The non-profit sector in Asia has grown dramatically in scale and scope in recent years, stimulated by increasing Asian wealth, growing middle classes with new expectations, increasing awareness of social disparities, and fiscal constraints on governments combined with a growing awareness of the limited ability of governments acting alone to meet pressing social needs.
External donors – private foundations and bilateral assistance agencies – have historically played the major role in stimulating and financing the growth of Asian non-profit organizations (NPOs). Their efforts have included:
- support for documenting and advocating improvements to the fiscal and regulatory framework for the non-profit sector;
- training and technical assistance;
- development of national databases and information clearing houses;
- efforts to increase public interest in and awareness of the role and contribution of Asian NPOs;
- creation of various forms of indigenous foundation and foundation-like entities.
More recently, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the two major multinational banks serving Asia, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), have adopted policies which recognize the potential role of NPOs in informing development policies and implementing lending programmes.
As levels of official development assistance for Asia have declined, attention has been increasingly directed at the potential for indigenous funding sources — both governmental and private — to provide sustained support for the further development of the non-profit sector.
A by-product of the increasing economic growth in the Asia Pacific region has in fact been the emergence of a steadily growing donor sector consisting of formally organized foundations. These include corporate foundations, family foundations, government-linked and NPO-managed foundations. While there is substantial literature on the emergence and role of NPOs in Asia and elsewhere, very little is known about the philanthropic sector in Asia. Little is known about their organizational structures, funding priorities and procedures, relationships with corporations and other civil society actors.
Building upon two earlier conferences on organized private philanthropy in the Asia Pacific region which took place in Bangkok in 1989 and Seoul in 1993, the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium (APPC) was launched in March 1995. It is an association of like-minded institutions, each independent, but jointly pursuing a common objective of promoting philanthropy in the Asia Pacific. The Consortium focuses primarily on strengthening indigenous grant-making entities within each country. The regional aspect of the Consortium is a mechanism to support that primary objective.
The Consortium seeks:
- to promote the role of philanthropy in addressing critical issues in the Asia Pacific region;
- to increase the flow and effectiveness of philanthropic giving within and to the region;
- to respond to the institutional strengthening needs of existing and emerging Asia Pacific grant-making organizations through networking, human resource development and research;
- to facilitate efforts by philanthropic organizations in the region to identify and collaborate in addressing issues of mutual concern.
Initially consisting of the Asia Foundation (United States), the Japan Cente for International Exchange (JCIE), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the Institute for East and West Studies of Yonsei University (Korea), the Myer Foundation (Australia) and the Foundation for Thailand Rural Reconstruction, the Consortium now includes about 20 institutions throughout the Asia Pacific region. It is governed by a six-person executive committee consisting of members from Australia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States.
To accomplish its objectives, the Consortium undertakes four programmes managed by its partners:
The human resource development programme is managed by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). To date, PBSP has conducted a fundraising course for Asian NPOs in cooperation with the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy and a four-day training workshop on ‘Developing a Strategic Plan for Corporate Community Relations’ with the Center for Corporate Community Relations at Boston College. In 1998 PBSP will conduct workshops on ‘Creating Effective Non-Profit Boards’ in cooperation with the US-based National Center for Non-Profit Boards.
The research programme, managed by the Asia Foundation, seeks to address critical issues affecting the non-profit sector and to encourage wider public discussion of the role of the sector in the Asia Pacific. The current research project, entitled the ‘Comparative Non-Profit Law Project,’ seeks to analyse the legal and regulatory framework of the non-profit sector in Asia, to deepen public awareness and academic interest in the sector, and to support law reform efforts to create a more supportive environment for philanthropic development. The first phase of the project establishes a baseline of information on existing non-profit laws and procedures and provides recommendations for reform. The ten-country study covers Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The programme to establish APPC Information Centers is managed by the Institute of East and West Studies at Yonsei University, Korea. These centres will provide information about the non-profit sector in the Asia Pacific region. Soon grant-seekers, grant-makers and researchers will be able to find information about the sector through electronic libraries. Currently, six national centres in Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong are developing categories for the proposed database. The partners include the National Institute for Development Administration (Thailand), the Asian Institute of Management (Philippines), the Japan Centre for International Exchange, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Centre for Australian Community Organizations and Management, University of Technology, Sydney.
The networking and exchanges programme enables staff and principals of Asia Pacific philanthropic organizations to share experiences, jointly consider issues of common interest, and facilitate international philanthropic cooperation. The international conference to be held on 9 – 11 January 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand, is part of that programme.
Funding for the Consortium has thus far been obtained from private and corporate donors in Australia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and the United States.
For further information, contact Jaime Faustino, Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, c/o The Asia Foundation, PO Box 7072, Domestic Airport PO Lock Box, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Tel: +632 832-1466/1477. Fax: +632 833-9628. E-mail: email@example.com Website: http://iews.yonsei.ac.kr/appcic