2021: Reflections and Outlook

13 January 2021

We welcome 2021 with hope, not only for successful vaccination programs, but also for a year of recovery and rebuilding.

The social sector—nonprofits, social enterprises, and private and corporate philanthropists—were critical partners as economies across Asia tried to contain the fallout from a multi-faceted crisis in 2020. In addition to the pandemic, Asia was hit with some of the worst natural disasters to date and saw waves of civil unrest from Hong Kong to Thailand to India. We summarize this response below. In a forthcoming paper, we will explore the impact Covid-19 had on social delivery organizations and how they responded. Meanwhile, we wanted to bring you a summary of the unprecedented corporate response to meet the urgent needs of society that the pandemic precipitated.

 

After the initial coronavirus outbreak in China, there was an immediate response from Chinese philanthropists and tech giants. Jack Ma was one of the first movers with a US$14.4 million donation for vaccine development, alongside donations from Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei, and ByteDance. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was also an early mover, escalating its contributions as the year went on.

As Covid spread to other countries in early March, donations and support ramped up across the region. Familiar names in philanthropy (Li Ka Shing, Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, to name a few) donated large sums. Some unfamiliar names cropped up, such as Kakao founder Kim Beom-su. And other Asian philanthropists began to send aid to the US and Europe as needs shifted.

When the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March 2020, CSR quickly took new shape, and some companies set up their own Covid-19 relief funds, including Alibaba (US$144 million), Tencent (US$100 million), Sony (US$100 million), Bajaj Group (US$14 million), and Godrej Group (US$7 million).

A number of ‘Prime Minister Relief Funds’ or similar taskforces were set up—and in turn, companies were encouraged to donate to them. This includes India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs announced that the spending of CSR funds towards Covid-19 initiatives would be counted as CSR activity under the Companies Act.

Donations were also channeled to public health research and vaccine development. China Vanke Co donated US$748 million to Tsinghua University to establish the Vanke School of Public Health. Uniqlo’s Tadashi Yanai donated US$93 million to Kyoto University for vaccine research.

Companies also took a “not business as usual” approach by pivoting their production lines or launching new operations to make medical supplies. This includes Japanese companies Sony, Toyota, Suntory, Mitsubishi Motors, Fast Retailing, and Shiseido, as well as Vingroup (Vietnam), Indorama Ventures (Thailand), Reliance (India), and New World Development (Hong Kong). Other companies donated their own F&B products to assuage food insecurity.

Major banks offered financial relief measures. Owners of major malls in the Philippines and Thailand offered rent relief for their tenants. Some companies diverted their advertising budgets for relief efforts or awareness-raising campaigns.

As the pandemic upended education globally, businesses stepped in to help bridge the digital divide. Companies provided digital tools (i.e., mobile phones and software), improved internet access for students, and offered digital literacy training. Mi India donated smartphones to students in under-resourced communities through Teach for India. PLDT teamed up with schools, Microsoft, and Google to make digital solutions more accessible for the education sector in the Philippines. Tencent leveraged their online learning platform to make online teaching accessible for 20 million students within a matter of days.

While these are just a few examples of how corporates rose to the occasion in 2020, it also underscores the need for even greater private social investment this year. But what might 2021 look like?

1.    Despite exacerbated CSR budgets, there will be growing political and social pressure on corporates to give more and do more.

2.    During Covid, many corporates leveraged the reach of and trust in nonprofits to distribute resources to those most in need. We expect this to continue as the social sector is well positioned to help maximize the reach and impact of CSR.

3.    Public-private partnerships (PPPs) will continue to grow in number and importance as economies focus on vaccine distribution and rebuilding. We also expect there to be an uptick in what we call “PPPs for social good” as the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in income, education, and other areas.

With increased corporate support in 2020, we are cautiously optimistic that they will continue to play a more active role alongside government and the social sector. As we monitor these developments, we will keep you apprised through our upcoming newsletters and research reports.

Best wishes for the year ahead!

