Funding for Asian NGOs falls amid tighter regulations

The Doing Good Index 2022 urges philanthropists and governments to work together to meet Asia’s growing social challenges.

Almost half of Asia’s social delivery organisations have reported a decline in funding in the last 12 months, some as much as 50 percent, according to new research. The Hong Kong-based Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) surveyed more than 2,000 entities and some 120 experts across 17 Asian economies, including India, Pakistan, China, and Singapore.

The Doing Good Index 2022, a detailed collection of datasets, is based on four sub-themes: regulation, tax and fiscal policy, ecosystem, and procurement.

The report points to several underlying structural conditions that are preventing the region's social sectors from growing, such as restrictions on foreign funding, tighter regulations for civil society organisations, and inconsistent taxation policies.

And it makes the case for the region’s governments, corporates, and philanthropists to do more to work together to solve social challenges in Asia, which as a continent has experienced the highest pandemic-induced poverty globally.

"The remarkable resilience of the social sector amidst the current crisis is a beacon of hope, but all the same, fundraising to the sector has never been more challenging,” noted Ruth Shapiro, CAPS founder and chief executive.

Noting that foreign funding had been progressively declining in recent years, particularly in lower-middle-income economies, as overseas aid flows had reduced, she said: “It will be critical for economies in Asia to develop a clear and consistent set of policies to unlock domestic funding that will allow for inclusive and sustainable development."

“We need to urgently do more if we are to protect and support the most vulnerable members of our society."

Ronnie Chan, chairman, Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society

Asia is one of the fastest growing regions for wealth. In the next decade it is forecast to be home to 25 percent of the world’s billionaires and account for 59 percent of global GDP. According to CAPS, if Asians were to give the equivalent of 2 percent of their GDP, it could raise US$710bn per year – 14 times the amount of net foreign aid flowing to Asia currently. 

This would help the continent get back on track towards meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which currently require spending of additional $1.5 trillion annually.

Ronnie Chan, Chairman of CAPS, said the fact that two-thirds of those newly forced into poverty by the Covid-19 pandemic lived in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, and this “underscored the need for philanthropic giving in these economies”.

He said: “The pandemic has forced an immediate and united response from individuals, companies, and governments, demonstrating how a collaborative 'Asia for Asia' philanthropic approach can guide the region's recovery and rehabilitation.

But he warned: “We need to urgently do more if we are to protect and support the most vulnerable members of our society."

The Doing Good Index 2022 covers 17 Asian economies: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Full country profiles – with comparable data – can be viewed here. - PA