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STATE OF THE UNION : PHILANTHROPY IN ASIA
The region’s newfound wealth enables us to apply practices growing in favour around the world, including impact investing and support for social enterprises
Ruth Shapiro
Philanthropy and other types of private social investment have not only become de rigueur in Asia; they are being embraced. New trends, some global and some idiosyncratic to the region, show material changes to the way three parts of society—people, government and companies—work on their own and together to address shared concerns and challenges.

Across Asia, giving is in. Although the millionaires and billionaires make the news, many more people are donating, aided in great part by social media and the ease of electronic payments. Take a look at these headlines:

March 14, The Times of India: “Azim Premji Commits Rs 53,000 crore (US$7.4 billion) More to Philanthropy, Taking the Endowment to Rs 145,000 crore (US$21 billion)”

May 8, Esquire Philippines: “Aboitiz Group Gives Half a Billion Pesos (US$9.7 million) to Asian Institute of Management”

September 9, China Development Brief: “Fifth Tencent 9/9 Charity Day Raises Over 2.4 Billion Yuan, Smashing Last Year’s Record”

There are many more. While it’s impossible to know for certain how much capital is being deployed, there is no question that it is a growing number with tangible results.

And, like the rest of the world, the region is using that social investment capital in new ways. Private sector entities now speak not only of their return, but also of their impact, blurring lines between profit and purpose. Businesses weigh their environmental and social effects alongside traditional costs. Individuals and companies are changing the way they think and operate to better harness their expertise and efficacy towards meeting the needs of the planet and its inhabitants.

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December 2019