DECODED

Asia's social sector takes on Covid-19

Our DECODED series unpacks, explains and crystallizes issues critical for social investment in Asia. DECODED draws upon CAPS’ expertise in research, and access to an extensive network of sector experts and philanthropists in 18 Asian economies. This enables us to identify emerging trends in the region. Through DECODED, we translate these concepts into bite-sized, easy-to-understand insights.

This inaugural DECODED synthesizes how the social sector across Asia has risen to the occasion in responding to Covid-19, and what comes next. We end with recommendations for philanthropists, corporates and policymakers who want to invest in helping Asia’s social sectors thrive.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

31 March 2021 - 13 April 2021

Record SG$102 million (approximately US$76 million) donated on Giving.sg in past year, surpassing previous annual records. Around 600 charities received these donations, according to the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). Like last year, Giving.sg has waived the 3% transaction fee for next year, meaning charities will continue to receive the full amount of the donation. Continue reading in The Straits Times →

Grab announces US$275 million GrabForGood Fund to provide funding and vaccine support. Grab will seed the fund with US$50 million in cash and US$200 million in Grab shares. Grab Group’s CEO and Co-founder Anthony Tan, Co-founder Tan Hooi Ling, and President Ming Maa also pledged a combined US$25 million in personal contributions of Grab shares. The fund’s first initiative will provide Covid-19 vaccine support for Grab partners, followed by grants and financial support for long-term social and environmental impact benefiting communities across Southeast Asia. Continue reading in Yahoo! Finance →

San Miguel Corporation’s new food donation drive to benefit 184,000 families in lockdown areas. As coronavirus cases rise in the Philippines, the conglomerate is ramping up its food donation efforts. This follows past donations to the country’s Covid-19 response, which have totaled over PHP13 billion (approximately US$268 million) of food aid, medical equipment and other forms of assistance. Continue reading in CNN Philippines →

Corporate India plans Covid-19 vaccination drive for its employees. Major companies—including Reliance Industries, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services—have committed to vaccinating eligible employees and their families free of cost. The government plans to qualify such expenditure as part of a company’s CSR obligations, as long as it is part of a community-based vaccination project. Continue reading in The Economic Times →

Neera Nundy, co-founder and partner at Dasra, underscores the role of family philanthropy. Nundy outlines how India can accelerate the impact of family philanthropy, the corpus of which tripled in the past year. In fostering more collaboration, family philanthropy can play a more central role—as partners to government and nonprofits—in driving more sustainable change. Continue reading in Forbes India →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

Overview of Charity Sector in Singapore: 2007–2013 (Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 3)

National University of Singapore (NUS)

This study maps Singapore’s charitable sector using annual reports published between 2007 to 2013 by the Commissioner of Charities. It describes the size of the sector and its financial health, as well as trends in the type of funding received by organization and by subsector. It also raises questions on fundraising strategies, the relationship between donations and economic conditions, and grants leading to ‘crowding-in’ or ‘crowding-out’ of other forms of funding. Read it here.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

16 March 2021 - 31 March 2021

After recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases, Cambodian government calls upon private sector for further assistance. One of Cambodia’s largest conglomerates, Prince Holding Group, and its chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi, answered the call with a fresh bequest of US$3 million. Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng and his family also contributed US$3 million, with an additional US$2 million to purchase Nokor Tep Hospital. Both Kith Meng and Chen Zhi are among a list of prominent business leaders who had already donated to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s vaccine efforts last December, contributing US$3 million each at that time.

Private equity fund ABC World Asia launches inaugural report detailing investment activities and impact performance. The report, “Journey to Impact in Asia,” showcases the performance of SG$98 million (approximately US$73 million) invested in five companies addressing challenges in climate, financial inclusion, healthcare, and sustainable agriculture in 2020. The fund aims to encourage more dialogue around impact investing in Asia by publicly sharing its framework for impact evaluation and its learning and experiences. In CAPS’ Business for Good, we highlight how impact investors can help incentivize other investors by publishing reports like this that showcase different approaches to investment and celebrate success stories. Continue reading in PR Newswire →

