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Asian Philanthropy Includes Social Entrepreneurship, Corporate Giving

Last week, Give2Asia, a $25-million-a-year international charity, celebrated ten years of philanthropy at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The grantees on hand (from eight countries) include a variety of organizations, including traditional charities and newer social-entrepreneurship organizations, and give some insight into social trends in the region.

In China, for example, nearly 2,000 new foundations have sprung up with the nation's economic growth, and one of Give2Asia's grantees, Xu Yongguang of the China Foundation Center, received a $1 million RMB grant to build transparency and effectiveness in the emerging philanthropic sector.

There were a few social-entrepreneurship organizations, from Japan and Vietnam.  Grantee Milaap is an India- and Singapore-based online impact investing beneficiary - a home-grown version of Kiva - that gives loans for education, social entrepreneurship, and waste and sanitation in poor, rural towns. And in Indonesia, Give2Asia is supporting the Ancora Foundation's program to train teachers at 60 kindergartens; most of them are currently untrained and paid ten dollars a month (if they are paid at all).

Over its history, the charity has given out $201 million in 23 countries, focusing on local knowledge, and producing a body of research on Asian philanthropy, accessible at its recently-launched Asian Philanthropy Advisory Network.

"We're here to show our appreciation for the work of all of you," said Ta-Lin Hsu, chairman of Give2Asia's board, to a room full of a dozen NGO leaders from across the continent. "We've accomplished a lot in the first 10 years. We've worked with 15,000 donors and 1500 partners and grantees. Looking at the years ahead, we would like to go to Give2Asia, from Asia - and from Asia to the world."

Give2Asia is a philanthropic services organization created ten years ago by the Asia Foundation, specializing in corporate philanthropy: 80 percent of its donations come from multinationals, many of them based in the U.S. Give2Asia does the due diligence on international grantees, finds reliable local partners, and sometimes designs entire programs (in response to disaster relief, for example). Companies that have a factory in one country or want local good karma work with Give2Asia's staff; the charity also supports volunteer programs and individual and family donors.

Their largest donor (since 2003) has been Johnson & Johnson, which has also donated expertise and staff time from their healthcare divisions; other donors include Bank of America, General Electric, Google, Corning, Cisco, PepsiCo, Avon, Symantec, Caterpillar, Chevron, Time Warner, and Disney. A full list is here.

Corporate giving in Asia "has gone from traditional philanthropy to aligning your giving with your corporate purpose," said President and CEO, Barnett F. Baron. For example, one of their corporate donors gave to remediate flooding in Thailand because they had a factory there.

Other recent grantees included Green Eyes, a non-profit promoting environmental education in China; Second Harvest Japan/Asia, the first food bank in Japan, and Friends International, which takes care of street kids in Southeast Asia. Most of the giving is centered on education, health and welfare, and disaster relief, including more than $7 million towards the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller is a writer, ecologist, and adventurer living in Colorado. She is interested in everything, but particularly in creative sustainability practices, the Internet, arts and culture, the human-machine interaction, and democracy. She's lived in Shanghai, New York, L.A., Philadelphia, and D.C., and taught English, run political campaigns, waited tables, and written puppet shows. She definitely wants to hear what you're up to. You can reach her at @hannahmiller215, email at golden.notebook at gmail.com or at her site: www.hannahmiller.net.

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