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

24 November 2020 - 07 December 2020

THE GIVERS

National Legacy Giving initiative to inspire philanthropic culture in Singapore. According to a Social Pulse Survey, there is a disconnect between awareness and action when it comes to legacy giving in Singapore. While the majority of respondents (83%) are aware of legacy giving, only 33% are considering it, and only 3% would follow through in planning such a bequest. In an effort to make legacy giving more common, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has launched a three-year national legacy giving initiative, titled, “A Greater Gift”. The initiative will work in partnership with wealth advisors and ambassadors—individuals who share why they chose to pursue legacy giving—to facilitate more awareness and planning. CFS will also support charities, especially smaller ones, which may not be equipped to engage legacy donors.

THE NONPROFITS

How a Bengaluru NGO raised Rs220 crore for fight against coronavirus. The India COVID Response Fund, a collective crowdfunding campaign by nonprofit GiveIndia has raised over Rs220 crore (approximately US$30 million) since its launch in March this year. The fund received early support from well-known foundations, high-net-worth individuals, and businesses, which helped spur further giving from individuals around the world. So far the fund has disbursed Rs190 crore (approximately US$26 million) in cash relief, humanitarian aid, and healthcare support to frontline workers through its network of verified nonprofits.

THE BUSINESSES

Businesses continue providing relief aid in the wake of Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The Philippines’ leading companies, including Ayala GroupSM Malls, and MVP Group, have ramped up relief efforts to help communities affected by recent super typhoons. To encourage more cash aid from abroad, the remittance service unit of the Philippines’ BDO Unibank is waving charges on typhoon donations from overseas Filipinos until December 31. The bank’s philanthropic arm, the BDO Foundation, has also distributed relief packs containing food, rice, and drinking water to more than 260,000 families in affected cities and municipalities. Foreign companies are also stepping up: fashion giant H&M donated US$200,000 to the Red Cross to meet the needs of 260,000 people affected in Vietnam and the Philippines. Japanese retailer Uniqlo donated US$1 million in aid through the SM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Philippines’ SM Group.

DBS steps up support for social enterprises with a record SG$9 million (approximately US$6.8 million) in grants and loans this year. DBS Bank has increased its financial support to help social enterprises cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through two new initiatives this year: the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement Grant and the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize. The DBS Foundation has also continued its flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Program. Last week the foundation announced that SG$1.4 million (approximately US$1 million) has been awarded to 13 social enterprises in its 2020 cohort.

PwC India to upskill 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. PwC India announced the launch of its new collaborative initiative aimed at bridging the digital gap and upskilling 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. This is part of PwC’s global collaboration with UNICEF and Generational Unlimited, a multi-sector partnership aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030. The program will act as a catalyst by working with a range of public and private stakeholders to create equitable opportunities for young people through enhanced employability and earnings potential. PwC India will provide broad support across three areas: Economic Opportunities and Employability, 21st Century Skilling and Learning, and Youth Engagement.

THE INNOVATORS

BillionBricks: the Singapore social enterprise tackling homelessness by building solar homes in the Philippines. Social enterprise BillionBricks is known for its pioneering invention, the WeatherHYDE emergency tent, which has been distributed around the world. However, in recognizing that this tent model was only an interim housing solution, the founders developed the BillionBricks Home: the world’s first self-financing, carbon-negative solar home solution. Each BillionBricks Home is equipped with solar panels that produce four times more energy than what is consumed, allowing families to sell unused energy to the grid and generate additional income. Prototypes for the BillionBricks Home have already been built in India and the Philippines, and in 2022 the first community of 500 solar homes will be built in the Philippines. If this model succeeds, BillionBricks plans to scale its solar-powered community globally by sharing its self-sustaining model as a playbook for organizations around the world to replicate.

Indonesians take local approach to massive problem of food waste. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Food Sustainability Index, Indonesia ranked 53rd out of 67 countries on food loss and waste. This Nikkei Asia article highlights Indonesian social sector organizations working to bridge the gap between food wastage and food insecurity. For instance, Garda Pangan redistributed discarded food from restaurants, local farmers, and business partners to provide 144,000 meals. Volunteer-led Foodbank of Indonesia has collected 1,200 tons of food this year alone that would have otherwise been wasted. While there is still a lack of awareness around food loss and waste in Indonesia, this article highlights the importance of social sector organizations in bringing attention to the issue and meeting immediate nutritional needs.

