-based Asia Centre highlight examples from across Southeast Asia, where civil society organizations (CSOs) are feeling the grip of Covid-19 legislation and social distancing measures. The article looks at how restrictions have halted organizations’ work and how funding has been diverted from CSOs to Covid-19 relief efforts.

International NGOs likely to slash funds for Nepal as pandemic affects developed world, stakeholders say. According to the Development Cooperation Report 2018-19 published by the Finance Ministry, international NGOs disbursed US$215 million to various projects in Nepal in that year. Stakeholders expressed uncertainty about whether the country will see the same funding commitments in the coming year amidst Covid-19. The president of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal noted that while aid pledged to the health sector is likely to remain stable, funding to other sectors might decrease. After the Social Welfare Council allowed foreign NGOs to divert 20% of their budget to Covid-19 efforts, a growing number of foreign NGOs have followed suit.

For microfinance lenders, Covid-19 is an existential threat. The Economist argues that the financial interests of the world’s poorest are not receiving enough attention as Covid-19 impacts microfinance lenders around the world. The article includes examples from Asia, such as Dvara Trust in Chennai, India and the microfinance arm of BRAC in Bangladesh, who are unable to carry out business as usual amidst lockdown measures and economic headwinds from the crisis.

Korean NGO’s role in supporting ‘comfort women’ questioned. The Diplomat reports on recent accusations from a former victim of mishandled donations. According to the Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, if allegations are true, the NGO Korean Council for Justice Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan might have exaggerated when reporting to the tax authorities. In a press conference, the NGO’s director Yoon Mi-hyang admitted there were mistakes in the organization’s accounting practices but pointed to “the nature of a civic group without enough people to handle heavy workloads.”

We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at research@caps.org