The Future of Philanthropy & Social Investment Infrastructure in Asia

by Yeo Qin-Liang

Philanthropists often need support to fulfil their potential as catalysts of change and amplify the impact of every dollar they spend.  However, there is little understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the very institutions – like Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) – that are backing these philanthropists.

To better inform our practices, Synergos partnered five European foundations in commissioning Constellation for Change to study the landscape of Philanthropy and Social Investment Infrastructure (PSII) in Europe.  The report “More than the Sum of its Parts: Insights on the Future of European Philanthropy and Social Investment Infrastructure” was written based on extensive literature review and more than 50 interviews with a broad spectrum of foundation leaders, academic experts, EU officials and staff of European PSII organisations.

At its core, the study highlighted that the collective impact of this supporting infrastructure matters more today than the individual impact of any one organisation.  PSII organisations must shape a stronger, clearer common agenda for philanthropy and social investment, and develop a roadmap toward joint action among themselves.

Firstly, collaboration would create peer learning opportunities which may enable PSII organisations to improve their competencies in areas including asset and risk management, tools for scaling programmes and communication.

Secondly, it would strengthen the voice of PSII organisations in advocating for policy changes.

Thirdly, greater sharing of data and strategic alignment among PSII organisations would support foundations and social investors in identifying opportunities to maximise their impact.

Beyond collaborating with others, the study also advised PSII organisations to engage their members actively.  It encouraged PSII organisations to develop more specific indicators of performance and impact aside from their membership sizes, along with more purposeful and strategic approaches to engage our members.

Moving forward, APC recognises the need to improve our practices continuously.  As a growing membership platform of 37 philanthropists catalysing Asian philanthropy, APC is part of the supporting infrastructure in Asia.

APC will continue to engage and support our members in building a strong network of partner PSII organisations, philanthropists and subject-matter experts.  Just in September 2018, APC supported the launch of The Givers Network in Thailand with one of our members, which aims to promote the giving culture in the country amongst everyone – with Thai PSII organisations and NGOs.

To engage our members on building the ecosystem, APC is also developing more relevant and meaningful programmes.  We are currently working with local partners to support PSII organisations in Vietnam, and investing in research such as the “Bridging the Talent Gap” Report continue to address sector-wide issues.

APC invites our members to be part of the collective effort in developing the PSII in Asia and catalysing Asian philanthropy.  Learn more with the full report funded by Synergos and their five partner European foundations here.