APF at Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Conference: Highlights & Takeaways

The team at Asian Philanthropy Forum is pleased to provide coverage of the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Conference in Singapore as a media partner.

AVPN Keynotes
L-R: Laurence Lien, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre; Paul Carttar, Bridgespan Group; Tan Chi Chiu, Lien Centre

With AVPN’s inaugural conference successfully concluded last week, I wanted to list my five take-away’s 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 favorable environment to build the philanthropic sector in Asia:  1)  increasing private wealth, 2)  increasing social challenges, 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 eco-system 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; include them on site visits and events to instill 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 U.S.?  Singaporean expert:  “About a 3 or 4.”  U.S. 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? Over the coming weeks, Asian Philanthropy Forum will be taking a deeper look into specific sessions or themes of particular interest to our readers.  Look forward to additional insights from APF on AVPN’s Inaugural Conference!