Doing Good Index 2020

Profiling Asia's Social Sectors: The Path Forward

The Doing Good Index 2020 lays bare the vital role of the social sector and how the right policies and practices can unleash an enormous US$587 billion per year towards it.

In the wake of Covid-19, 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. It provides a roadmap of the policies and practices that can unleash this capital by aligning incentives around doing good; mitigating the trust deficit; and maximizing private social investment flowing to the social sector.

The Index has increased its coverage from 15 Asian economies in 2018 index to a total of 18: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It is based on original data gathered through surveying 2,189 social delivery organizations and interviewing 145 country experts across all 18 economies.

The Doing Good Index 2020 offers a way forward for governments, as well as private and corporate donors to meet the imperatives of building a vibrant social sector for a brighter Asian future. It is with great excitement that we bring you this second edition to help plot the way forward in a post-Covid-19 world. The next edition of the Index, planned for 2022, will reveal how these economies have fared following the Covid-19 pandemic.

View our press release here and sign up for our webinar on the key findings of the index on 9 July 2020, presented by CAPS’ Chief Executive and Director of Research: https://bit.ly/dgi2020-webinar

Interested in interacting with the Doing Good Index 2020 data and graphics? Stay tuned for the microsite–coming soon!

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

25 May 2020 - 8 June 2020

THE GIVERS

The Majurity Trust, a philanthropic organization in Singapore, started the Singapore Strong Fund (SSF) to aid ordinary Singaporeans addressing challenges related to Covid-19. Backed by 10 main donors, it has already helped more than 52,800 people as well as rallied together over 3,700 volunteers. The SG$550,000 (approximately US$400,000) fund, finances up to 80% of a project’s cost or gives SG$5,000 (approximately US$3,600), whichever is lower.

THE NONPROFITS

Give2Asia is featuring local nonprofits across Asia, and how they’re addressing local needs during Covid-19. This includes examples from India, the Philippines, Korea, Cambodia, and Indonesia, among others.

THE BUSINESSES

In Bangladesh, Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Novartis, through its Bangladesh arm, has donated 28,000 PPEs to Swiss Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, worth BDT2.27 crore (nearly US$300,000).

In China, SC Johnson is donating ¥1 million (approximately US$140,000) to the Red Cross. It is also launching its 2020 SC Johnson’s Youth for a Green Life partnership with Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation to help children deal with the pandemic. These efforts are part of a series of financial and in-kind donations—valued at over US$1 million—aimed at helping the Asia-Pacific region battle Covid-19.

In Hong Kong, Citi Foundation has donated US$150,000 to Feeding Hong Kong, which employs B2B logistics to channel surplus food stock to charities feeding those in need. The donation will benefit 5,600 households helping provide up to 14 days’ worth of food supply. The gift is accompanied by a donation of 110,000 face masks, which Feeding Hong Kong will distribute to vulnerable families. 

In India, LEGO Group, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Save the Children, has introduced targeted initiatives in India to promote ‘Learning Through Play’ and support home-based learning during and after Covid-19. This is part of the LEGO Group and LEGO Foundation’s overall commitment of US$50 million globally to help children and their families during Covid-19. Yamaha Motor India donated Rs61.5 lakh (approximately US$90,000) to aid the fight against Covid-19. Rs11.5 lakh of this was earmarked for the PM Cares Fund.

In the Philippines, global shoemaker Bata will donate 2,000 pairs of shoes through SM Foundation to those battling the pandemic including healthcare workers, volunteers, and their families. The effort is part of a global commitment to donate one million pairs of shoes. In an interview with CNBC, Ayala Group Chairman and CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, underscores the role of companies in helping fight Covid-19, noting, “The Covid crisis has created a new sense of public-private partnerships and unity.”

In Singapore, Citi announced three key initiatives in supporting Covid-19 relief efforts: providing food for marginalized communities, supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and supporting migrant workers. In addition to a global employee donation-matching initiative, Citi has also raised US$1 million in the Asia Pacific in an effort to further support the United Nations Development Programme’s initiatives for vulnerable and marginalized communities.

In Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Education and Microsoft have partnered to advance remote learning during and after Covid-19. Microsoft will support the Ministry by providing students, teachers, ministry officials, and others stakeholders free access to Microsoft Office 365 tools.