The CAPS Team

Who’s Doing Good

10 November 2020 - 23 November 2020

THE GIVERS

Azim Premji tops EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020. In addition, Premji is also recognized for being one of the world’s leading donors to Covid-19 relief efforts, with a combined donation of Rs1,125 crore (approximately US$152 million) from Wipro, Wipro Enterprises, and the Azim Premji Foundation. Shiv Nadar, founder-chairman of HCL, ranks second, followed by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries. The list showcases a total of 112 people, whose combined donations increased by 175% to INR12,050 crore (approximately US$1.6 billion) in 2020.

Forbes Asia releases its 14th annual Heroes of Philanthropy list. While this year’s list is unranked and excludes donations made by companies, it shines a light on 15 individual philanthropists in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of this year’s biggest donors focused on the Covid-19 pandemic: Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing gave US$32 million to various aid initiatives and Japan’s Tadashi Yanai gave US$105 million to research and vaccine development. Other philanthropists, like Vietnam’s Pham Nhat Vuong, continued to contribute to causes such as education, alongside contributing to relief efforts.

THE THINKERS

Finding the way forward in post-Covid-19 Asia. Covid-19 has made it clear that governments, donors, and the social sector all have an indispensable role in helping societies build back stronger from the pandemic. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights the strengths and opportunities for 18 economies in Asia to build a more enabling environment for such philanthropy to reach the neediest. In our latest webinar series, CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed share country-specific findings on PakistanIndiaKoreaMalaysiaNepal, and Hong Kong.

THE NONPROFITS

Educate Girls among the world’s 100 most inspiring innovations in K12 education. The nonprofit, which works for girls’ education in the remotest villages of India, has announced its selection in HundrED 2021 Global Collection—an annual list that highlights 100 of the most impactful innovations in K12 education from around the world. Educate Girls’ innovation was reviewed by 150 Academy Members consisting of academics, educators, innovators, funders, and leaders from over 50 countries. Since 2007, Educate Girls has enrolled over 750,000 girls in schools, improving learning outcomes for over 1.3 million children. The nonprofit is also well-known for spearheading the world’s first Development Impact Bond in education.

THE BUSINESSES

Interview with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala on how businesses can be a force for good. In conversation with the McKinsey Quarterly, the chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation discusses macro trends among businesses in Asia and how they’re responding to complex challenges during Covid-19. In the interview, Ayala describes his own learnings and how the Ayala Group responded to the pandemic by prioritizing its employees, upholding its broad ecosystem, and supporting the community at large, especially those most economically vulnerable. The Group also joined forces with other companies to support the government in meeting the immediate needs of communities—underscoring the importance of partnership at a time when both the will and resources required are beyond any one sector’s capacity to provide.

Social bonds strengthen foothold in Asia credit market. Globally, issuance of social bonds shot up more than five times to approximately US$105 billion as of October 2020. Amidst Covid-19, new debt is being increasingly redirected to social and sustainability bonds targeted at supporting rising public health needs and growing economic disparity. This is true in Asia, too, where distribution of social bonds rose 29% this year through June 15 from a year earlier. This augurs well for the region, where Asian governments and institutions have been slow to issue social bonds. Yet, this redirection comes at a cost: green bond issuance in Asia-Pacific in the second quarter of 2020 fell to its lowest level in more than three years.

THE INNOVATORS

The Australian Government and Macquarie Group Foundation support Filipina entrepreneurs. Together with the Macquarie Group Foundation, Australia is committing to an investment program of over P43 million (approximately US$900,000) to aid Filipino women who own small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs (RISE) Fund aims to help the Philippines build back better by supporting women-led SMEs. Australian ambassador to the Philippines stressed that Filipino women “will play a central role in the recovery from Covid-19 and should have an equal part in a more resilient, inclusive, and broad-based Philippines.”

