Philanthropy in Asia is growing and what better way to track this growth than to see how for-profit firms, especially those in wealth management and consulting, are offering their services to the field. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) features an interview with Vincent Chin, Partner and Managing Director of their Kuala Lumpur office. Mr. Chin lead’s BCG’s Financial Institutions practice in Southeast Asia. He is also BCG’s regional leader of their philanthropy work in the Asia-Pacific region. BCG recently developed “The Silver Book,” a strategic guide for companies in Malaysia to formulate their social responsibility agenda.
Mr. Chin says: Unlike in the West, Asian economic government systems tend to fall either far right (capitalist) or far left (socialist) of center. In other words, the governments here provide either a big safety net or a little one. In the latter, it is up to the wealthy citizens to give back. This tradition of philanthropy has been well practiced. For instance, in Singapore, as far back as a century ago, when it was still a British colony, rich entrepreneurs like Eu Tong Sen were already building schools and hospitals for the community.
This tradition remains, and business executives regularly establish social foundations when they retire. The challenge, however, with this sort of giving is that it is highly dependent on the personal wealth of the benefactor. This is exacerbated by the fact that Asian countries are becoming wealthier and therefore are able to provide for the public good better than in the past. This means that social foundations today have to be better planned and better run to achieve impact.
To this end, a small number of experienced guides in Asia (including BCG) have helped philanthropic organizations to become more impactful. Our advice is centered on helping these benevolent institutions and individuals become more meaningfully involved in projects that are more efficient, accountable, and ultimately more socially impactful.