WHILE the bayanihan spirit is among the innate attributes of Filipinos globally, the Philippines ironically trails behind other countries—compared especially to some of its Asian peers—when it comes to generosity in supporting personal, corporate or social causes through crowdfunding, according to a top executive of a homegrown fund-raising platform.
“I think we’re very much behind already in terms of crowdfunding,” Gava Founder and CEO Ann Cuisia-Lindayag told the BusinessMirror. “In other countries, particularly Westerners, it’s been already practiced over the last five to six years, whereas, here, it’s just starting around.” Proof of this, she said, is the latest result of the World Giving Index 2016 report of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which ranks the Philippines 47th out of the 140 countries surveyed in terms of generosity. The country went down a notch from No. 46 in 2015.
Participating nations in the study were based on three giving behaviors: Donating money to a good cause, helping a stranger and volunteerism. Overall, Myanmar again topped the recent survey—already three years in a row—followed by the US and Australia. Other Asian markets that made it to the Top 20 include Sri Lanka at No. 5; Indonesia, No. 7; United Arab Emirates, No. 10; Uzbekistan, No. 11; Turkmenistan, No. 15; Bhutan, No. 18; and Kuwait, No. 19.
Meanwhile, some member-states of Asean, such as Malaysia (No. 22), Singapore (No. 28) and Thailand (No. 37), also fared well in the index. Vietnam (No. 64) also performed rather unsatisfactorily in the study.
When it comes to donating money, Myanmar still leads, with a score of 91 percent, followed by Indonesia at 75 percent. Other Asian performers are Thailand at No. 12, with 63 percent; Sri Lanka, No. 17, 61 percent; and Singapore, No. 19, 58 percent.
For the Asean region, Malaysia is at No. 21, with 57 percent; Cambodia, No. 39, 42 percent; Vietnam, No. 48, 34 percent; and the Philippines, No. 88, 21 percent.
“The No. 88 out of the 140 [nations] is pretty, pretty very low,” Lindayag said of the country’s position in the donation segment. “We feel that we should not be on that rank. We feel that Filipinos are very giving. We have this term bayanihan, but why is it not translated into giving?”
She said crowdfunding, or even the simple act of fund-raising, remains unacceptable for others at present. Within her circle, in fact, she conceded that there are some who are reluctant to donate a portion of their salary to a certain cause for the reason that they worked hard for the money they earned.
“For them, it’s totally mind-boggling, or very odd for them to give. I was surprised there are those people with such thinking, even if they have this capacity to give. And I feel sorry for people who are not being able to use themselves [or] to use their resources to be blessings to others,” she said.
Giving is not all about the money, according to her, but also “assisting people not known to you or giving your time to others.”
In these ways, the Philippines, though not leading, does well as compared to its other counterparts in the region. To wit, it claims the No. 7 spot in the index for the volunteerism category, just five notches below Myanmar at No. 2, and four steps behind Indonesia that settled at No. 3.
In the segment of helping a stranger, Myanmar is No. 27 at 63 percent; Bangladesh, No. 47, 56 percent; and the Philippines, No. 52 at 55 percent.
“So we may have this burden, but we have this desire to really impart the culture of generosity among our people,” Lindayag noted.
THE lack of generosity among Filipinos nowadays could be attributed to various factors, such as the lack of awareness, security concerns, poor technology infrastructure and the “Third World” mind-set of being the recipient of international aids, especially in times of uncertainties.
While it’s natural for the locals to share with others what they have, the CEO said, somehow, most of them don’t know how to do it, or where to begin to create an impact to others.
She added that some are not privy to various ways to course their assistance, whether in kind or cash, except the traditional nongovernmental organizations, charitable institutions, or concerned government agencies.
The awareness on crowdfunding in the forms of donation—reward-based, equity-based or lending—is also not that evident among the populace.
“So probably it’s just a matter of really the awareness and trust,” she said.
What’s also contributing to the “not so good” performance of the Philippines in the index is the technology that comes with crowdfunding.
“It could be the technology scare,” she said, citing the fright of the people to give their personal and financial details that may be hacked by cybercriminals.
While there is a high Internet penetration in the country, most people still get access online through free data.
“So when they are moved to the next site to give, that’s when the fallout happens,” Lindayag explained. “They could not continue with the process because of the low Internet speed.”
Another hurdle is the culture of dependency; that the Philippines, as a Third World country, can count on the support of the international community, especially its allied nations, during tragedies and other crises.
“The media and other elements in the society somehow inculcated that certain mind-set that we are always the receiver of help from others,” the CEO pointed out.
From receiver to giver
EXPERTS agree that the volume of crowdfunding across Asia will be $92 billion by 2025. Lindayag believes on the potential of the Philippines to take a pivotal role in this field.
With this in mind, she is bullish that the country could be in the same level of Myanmar as the consistent top biller in the World Giving Index in the next few years.
“I hope by 2020 [or] before 2020, we will be like them,” she said, citing that concerted efforts from the public and private sectors, as well as the people, will help attain such goal.
Apart from correcting the above-cited hindrances to crowdfunding, she added that “the integration with the banks and some compliances” with existing policies must be implemented.
“It’s a big market. We can only wish that a lot of people will be more aware about it,” the CEO of Gava stressed.
She, likewise, suggested that the potential for raising funds through crowdfunding will grow with the help of the high penetration of social media here.
“Since there are about more than 50 million Filipinos who are in Facebook, for instance, it could also be used as a platform to get support from the public,” she said.
Lindayag added “enablers” are needed to ignite the “giving heart” and the bayanihan spirit that are already possessed by Filipinos.
“That’s why we have this Gava; we believe that there’s power in giving together. We believe that we want to help people, being able to help other people,” she said of their fund-raising platform.
Piloted in the Philippines, Gava is a crowdfunding platform that enables the people to share what they have to others. It offers convenient service, multiple payment methods and transparent platform for personal or institutional campaigns.
Developed by Gava Tech Pte. Ltd., the platform already has raised around P12 million since it piloted in February. The amount came from donated funds to around 300 campaigns out of almost 1,000 posted causes in its web site www.gavagives.com.
“We want everyone to participate in this goal of improving our World Giving Index [ranking],” Lindayag said, while citing their vision to be the leading fund-raising platform of Southeast Asia by 2020. “Gava aims to cultivate the virtue of generosity and make it a lifestyle. We want to build a community of donors.”