ABAC Indonesia, Mandiri Capital join forces to invest in start-ups with social impact. APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Indonesia, the private-sector arm of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, has partnered with venture capital firm Mandiri Capital to launch a new fund that will invest in startups with social impact. The Indonesia Impact Fund (IIF) will focus on investing in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups related to five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): poverty alleviation, sustainable cities and affordable housing, high-quality and accessible education, increased economic participation for women, and affordable health care. The firm aims to raise US$10 million in assets under management by its first close of funding in the second quarter of 2021.

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

Who’s Doing Good

27 October 2020 - 09 November 2020

THE GIVERS

Tanoto Foundation, Temasek Foundation International donate PCR equipment to GSI Lab. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report on Indonesia highlighted the need for the country to increase its lab capacity to test suspected Covid-19 cases, as the country lags the Philippines and India in testing. Indonesia’s low testing rate has persisted as laboratories face problems ranging from limited testing equipment and delays in reported results. Genomik Solidaritas Indonesia Lab (GSI Lab), a social enterprise supporting the government’s Covid-19 testing efforts, currently has the capacity to conduct 5,000 tests daily. Thanks to this new donation of PCR equipment from the Tanoto Foundation and Temasek Foundation International, GSI Lab will be able to conduct an additional 600 tests per day.

After fight with prostate cancer, ex-banker Nazir Razak initiates awareness campaign. Former chairman of CIMB Group, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak will help lead a nationwide campaign against prostate cancer this November with the Urological Cancer Trust Fund of Universiti Malaya. A prostate cancer survivor himself, Razak is publicly sharing his experience in hopes that it will help the campaign raise awareness. The campaign is also providing knowledge enhancement programs for doctors and a dedicated website that contains health education resources for the public, patients, and healthcare professionals. According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry, more than 60% of prostate cancer cases in the country are diagnosed at the advanced stage, while the comparable statistics are much lower in Singapore (25-30%) and the United States (less than 20%). The annual campaign will work to lower this number to 40% by 2025. Nazir Razak sits on CAPS’ Advisory Board.

THE NONPROFITS

With more Hongkongers needing food assistance during Covid-19, two local NGOs step up with volunteer delivery effort. Demand for food assistance in Hong Kong is greater than ever this year as residents face financial difficulty during Covid-19. This has prompted two local nonprofits—volunteer organization HandsOn Hong Kong and local food bank Feeding Hong Kong—to launch “Care Delivered”. This service aims to ensure food donations actually reach recipients, which has been hard with social distancing measures in place. Feeding Hong Kong will source the food, while HandsOn Hong Kong will organize volunteers to provide the manpower needed to distribute the food. “Care Delivered” has been selected as one of the 19 beneficiaries of Hong Kong’s annual charity fundraising campaign Operation Santa Claus (organized by South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong), and it will begin its delivery service in March 2021.

THE BUSINESSES

Microsoft, Accenture to nurture startups by social entrepreneurs in India. Microsoft and Accenture announced they will expand their joint initiative, announced earlier this year, on supporting startups in agriculture, education, and healthcare. The program will now also include startups solving critical business challenges related to sustainability and skilling. The program entails Microsoft Research India and Accenture Labs providing mentorship and support to help startups build scalable solutions and business models. This includes testing and validating proof-of-concepts and conducting design thinking sessions. Startups also receive resources from Microsoft and support in using these technologies to scale solutions.

THE INNOVATORS

Asia’s aspiring ‘green-collar’ workers hope for jobs in Covid-19 recovery. A new Singapore-based website is tapping into the growing demand for environmentally focused careers in Asia. It is billed as the first of such initiatives in Southeast Asia—a region that often comes under threat from natural disasters. The “Green Collar” portal lists jobs from renewable energy to farming and climate change in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, with plans to gradually include job opportunities in other parts of the region. This comes as countries around the world are pledging to a “green recovery” from Covid-19. For example, Singapore said in August that it would create 55,000 green jobs over the next decade in the environment and agriculture sectors, while South Korea pledged in July to spend US$95 billion on green projects to boost the economy. The rising demand for green jobs coupled with stimulus measures aimed at concurrently revitalizing economies and fighting climate change augur well for the development of the ‘green sector’ in Asia.

