State of Philanthropic Advising in Asia

Alliance Magazine has a special feature on the growth of philanthropic advising in their September issue (paid subscription required). As part of that special feature, they contacted people in emerging markets to find out what options were available in their region. Readers can click here to go to this free section. I have tried to sum up their findings below.

Philanthropy Advice in India. Nonprofits are the go-to place now for sources of advice but they provide advice as part of their product portfolio instead of general education and awareness of philanthropy. Others providers include audit firms but they are focused more on CSR since family-run business and philanthropy are blurred. Philanthropic vehicles strategy and structuring advice are offered by Noshir Dadrawala (Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy) and Sanja Agarwal (AccountAid). International banks such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays Wealth are planning to extend their philanthropy services to India.

The greatest need in India is to raise the profile of philanthropy. Other aspects include education on giving wisely, stronger tax incentives and the establishment of giving circles and philanthropy forums.

Increasing wealth and the number of HNWIs in India and Asia will remain just a statistic unless we find ways and means of strategically engaging them in a philanthropic journey.

Philanthropy Advice in Southeast Asia. There are very few private organizations that have been set up to assist private philanthropies except for some law firms in Singapore. The government is heavily involved and private foundations are strictly regulated. The government helped set up the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Center in Singapore and its affiliate, the Community Foundation of Singapore, which assists donors who seek independent advice.

A respondent said that there are individuals and consultancy services in Hong Kong but no clearing house/directory that provides ease of access in sourcing such services. Financial institutions such as UBS, RBS Coutts, and HSBC market themselves as having the capacity to advise on philanthropy.

Typically the range of service differs between financial institutions with those having dedicated staff in Asia being the most active in delivering these services.’ She says that much advising is done through private banks ‘due to existing relationship with wealthy families and individuals; unique access and position relative to consultancy and non-profit organizations. Trustees, law firms and a few accounting firms have also shown an interest in this type of service.’

There have been a few individuals that have set up consultancy-type services but they have not taken off because “their experience is not substantial or global enough for them to add any value.” The Institute for Philanthropy, McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group are starting to work with would-be donors.

When asked what needs were in this area, respondents mentioned the need for more education on strategic philanthropy. Other needs included the need to share information, dedicated staff to source opportunities, and emphasis on regulation, transparency, accountability and due diligence.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Kelly, Asia Grace

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