In Taiwan, Taiwan Mobile, part of the Fubon Group, is offering tailor-made industry tech solutions to help enterprise customers (such as major hospitals) in the fight against Covid-19. Its enterprise communication system, M+ Messenger, is helping to ensure business continuity and data security, as well as provide support for hospitals to enhance efficient communication amidst the crisis. Taiwan Mobile also provided 15-day free internet access to over 20,000 students who need to learn from home during the pandemic, along with its other ongoing CSR initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide. The Group also joined other companies in donating masks and hand sanitizer to help combat Covid-19.

In Thailand, the PepsiCo Foundation has partnered with Raks Thai Foundation to initiate three programs valued at THB18 million (approximately US$573,000) to help communities facing hardships due to the pandemic. The programs include “Give Meals Give Hope,” “Give Care to Farmers,” and “Give Care to Healthcare.” Across the programs, PepsiCo Foundation will donate 1 million meals, offer Covid-19 insurance and epidemic prevention gear to more than 3,900 farmers and their families, and donate critical medical equipment to hospitals.

THE INNOVATORS

UNESCAP and Good Return team up to provide a financial injection for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the time of Covid-19. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and Good Return will support women-led SMEs in accessing the capital needed to support their businesses. The partnership will create a multi-country credit guarantee scheme across Cambodia, Nepal, Fiji, and Samoa. This comes at a time in which Covid-19 has exacerbated common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, such as lack of assets to use as collateral and lower levels of digital literacy.

World Oceans Day prompts a push towards a ‘Blue Economy’ and new financing initiatives. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cambodia’s “Ocean Economy” is valued at US$2.4 billion (representing around 10% of its GDP) and directly and indirectly employs around 3.2 million workers. In order to protect this, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has outlined four key financial initiatives to assist the country’s transition towards a more sustainable Ocean Economy. These include blue bonds, results-based lending, ocean risk insurance, and payments for ecosystem services. ADB has already committed US$5 billion to expanding its investments and technical assistance in ocean health and the blue economy over a five year period.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer army in Indonesia helps fight coronavirus with data, web. The Kawal Covid-19 (Guard against Covid-19) group constructs data models to guide the provincial governor in enacting stronger measures to mitigate the outbreak and to counter misinformation. Kawal’s 800 volunteers have emerged as an increasingly important source of information and guidance, particularly amidst patchy data and conflicting advice from Indonesia’s central government. Kawal emerged from volunteer groups that were set up to monitor 2014 and 2019 elections.

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

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

21 April 2020 - 27 April 2020

THE GIVERS
Individuals are funding initiatives that support nonprofits and hard-hit communities.

Kenji Kasahara, founder of Mixi, established the ¥1 billion (approximately US$10 million) “Mitene Fund” to support organizations focused on aiding children and their families affected by Covid-19 in Japan. ETIC, a social sector intermediary and CAPS’ partner for our social enterprise study, is providing administrative support for the fund.

More than 150 investors and startup founders in India pool US$13 million for the “Act Grants” initiative to fund projects that fight Covid-19. The group includes prominent industry figures such as Nandan Nilekani, Vijay Shekhar Sham, and Kalyan Krishnamurthy, as well as investors from dozens of venture capital and private equity firms.

Thai billionaires answer Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s invitation to the Kingdom’s 20 richest individuals to set aside funding for the country’s fight against Covid-19. In addition to CP Group’s Chearavanont Family and B.Grimm’s Harald Link, the Osathanugrah Family, which owns Osotspa, is the latest to announce a THB100 million (approximately US$3 million) donation to fund Covid-19 relief efforts. Muangthai Capital’s Chuchat Petaumpai also announced THB110 million (approximately US$3.4 million) in aid, 200,000 relief kits for the jobless, and THB50 million (approximately US$1.6 million) for hospital equipment. Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, owner of Bangkok Airways and Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, promised THB100 million (approximately US$3 million) for digging ponds and artesian wells in Sukhothai province to help people fight droughts after the pandemic.

Britain’s Prince Charles launched a new Covid-19 emergency appeal fund for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Prince Charles announced the initiative in his role as the Royal Founding Patron of the British Asian Trust—a development organization fighting poverty across South Asia.

