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Major funding support was provided by the Bertelsmann Foundation (Germany) and the Myer Foundation (Australia). Local funding was offered by Airtime Management and Programming (Astro Radio), Alam Flora and an anonymous benefactor.

The programme was undertaken under the overall direction of Dr Michael Liffman, Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment, Australia. Josie Fernandez and Rash Behari Bhattacharjee of the pro-tem Philanthropy Malaysia were responsible for the marketing, implementation and management of the workshop and the compilation of these proceedings, which was produced with the assistance of Tania Jo Maliamauv. Rory Tolentino of the Asia-Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, and Dirk Eilinghoff of the Bertelsmann Foundation provided valuable counsel, and Brigitte Claney assisted with the promotion and administration of the workshop in Australia and in Kuala Lumpur. Petronas Malaysia, represented by Sri Ganesh Gopal, made a dinner presentation. Cheah Chee Ho and Yarina Ahmad also assisted during the workshop. Acknowledgments are also due to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Malaysian Business, Alam Flora, Yayasan Sosial Indonesia Untuk Kemanusiaan, Koichi Kaneda of Daiwa Securities Group, Japan and Dr Sandeep Deshmukh for their materials. We thank Shah’s Village Hotel for their assistance during the workshop.

Executive Summary

It is a long-held view that all philanthropy is good and that giving should be done with your gut, not your head. But as the need, scale and impact of philanthropy increases, and calls for greater grant recipient efficiency and effectiveness become increasingly louder, it is perhaps inevitable that many grant makers are beginning to turn the spotlight on themselves, questioning if and how they can become better at what they do.

In Melbourne, Australia, Swinburne University’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment has developed what is possibly one of the world’s first graduate programmes in philanthropy and social investment. The workshop which this report describes sought to take some of the basic ideas explored in the Centre’s teaching programmes to an Asian audience, in order to draw on the experience and wisdom of such a diverse and important part of the world, and to explore partnerships which might extend this work into the region.
The programme was organised around the following themes:
The Shape of Philanthropy in the 21st Century
Various powerful forces are driving a new and invigorated philanthropy the world over. In this session these forces are identified and their relevance to the Asian context discussed.
Private Wealth and Giving

The opportunities for individuals and families to have a real impact on their community through their giving are greater than ever, and so are the challenges.

Diaspora and International Philanthropy
Diaspora philanthropy, whether in the form of donations from successful expatriates or remittances from overseas workers, is an increasingly important source of resources for Asian communities. This discussion commences with an account of the findings of a recent study before inviting participants to discuss the Asian experience.

Corporate Philanthropy and Social Responsibility

The opportunity and expectation of corporations to recognise the triple bottom line, and to include support for community as part of this, is transforming corporate behaviour around the world. This session examines the Asian dimensions of this experience.

Disasters and Philanthropy
This discussion commences with a report on the recent APPC conference on ‘Philanthropy in Disasters: Tsunami and After’ and on World Vision’s approach to the issue.

Professionalising Grantmaking for the 21st Century
Philanthropy and social investment are set to become major forces shaping the societies of Asia over the coming decades. To date there have been virtually no opportunities anywhere in the world for donors, companies, advisors and others who make decisions about philanthropic distributions to develop the appropriate skills and understandings for effective grantmaking practice.
This session describes the courses offered by the Asia-Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment at Swinburne University, and inquires into the possibilities for local capacity-building in the Asian region.

As the following session reports show, the field is indeed ready for a greater standard of informed, reflective scrutiny and collegiality.

The first-ever workshop in Asia Pacific on Philanthropy in the New Millennium was held from Dec 7-8, 2005 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. It was organised by the Asia Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment based at Swinburne University (Australia) and Philanthropy Malaysia, a pro-tem network dedicated to the promotion of effective grant-making, in association with the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, the Sampradaan Centre (India) and Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS). It was supported by the Bertelsmann Foundation (Germany), the Myer Foundation (Australia), Alam Flora Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) and Airtime Management and Programming (Astro Radio, Malaysia).
A total of 30 participants and resource persons representing corporations, foundations, media and grant-recipients from Australia, Cambodia, Germany, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Timur Leste attended the workshop.

A full list of participants is appended.