THE VOLUNTEERS

CapitaLand promotes spirit of volunteerism among its employees. CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest diversified real estate groups, continues to be a leading example in how employee volunteering schemes can amplify the impact of CSR initiatives by contributing time and expertise in addition to funding. CapitaLand was among the first companies in Singapore to formalize a three-day Volunteer Service Leave system in 2006. Since then, it has expanded its leave policy to include Volunteer No-Pay Leave, Volunteer Part-Time Leave, and other initiatives. Employees can also take paid leave for volunteering as part of the company’s International Volunteer Expedition (IVE) program, in which employees volunteer at one of CapitaLand’s 29 Hope Schools across China and Vietnam. Such policies and initiatives have helped drive employee volunteerism: CapitaLand employees have volunteered over 170,000 hours between 2006 and 2019.

IN OTHER NEWS…

After government refusal, some foreign nonprofits start diverting funds from cash distribution plan. As much as US$3 million was supposed to be spent in cash distribution by international NGOs in Nepal to communities affected by Covid-19. However, the Nepalese government introduced standards on relief distribution in April, which prioritized distribution of goods instead of cash. This article in The Kathmandu Post explores why the government has clamped down on cash distribution and how foreign NGOs are responding. In the meantime, these nonprofits are facing difficulty convincing donors to allow them to divert funds meant for cash transfers to be used for other relief materials. This has translated to delays in the distribution of much-needed support to those in need.

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

Who’s Doing Good

29 September 2020 - 12 October 2020
The Doing Good Index interactive site is now live! Packed with data from 18 Asian economies, the Doing Good Index 2020 studies the environment in which private capital meets societal needs. You can now compare how one economy performs against the Asia average, or even another economy, across four areas: Regulations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Ecosystem, and Procurement. Please visit: doinggoodindex.caps.orgAs Covid-19 increases the imperative for the public, private, and social sectors to work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable Asia, the Doing Good Index shows who can do what.

THE GIVERS

Raymond Roy Wong, Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of journalism’, donates HK$50 million (US$6.45 million) to Baptist University school of communication. The donation will be used to establish the Dorothy Shen Wong Memorial Fund, in honor of Wong’s late wife. The fund will support the teaching of media ethics, help advance practicing journalists, and provide scholarships for outstanding journalism students. The donation will also go towards setting up the first-ever Endowed Professorship in Media Ethics and Professional Journalism Fellowship at the university, alongside scholarships for students to acquire global exposure in the journalism field. Wong’s donation is the biggest single donation the school has received to date.

In the Philippines, tax perks await donors of computers and supplies to public schools. With schools having to transition to blended learning and online classes during Covid-19, donations of needed technology to public schools will now be rewarded with tax deductions. These new tax perks under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will be applied to donations of personal computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, printers, and other similar equipment. During the implementation period of the Bayanihan 2 Law (September 15 to December 19, 2020), corporate and individual donors will qualify for deductions from their gross income equivalent to the amount of donation. Further, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said that foreign donations will be exempt from value-added tax (VAT) as well as the requirement for ‘authority to release imported goods’ (ATRIG) to speed up the distribution of donations.

THE BUSINESSES

Companies in the Philippines are stepping up to support distance learning during Covid-19. Coca-Cola Philippines donated 200 desktop computers to its employees to support distance learning for their children during the pandemic. Gokongwei Brothers Foundation and Robinson’s Land Corporation donated 50 desktop computers and 10 laptops to Pasig City to support the local government unit’s fight against Covid-19. PLDT, its subsidiary Smart Communications, and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, as well as Microsoft and Google, to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector. This includes discounted PLDT Home Wifi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi units, pre-loaded 5G-ready SIM cards, and software licenses, among other digital solutions.

Philippine conglomerate Ayala closes new VC fund at US$180 million. Ayala Corporation’s new global venture capital fund is now the largest VC fund to emerge out of the Philippines. The Active Fund—short for Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture—plans to inject between US$2 million to US$10 million into global startups in their series A to series D stages. The Fund will focus on fintech, ecommerce, construction tech, and proptech ventures, as well as companies aiming to solve urban city issues in Asia. The fund will be managed by Kickstart Ventures, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom.

