Covid-19: A Fork in Our Collective Road

While we do know that the global lockdown we are currently living through will end, we do not know what the post-Covid-19 world will look like. In an effort to understand how Covid-19 is affecting the region, we have talked with our partners and donors from around Asia. We can see some early trends.

CAPS works on understanding and sharing what works in philanthropy, CSR and impact investing in Asia. We have developed deep knowledge of the needs throughout the region and how private social investment can best meet them. But as I write this blog meant to announce the launch of our Asia Knowledge Portal, we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a situation unparalleled in history. Of course, the world has witnessed horrific pandemics before, but never before have we faced an illness where everyone is a potential victim and which has caused the almost complete cessation of commerce and travel. While we do know that the global lockdown we are currently living through will end, we do not know what the post-Covid-19 world will look like. In an effort to understand how Covid-19 is affecting the region, we have been talking with our partners and donors from around Asia. We can see some early trends.

First, we see an outpouring of individual and corporate support for Covid-19 related interventions. These funds are being used to buy masks, PPE, ventilators as well as hospital and frontline medical assistance. What remains to be seen is if these funds will be zero sum. Are they going out in lieu of other philanthropic and CSR spend or in addition?

Second, regardless of the efficacy of national level policies, a great deal of the activity is happening at the grassroots and community levels. Community based organizations, working in tandem with local government officials and volunteer efforts, are directing much-needed aid to those who cannot access food, water and medical assistance.

Third, those organizations, nonprofits or social enterprises who already have a web-based strategy in place have been more able to pivot effectively to providing much needed support. For example, crowdfunding sites have switched gears to be Covid-19 response centers, online education and distance learning organizations have been at the forefront of providing home-based education solutions. For those without such technical skill or products, pivoting has been more of a challenge.

Lastly, governments are relying even more heavily on companies to meet vast unmet needs of addressing the Covid-19 crisis. In India, Prime Minister Modi has created the PM Cares fund which raised just short of US$1 billion in 7 days from top Indian companies. In Thailand, the Prime Minister called the top twenty companies by name when exhorting them to do more. In the Philippines, corporate backed Philippine Disaster Relief Foundation has been at the center of coordinating aid.

Some of these trends will certainly continue into the post-Covid-19 world. They may signal changes in which all sectors of society react to crisis.


This blog is the first in a series of blog posts from various members of our team in our new Asia Knowledge Portal. Through our portal, we will be showcasing best-in-class thinking within the social sector emanating from Asia. We will include articles, videos, interviews, studies, reports in a variety of formats. We hope you find it useful as we all navigate the chapters ahead.

Latest Insights +

What exactly is a GONGO?

When I first came across the term GONGO, or “government-organized non-governmental organization”, I was perplexed by the rather oxymoronic combination of the term. Isn’t a non-governmental organization supposed to be non-governmental? How are they different from typical NGOs?

India’s CSR law: A national experiment to drive social development

In 2013, India put in place one of the most progressive laws around corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, six years on the law has fallen short in driving collective national progress. One reason for this is that a large proportion of funding is flowing to a small proportion of states.