THE THINKERS

Creative public-private collaborations in Taiwan and South Korea bolster the fight against coronavirus. In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Yuen Wai Hung, Marina Cortes, and Mara Hansen Staples give insight into how cooperation between public and private actors in these two Asian economies enabled a prompt response to the challenge of distributing urgently needed health products during Covid-19.

THE NONPROFITS
Charities are stepping up their operations and joining forces to serve communities affected by Covid-19.

Just Cause has highlighted key trends on how nonprofits are responding to Covid-19 from conversations with nonprofit leaders in Singapore. These include focusing on vital efforts to keep communities safe, finding news ways of working with communities, seeking flexible support from government and private funders, and investing in building resilience for the future.

THE BUSINESSES
Companies are contributing to Covid-19 relief efforts and donating medical supplies, food and beverages, and other staples to affected communities.

Sony established the US$100 million Sony Global Relief Fund for Covid-19 to support affected communities around the world. Through the fund Sony will provide support by assisting front-line healthcare workers and first responders, supporting children and educators, and supporting members of the creative community in the entertainment industry. US$10 million from the fund will go to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.

Rakuten Viber and WHO have joined forces to fight misinformation around Covid-19 through an interactive multi-language chatbot available globally. The bot also features a “Donate Now” button which prompts users to support WHO by donating to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 

Japan-based Terumo Corporation is donating US$2.4 million in cash and products to support Covid-19 relief efforts worldwide. This includes a US$1 million donation to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO. 

Fosun RZ Capital and Alpine Capital, two investors that have been investing in the Indian startup ecosystem, announced a donation of 20,000 Covid-19 testing kits to the country. The donation also saw participation from Fosun Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International.

Hodo Group, the Chinese clothes manufacturer, announced that it will donate 1 million face masks to Cambodia to support the country’s fight against Covid-19. Since the outbreak, Hodo Group has refitted some of its assembly lines to produce anti-epidemic supplies, with a daily output exceeding 300,000 masks.

HP announced education partnerships around the world to support students and schools impacted by Covid-19. This includes partnering with Rise in China to build a home education ecosystem and launch an education printer package for students. Aside from these initiatives, HP has contributed US$3 million in grants and US$5 million in product donations to the fight against Covid-19 worldwide.

Unilever Bangladesh pledged BDT200 million (approximately US$2.5 million) to help the country fight Covid-19. The commitment includes donating products, improving public health infrastructure, and protecting the livelihoods of those who work across its value chain. Since the outbreak, Unilever Bangladesh has also donated BDT10 million (approximately US$150,000) worth of hygiene and household products. 

Shinhan Financial Group and Korean bio company Seegene donated 10,000 Covid-19 diagnostic kits and 300 protective suits to the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Physical Education.

Indorama Ventures, a Thai conglomerate, has expanded its Covid-19 relief efforts, including donations of medical equipment, food, and other needed resources to seven more countries: the United States, France, India, Brazil, Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic. This comes after a THB2 million (approximately US$650,000) donation, through the IVL Foundation, to support the Covid-19 response in Thailand.

PepsiCo commits THB18 million (approximately US$600,000) to support Covid-19 relief efforts in Thailand. PepsiCo Thailand, Suntory PepsiCo Beverages Thailand, and the PepsiCo Foundation have partnered with the Raks Thai Foundation to reach the most vulnerable communities through the “Give for Hope” project. The initiative will operate for 3 months to distribute over 1 million meals to communities adversely impacted by Covid-19. It will also provide Covid-19 insurance and health protective items to more than 3,900 farmers and their families, as well as donate medical equipment to hospitals.

Coca-Cola India pledged over ₹100 crore (approximately US$13 million) for the Covid-19 fight. The donation aims to impact 1 million lives across India and includes support for healthcare workers.

THE INNOVATORS

Islamic Finance takes on Covid-19. UNDP outlines how zakat can play an important role by providing short-term emergency support to national and NGO support programs, and how sukuk and waqf can be important sources of capital for long-term recovery and resilience.

Indonesia sees rise in donations, volunteers, and social innovation. The country has seen a number of crowdfunding campaigns launched on local platforms, and by late March, 15,000 medical students from 158 universities had signed up to volunteer. Social innovation is also soaring with tech companies and universities contributing to the country’s fight against Covid-19 through a range of initiatives, from ultraviolet-disinfection booths and disinfectant chambers to robots for monitoring and communicating with Covid-19 patients. Home to a thriving startup and digital sector, Indonesia is also seeing new collaborations between various actors to aid the fight against Covid-19. 

