Asia’s wealth keeps growing. In fact, there are more wealthy Asians than wealthy Europeans, and they have great potential to do good. A recent SCMP article based on a Wealth-X report highlights how young our region’s wealthy are: their average age is 31 compared to 42 in Europe. For those passing on their wealth, mostly aged 70 to 80, philanthropy is one of their main interests. We know from our own research that education and healthcare are among the top targets of philanthropy in Asia, but we’re also seeing trends such as increasing interest in environment and sustainability-focused projects.
Ruth A. Shapiro
CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good
Building Strong, Resilient NGOs in India: Time for New Funding Practices
This report examines the resilience of the nonprofit sector in India primarily through a funding lens. A survey of 388 NGO representatives, and financial analysis of 40 NGOs, were conducted for the study, covering issues including the levels of indirect costs, cash reserves, operating surplus and organizational development. Findings point to a pattern of chronic underfunding for the sector, limiting the capacity to set strategic and leadership foundations, build financial resilience and scale for impact. The study recommends new pathways and approaches for funders that holds promise in addressing the chronic funding gaps among India’s NGOs. Read it here.
CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good
Corporates donate big to flood relief efforts in Shanxi Province, China. Companies including tech giants Tencent, Alibaba and Pinduoduo, and smartphone makers Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, have pledged US$46 million to aid over 1.75 million people affected by severe rainstorms and floods. The giving comes amid a nationwide call of common prosperity, the concept championed by President Xi Jinping that companies should focus on stakeholder value and contribute to overall societal wellbeing. Continue reading in the South China Morning Post →
Sustainable infrastructure platform launched in Singapore. Temasek has partnered with HSBC Bank to set up a US$150 million platform dedicated to sustainable infrastructure projects. Initially focusing on Southeast Asia, the aim is to scale the platform to US$1 billion in loans within 5 years. The platform will target projects in renewable energy and storage, water and waste treatment, and sustainable transport to offset the impact of climate change. Continue reading on HSBC’s website →
India’s social sector gets a boost. The country is set to establish its first social stock exchange, paving the way for nonprofit organizations and for-profit social enterprises to access capital markets. Organizations will be able to raise funds through equity, impact bonds, and other market instruments. Also, India just celebrated DaanUtsav, a week-long festival of giving and the fifth year of GivingTuesday India, led by nonprofit and CAPS partner GuideStar India. This year’s events focused on impacting millions of lives through donations and volunteering.
India’s richest are investing big in clean energy. Mukesh Ambani tops the Forbes and Hurun India’s respective rich lists, followed by Gautam Adani in second spot. Both are making significant investments in clean energy, with Reliance spending US$10.1 billion over 3 years, and the Adani Group investing US$50-70 billion over the next 10 years. These investments show Asian energy companies recognize the need to focus on renewable and clean energy sources.
Corporates and foundations seek to address social issues in Hong Kong. New World Development launches a nonprofit social housing enterprise, New World Build for Good, to research and pilot programs in pursuit of solutions for the city’s housing issues. The Wofoo Foundation donates to Hong Kong’s Lingnan University with funding to establish a laboratory in support of adolescent wellbeing. This adds to a previous donation from the foundation in 2019.
Nobel Peace Prize honors an investigative journalist in the Philippines. This year’s prize acknowledges Maria Ressa for her courage and commitment towards independent and fact-based journalism, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Continue reading on the Nobel Peace Prize’s website →
Accolades for environmental justice organization in India. The nonprofit Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) is one of four global awardees of the 2021 Rights Livelihood Award, recognizing the organization’s contribution in providing access to justice for those protecting the country’s forests and biodiversity. Continue reading in the Hindustan Times →
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The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind
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.
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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