Philanthropy and Law in Asia: A comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies

The Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium must be congratulated for its completion of the research phase of its Comparative Nonprofit Law Project. Tom Silk must also be congratulated for his skilful editing of the results of this research and for writing an insightful and highly useful comparative study commenting on the research findings.

Considerable effort has clearly been invested in gathering this information. The Consortium had to identify experts from ten countries in the Asia Pacific to participate in this project and provide information on their country’s legal and fiscal framework governing non-profit organizations. In some countries this information was not readily available, nor were there even ‘experts’ working principally in this area. Now the information relating to each of the ten countries figures in separate country reports comprising the second part of the book.

With few exceptions, the culturally sensitive design of the questionnaire used has enabled Tom Silk and his team to present the information in a uniform yet adapted manner for each country covered. The report on Indonesia was perhaps this reviewer’s sole real disappointment. Not only did the report appear less complete than the others, but it also suffered more than the other reports from the cut-off date for this publication, which unfortunately coincided with the financial crisis in East Asia.

The Indonesia example highlights the difficulty of any publication of this type: information on legal and fiscal frameworks must be up to date in order to be sufficiently accurate and reliable to be useful to legal practitioners interested in the region. Yet, in a region as dynamic as the Asia Pacific, providing timely information is extremely hard.

Fortunately, though, the Consortium now exists and can proceed to the next phase of its Comparative Nonprofit Law Project. This book was an excellent starting point: building a regional network of legal experts, gathering information and taking an inventory of the current legal frameworks, and perhaps most importantly formulating recommendations for improving the laws in the various countries involved. The network of experts is now in place to update the information and develop strategies for convincing the region’s leaders and legislators to reform their laws so that the philanthropy sector can flourish and be the catalyst it needs to be for other developments in the region. Bravo!

Bradley Gallop is an attorney with BDG & Associates in Brussels, where he also serves as a European Commission Expert on Social Economy Law and the President of the International Institute of Association and Foundation Lawyers. He can be contacted on +32 2 535 7272 or at

Philanthropy and Law in Asia:  A comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies
edited by Thomas Silk
Jossey-Bass  $39.95
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