THE VOLUNTEERS

HealthServe’s Goh Wei-Leong shares how his nonprofit pivoted during Covid-19. As a medical doctor, Goh Wei-Leong co-founded the nonprofit HealthServe to provide marginalized migrant workers in Singapore with healthcare, counseling and social assistance. When Singapore’s Covid-19 outbreak led to the overnight loss of 95% of its medical volunteers, HealthServe had to pivot. The nonprofit rapidly launched teleconsultation services to make up for the shortfall and escalated the roll-out of mental wellness initiatives such as a virtual tele-counseling clinic and group intervention sessions. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, volunteers still remained engaged digitally and Goh credits the organization’s success to its volunteers: “The pandemic brought out the best among our volunteers and it shows that in the midst of struggling, there is a ray of hope.”

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

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

13 October 2020 - 26 October 2020

THE GIVERS

Ramon Ang recognized for Covid-19 response efforts at the Asia CEO Awards 2020. San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang was given the Lifetime Contributor Award at the Asia CEO Awards 2020, the largest business awards event in Southeast Asia. Ang was recognized for both his long-term contributions to the Philippines and his response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ang has been at the helm of SMC’s outreach program, which has distributed over Php13.180 billion (approximately US$273 million) in aid during the pandemic. SMC also spearheaded blood donation drives, built temporary quarantine facilities, distributed RT-PCR machines and test kits, and donated food and medical equipment. In addition, the company pivoted its business by repurposing liquor plants to manufacture alcohol disinfectant, and has recently announced the creation of the RSA Foundation to build a hospital specializing in infectious disease research. Despite the economic downturn, SMC has committed to continuing its current infrastructure projects and environmental programs focused on rehabilitating the Tullahan-Tinajeros River and the mangroves around Bulacan and Central Luzon.

THE NONPROFITS

An analysis of Chinese charitable trusts in 2020: pandemic-driven development. In the first half of 2020, 142 new charitable trusts were established in China, surpassing the usual figures for a whole year. The total assets of these newcomers reached ¥263 million (approximately US$40 million). These new trusts have played an important role in aiding the prevention and control of Covid-19. Although most have been set up for short-term pandemic-relief, many are also working in poverty alleviation, education, and other development areas. This surge in trusts comes from organizations that want to contribute to pandemic relief establishing charitable trusts, since the trust structure offers greater flexibility and more robust supervision. Yet they also have shortcomings: charitable trusts have yet to receive any concrete, preferential tax policies. 

THE BUSINESSES

China recruits Korean conglomerate to advise on ESG. Bloomberg reports on Beijing’s recent efforts to push companies to make ESG disclosures. Beijing recently tapped SK Group to help accelerate these efforts, since the Korean conglomerate has been leading ESG adoption in Asia. SK said it will team up with China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees the country’s government-run companies, to jointly establish a lab in Beijing to study and develop rating methods for ESG practices. While China has pledged to make its nearly 4,000 listed corporates publish ESG metrics by the end of this year, progress has been lagging. But with Covid-19 spurring inflows into ESG-related assets, there is greater imperative for companies to improve their ESG practices in order to access a share of the trillions of dollars currently invested in the ESG arena.

Nando’s Malaysia launches food donation program to help those in need while tackling excess food issues. Last week we reported on companies and nonprofits in Singapore working to bridge the food waste and food insecurity gap. As food insecurity worsens amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, similar initiatives have emerged across the region. In Malaysia, Nando’s has launched a food donation program “No Chuckin Our Chicken”, in conjunction with its ongoing community outreach efforts. The program allows the company to eliminate food wastage, while continuing to improve food supply and security for communities in need. The program involves 11 Nando’s outlets across Malaysia that have partnered with Kechara Soup Kitchen, The Lost Food Project, Malaysia Relief Agency Sabah, and other organizations. Throughout the pandemic, Nando’s Malaysia has collectively delivered MYR135,000 (approximately US$33,000) worth of food and supplies to local communities with the help of 17 charity partners. The “No Chuckin Our Chicken” program will be a permanent ongoing effort.

