The 2023 AVPN Global Conference in Kuala Lumpur illuminated how Asian philanthropy does not always operate in the same way as elsewhere
One of the perennial fascinations of the AVPN conference is seeing the differences between the way that philanthropy – or social investing or whatever other name you choose – is conducted in Asia and how it operates in Europe and the US. Often, these differences are easier to feel than to articulate, but there were a few points at this year’s conference in Kuala Lumpur which – to me – illustrated them in a more tangible way.
One of the strands of AVPN 2023 was trust-based philanthropy. On the face of it, this might seem like a point of similarity, rather than one of difference – after all, the idea is in vogue across the world at the moment – but it became clear during the sessions that, for most of the participants, this is not a new idea, but something they have been practising by another name throughout their giving career. In a recent interview with Alliance Ruth Shapiro, founder and CEO of CAPS puts this into words and highlights that, in Asia, relationships are absolutely critical to almost any form of activity. Asian economies, she says, are ‘not transaction-based, they’re relationship-based… in the West right now, trust-based philanthropy is a buzz-phrase, and I’ve been saying, what do you mean? In Asia, it’s always been trust-based philanthropy. It just wasn’t called trust-based philanthropy because it was based on your relationships.’