November 2016 was a big month!
Much happened in the world and in India in November! In the United States, Donald Trump was elected President much to the dismay of many (including yours truly!) around the world. In India, demonetization took everyone by surprise and soon proved to be an incredible hardship for the poor despite its lofty intentions and Delhi faced the worst smog in its history.
But, fortunately, some very good things happened as well. On November 9, I had the great honor of being the keynote speaker at the CAP 30th anniversary dinner.
|The Team at CAP|
In the 30 years that the Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy has been doing its noble work, countless organizations have benefited. It was inspirational to hear some of these stories during the celebration and I am grateful to be affiliated with this outstanding organization and the people behind it going forward.
On November 15-16, my organization, the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society held a workshop in New Delhi with 38 partners from 16 Asian economies. The purpose of this workshop was to discuss and move forward with creating the Doing Good Index™, a ground-breaking study of the factors that hinder or enable the giving and receiving of philanthropy.
|The CAPS Team|
The factors that determine the vibrancy of philanthropic activity in any country are complex and multi-dimensional. The drivers for success vary across Asian economies, but there are common characteristics that are necessary – if not sufficient-- for home-grown philanthropy to flourish. For example, local donors are heavily influenced by the regulatory and tax policies that govern philanthropy while the ability to register as a charity, to be tax-exempt, to receive tax-deductible contributions and to seek government contracts for projects aligned with their mission are critical factors for indigenous social delivery organizations to be successful.
In order to align incentives, improve transparency and encourage more charitable engagement, it is important to understand the regulations, tax incentives and the general societal predisposition toward the giving and receiving of donations. The Doing Good Index seeks to conduct this analysis across 16 countries in Asia to cast a light on the policies and best practices that enable the domestic charitable sector to thrive.
One of the challenges in conducting policy analysis, is the lack of data about philanthropy and social delivery organizations. This is the case throughout Asia. CAPS is working with local research partners to collect data and undertake survey research to inform the analysis. We have identified those organizations with the capacity to carry out the necessary research in 16 economies in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. The partner organizations have been selected on the basis of their expertise on the regulatory environment affecting NGOs and philanthropy and/ or have a network they can tap to carry out survey research. In India, our partners are CAP and Dasra and the analytical work is being carried out by ICRIER (Indian Council for Research of International Economic Relations).
The Doing Good Index will develop a set of indicators that in aggregate allow us to evaluate the environmental and regulatory factors that affect an individual’s and a corporation’s ability to engage in helping solve social issues in the country. We will investigate four sets of questions – regulatory, tax policies, procurement, and environmental factors. Each of this areas will be further divided into indicators that will allow us to understand and evaluate them individually. Countries will not be ranked, but the comparative analysis will highlight country strengths. Our goal here is not to shame but to point to effective policies and highlight those efforts and factors that are working well in the region.
At a time when interest in Asian philanthropy has never been greater, the Doing Good Index would be ground-breaking as a first-of-its-kind review of the environment for philanthropy across 16 Asian economies. Once the report is complete, CAPS will issue a press release with our findings. We will also work with our donors and our partners to call on relevant government officials or offer a seminar to share our findings. We hope to be able to replicate this study every two years to track change and compile longitudinal data.
We also hope that when we hold seminars in India about our work, those who are reading this column will attend to hear more about our findings and how we can all work together to strengthen the charitable sector going forward.