Giving Thoughts


Corporate Philanthropy in Asia: Innovations that Unlock the Resources of Business for the Common Good

By Rob JohnRob John

Our series of working papers from NUS Business School in Singapore explores the role of philanthropy in supporting entrepreneurial social ventures in Asia. We previously reported on the social finance ecosystem, innovative models of philanthropy including giving circles, and how angel investing for impact can benefit social enterprise. In the fifth report, my co-authorsAudrey Chia and Ken Ito, and I examine the role of corporate business as the provider of philanthropic capital—financial, human and intellectual.

In addition to using traditional grant funding, we found that some corporations invest in early-stage ventures that reach the poorest with affordable goods and services, or outsource their business processes to social enterprise vendors. Businesses increasingly see skilled volunteering and giving circles as new approaches to community engagement that motivate and retain employees.

By way of 23 case studies from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, the Philippines and Singapore, the report illustrates diverse ways these businesses engage with high-potential social organizations and offers recommendations on ways the corporation can creatively deploy its resources for public good in Asia.

The report can be downloaded at:


For more information, contact me at rob.john@oba.co.uk.

About the author:

Rob John Visiting Fellow National University of Singapore

Rob John
Visiting Fellow
National University of Singapore

Rob John is an independent philanthropy consultant based in Cambridge, UK. He has published widely on venture philanthropy as a fellow at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford and NUS Business School, Singapore.  Rob has helped build two philanthropy networks –  the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN). His website www.givingcircles.asia tracks the growth and development of collective philanthropy in Asia. Philanthropy is his third career, having started out as a research chemist before moving to international aid and development.

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