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

In this section, we usually share stories about scandals that are having negative repercussions for the social sector. With the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, there are some trust-breaking stories circulating from price-gouging to faulty medical supplies. Fortunately, the stories of people being constructive during these times far outnumber them. We look forward to bringing more of these positive stories to you in the coming weeks.

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

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

This series of briefs provides insights into the growth of civil society and nonprofit organizations in countries across Asia. Civil society comprises of a diverse range of individuals, community groups and organizations operating around shared purpose and values. The briefs spotlight the legal framework within which they operate and their broader relationship with government and society.

Read it here:

The Landscape for Impact Investing in South Asia: Understanding the current status, trends, opportunities, and challenges in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) & Dalberg Global Development Advisors

This report analyzes the impact investing landscape in six South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Impact investing aims to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns and is a growing practice in South Asia. This report provides independent country analysis and identifies regional trends, opportunities and challenges. Read it here.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 November 2019 - 9 December 2019

THE GIVERS

Forbes announces Asia’s 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy. In its 13th iteration this year, the list honors Asia’s leading philanthropists who are helping solve some of the region’s most pressing challenges through donations and their personal involvement. The unranked list features 30 individuals including Azim Premji from India, Jack Ma from China, and Theodore Rachmat from Indonesia. Broadly, 6 individuals from China, 4 from India, 3 each from Indonesia, Singapore and Australia, and 2 each from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Thailand are featured. Korean singer and actress Lee Ji-eun, 26, known by her stage name IU, is the youngest honoree on the list.

Seal of Love Charitable Foundation donates HK$40 million (approximately US$5 million) to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The gift, channeled into the “Seal of Love Foundation Innovation Service Fund,” is aimed at empowering HKUST students to solve real-world problems through innovation and technology. The fund’s first donation is to the pre-existing Student Innovation for Global Health (SIGHT) project, which has been devising creative and affordable solutions to global health issues since 2014. Inventions by SIGHT include a mobile electronic health record system for slums and rural areas in Cambodia and Ghana. The Seal of Love Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 by Lawrence Chan, the heir to Chan Chak-Fu, a pioneer in the global hotel industry.

THE THINKERS

Asia home to the majority of people fleeing ‘climate chaos,’ Oxfam study finds. The study examines the number of people displaced within their home countries by climate-fueled disasters between 2008 and 2018. While the study looks at the impact of ‘climate chaos’ globally, it offers timely insight into displacement finding that 80% of all people forced from their homes by weather disasters over the last decade were in Asia. The report also finds that people are three times more likely to be displaced by environmental disasters (such as cyclones, floods, or fires) than by conflicts. Large populations in some Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, live in areas threatened by cyclones or flooding. For example, this past May, Cyclone Fani alone led to the displacement of 3.5 million people in Bangladesh and India.

THE NONPROFITS

Piramal Foundation and Gates Foundation join hands in tribal health collaborative. The partnership leverages support from the Gates Foundation and other stakeholders including the Indian government to achieve SDG 3, “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.” India’s tribal communities are home to more than 150 million people and have poorer health standards than the national average. For instance, the average maternal mortality rate in India is 130 per 100,000 births while it can be as high as 230 deaths per 100,000 in tribal communities. The goal of the partnership is to build a high-performing and sustainable health ecosystem to address the needs of these marginalized populations. Speaking at the occasion, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Given the complexity and magnitude of the problem, we believe that partnerships with like-minded, values-based organizations such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that seek to complement the Government’s efforts, will provide the much needed impetus.”

THE INNOVATORS

Hong Kong millennials are investing family wealth sustainably, but the learning curve can be steep. Young heirs of family wealth want their money to do more than just generate returns—they want to make a difference. But doing so has not been straightforward. According to Michael Au, the managing director of District Capital, “One of the hurdles is the lack of advisers who understand the contemporary impact investing dialogue from an Asia perspective.” On the other hand, Ronnie Mak, the managing director of RS Group, states that they have been able to build and manage a fully sustainable portfolio and achieve a net annual return of 5 percent over the last 10 years. The old-guard is viewing these experiences with caution, according to Au, since they continue to believe that generating returns and doing good are mutually exclusive. CAPS’ newest report, “Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia” challenges this perception. Viewing social enterprises as a critical vehicle for doing good, it offers actionable strategies to investors and philanthropists to maximize their impact.

