Two steps forward, one step back in Vietnam

Dana R. H. Doan and Phuong Anh Nguyen

The development of favourable conditions for philanthropy in Vietnam is not keeping pace with the potential generosity of its people

Mutual assistance and charitable acts in times of need is a Vietnamese tradition, and an integral part of everyday life and culture.[1] Since the country opened its doors to foreign trade in the late 1980s, Vietnam has experienced rapid economic growth and an influx of international development assistance, which has affected domestic philanthropy in both positive and negative ways.

Collective giving has a long history in Vietnam. Students, young professionals, executives, celebrities, housemakers and retirees regularly pool their resources to help those in need.

Research conducted on individual giving in Vietnam, almost six years ago, indicated a high incidence of giving although the value of such contributions fell short of their potential. Today, with the country now leading the world in terms of wealth growth, and with a middle and upper class projected to comprise a third of its population by 2020,[2] that potential appears to be growing significantly. Unfortunately, there is no current data to indicate how much people are contributing and whether the number and size of their philanthropic contributions is increasing. Anecdotally, it is likely that there is a diversity of causes to which people are contributing their funds, time and resources. People are also talking about giving and philanthropic organisations more frequently, both on and offline.

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