Session One: The Shape of Philanthropy in the 21st Century
1. Philanthropy Trends in Asia: An Overview

Presentation by Josie Fernandez, Convenor, Philanthropy Malaysia
Philanthropy [Greek: philos (love), anthropos (man)] is rooted in the “love of humankind”. It is voluntary giving and receiving of time and resources, voluntary engagement in altruistic acts of caring to benefit the community, and voluntary association, voluntary giving and voluntary action directed towards collective good. Grants given by foundations and corporations to the non-profit sector as well as to communities come under the umbrella of philanthropy.
The dimensions of Asian philanthropy can be measured in terms of the targets of philanthropic actions. These fall into three categories, viz. individuals, groups or communities and issues. Philanthropic efforts can also be orientated towards charity, welfarism or activism. Usually, the donors fall into several types, including: individuals, households, foundations (family-based, corporate and community-based), religious institutions, corporations, the elite or wealthy persons, international aid agencies and governments.
The main influences that promote philanthropy are religion, culture, politics, economy, education, new information technologies, disasters and emergencies.
Based on studies in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, Asian philanthropy can be said to be deeply rooted in the diverse cultural and religious traditions of Asians, and is not as institutionalised or organised as in the United States and Europe. However, this is changing as shown in the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium report “Giving and Fund raising in Asia” (2002)
Patterns of individual giving in Asia show a uniformly high rate of giving to religious organisations. There is a high rate of support for individuals – 40% of total giving in Indonesia, India and the Philippines went to individuals. A high level of importance is given to a feeling of compassion as a motivation for giving. Support for organisations providing services was high in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Indians gave the most for religious purposes and less to voluntary organisations. Door-to-door soliciting was high for Indonesia and the Philippines but low in India. Corporate philanthropy is growing in terms of cash donations, matching staff contributions and providing goods and services. This points to the growing role of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The patterns of giving among households in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand show that individuals and religious organisations are the main recipients of household giving. The main areas of support were for social services (welfare) and education, and the primary motive for giving was compassion.
Local fund-raising activities in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand show that non-profit organizations tapped local (indigenous) resources successfully. Fund-raising was undertaken for a broad spectrum of social needs, including poverty alleviation, education, health and disasters.
Corporate giving in Pakistan according to Philanthropy in Pakistan (2000), a report of the Aga Khan Development Network, is extensive. A survey of 120 companies showed that 93% of companies engaged in philanthropic activities. Some companies made small one-time donations, while others undertook large projects with long-term commitments of cash, company personnel and material.
A corporate citizenship report of 14 Asian countries (Corporate Citizenship in Asia Pacific, Vacek Lori, undated) showed that corporations were involved in charitable donations of cash/products) for community programmes, advocacy against HIV/AIDS and environmental protection.
A study of philanthropic phenomena in Malaysia (A Giving Society? The State of Philanthropy in Malaysia, Josie M.F and A. Rahim, USM, 2002), shows that it is rooted in culture, ethnicity, religion and value systems. Strong religious influences are working on philanthropy. A number of modern philanthropic institutions have also emerged, and the type of giving is primarily welfarist. Corporations give from company profits and through public fund-raising events. There is active use of the mass media for fund raising.

In considering the future of philanthropy in Asia, the question arises, how will “global philanthropy” affect Asia? Increasing numbers of private banks have started to offer philanthropic services in direct response to a growing number of clients who want to put something back into society. This is coming to Asia too, according to the Asian Wall Street Journal 2002.

The roles of diaspora philanthropy, e-philanthropy and an enabling legal framework for philanthropy need to be studied for the development of this field in Asia.
Challenges for the non-profit sector include internal and external governance. Some aspects of these are strengthening the role of the Board, addressing issues of accountability, financial sustainability, financial management standards, evaluation, relationships with donors, organisational management and effectiveness. These measures can lead philanthropy in Asia from the charity to the social investment model.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

2. Philanthropy in the 21st Century

Presentation by Dr Michael Liffman, Director, Asia Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment
Philanthropy is relevant in some settings, but social investments give a clearer vision as to what motivates and drives philanthropy. It is unrealistic to expect companies to selflessly give because they have a commitment to their shareholders, the business and so on. However, our premise is that philanthropy is like an investment, and we would like to turn the perception of giving towards the idea that it is a form of social investment which offers something to everyone.
It can be demonstrated that corporate involvement in giving can benefit all parties: the recipients, in terms of improved opportunities, the society in terms of addressing the needs of specific groups and the grant-makers in terms of improving the constituency that they are serving, who can also be their customers.
Governments reduced role in social services is influencing the development of philanthropy. This is seen especially in countries like the US, the UK, Australia, and in the old USSR. The scale of funding required for social services is still enormous, but government funds are being reduced, therefore there is a greater expectation of community involvement in this field.
Three main trends in philanthropic activity are:

  1. The government and business sectors are expected to cover major philanthropic activities, while civil society bridges what government and business do.

  2. An increased emphasis on what is expected from the corporate sector – corporations feel there is a greater role to be played through corporate social investment.

