A crucial first step to increasing philanthropy in Asia is to overcome the lack of trust many Asians feel towards the region’s non-profit sector.
This is both a finding and an intention of the Doing Good Index 2018, produced by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), a Hong Kong-based research and advisory organisation.
Asia has more billionaires than any other region, says the report, with an estimated 637 last year (compared with 563 in the US and 342 in Europe).
However, CAPS’ research found scepticism among Asian donors towards NPOs, with ‘ambiguity between organizations that advocate and those that deliver services, scandals that periodically make the front page, the perception that many organizations are not transparent and accountable, and a historical tendency for the best and the brightest to go to other sectors.’
In an effort to address this, the Doing Good Index has carried out a mapping exercise of the non-profit sector across 15 of the region’s countries. It examines the fiscal, cultural and social incentives to donate; the regulatory environment for giving, and for what it calls social delivery organisations (SDOs) and the ability of the latter to access funds.
It finds that while policies are in place to encourage transparency in 13 of the 15 countries, not all SDOs are getting the message.
Similarly, 13 offer tax incentives to individual givers and 14 to corporations, though these rates vary enormously, and legacy giving is not encouraged. All of them, with the exception of Indonesia offer them to SDOs, too.
Even so, individual giving is perceived to be low by 70 per cent of SDOs. An added difficulty they face is that of recruiting staff. Seventy-four per cent reported difficulty in finding skilled staff and 70 per cent thought recruiting general staff was hard.
While most of the 15 economies do not place onerous registration requirements on SDOs, this is uneven across the region.
In short, while most of the countries in the study have taken some steps to create a conducive environment for giving, some have done better than others and all of them could improve.
Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance. Email email@example.com.
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