Sony doubles down on ESG goals amid coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Sony adopted an official mandate to increase its focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors and be an active stakeholder in the global community. During Covid-19, Sony has accelerated its ESG initiatives, including the launch of its own US$100 million fund for Covid-19 relief efforts in March. In addition to donating to education—such as supplying free programming learning kits in Japan, China, and the United States—the company has also deployed funds to aid those in the music industry. As part of its environmental initiatives, Sony has set up a separate fund to support startups developing environmental technologies, with plans to invest US$9.46 million over the course of the next three to five years. Alongside these and other ESG efforts, the company also aims to achieve a “zero environmental footprint” by 2050.

NagaWorld Kind Hearts donates US$2 million to Water Wells Foundation. NagaWorld Kind Hearts, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of NagaWorld, Cambodia’s largest hotel and gaming resort, announced a US$2 million donation to the Water Wells Foundation. This donation is NagaWorld’s answer to the Royal Government’s call for assistance in the sustainable rural development of Cambodia. Since 2014, NagaWorld Kind Hearts has conducted a range of CSR activities in Cambodia focused on education enhancement, community engagement, sports development, and environmental care, as well as aiding the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts over the past year.

THE INNOVATORS

Indonesia may have quietly beaten dengue fever. Indonesian researchers have quietly achieved a major breakthrough that could lead to the elimination of dengue fever—a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 8 million Indonesians per year. Working with the Tahija Foundation and Jogjakarta’s Gadja Mahda University, the World Mosquito Program has made stunning strides in efforts to reduce incidences of dengue in parts of Indonesia. This article details how trials in Jogjakarta have successfully increased the percentage of mosquitos with Wolbachia, which can help block the transmission of dengue and other viruses like zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This development is timely as Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported in June 2020 that 400 cities and districts across the country have recorded cases of double infection, where dengue and Covid-19 have occurred together in one patient.

Bridging the food waste and food insecurity gap: how Singaporeans are doing their part. Singapore’s food waste has risen by one fifth in the last decade, yet many remain without access to nutritious meals. This article highlights some recent innovations—from virtual food banking apps to social enterprise cloud kitchens—and how government, businesses, and nonprofits are coming together to ensure quality food donations and efficient distribution. These innovations and collaborations are also giving a boost to struggling sectors of the economy, such as the F&B industry. New sources of funding are also emerging in this area: DBS Foundation introduced a new Zero Food Waste category to its grant program this year and the government’s National Environment Agency announced a SG$1.76 million (approximately US$1.3 million) Food Waste Fund to cover the cost of implementing food waste treatment solutions for local organizations.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Tencent’s 9/9 Charity Day breaks fundraising records once again, but gains are unequally distributed. The year’s 9/9 Charity Day raised a record-breaking total of nearly US$450 million in donations. However, a recent report by the Charity Forum found that one-third of the total donations went to four big organizations—the Chongqing Charity Federation, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children, and Henan and Shaanxi provincial charity federations—all of which are organized and backed by the state. This leaves hundreds of smaller nonprofits and grassroots organizations competing for the remaining donations. Another report by Sixth Tone also raises the concern that after years of competing with these charity giants, some smaller nonprofits have ceased to participate at all.

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

Who’s Doing Good

15 September 2020 - 28 September 2020

THE GIVERS

Philanthropists in Indonesia rally to support arts during crisis. Indonesia’s philanthropists are calling upon their peers to support the arts during Covid-19, pointing to the creative industry’s role in propping up regional economies across the country. However, Indonesian Arts Coalition board executive Linda Hoemar Abidin points out that there are a number of regulatory bottlenecks that prevent corporate and individual philanthropists from donating to the sector. One example is that only up to 5% of corporate income is eligible for tax deductions for charitable donations. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that Indonesia has one of the lowest limits on eligible income, virtually cancelling out the incentivizing effect of tax deductions. The former finance minister suggested allowing wider tax breaks as part of the government’s super deduction tax program—issued last year—to encourage businesses and philanthropists to fund the creative industry. The super tax deduction initiative offers a major tax cut of up to 300% aimed at boosting investment, research and development, and the participation of businesses in improving Indonesia’s human resources.