Uniqlo helps over 10,000 people through partnership with charity: water. Japanese fashion company Uniqlo is helping more than 10,000 people across India, Cambodia, Malawi, and Madagascar attain clean and drinkable water through its partnership with nonprofit charity: water. Uniqlo agreed to donate the proceeds of its €0.10 fee for paper bags at its stores to raise funds for the charity and reduce single-use plastic bags. The partnership will fund four different clean water solutions, two of which are in Asia: rainwater harvesting tanks in the Thar Desert in India and bio-sand filters in homes and schools in Cambodia.

THE INNOVATORS

NGO People In Need Cambodia and ArrowDot partner to develop tech solutions for disaster prevention. In 2013, People In Need Cambodia launched its Early Warning System 1294, a mobile phone-based public alert system for natural disasters. The nonprofit recently came up with the idea for Tep Machcha, a solar-powered device that gauges water levels and monitors the data to make reliable predictions of weather events. It partnered with ArrowDot, an IoT solutions company, to design, manufacture, and install the device in flood-prone areas—so far, 43 Tep Machcha devices have been installed nationwide. If water levels reach a dangerous depth, the online server sends a warning to the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM), which then sends mobile alerts to over 100,000 citizens enrolled in the Early Warning System 1294. The development and implementation of this tech-enabled solution offers an example of how the private sector can help accelerate innovation in the social sector.

Bridging the credit gap for India’s impact enterprises. Impact investors have committed around US$11 billion in impact capital in India in the past decade, and US$2.7 billion last year alone. However, more than 70% of these commitments are in the form of equity, and debt capital remains in short supply. For India’s two million social enterprises, this lack of access to credit and working capital is hindering the growth of the sector. In a new report, India Impact Investing Council and Bridgespan detail the barriers enterprises face in accessing credit, including perceived risk, unproven business models, and slim or no credit files. The report advocates for customizable tools including collateral-based senior debt, unsecured junior debt, quasi-equity, and grant-based finance to bridge the gap. The report also points out a strong need and opportunity for foundations to support the build out of debt financing, particularly for overlooked sectors like agriculture and healthcare. CAPS’ Business for Good study also speaks to the dearth of financing options for budding social enterprises, and urges impact investors to consider deploying their investment capital through a range of asset classes.

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

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.

Who’s Doing Good

01 September 2020 - 14 September 2020

THE GIVERS

Charitable bequests on the rise in Japan. Data disclosed by the National Tax Agency show that charitable bequests are on the rise in Japan with US$440 million donated in 2018, compared to US$58 million in 2010. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights how Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines stand out as the few economies in Asia that offer tax incentives for giving upon death in the form of charitable bequests. According to a survey by the Japan Succession Donation Association, 22.9% of respondents, ages 50-70, said they have considered making a charitable bequest upon death. However, challenges remain as only 1.2% of respondents said they have taken steps to make a bequest by writing a will or through other means.

Asian families shift priorities to community Covid relief. This article highlights how some family offices in Asia are switching their priorities for their impact investments towards supporting local communities impacted by the pandemic. Covid-19 has compelled some family offices to ‘double down’ on their funding efforts, as well as spurred greater collaboration between like-minded family offices. This includes new efforts to support social enterprises, such as the Community Resilience Fund in Hong Kong that provides liquidity support for social enterprises and helps them adapt and continue to support their local community. The Fund was initiated in March 2020 under the auspices of Hong Kong family office RS Group and Social Ventures Hong Kong (SVHK), and it is jointly operated by the Sustainable Finance Initiative.

THE BUSINESSES

This year’s “99 Giving Day” breaks record for China internet charity platform by Tencent. Since its establishment in 2015, “99 Giving Day” is considered the most popular annual charity festival in China, jointly initiated by Tencent Charity Foundation and thousands of other charity organizations, enterprises, celebrities, and media. With the theme of “Together We Can,” this year’s event raised a total donation of ¥3.044 billion (nearly US$500 million). More than 5,780 donors, 500 institutions, and 10,000 enterprises participated in the campaign, which broke the record for online giving in China. This year’s event also featured new tools to address transparency and challenges amidst Covid-19, such as charity consumption coupons and blockchain technology, amongst other new initiatives. Also, Tencent Charity Foundation announced that this year it would invest ¥399.9 million (nearly US$60 million) in matching donations.

