Earlier this month, Give2Asia announced the merger of APPC (Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium) and Give2Asia. Barnett Baron, CEO of Give2Asia wrote in a blog piece:
The merger of APPC and Give2Asia creates a new resource for donors in Asia and the US. APPC’s research and conference reports have been digitized and are available for free download at Give2Asia’s new website, www.asianphilanthropy.org.
For some folks, this is exciting as the new website will become the “hub” of all things philanthropy-related in Asia. However, the usefulness of the APPC research is questionable since much of the information is now outdated. Since the conference on diaspora philanthropy in Hanoi in 2008, APPC has been inactive. This is a shame because APPC was the one and only philanthropic research organization in Asia that was independently organized (and not affiliated with a university or western entity).
The quiet demise of APPC’s leadership status as the preferred philanthropic research engine sheds some light on the lack of interest in funding this type of work. Very few donors want to support philanthropic research – even though they realize that it also helps build non-profit capacity and the field of philanthropy (many organizations use this research to be more effective when working with donors or in developing their programs). Afterall, it is difficult for individual donors to make a direct correlation between philanthropic research and providing immediate assistance to beneficiaries on the ground.
In the past several months, wealth management firms have partnered with for-profit and academic institutions to release philanthropy in Asia reports. While these reports are helpful and provide greater insight to the current situation in Asia, the underlying purpose of the sponsors is to promote their financial services to high-net worth clients.
We still lack a group that is represented by charitable and social organizations in Asia that is focused on information exchange and research. Who is convening nonprofit practioners all over Asia to build the sector? Who is funding research that examines how local donors in Asia give? Who is reporting on new legal issues and changes? As far as I know, no one in Asia. Who do you think will step up?