This book provides a big picture analysis of the three pillars that support societies—markets, the state, and communities—and how they interact. It pinpoints the neglect of communities as the cause of modern discontent. This is illustrated through examples in history where shifts in technology, economic and political forces have further alienated communities, leading to wealth inequalities, and spurring the rise of populism and political radicalization. The book argues for a rethinking of the relationship between markets and civil society, and advocates for strengthening local communities to remedy the imbalance in society’s pillars. Read it here.
The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind
Engaging Civil Society Organizations to Enhance the Effectiveness of COVID-19 Response Programs in Asia and the Pacific
This brief advocates for civil society organizations (CSO) to take an active role in Covid-19 response programs to complement government efforts. It highlights the success of CSOs in delivering social programs in Asia Pacific, including immunization and social protection programs. A framework for governments to expand CSO engagement in Covid-19 response programs is offered, specifying six programmatic areas for CSO intervention. These are: vaccine distribution, community outreach and surveillance; verification of civil vaccine-related works; gaps in vaccine service delivery; inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable people in remote areas; and assisting audit and anti-corruption agencies. Read it here.
The Pandemic and Public Administration: A Survey of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers
This report presents the results of a representative survey of over 500 IAS officers, conducted between August and September 2020 (about 7 months into the Covid-19 pandemic). It offers insight into the critical challenges related to the government response to the pandemic. In doing so, it also reveals the government’s views on the role of the social sector, private sector, and others during the pandemic. This report is part of a larger body of work on understanding the norms and values underpinning different state institutions in India. Read it here.
CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good
Foreign donations continue to pour into India, but regulatory hurdles remain. Japan’s NTT pledged US$3 million; Thermo Fisher Scientific pledged US$10 million; and Silicon Valley tech leaders have organized relief, including Ethereum’s Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin who donated over US$1 billion in cryptocurrencies to the India Covid Crypto Relief Fund. The New York Times underscored ongoing concerns that India’s strict regulations on foreign funding are inhibiting donations at a time of dire need. Even crypto donations such as Buterin’s are facing legal hurdles under current FCRA regulations. While international support is critical, India Development Review’s Co-Founder and CEO Smarinita Shetty highlights how media attention on India’s lack of oxygen has skewed donor priorities, noting that humanitarian relief is still the need of the hour.
Domestic and international donors step in to aid Nepal as it battles a resurgence of Covid-19. The Chaudhary Foundation, affiliated with the Chaudhary Group, has pledged over US$1.5 million to help combat the second wave. The Foundation is also setting up an ICU ward and oxygen plant in the country’s largest government hospital, as well as importing and distributing oxygen concentrators. Gorkha Brewery joined hands with Singapore’s Lotus Life Foundation, MiRXES Pvt Ltd and Temasek Foundation to provide emergency medical supplies, including ventilators and oximeters, worth over रू200 million (approximately US$1.7 million). Temasek Foundation has also supplied 10,000 Covid-19 test kits.
HSBC commits US$100 million towards the Climate Solutions Partnership Initiative, half of which will fund projects in the Asia-Pacific region. In partnership with the World Resources Institute and WWF, the five-year initiative will focus on three areas: energy transition, habitat restoration and conservation, and carbon-cutting technologies. The initiative is part of HSBC’s climate strategy for a transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Continue reading in Philanthropy News Digest →
Colin Huang, Founder of Pinduoduo, tops the Hurun China Philanthropy List 2020. The billionaire gave US$1.85 billion in donations last year, according to the Hurun Research Institute. The second-most generous business leader on the list was Midea Group’s Founder He Xiangjian, who gave US$970 million last year. Continue reading in South China Morning Post →
SK Group’s building subsidiary rebrands to “SK Ecoplant” as part of efforts to enhance ESG management. The company plans to invest ₩3 trillion (US$2.67 billion) by 2023 towards its vision of growing from a conventional construction business into a leading environmental enterprise. The company will focus on expanding its use of eco-friendly building materials, embracing green technology, and transitioning towards a circular economy. Continue reading in The Korea Herald →
The Development Bank of Japan will increase ESG funding to ¥5.5 trillion (US$50.4 billion) over the next five years. The funding will support developments in hydrogen-based energy, electric vehicles and other emissions-cutting technology. It will also back companies adapting their business models to changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading in Nikkei Asia →
Governance failings impede Asian companies ESG efforts, according to latest Corporate Governance Watch Report. The 10th biennial report, “Future Promise,” by the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA) and CLSA provides an analysis of corporate governance in 12 markets. Despite recent progress on ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards in Asia, the report finds that the link between corporate governance and ESG policies lacks clarity, limiting meaningful sustainability efforts. While environmental issues remain high on the agenda for Asian governments, this report offers recommendations for improving corporate governance factors across the region. Continue reading in Reuters →
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CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good
Charity Law Reform in Hong Kong: Taming the Asian Dragon?
This article examines the historical development of charity organizations in Hong Kong and reviews laws governing them.
Hong Kong has seen a rise in the number of charitable organizations despite a lack of clear regulations. To address this, in 2007 the Law Reform Commission initiated a review of the charity law and recommended 18 changes. This article discusses where these recommendations fall short and proposes an alternative model: the creation of independent charity watchdog organizations to monitor the sector. Read it here.
Who’s Doing Good
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.
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.
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.
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Standard & Norms: A non technical analysis of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) is the cornerstone law regulating the receipt of foreign funding in India. In September 2020, the Indian government introduced and passed the FCRA Bill 2020 into law, placing new restrictions on how organizations can receive and spend foreign grants. The law is expected to have far-reaching impact on the country’s social sector. This report discusses the amendments made, the implications for the social sector at large, and the path forward. Read the report here.
Who’s Doing Good
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.”
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.
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.
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Doing Good Index 2020 (日本語, Japanese)
Doing Good Indexは、民間資金と社会的ニーズに関する社会状況に関する調査です。調査では、個人・団体のいわば思いつきの寄付から、ソーシャルセクターに対する組織的で戦略的な投資へ移行するための重要な成功要因を紹介します。データに基づいた洞察によって、フィランソロピーやインパクト投資、また他の民間の社会的投資を可能にするインフラ強化、そして究極的にはより包摂的で持続可能なアジアの未来に向けての道筋を示します。