Philanthropy in Asia? the glue that binds

Received by Alliance Online and its Newsletter of May 2008:

An Interview with Terry Farris (to read the full interview, click on the internal link).

An excerpt: … what about the philanthropic infrastructure?

How is the infrastructure to support this growth of philanthropy developing? Before answering this question, Farris points out that philanthropy has always been a key component of Asians? lives. From his 18 years working in the philanthropic sector around the world, he believes they are one of the most generous groups of individuals in the world. Of the individuals or families he has advised, over 80 per cent already had a charitable structure in place. But it is only in the last few years that wealthy Asians are starting to become more public with their giving.

The UK has had a huge influence in countries like Singapore, India, Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia, which are all Commonwealth countries. These countries continue to follow common law charity rules and regulations, which create a strong and accountable foundation for the establishment of charities and charitable structures. Countries like Taiwan and the Philippines have been influenced more by the US.

Because of this long history many financial institutions and trust companies have been advising their clients and helping them set up philanthropic structures and manage their philanthropic initiatives in the Asia Pacific region and around the world.

Terry Farris has himself has been one of the key players in helping to enhance philanthropy advisory services in Asia Pacific. He started his own philanthropy consulting business eight years ago in Hong Kong, focusing on advising non-profits and family foundations. He then founded and launched MeePierson/Foritis Bank’s philanthropy services for Asia. Two and half years ago he was asked to develop UBS’s Philanthropy Services for Asia Pacific.

Will Asian families begin to need consultants more as they become more strategic and focused? While philanthropy consultancy in Asia will undoubtedly grow over the years, Farris points out that Asian families are still not prepared to pay for or to engage outside philanthropy consultants on a large scale. Many families still support programmes and projects where their family and business are located. They believe that they understand the needs better than an outsider. But there has nevertheless been an increase in interest around the region.

As philanthropists look to become more professional and set up larger foundations, there will be a natural growth of philanthropy advisory services. This growth will be steady for the next five to ten years. The demand for greater accountability and transparency from charities and NGOs in Asia Pacific from donors and philanthropists will also help spur the growth of advisers to the charity sector, Farris believes …

(Terry Alan Farris is the head of UBS Philanthropy Services for Asia-Pacific. His Email).

Comments are closed.