Swire Group reaffirms commitment to Hong Kong community with new HK$150 million (approximately US$20 million) charitable pledge. The new round of funding will go to TrustTomorrow, an initiative launched in early 2020 by the Group’s philanthropic arm Swire Trust. It will support around 30 projects, primarily in education, marine conservation and the arts, over the next three years. Continue reading in the South China Morning Post →

Survey of Indian bureaucrats highlights critical role of NGOs in pandemic response. The Centre for Policy Research survey, conducted in August-September 2020, polled over 500 officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The findings show that three out of five officers considered NGOs and civil society as critical partners in the pandemic response. Officers in more developed states, however, were less likely to consider NGOs as critical partners, suggesting they may be less dependent on them for meeting gaps in services. Continue reading in Live Mint →

Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan, eldest daughter of the King of Malaysia, launches social enterprise on mental health. The 28-year-old royal has launched Green Ribbon Group, a social enterprise that aims to combat mental health issues in Malaysia. It will seek to empower stakeholders involved in raising awareness around mental health, through advocacy, fundraising, and collaboration initiatives. Continue reading in CNA Luxury →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

The State of Social Enterprise in South East Asia

British Council and UNESCAP

This report combines economy-specific analyses of social enterprises across South East Asia, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. An estimated one million social enterprises exist across these economies. This report highlights the activities that social enterprises are engaged in, the range of beneficiaries, as well as their size and reach. The diverse types and sources of support social enterprises receive are also discussed. Read it here.

Individual reports can be accessed here:

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

04 February 2021 - 16 February 2021

Korean billionaire Kim Beom-su, founder of Kakao, vows to donate over half of his wealth. Kim, who has seen his wealth rise to US$7.9 billion during the pandemic, has pledged to donate more than half of his assets throughout his lifetime. Precise details of his donation have yet to be disclosed, but Kim is expected to make an official announcement soon according to Yonhap NewsContinue reading in Bloomberg Wealth →

Trive Ventures jointly launches US$2 million venture philanthropy fund with undisclosed Singapore-based family foundation. The “Tenacious Founders Venture Philanthropy Fund” will invest in Singapore-based entrepreneurs, aiming to be a short-term bridge for founders with limited financial resources. The fund will issue financial support up to US$75,000 per founder in the form of a redeemable SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) note. The family foundation involved has requested to remain anonymous. Continue reading in the Singapore Business Review →

In India, education, healthcare, and agriculture received the bulk of US$2.6 billion in impact investments in 2020. According to the Impact Investors Council’s 2020 annual report, India saw a rise in impact investment despite the global pandemic. The education sector had a marked year, with a 65% year-on-year growth in impact investment volumes. Impact investors also actively invested in early-stage healthcare and agriculture enterprises, showing increased interest in social enterprises that take care of people and the planet alike. Continue reading in Business Today →

All you need to know about the amendments to India’s CSR Act. The Government of India made amendments to the CSR Act last month, which are now effective. Samheeta Rao, partner at GameChanger Law Advisors, outlines these recent amendments and provides a comprehensive list of their implications for corporates and nonprofits. Continue reading on IDR’s website →

Prudence Foundation and partners launch second edition of the SAFE STEPS Disaster Tech (D-Tech) Awards. The Awards identify and scale technology solutions that save lives before, during, or after natural disasters. The Awards provide funding and expert coaching for the implementation and scaling of D-Tech solutions, as well as access to pitching and networking opportunities with humanitarian representatives, venture capital fund managers, and fellow entrepreneurs. Applications close on February 19. Continue reading on the Safe Steps website →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

Who’s Doing Good

08 December 2020 - 22 December 2020

THE THINKERS

Asia-Pacific governments must act now to unlock impact investment, urge GSG and UNESCAP. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) recently published their new report, “Towards an Enabling Policy Environment for Impact Investment in Asia and the Pacific.” The report examined impact investment ecosystems in 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, from those with advanced impact investment markets such as India and Singapore to those with nascent ones such as Brunei, Laos and Myanmar. The research highlighted best practices and concrete actions that governments can take to leverage the potential of impact investment and drive a sustainable economic recovery.

