Thailand to host major Asian philanthropy conference

About 500 leading philanthropists and social investors, including major names from the United States, will converge on Bangkok in early June for the largest gathering of givers in Asia at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Conference with the aim of increasing their impact on improving the lives of people in the world’s most populous region.

“We see this conference as an important step to encouraging collaboration to facilitate the growth of the social sector in Thailand. We look forward to being able to share our local insights from Thailand with a global network, learn and be inspired by like-minded peers from around the world,” said Vichien Phongsathorn, chairman of the Premier Group of Companies and founder of the Khonthai Foundation, which is one of the co-hosts of the conference.

Once a recipient of foreign aid, Thailand is now a donor nation, bestowing its national philanthropy on less-developed neighbors and countries as far away as the African continent. A United Nations report said, “Thai society has enjoyed a long tradition of philanthropic giving. As a Buddhist country, giving for the accumulation of personal religious merit and for charitable causes to help the poor and desolate are well ingrained into Thai cultural beliefs and Thai behavioral practices.”

This will be the fifth Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) Conference and the first hosted by Thailand. The three-day event will take place from June 7 through 9. It’s theme will be “Collaboration for Impact,” reflecting the importance of partnership across sectors and borders when trying to tackle some of Asia’s biggest social challenges.

Representatives from about 30 countries are slated to take part. Among those expected to attend the conference from the United States are the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), corporate giants such as Google and Coca-Cola and others. In addition, European and Asian entities such as Credit Suisse, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have confirmed they will participate.

Others helping to host the conference include the Thailand Development Research Institute, Ashoka Foundation, Change Fusion, the Thai Young Philanthropist Network and Volunteer Spirit.

Organizers said the conference “will feature examples of collaboration from AVPN members across Asia including deep dives into sectors like: education, health, livelihoods, the environment, and more. The program will also include an overview of the social investment landscape in Asia, highlighting key challenges and opportunities across the spectrum of investment stages from grants to impact investment.”

The conference will also be used to launch AVPN’s latest research report entitled The Social Investment Landscape in Asia, a holistic study of the current Asian philanthropy and social investment market across 14 countries including Thailand.

AVPN is headquartered in Singapore and says its mission is “to catalyse the movement toward a more strategic, collaborative and outcome-focused approach to philanthropy and social investing, ensuring that resources are deployed as effectively as possible to address key social challenges facing Asia today and in the future.”