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Asia’s next-gen view philanthropy differently to parents, study

Families in Asia who manage their philanthropic activities as a unit need to develop strong strategies for accommodating inter-generational differences to ensure the success of their efforts, according to a specialist in philanthropy.

Families in Asia who manage their philanthropic activities as a unit need to develop strong strategies for accommodating inter-generational differences to ensure the success of their efforts, according to a specialist in philanthropy.

Jenny Santi, head of philanthropy services in south-east Asia for UBS Wealth Management, was commenting after a new study from UBS and INSEAD business school found that the next-generation in Asia take a different approach to giving than older family members.

“The rapid pace of change across Asia has led to generations within families with vast differences in experience and aspirations,” she told CampdenFB.

According to the research, which drew on more than 200 surveys and 100 in-depth interviews with ultra-high net worth individuals and families across 10 countries, the older generation is influenced by tradition and focuses heavily on the local community, supporting education, health and poverty alleviation measures.

In contrast, their children and grandchildren tend to think globally and in turn are more likely to support civil rights, the environment and the arts. They also take a more rounded view to philanthropy – focusing not just on the act of giving, but also seeking to measure the impact of their efforts.

Despite the differences, more than four in ten of the families questioned said the family values remain central to their efforts, alongside creating a legacy.

Santi reckons the next-generation can often gain beneficial skills by getting involved in the family’s charitable efforts.

“For those family members who don’t have experience in managing a business, the family philanthropy can play an important role in developing the capabilities and knowledge necessary to eventually step into a role that carries forward the family business,” she said.

Although a culture of giving is strongly ingrained in Asia, structured family philanthropy is a relatively new phenomenon, according to the UBS-INSEAD Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia study. It found less professionalisation of giving in Asia when compared with other areas – more than 75% of the 200 initiatives surveyed were established as formal philanthropies in the last 30 years.

“Their [family] business is also an important vehicle through which families engage in philanthropy – through a corporate foundation, a company’s CSR [corporate social responsibility] arm or other diverse means. Furthermore, the family business remains an important source of funds: 22% of the families studied reported company profits as providing funding for their philanthropy,” said Santi. 

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