Hong Kong’s richest man steps up donations amid downturn. Li Ka-shing’s charity is donating HK$170 million (US$22 million) to four local universities to further aid the city, which has been battered by political turmoil, Covid-19, and an economic downturn. The donation will be used to help establish biochemistry, biomedical, and sustainable technology research facilities, as well as artificial intelligence learning and teaching solutions. In a statement from the charity, Li said that he made the donation “to advance education excellence amidst uncertainties.” Li has already given away at least US$206 million in the past year to local universities, small businesses, and medical services in Hong Kong amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tencent co-founder Charles Chen’s Yidan Prize unveils 2020 award winners. The Yidan Prize Foundation, a global philanthropic education foundation set up by Charles Chen, announced the winners of its 2020 Yidan Prize. The prize recognizes individuals and teams who have contributed significantly to education research and education development. This year the Yidan Prize for Education Research will be awarded to Stanford University Professor Carl Weiman. The Yidan Prize for Education Development will be awarded to Lucy Lake and Angeline Murimirwa from the Campaign for Female Education. Charles Chen lauded the laureates in a statement, “The outstanding achievements and commitment of this year’s laureates demonstrate that in a post-pandemic world, education continues to be of vital importance to solving future problems and creating positive change in individuals, communities, and the environment.” 

THE BUSINESSES

Walmart Foundation announces two new grants to help India’s smallholder farmers. The philanthropy arm of retail giant Walmart announced two new grants totaling US$4.5 million to help improve farmer livelihoods in India. Specifically, the grants will help two NGOs, Tanager and PRADAN, to scale their efforts in helping farmers. Tanager will receiver over US$2.6 million to extend its Farmer Market Readiness Program and help farmers in Andhra Pradesh. PRADAN will receive US$1.9 million to launch its Livelihood Enhancement through Market Access and Women Empowerment (LEAP) program in West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand in eastern India. These two grants are part of a commitment Walmart made in September 2018 to invest US$25 million over five years for improving farmer livelihoods in India. 

Citi steps up its commitment to youth employment, skills development, and innovation across Asia Pacific. Citi and the Citi Foundation will collectively invest US$35 million in philanthropic contributions and grants by 2023 to improve the employability of youth from low-income and underserved communities in Asia. The bank will also offer 6,000 jobs and 60,000 skills training opportunities for young people at Citi Asia over the next three years. This regional commitment is part of Citi’s expanded global “Pathways to Progress” initiative, which is designed to equip young people with the skills and confidence to improve their employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and make a positive impact in their communities.

Swire Group’s “TrustTomorrow” pledges HK$14 million (approximately US$2 million) for community funding. The TrustTomorrow initiative will fund relief support, benefitting over 100,000 people in Hong Kong through 85 organizations. The initiative aims to support vulnerable groups most affected by the pandemic through efforts focused on food, hygiene, family wellbeing, and social capital. The initiative will also focus on strengthening NGOs during the pandemic by offering in-depth auditing to evaluate where they stand in terms of their digital strategy and what gaps to fill to strengthen their services and operations. TrustTomorrow is larger than just pandemic relief efforts though: the long-term vision of the program is to bring lasting benefits and opportunities to “build a better tomorrow for Hong Kong”. This includes supporting areas such as education, marine conservation, and the arts.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek invests in sustainable water fund. A clean-water venture capital fund from clean technology investor Emerald Technology Ventures has attracted US$100 million in commitments. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek is the cornerstone investor, joined by Microsoft, water technology firm SKion Water, water provider Ecolab, and others. The fund is also supported by Enterprise Singapore, a government agency. The fund will invest in early- to expansion-stage businesses that address water challenges around the world. This includes financing technologies that conserve water resources, support sustainable cities, improve resource efficiency, adapt to climate change, and reduce health risks. Emerald Technology Ventures is expanding in the Asia-Pacific region. It opened a Singapore office last year to house a water technology incubator to support local companies.