  3. There are new patterns of wealth distribution and inter-generational transfer of wealth. The world is seeing the largest movement of money from one generation to the other. This reflects the demographics of the baby boomers who have accumulated wealth through hard work and rising property values, and these are being passed onto a new generation.

These trends show that there is a renewed capacity and interest in being philanthropic and in undertaking social investment. This generation will do their giving in a different way. Donors of the future want big solutions, and will give more. They are more concerned with issues, such as the environment, and seek larger integrated solutions. They are changing notions of giving in the 21st century as they think globally, want to see the impact of their contributions, are themselves from the business environment and apply the principles of the business world to philanthropy as well. They are strategic, clear about targets and demand evaluations and reviews. Access to information is therefore very important to meet the expectations of these modern day philanthropists.


  • In an earlier generation, philanthropy was understood as an obligation to do charitable deeds. However, the presentations show that the scope of philanthropy is much broader than just charity, and it covers a whole range of sectors and activities that need to be examined and engaged with for philanthropy to be truly effective.

  • Can the emergence of CSR be seen as a failure of market economics and the inability of governments to meet the basic needs of citizens, and what is the literature on this?

Philanthropy is often described as a result of the failure of government. There is an upsurge of philanthropic activity when government fails to provide adequately for its citizens’ needs. Pundits predict that philanthropy will play a bigger role in future, but the scientific data on the size of the gap between philanthropy and government has to be sought.

  • Three trends in philanthropic activities can be seen: One, 20 years ago the world saw the birth of social entrepreneurs. These were people on the ground who invested in the capacity-building of communities. For example, the Ashoka Foundation in the US (, has created about 4,000 entrepreneurs. Two, with the technology boom, many young people have become multi-millionaires in their 20s and 30s, and bankrupt by 30. Some of the new rich realised the limitations of such wealth-creation, and began to ask what more there is to achieve. This led them to inquire how they could contribute to society. Three, there has been a growing awareness of the resources of the baby boomers. This is a huge resource available worldwide, which organisations such as RSVP (Retirees Social Volunteer Program) have harnessed.

  • Tracking altruism is very difficult. If it is defined as giving without expecting returns, then much of corporate giving would not qualify, because these activities typically are meant to earn goodwill and mindshare. If a corporation gives to generate brand recall, is that philanthropy or a marketing activity?

  • In Malaysia, government-linked companies tend to give back a lot to society, as a result of government encouragement. Government policies influence companies’ patterns of giving. This raises the question of the purpose of giving: Is it from the goodness of the heart or because of government policy? In the west, the corporate sector has developed its philanthropic activities, but in this part of world, it is a recent phenomenon. The telco Maxis has supported the indigenous communities of Sabah.

  • One view is that if altruism benefits society, it does not matter whether the motives are unimpeachable.

Session 2: Foundation Philanthropy: New Roads Ahead

By Steve McCoy, CEO, Force of Nature Aid Foundation, Malaysia
Malaysia is lagging in philanthropy management and therefore this regional workshop is very timely. The Force of Nature Aid Foundation (FoN Foundation) was born from the Asian tsunami, which created a huge wave of support for tsunami victims. Prominent people and celebrities wanted to do something, so the Force of Nature concert was held to raise money. The money raised was used to set up a fund to disburse aid.
It is too easy to set up another organisation, but competence and professionalism are important. The FoN Foundation focuses on natural disasters which are beyond the ability of the local community to cope with. Post-disaster responses can be categorised into several phases: emergency (rescue, burials), early (water, supplies), mid-term (roads, hospitals) and long-term recovery phases. Fund raising tends to get worse as time goes along. FoN has positioned itself close to the two terms: “natural disasters”, and “long-term aid”.
Emergency aid is the most forthcoming, and even mid-term aid is fairly appealing, because the results, such as hospitals and roads, are tangible. But long-term aid, which can include rebuilding the economic capacity of the community, is more difficult. We can prepare for natural disasters by building early warning systems, stepping up disaster preparedness, etc. These are not difficult, it just takes resources. However, the reality is different. Poverty is the most significant factor that makes a community vulnerable to a hazard. In long-term disaster management, the issues are made more complicated and challenging by poverty and long-standing bloody conflicts. The examples are Hurricane Katrina, the Kashmir earthquake, and Aceh and Sri Lanka after the tsunami. Aceh is working towards peace, while Sri Lanka is heading for serious war. In such situations, the operational environment for foundations is challenging in the long-term.
In addition to the challenges posed by natural disasters, the FoN Foundation has set its own challenges. It wants to be the best organisation dealing in this field, worldwide. This is the benchmark. The Foundation is supported by private wealth, good government contacts and support from celebrities. However, its greatest asset is integrity and trust. Transparency and accountability are very important values in the organisation.
The foundation recognises the need to behave like a full-profit organisation, in the sense that they have a clear goal, make profits and increase value for stockholders. The end goal is the same but the strategy is different. All organisations whether government, corporations, or civil society all need to have the same drive as corporations. Non-profit organisations need to increase their value year after year by being effective and efficient.

