Philanthropy in Asia: Playing Catch-up or Leapfrogging?

In the past few decades, Asia as a region has seen enormous economic growth.  And economists project this growth will remain robust into 2018 and beyond.

Along with this economic development have come increasingly visible philanthropic efforts. Some examples include:

  • Singapore’s climb up 50 spots to rank 64th in the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) World Giving Index this year (see Singapore moves up 50 spots in World Giving Index, but trails behind in helping strangers);
  • the recent increase in both individual and corporate giving in India (see India’s rich donate more, give $5 bn each year, shows survey and India and China Lead Corporate Giving);
  • high profile partnerships such as the Tahir Foundation’s $40 million co-investment with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to establish the Indonesia Health Fund (see Innovative Investment in Indonesia Health Fund);
  • the announcement by Jack Ma, a co-founder of Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, of his decision to create philanthropic trusts that could be worth as much as $3 billion (see China’s Carnegie);
  • and the establishment of 3,496 new foundations in China, a 15.4% increase compared to last year (see Annual Report on China’s Philanthropy Development 2014).

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be exploring how philanthropic practice is evolving across this region through a series of guest blogs by practitioners, intermediaries, and researchers alike. In particular, we’ll examine how policy differences, such as tax laws, cultural practices, and other preferences are shaping philanthropy. And whether these differences mean donors in this region are playing catch-up, or are poised to leapfrog donors from other parts of the world in the pursuit of social impact.