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Grassroots Giving, Philanthropy and Identity, Singapore 1919-1959: Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 6

March 31, 2019

This exploratory paper examines giving and philanthropy in Singapore's grassroots community when the "Pioneer Generation" was young.Follow their journey from settling in Singapore, struggling through the Japanese Occupation, and onwards to building a new Singapore just before nationhood.With little money and many mouths to feed, pioneers and their parents still gave generously. They helped families in their old homelands survive while building new communities in Singapore. How did they manage?Join ACSEP Senior Research Associate Yu-lin Ooi for a discussion on the place of giving in Singapore's traditional Asian societies; how it is deeply embedded in our sense of self; and how philanthropy became part of grassroots life in Singapore.

Asia-Pacific; Grassroots and community philanthropy

Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No.4 The Emergence of Chinese Women Philanthropists in Singapore, 1900-1945: The Sisterhoods of the "Sor Hei"

October 1, 2018

In the late 19th century, an extraordinary cohort of unmarried women left their native Chinese shores in groups called sisterhoods, to boldly carve out a life for themselves in distant lands. They did this to earn their own money and be mistresses of their own fates.Many of these brave women were determined not to be forced into marriage and while remaining celibate became Sor Hei, meaning "those who bun up their hair" (the hallmark of married women). In sworn sisterhoods, the Sor Hei found work in the British colonies of Singapore and Hong Kong and became icons in Singapore social history as Samsui por (construction workers) and Amahs (domestic helpers).This paper briefly examines how these humble women broke new economic and social ground for Chinese women. It explains why they left Canton to live in the British colonies, and how they survived in these alien lands. It also examines the social constructs and networks that they evolved for their own community, as single women living within larger overseas Chinese migrant groups. We also trace how their financial independence enabled them to become among the first Chinese women diaspora philanthropists.

Asia-Pacific; Gender and Philanthropy

Philanthropic Foundations In Asia: Insights from Singapore, Myanmar and China

February 1, 2018

This study looks at an emerging trend in which wealthy families, individuals, and corporations in Asia set up foundations to institutionalise their giving. This giving is motivated by a myriad of factors beyond prestige and status, including the desire to give back to society, religion, family and personal values, the desire to drive change, personal experience, and/or affiliations.This study finds that philanthropic foundations in Asia can be characterised by their operational model, governance structure, and philanthropic focus. In emerging economies in Asia like Myanmar and China, these foundations tend to give nationally and operate their own programmes. On the other hand, foundations in developed economies like Singapore and Hong Kong tend to give both regionally and nationally via grants to civil society organisations that operate programmes, as opposed to running programmes themselves. Further, families tend to retain significant control of foundations in Singapore and Hong Kong, while programme funding serves as the preferred funding mode.This study also discusses the various challenges and opportunities faced by the nascent philanthropic sector in Asia that can address some of the developmental and structural gaps left by the public, private, and people sectors. 

Asia-Pacific; Enabling environment and civic space; Family, HNWI, and independent philanthropy

Impact Investments by Foundations in Singapore and Hong Kong

January 1, 2018

The study reviews the current state of impact investments in Singapore and Hong Kong, particularly those that have engaged with foundations. It further looks at the trends and challenges of the impact investment sector before presenting a list of recommendations.Impact investment assets globally represent a mere 0.2 percent of global wealth as reported by the Global Impact Investing Network. By increasing this share to just two percent, the potential of impact investments can reach over US$2 trillion (UNDP, 2016). Impact investments can play a significant role in sustainable development in the Asia Pacific region, potentially providing socioeconomic progress for the billions of people living in the region. Foundations in the region can potentially play a significant role given the billions of assets they can deploy. 

Asia-Pacific; Family, HNWI, and independent philanthropy

Assessing the Impact of Social Enterprises: An Exploration of the Methods and Criteria used by Impact Investors and Philanthropists in Asia - Social Entrepreneurship in Asia: Working Paper 6

September 30, 2017

This study explores how social investors in Asia measure the social impact of their investments. It contains two main sections. The first section provides an overview of the literature on social impact measurement, with a specific focus on impact assessment for social enterprises. The second section explores how investors and foundations measure and report on their social impact. Relying on publicly disclosed data, like corporate websites, evaluation reports and annual reports, I analysed the standards and practices of 77 investors and foundations. The organisations in this sample all make decisions about the allocation of funds — whether these are grants, equity or loans — to social-purpose organisations. The organisations are either grant-making foundations or impact investors that invest in social enterprises, and are operating in Asia.