Three core activities of the foundation are fundraising, grant-making and awareness raising. Evaluation is important, including internal evaluation. It is the central organising principle of the foundation. With natural disasters compounded by poverty and civil conflict, operational costs balloon when transparency, accountability and evaluation are added on.


  • How do you evaluate where the money is going? The Foundation has very specific goals. It operates on restricted funds – i.e. the tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina funds. This is money that has been entrusted to us for dedicated purposes only.

  • The Foundation funds projects, not individuals or organisations. It works on the ground with a project and tries to get other funds on board. Each partner has different responsibilities and different reporting structures. If things don’t go right there are mechanisms to correct this.

  • Three ways to operate as a foundation are:

  • ­Give money and leave project implementers to do the work;

  • Look at the project and work closely to control it;

  • Spend money on strong reporting for transparency and accountability.

  • Transparency about administrative costs is not generally practised in projects funded through philanthropic giving. Some institutions charge 90 per cent as administrative costs, which is ridiculous. However, one cannot have a specific percentage because it varies from one project to another.

  • While getting funds is one challenge, managing it is another. So external auditing would help and should be made a legal requirement. However, statutory audits are only one part of the picture; measuring effectiveness has to be a continuous process.

  • Transparency and evaluation need not be expensive. It is possible to have continuous evaluation with the use of technology. With a mobile phone, a relief official can record details even where there is no connectivity, and transmit them later. However, urgent emergency situations are not amenable to auditing and reporting.

  • Tele-evangelical NGOs were required to submit to auditing after the scandals involving a few of them in the US. This was done so that donors can see what purposes their contributions are used for. This is a role that Philanthropy Malaysia could play. The Pakistan Philanthropy Centre, for example, does accreditation of charities.

  • While transparency is desirable, over-reliance on measurement needs to be avoided. In the business sector, corporate governance is a by-word, yet there are a many issues related to credibility. Standards are important, but internal values are indispensable. External monitoring has its limits.

  • NGOs have been asked to move up to corporate standards, because NGOs have their Enrons too. So, minimum standards for NGOs too are necessary.

  • In the FoN Foundation, the organisational culture is that integrity and trust are its greatest assets. When accountability issues are raised, NGOs tend to become defensive. Accountability should be the hallmark of any organisation, without the need for an external auditor. “I want to know in order to do better next year” should be the maxim. This culture must be embedded in organisations from the beginning.

  • NGOs have to be accountable to the public too. They also need to learn how to fund-raise for long-term work. In Aceh, NGOs are doing capacity building, and donors support such projects, but the public lacks understanding of this, and needs education.

  • Fundraising must be matched with needs for the greatest efficiency. Once that is in place, it is a matter of disseminating information on the usage of the funds. Celebrities are useful as a vehicle for conveying messages to the public. For example, the FoN Foundation does a quarterly video documentary on its project in Sri Lanka, where the Malaysian celebrity Ida Narina is sent to record the progress of psychological rehabilitation work. The video is released to the public through media partners to tell people how their money is being used.

  • The Bertelsmann Foundation has 25 years of experience in dealing with accountability. It was once asked by a living donor to show what had been done, but the foundation struggled to prove the effectiveness of its work. In examining accountability, the limits of the business analogy are soon apparent. Philanthropy is unlike selling soft drinks, which are countable. Long-term issues like poverty are big in relation to the available resources. You cannot use the business analogy to measure change in the community over 15 years.

  • Philanthropy should have transformational goals

  • One point for discussion is that if philanthropy is measurable, why can’t it be monitored? Evaluation becomes much more tricky if the goals are broad. If they are focused, they are easier to measure, e.g. if the goal is reducing teenage pregnancies.

  • Each NGO needs to sort out for themselves the standards of accountability that are relevant to them. A lot of work of NGOs is about providing hope and love. In desperate cases of victimisation and helplessness, providing a sense of hope to victims is very important. How do you measure this?

  • An example of NGO philosophy is that the donor benefits more than the recipient. So the giver bows to the recipient, thanking him for the opportunity to serve. Instead of focusing on NGOs concerns, we are narrowing our attention to the donor’s requirements.

  • All stakeholders should sign an MoU that spells out their different roles and responsibilities, including the public. Then all these challenges become easier.

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