World Bank’s catastrophe bonds provide US$225 million cover to the Philippines for dealing with natural disasters. Two tranches of the catastrophe-linked bond (CAT bond), the first of its kind, were released last week. The bond will provide immediate liquidity and insurance cover to the Philippines for three years. Issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, up to US$150 million will be channeled towards tropical cyclone-related losses while the remaining US$75 million will cover losses from earthquakes. The bond transfers risks related to natural disasters from developing countries to capital markets. According to Mara K. Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, the CAT bond “demonstrates the Philippines’ capability to develop innovative financial solutions to mitigate impacts of extreme climate and weather-related events as well as major earthquakes.”

UNDP and Government of India launch accelerator to champion innovative approaches to development challenges. The India chapter of “Accelerator Labs,” a new UNDP initiative, will be part of a global network of 60 labs where innovative and homegrown solutions to global challenges such as climate change and inequality will be tested and scaled. The labs will employ real-time data and experimentation to quicken progress towards meeting the SDGs by 2030. The Government of India’s Atal Innovation Mission, part of a national effort to harness the potential of entrepreneurship, serves as the lab’s key partner in the country. At the launch, Mr. R. Ramanan, Mission Director of the Atal Innovation Mission said, “We remain committed to finding local solutions that can be scaled up not only in India, but also across the Accelerator Lab network.” The launch also featured #DateForDevelopment, a matchmaking activity aimed at fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Policymakers, impact investors, experts from civil society, scientists, and members of the private sector interacted in the activity to iterate over proposed innovations.

Social stock exchange in the works in India. A 15-member working group, constituted under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), is likely to present a blueprint for a stock exchange for the social sector this month. According to Vineet Rai, co-founder of Avishkaar, a pioneering social enterprise, the social stock exchange will help potential donors find and fund credible organizations that are doing good. As these efforts proceed apace some concerns have also arisen. Former Sebi chairman, UK Sinha, opines that robust impact measurement will be a critical ingredient in the exchange’s success, and yet there are few metrics that combine social impact and financial success and can serve as an effective basis for qualification on the exchange. Despite these hurdles, however, Sinha agrees that the social stock exchange is a step in the right direction.

IN OTHER NEWS…

China’s star healthcare crowdfunding portal, Waterdrop, mired in scandal. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that an undercover media report has shed light on a series of lapses and wrongdoings on the part of Waterdrop and its staff. SCMP reports that Waterdrop staff asked hospital patients to initiate crowdfunding projects and exaggerate their stories to garner sympathy. Waterdrop’s model incentivizes project creations according to one staff member who said he would lose his job if he did not meet the target of 35 projects initiated per month. The report also states that the financial situations of targeted families was not being verified and patients were not required to submit proof of how they were using the donated money. According to SCMP, verification and supervision are the most frequently raised issues about crowdfunding platforms in China. Shen Peng, 32, founder of Waterdrop, has vowed to transfer ownership of the platform to an NGO if he cannot manage it better in the future. Waterdrop had raised CNY1 billion (approximately US$145 million) in June this year.

Environment for NGOs likely to become grim under Sri Lanka’s new president. In an interview for the The Diplomat, Taylor Dibbert, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum, opines: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see NGOs throughout the country–particularly in the heavily militarized north and east–getting visits from security personnel. Offices may be raided.” Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as the island nation’s eighth president earlier this month.

How Can Asia Boost Philanthropy?

AsiaGlobal Online

Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.

This article looks at how the Doing Good Index can help governments improve regulations and policies relevant to the philanthropic and charitable sectors by identifying the levers that best enhance local philanthropy across 15 Asian economies.

This article was first published in AsiaGlobal Online.

Philanthropy in Asia needs a push from good government policies

South China Morning Post

Ruth A. Shapiro says that governments in the region must send strong signals that they value philanthropy through tax incentives and other policies. This could encourage a more systematic approach to giving and spark innovation in the social sector.

