CSR, Education, Environment, Philanthropy
Asia, Global, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, Singapore

Who’s Doing Good?

27 May 2019 - 9 June 2019


Donations by Chinese philanthropists up by 50 percent in 2018. According to the China Philanthropy List, released annually by the China Philanthropy Times, the volume of donations by Chinese philanthropists and enterprises hit a record high of ¥27.63 billion (approximately US$4 billion) in 2018. China Daily reported that this is a 50 percent increase from the previous year. Donations were made by 744 philanthropic enterprises and 274 philanthropists, with donations from individual philanthropists totaling ¥9.53 billion (approximately US$1.4 billion). Although the majority of charitable giving in China comes from private corporations, the country’s philanthropy boom has encouraged more wealthy donors to participate. The recent increase in charitable giving by individual philanthropists has also been highlighted in the Hurun Report’s Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019.

Disney in India makes donation to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. Disney in India has donated ₹20 million (approximately US$300,000) to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. The money will be donated to Save the Children in India to support disaster response and provide resources for affected communities in the Indian state of Odisha. A Disney India representative said this donation will support families affected by Cyclone Fani by providing them with critical shelter. The country manager of Disney and Star India Sanjay Gupta stated, “Our hearts go out to those affected by this severe cyclonic storm Fani. The families and communities impacted by this devastating calamity need our support as they begin to rebuild.” Disney and Star India had also supported disaster response efforts in August 2018, aiding those affected by the Kerala floods.


Philanthropy in Singapore goes mainstream. Singapore is one of the top givers among its regional counterparts, and The Business Times article highlights the transformation of the country’s philanthropy landscape over the past few years. Citing CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, the article underscores Singapore’s position in the “Doing Well” cluster, leading in the index alongside Japan and Taiwan. Singapore’s favorable tax deduction policies and relatively simple registration process are among several factors which have helped boost the country’s performance in the index. But in the face of persistent social and environmental challenges, philanthropy needs to take a more solutions-focused approach to giving. While the upward trend is promising, philanthropy in Singapore still has room to improve.

Harvard course helps next-generation philanthropists do good. A course titled, “Impact Investing for the Next Generation,” convenes heirs to some of the world’s greatest family fortunes. The course, run jointly by Harvard and the University of Zurich in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, has been equipping next-generation philanthropists to be more impactful since 2015. For some of Asia’s wealthiest millennials, inculcating a culture of impact investing is a formidable challenge. Despite holding one-third of global wealth, Asia only contributes a small portion of its total wealth to impact investing. However, notable alumni, such as Hyundai heir Kyungsun Chung who co-founded Root Impact, have worked to promote a culture of impact investing in Asia since taking the course.


Myanmar nonprofit to give 10,000 bikes to students in need. Following the collapse of bike-sharing companies ofo and oBike in Singapore and Malaysia, many bikes have been left unused in scrapyards or warehouses. Lesswalk, a Myanmar nonprofit, bought 10,000 bikes from the failed bike-sharing companies to give to students in need. The total cost of buying, shipping, and refurbishing the bikes is between US$350,000 and US$400,000, but half is expected to be paid by sponsors. More than 3,000 bikes have already been shipped to Myanmar to be given to students, and the rest is expected to arrive by the end of June. Lesswalk founder Mike Than Tun Win stated, “This movement is not about buying a new bicycle, which is actually a very straightforward process. It solves a waste problem and gets new bikes for needy children at a cheaper price.”


Singapore’s Temasek sets up Asia-focused private equity fund for impact investing. Temasek Holdings, a Singaporean investment company, has established ABC World Asia under its philanthropic arm Temasek Trust. Headquartered in Singapore, ABC World Asia is a private equity fund dedicated to impact investing, primarily in South Asia, South-east Asia, and China. Chief executive officer of ABC World Asia David Heng highlighted the opportunities for impact investing in Asia, where the industry is still nascent. Heng stated, “The complex social and environmental challenges in our region present the potential for investors to achieve substantial impact.” The new impact investment fund will allow Temasek Trust to move beyond traditional grant-making to fulfill its mission of “ensuring sustainable funding for the long-term well-being and security of communities.”

Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank promotes culture of philanthropy. Korean petroleum and refinery company Hyundai Oilbank is aiming to promote a philanthropic culture among its staff. Through its 1% Nanum Foundation, more than 95 percent of the firm’s employees donate a portion or one percent of their monthly salary to charitable work. The foundation had raised about ₩11.2 billion (approximately US$9.5 million) in the last seven years to support its expanding number of charitable projects. One of the noteworthy projects, the “1% Nanum Lunch Room,” equips senior welfare centers across Korea with an annual meal plan of ₩50 million (approximately US$45,000). Other initiatives include providing heating oil for low-income families during the winter season and building schools and libraries in Vietnam and Nepal.

The Ritz-Carlton staff and guests raise funds for children with cleft conditions. International hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton raised close to US$450,000 for charities under the Smile Asia alliance. In May, over 10,000 staff and guests of The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts across Asia Pacific participated in the sales of over 14,600 cakes. The money raised will go to Smile Asia–a global alliance of independent charities working across Asia–which deploys medical volunteers to provide corrective and reconstructive surgeries for children living in remote areas. This annual fundraising initiative is part of the Smile Asia Week started by The Ritz-Carlton in 2014, and it has garnered great support over the years. In addition to this initiative, staff from the hotel chain can volunteer in medical missions across Asia Pacific.


China’s new model of blockchain-driven philanthropy. Stanford Social Innovation Review covers the rise of blockchain-driven philanthropy in China, and its role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the social sector. Blockchain enables donors to monitor the entire movement of their money and the platform, monitored by the public, ensures a trustworthy framework. Pioneers in blockchain-driven philanthropy in China include the charity platform of Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Love. Since adopting blockchain technology in March 2017, Ant Love has enabled 190 million Chinese individuals to donate US$50.5 million to 799 blockchain-supported projects. The decentralized, autonomous platform is breaking ground in the philanthropic sector as it encourages collaboration and employs community resources to address social challenges. While more oversight is still needed to monitor the people involved and the data that are recorded to the platform, China’s blockchain-driven philanthropy has significantly helped expand the sector’s role in Chinese society.

Indonesia leads by mainstreaming the SDGs in country’s development agenda. Indonesia’s integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policies offers lessons for the rest of Asia. The Indonesian government has showcased its commitment to the SDGs by linking them to midterm national plans, aligning national budgets and tax policies with crucial SDGs. Indonesia recently implemented two financial programs in efforts to bridge the gap in financing the SDGs: SDG Indonesia One and Islamic Finance. Employing these two finance programs will help diversify funding sources by tapping into an array of investors. Additionally, the Indonesian government also recognizes the importance of decentralizing the implementation of SDGs across all levels of government and collaborating with key stakeholders to achieve the SDGs by 2030.