THE NONPROFITS

Singapore to help charities go digital, boost transparency. Singapore plans to roll out three initiatives later this year to help charities strengthen their digital capability, regulatory compliance, and transparency. First, the Charities GoDigital Kit will be launched to help charities build their digital capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will revise and publish a new transparency framework that helps charities of different sizes define their policy and approach to transparency—ultimately helping them build trust with donors and stakeholders. Third, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Law Society Pro Bono Services, and Shared Services for Charities have been added to a list of partners who help charities in Singapore access IT solutions, recruit talent, and file annual reports and financial statements at low or no cost. Offering these shared services will help enable charities to be more transparent and productive by allowing them to outsource this work and focus on their activities and programs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Amnesty suspends India operations after accounts are frozen. Financial Times reports on how Amnesty International is suspending its operations in India after the government has frozen its bank account. Amnesty has had to halt its work and lay off 140 Indian staff members. The Enforcement Directorate, the agency responsible for freezing Amnesty’s bank accounts, has yet to make a statement.

FCRA amendments hurt India’s development and democracy. In her op-ed for Bloomberg, Ingrid Srinath, founding director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, discusses how amendments to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) pose potential hazards to development and democracy in India. Srinath focuses on four of the proposed amendments: the ban on regranting FCRA funds to other FCRA registered organizations; the 20% cap on ‘overhead’ spending; the requirement to provide Aadhaar details of board members and senior functionaries; and the mandate to route all FCRA funds through the State Bank of India, New Delhi. She warns how these amendments could hinder collaboration—a cornerstone of India’s Covid-19 relief efforts—as well as talent recruitment, innovation, and impact measurement in the sector. These amendments will also increase the regulatory burden for social sector organizations, therefore disadvantaging smaller, rural, and grassroots nonprofits. Noshir Dadrawala at the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy also explains the proposed changes in more detail in this article. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 also found that growing oversight of nonprofits receiving foreign funding is having a dampening effect on the sector. 

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

2018 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index: Asia

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360 & the International Center for Non-For-Profit Law (ICNL)

The fifth edition of this annual index analyzes the capacity of civil society organizations in nine countries across Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It assesses civil society’s capacity to serve both as a partner in the delivery of short-term solutions and in driving longer-term sustainable development outcomes. Read it here.

Webinar: Asia Society Hong Kong Center Program Charting the Path Forward

Catching the world unaware, Covid-19 has sent the global economy and the lives of billions into a tailspin. In the wake of this pandemic, the public, private, and social sectors must come together to work towards a stronger and more equitable Asia as we build our way out of this crisis. At a time when foreign funding is declining across the region, “Asia for Asia” philanthropy must fill the gap—and the Doing Good Index shows how.

CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed present the key findings of the index and showcase how governments, philanthropists, companies and the social sector can work together for mutual benefit. This discussion was moderated by Ronnie C. Chan, Co-Founder and Chairman of CAPS and Chairman of Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

Interview: Ruth Shapiro on the Doing Good Index 2020

CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro shares insights from the second edition of the biennial Doing Good Index, launched in June 2020.

 

Insights with Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed: Doing Good Index 2020

CAPS’ Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed shares insights from the second edition of the biennial Doing Good Index, launched in June 2020.

Webinar: Doing Good Index 2020

Profiling Asia's Social Sector: The Path Forward

The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) introduces its second edition of the Doing Good Index (DGI). Hear from Dr. Ruth Shapiro, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, and Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, Director of Research at CAPS, as they present key findings from the DGI2020 and showcase how governments, philanthropists, companies and the social sector can work together for mutual benefit. During the webinar, learn which factors enable or hinder private social investment across 18 countries and territories in Asia.