Asian Philanthropy Forum was pleased to be part of the 2015 Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington, DC to cover the conference and aspects around philanthropy in Asia. While only a handful of the 300 or so speakers and attendees came from Asia, it was nonetheless an active topic of conversation throughout the conference, and a growing recognition of the importance of Asia in global philanthropy.
Our Contributing Editor Andrew Ho had the opportunity to meet with Jane Wales, CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum as the conference kicked off.
What do you hope to see out of the conference?
Jane Wales: With the theme of the conference (Disruptors and Decision Makers), we need engagement of all three sectors – there is no system for global governance and we need to act in concert. There is a growing recognition that government, corporations, philanthropists, and social investors can work together. There is less and less demonizing of other sectors, and a greater appreciation for the different risk appetites of each sector. It’s hard for a democratic government to take risks. Philanthropy’s job is to de-risk smart choices. Michael Bloomberg said it well in his recent letter on philanthropy:
In many cases, government leaders are eager to test out new policies and programs but cannot justify spending scarce resources on unproven ideas. Citizens rightly expect their representatives to be careful stewards of their tax dollars, which is one reason why risk-taking is harder in the public sector than it is in the private sector. But without experimentation there is no innovation, and without innovation, there is just stagnation. I know from talking with mayors around the world that they have an enormous appetite for new experiments, but often don’t have the funds or capacity to undertake them. Philanthropy can help bridge the gap between ambition and implementation.
Where in Asia are the greatest opportunities for the growth of philanthropy?
Jane Wales: [Certainly] China, with its traditions of giving and also significant new wealth – there is much opportunity there. And India, where entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and social enterprise are a natural fit. Can we see systems approaches be embraced there? There is real demand for expertise in philanthropy – we see [a number of] Western firms engaging and active in India.
The role of family, family business, and next generation is significant in Asia. What do you see as the roles of these groups in global philanthropy?
Jane Wales: The next generation has a huge opportunity and voice to advocate to governments and support social impact. They want to do this, and they can. Businesses have a very powerful social conscience and put words to action. The 30 year old business executive of today will immediately embrace philanthropy – it will be a combination of philanthropy and business more than ever before.”
Thank you Jane for your insights!
About the Author
Andrew Ho is a philanthropic advisor with an extensive background in research, program design, and strategy at Kordant Philanthropy Advisors. He previously served as lead global philanthropy program staff for the Council on Foundations, where he led the Council’s global outreach efforts through identifying, developing, and stewarding collaborative relationships with foundations and stakeholders engaged in global philanthropy. He has also worked closely with family philanthropies to advise on philanthropy strategy and best practices, and developed programs for next generation foundation trustees and staff. Andrew is a frequent speaker on philanthropy and has presented on topics such as global philanthropy trends, and philanthropy in China.