Asia-Pacific; Impact investment, corporate, blended-finance

Philanthropy on the Road to Nationhood in Singapore Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 1

January 1, 2015

This paper attempts to address the gap in knowledge on the contributions by philanthropic players to national development in Singapore. Using grounded research, it explores the evolution of giving by individuals, the community and the private sector in Singapore from the end of World War II in 1945 to today. It looks at how each group gives towards prevailing social needs, unexpected events and crises as well as government calls for community support across fve key phases in Singapore's journey to nationhood. To provide context to the giving, the political and socio-economic situation of each time frame and concurrent government social welfare provisions in each phase are also described.

Asia-Pacific; Philanthropy ecosystems and infrastructure

Virtuous Circles: New Expressions of Collective Philanthropy in Asia

May 1, 2014

This is the third paper of the Entrepeneurial Social Finance in Asia series, and it addresses the Giving Circles, its importance and their context in Asia." The theme of entrepreneurial philanthropy focused largely on the practices of venture philanthropy and impact investing organisations -- institutionalised funds that offer a blend of finance and advisory services to social entrepreneurs in support of their ambitions to strengthen their organisations and grow social impact. We were intrigued by a variant of venture philanthropy whereby individuals pooled their resources and together selected a small number of non-profit organisations to support with grants and advice.Our earlier study profiled several such giving circles in India, Hong Kong and Tokyo but we felt that such an innovation in collective philanthropy will grow in scale and importance in the coming decade to become a key part of the philanthropy landscape in Asia and thus warranted further study. In the next chapter we will look at how research evidence from North America supports a dual objective for the giving circle methodology -- to provide resources for non-profits; and to educate and motivate donors. Giving circles can provide a learning experience for people who want to better understand philanthropy, such as how to create social value by donating their money and skills in a socialised context.When philanthropy is described as a journey that individuals embark upon throughout life, it is not simply about giving more money over time. Giving should be made more intelligently and strategically; it can involve leveraging non-financial resources; and it understands and measures the impact created. Collaborating with others on the philanthropy journey holds the potential to make giving a more impactful and personally fulfilling experience. Giving circles make it easier for individuals to enter into larger scale and more sophisticated philanthropy and share the risks and rewards with others."

Asia-Pacific; Grassroots and community philanthropy

Innovation in Asian Philanthropy: Entrepreneurial Social Finance in Asia

April 25, 2013

This publication is the second in a series of ACSEP working papers concerned with what is termed 'entrepreneurial social finance' in Asia, which explores how philanthropy is responding to the financial and nonfinancial needs of the region's social entrepreneurs. The term philanthropy is most commonly associated with straightforward grant making, most usually making donations where all capital is lost and no return expected. In modern practice, philanthropy is more sophisticated and diverse than this, wanting to utilise as many tools as possible with the goal of creating sustained social change. Recognising this, philanthropy is defined in this study, as the deployment of financial and human capital for primarily social impact. For this reason, this paper investigates the growing interest in 'impact investing,' which seeks to use non-grant finance to maximise the social and financial outcomes by investing in social businesses. This study employs an essentially qualitative methodology. The researchers conducted 40 face-to-face and telephone interviews in Singapore, India, China, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand between March and November 2012. In-depth interviews were chosen as the central component of the study to gain insight into the personal motivations of lead individuals who had founded or who are managing philanthropy organisations.

Impact investment, corporate, blended-finance

Emerging Ecosystem of Entrepreneurial Social Finance in Asia, The

February 1, 2013

"We have introduced the term 'Entrepreneurial Social Finance' (ESF) to capture a growing number of financing models that focus on providing capital and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial social ventures. ESF is a broad canopy of practices that include models often referred to as venture philanthropyand impact investing". (Abstract, page 6)

Family, HNWI, and independent philanthropy; Impact investment, corporate, blended-finance

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