Asian Venture Philanthropy Network conference: highlights & takeaways


Victor Kuo


Victor Kuo

With AVPN’s inaugural conference successfully concluded last week, I wanted to list my five takeaways that were not only memorable but also worth a second glance! The first three are broad observations, and the last two are ‘surprises’… at least for me. For those who may have joined us in Singapore, as well as those generally interested in the development of philanthropy in Asia, I welcome your reactions!

  • Top indicators of a favourable environment to build the philanthropic sector in Asia: 1) increasing private wealth; 2) increasing social challenge; 3) increasing government interest; and 4) presence of ‘Big Brains’ (intellectual capacity to grapple with problems and solutions)!
  • Conference attendees are focused on building the ecosystem for philanthropy in the region. What’s needed to create an enduring sector? 1) Government and legal enhancements that do not hinder the sector; 2) professional networks and qualified human capital; and 3) knowledge and evidence, including precise language.
  • External facilitators or non-family members are critical to help bring family foundation members together to work positively. Start young with the next generation of family members by including them on site visits and events to instil in them the right values for philanthropy. Other families and family business networks can bring awareness to and motivate best practices.
  • Question to the keynote speakers: On a scale of 1 to 10, where is the Singaporean government in developing impact investing? And the US? Singaporean expert: ‘About a 3 or 4.’ US expert: ‘Probably the same!’
  • Definitions in this pioneering landscape are in development! A pitfall that could potentially undo progress is a mix of diluted definitions and sloppy thinking. In China, the term ‘venture philanthropy’ remains fuzzy.

So these were some of my memorable highlights. What were yours?

Victor Kuo is a researcher, evaluator and educator who has spent a decade helping philanthropic foundations measure their social impact.

Tagged in: Asia Venture philanthropy

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