CUHK Business School research shows CSR activities by a corporate parent can help subsidiaries build trust in overseas markets. Covid-19 has accelerated the trend of companies being assessed on their social responsibility performance, but this can be complicated for multinational organizations operating in different countries and across diverse communities. In light of this, new research from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School has found that CSR activities conducted by the parent organization of a multinational company can positively influence the ability of overseas subsidiaries to operate in their respective markets. The study, titled, “Parent Firm Corporate Social Responsibility and Overseas Subsidiary Performance: A Signaling Perspective,” cross-referenced and analyzed the financial information, foreign domestic investment and CSR activities of 196 Japanese firms between 2002 and 2014. The research also looks into other factors, such as press freedom, that can impact the “halo” effect of the parent company’s CSR reputation.

THE BUSINESSES

Anil Agarwal Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partner to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition in India. Anil Agarwal Foundation has been leading Project Nand Ghar, an initiative aimed at transforming the Anganwadi ecosystem (rural, community-based mother and childcare centers) in India. The project focuses on modernizing infrastructure and enhancing services to eradicate child malnutrition, provide interactive education, enhance access to quality healthcare and empower women through skills development. The Gates Foundation has joined as a partner to help fund the transformation of the Anganwadi ecosystem and strengthen nutrition interventions in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Together, both foundations aim to support India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) as it works to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030.

Prudence Foundation launches second edition of SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards to find life-saving technologies for disaster resilience. Prudence Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Prudential in Asia and Africa, launched the second edition if its D-Tech Awards, which fund and scale technology solutions related to natural disasters. The awards are part of SAFE STEPS, a multi-platform awareness program developed by Prudence Foundation and its partners to provide life-saving information about natural disaster events, road safety and first aid. The award was created out of the belief that technology innovation can play a more significant role in improving disaster recovery and resilience. Applicants can win grants from a pool of US$200,000 to support the implementation and scaling of their D-Tech solutions. Semi-finalists and finalists gain access to expert coaching, pitching and networking opportunities with humanitarian representatives, venture capital fund managers and fellow tech entrepreneurs.

Chen Zhi and Prince Holding Group step up CSR initiatives. Prince Holding Group (PHG), one of the largest conglomerates in Cambodia, has made several large-scale donations to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic and assist flood victims. Earlier this year, PHG and its chairman Chen Zhi donated US$500,000 and provided supplies worth over US$600,000. Earlier this month, the Group and its chairman jointly donated US$3 million to Prime Minister Hun Sen to help Cambodia purchase 1 million Covid-19 vaccines. The Group also provided flood relief support, such as food and drinking water, and Chen Zhi personally donated US$500,00 to help flood-hit victims in early October.

THE INNOVATORS

Impact Investment Exchange launches US$27 million bond to help women in Asia rebuild livelihoods post-Covid. Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has issued its US$27 million Women’s Livelihood Bond 3 (WLB3). This is the third of its US$150 million Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB) series, which aims to create sustainable livelihoods for more than 3 million women in developing countries. WLB3 will support enterprises in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines that are directly supporting women to respond to or recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. The total bond size includes a US$24.7 million issuance and US$3 million subordinated debt provided by IIX’s newly launched Women’s Catalyst Fund as first-loss capital.

Sehat Kahani’s tele-ICU software connects 45 ICUs to critical care doctors in 45 days across Pakistan. The Pakistani health-tech social enterprise has successfully implemented its tele-ICU software in 45 out of 60 target ICUs thus far, as well as trained 800 doctors on critical care and the usage of the software. The tele-ICU platform allows doctors in intensive care units (ICUs) and high dependency units (HDUs) to connect to critical care specialists in real time, record patient information and conduct video consultations. The Tele-ICU Project was initiated with support from UN agencies, the Health Services Academy, the Ministry of Health and the Government of Balochistan. Sehat Kahani also recently partnered with the Ministry of Narcotics Control to launch a telemedicine helpline for youth in Pakistan. The helpline aims to support individuals who suffer from addiction by connecting them to counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Nepal’s Social Welfare Council’s role in partner organization selection may invite conflict of interest, international organizations say. In Nepal, international NGOs (INGOs) must select a local nonprofit in order to register in the country. While the Social Welfare Council has traditionally tried to avoid conflict of interest by allowing a third party to evaluate the works of INGOs, its new directive has made it mandatory for them to involve the council when selecting their local partners. Representatives of INGOs have expressed concern, saying that the involvement of council officials could influence the selection of local partners and goes against its own policy that has sought to mitigate conflict of interest.

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

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

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

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