The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society has just released its inaugural Doing Good Index, which looks at the factors that both enable and hinder philanthropy and other kinds of private social investment in Asia. We found that Asia has enormous potential to do good. If Asia were to donate the equivalent of 2 percent of its GDP, the same as the United States, it would unleash US$507 billion (HK$3.9 trillion) annually. This is more than 11 times the foreign aid flowing into the region every year and one-third of the annual amount needed globally to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.

We did this study after understanding several important dichotomies affecting Asia and its social sector. First, there is enormous wealth being created in Asia but still incredible and at times tragic need. Second, while there is a long history of charity in Asia, philanthropy, or the systematic approach to doing good, is relatively new. Third, while many on the ground are carrying out extraordinary efforts to help relieve suffering and need, there is often a debilitating lack of trust towards the sector. Last, many Asian governments realize that philanthropy is growing and are reacting by crafting new policies and regulations that both encourage and control its flow.

The Doing Good Index is an ambitious initiative. Supported by donors in Asia, the team worked with 34 partners from 15 economies to survey 1,516 social delivery organizations and 80 experts. They answered questions about a range of factors that influence philanthropic capital. The questions fell into four categories – regulations, tax and fiscal policies, procurement and ecosystem. The first three are government-driven, while ecosystem looks at the role that people, communities, companies and universities are playing in addressing social challenges and nurturing the social sector.

We find that people are ahead of government: on average, Asian economies perform better in the ecosystem category than in the other three. Society is rewarding philanthropists and organizations in the social sector. Public recognition and awards are becoming more prevalent in most economies we studied. Many are volunteering both through their companies and on their own, people are serving on boards, and universities are offering classes in philanthropy and non-profit management.

Our study also shows that the right policies and incentives do matter. Tax subsidies contribute a great deal towards the propensity to give across income levels and have an important signaling effect. Asian philanthropists are pragmatic. People want to help their communities but also want to do this in ways that are aligned with their own government’s goals. When a government signals that philanthropy is appreciated, it has a positive influence on giving.

The right policies can address the trust deficit and mitigate the deleterious effect on philanthropy. Many social delivery organizations in Asia are endeavoring to become more transparent and accountable. In our study, 75 percent of those surveyed have a website and 86 percent have a board of trustees with nearly all reporting regular board meetings. Organisations in 13 of 15 economies are required to submit an annual report. The right regulations create a culture of accountability and facilitate the ability of organizations to report.

However, regulations need to be calibrated to reduce friction in the social sector and facilitate its growth. In some economies, organizations need to work with many government agencies, with one country having 15 different ministries all with different reporting requirements. This puts a burden on non-profit organizations and encourages underreporting.

Last, the social sector is vastly understudied. There is very little reliable data. For the Doing Good Index, we had to create the data from scratch. More information about philanthropy can help address the trust deficit and showcase which practices, models and policies are best in class. There is no dearth of humanity, creativity and commitment in Asia.

The key is to put systems and practices in place that allow us to learn from each other, contribute to our communities and help Asia become a global philanthropic leader and a center for social innovation.

Ruth A. Shapiro is the founder and chief executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Right policies can boost Asian philanthropy.

This article ran originally in the South China Morning Post.

Doing Good Index 2018

Maximizing Asia's Potential

The inaugural Doing Good Index examines the enabling environment for philanthropy and private social investment across 15 Asian economies. Composed of four areas–tax and fiscal policy, regulatory regimes, socio-cultural ecosystem, and government procurement–the Index reveals how Asian economies are catalyzing philanthropic giving.

If the right regulatory and tax policies were in place, Asian philanthropists could give over US$500 billion, contributing to the US$1.4 trillion annual price tag needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Index serves as a unique and useful body of data for Asian governments, as well as for nonprofits, foundations and charities in Asia, to learn from each other. At a time when the policy is evolving, the social sector is growing, and interest in philanthropy is rapidly developing, the DGI shows the potential for Asia to leapfrog and become a leader in social innovation.*

*The latest version as of 19 January 2018 is available for download now.

*Please note that for Korea the 10% rate of the tax deduction for corporate donations refers to the limit on corporate income eligible for deduction. The rate of tax deductions for corporate donations in Korea is 100%, with a 10% limit. This change has no effect on the results of the index. For further information, please contact us.