Alibaba Group launches fourth annual Philanthropy Week with a series of initiatives designed to make giving easier and more transparent. The event featured close to 100 online and offline philanthropic activities, from ensuring nutritious meals reach impoverished children in China to promoting environmental awareness through recycling programs. To increase transparency and encourage donors to give confidently, all contributions are fully trackable with Alibaba’s “Charities on the Chain” solution, which was developed with Ant Group’s blockchain team so that users can see exactly where their donations are going and how they are being used. 

Ayala chief: Malls should provide more services to tenants. CEO of Ayala Corp Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said that mall operators need to adapt during Covid-19 and provide more services to help their tenants whose businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Ayala notes that these added services could come in the form of logistics support or more storage space for their tenants’ stocks as online shopping grows in popularity. For example, last month Ayala Malls launched its online Neighborhood Assistant service, which allows customers to shop via the website of their nearest Ayala Mall. SM Prime Holdings, the country’s biggest mall operator, also stated that it was investing PHP 100 million (approximately US$2 million) on expanding its e-commerce presence.

UOB’s private equity arm achieves impact milestone. UOB Venture Management has issued its disclosure statement on the Operating Principles for Impact Management, making it the first Southeast Asian signatory of the Impact Principles (initiated by the World Bank Group), according to the bank. The firm has also recently obtained verification from Ernst & Young for its Asia Impact Investment Fund’s alignment with the principles. Launched in 2015 together with Credit Suisse, the US$55 million fund invests in high-growth companies from the education, healthcare, and agriculture sectors in Southeast Asia and China, which help to improve financial inclusion, affordable housing, sanitation, clean energy, and water for the region’s low-income communities.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Red Cross, and local social enterprise team up to create clean and green care kits for migrant workers and low-income families. More than 300 Marina Bay Sands staff from over 40 departments packed 10,000 care kits in partnership with social enterprise Clean the World Asia and the Singapore Red Cross. Each kit contains essential items such as soap bars and soap bags, hand sanitizer, shampoo, hair conditioner, and surgical face masks. The soap bars are made from discarded soap from Marina Bay Sands’ premises and processed with the help of Clean the World Asia’s soap recycling facilities. The kits will be distributed to beneficiaries of the Singapore Red Cross, including the migrant worker community and low-income families.

THE INNOVATORS

MaGIC and Lazada Malaysia team up to promote social enterprise products. The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has partnered with e-commerce platform Lazada Malaysia to onboard and promote the products and services of social enterprises registered with MaGIC. As part of the #buyforimapct campaign, Lazada will subsidize the online startup costs for social enterprises selected by MaGIC and promote their products and services. Since early August 2020, Malaysians have been able to purchase products made by social enterprises on Lazada via its #buyforimpact page. Throughout September, the campaign will run weekly features of social enterprises championing various causes. Additionally, the campaign will run Demo Days for aspiring social enterprises to showcase their budding businesses to funding agencies and potential investors.

Japan and India team up to help emerging nations go digital. Japan and India will work with technology companies to build platforms that help emerging nations put government services online. The initiative will take inspiration from New Delhi’s online system, which allowed for quick distribution of Covid-19 assistance. Japan’s trade ministry will enlist domestic businesses for the project, and Indian engineers will grant licenses that permit Japanese companies to land contracts for digital platforms from other countries. Japan’s government, which lags in digitizing its systems, also plans to use the knowledge gained from the partnership to advance its own digitization efforts.

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

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.

Who’s Doing Good

18 August 2020 - 31 August 2020

THE NONPROFITS

Foreign funding for Bangladesh NGOs drops sharply. Foreign funding disbursed through a government regulatory body has declined sharply in the last fiscal year due to Covid-19. According to the NGO Affairs Bureau, the commitment for grants decreased by almost 17% to Tk 75.59 billion (approximately US$900 million) in FY 2019-2020 from Tk 91.18 billion (approximately US$1 billion) in the previous fiscal year. Kam Morshed, a senior director at BRAC, noted that foreign funding has been on a downward trajectory in recent years as the country grows economically stronger. However, as this trend is accelerated by Covid-19, Morshed underscores the need for more government funding for NGOs and coordination among NGOs to ensure optimum use of resources for social service delivery. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020, released in June 2020, had also highlighted a trend of declining foreign funding across Asia. We believe Covid-19 is likely accelerating this trend and widening the resource gap for social service organizations.

Study on Singapore’s charities finds diversity of charity boards has impact on performance. A recent study of 204 charities in Singapore by Conjunct Consulting found that greater diversity of board members shows better financial performance. It says greater ethnic, gender, and expertise diversity guides charities towards a sustainable future. For example, a more diverse board can help charities broaden their networks to fill gaps in expertise and fundraising. According to the study, women comprised a third of the boards studied, yet ethnic diversity was still lacking: over 80% of board members are Chinese and only 3% are Malay. Conjunct Consulting has developed a board diversity calculator tool to help charities assess how they fare on gender, ethnic, and expertise diversity.

Safe home initiative supports Pakistan communities hit hard by Covid-19. The Asia Foundation launched a community-centered initiative ‘Safe Home Initiative for Women and Children,’ together with local nonprofit the Children’s Global Network Pakistan. The initiative addresses the pandemic’s public health and social welfare implications for affected communities in rural areas. For example, the initiative distributes recyclable sanitary pads and refers at-risk women to agencies that offer services for victims of domestic violence. This article highlights the initiative’s key milestones since early July.

THE BUSINESSES

Coronavirus has accelerated growing awareness of need for fairer capitalism, as businesses step up to help. This South China Morning Post op-ed illustrates how businesses that had created bridges to their communities before the crisis were better prepared to aid Covid-19 relief efforts. The article highlights examples such as the Ayala Group in the Philippines, whose contributions to Covid-19 relief efforts have totaled around US$181 million thus far. The Ayala Group set out to protect what it calls its ecosystem, which includes employees, informal workers, small businesses, and the urban poor. This article argues that businesses in Asia who were able to respond the most efficiently had deepened community engagement, worked intensively with government and civil society, and forgone short-term profits.

Hyundai India announced phase two of CSR initiatives amid Covid-19 crisis. Hyundai Motor India announced its Hyundai Cares 2.0 CSR initiative, which will run till December 2020. Under the broad goal of helping communities overcome the implications of the pandemic, Hyundai India’s philanthropic efforts will focus on three key activities: Health, Education and a Clean India. Efforts will include handing out masks, distributing tablets pre-loaded with academic curriculum for lower income children, as well as a sanitization drive to disinfect public spaces in 292 districts/tehsils across India.

TerraCycle Global Foundation tackles plastic pollution crisis in world’s waterways. According to the Ocean Conservancy, over half of the plastic that ends up in our oceans comes from five countries—China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In recognition of this growing issue, the TerraCycle Global Foundation—the philanthropic arm of TerraCycle—launched a new initiative in Thailand together with The PepsiCo Foundation and Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The TerraCycle Foundation installed river plastic capture traps designed to increase the amount of debris and plastics collected from Thai waterways, thereby intercepting this waste before it reaches the ocean. The Foundation will recycle waste collected by its own initiative as well as that collected by other organizations participating in the Thai government’s marine debris management program.

THE INNOVATORS

Covid-19 has brought much-needed collaboration to India’s development sector. In their op-ed, Deepali Khanna of the Rockefeller Foundation and Sudha Srinivasan of The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation argue that corporates, governments, civil society, and individual innovators have come together to address the pandemic in India in an unprecedented way. They highlight how companies and nonprofits alike assisted the government in immediate relief efforts, while the innovation ecosystem bolstered support like never before as governments extended an open call for innovative ideas to mitigate the outbreak. They argue that this departure from business as usual ushered in a new respect and recognition for each other’s role, and this collective action has demonstrated how the development sector can also expand to include all ecosystem actors.

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

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.