Family companies seek smarter philanthropic strategies

Chandran Nair spoke at the Asia Pacific Family Office Conference on 30 October 2007 in Hong Kong.

GIFT founder and chief executive, Chandran Nair was invited to join a panel of experts to address the topic of mobilising the family office through philanthropy at the annual Asia Pacific Family Office Conference held on October 30-31, 2007.

The panel was asked to comment on the challenges involved in engaging the family business in philanthropic ventures, integrating corporate responsibility in business practices and moving away from giving monumental donations in favor of addressing true need.

In his address, Mr. Nair pointed out to family business leaders that being skilled at making money does not necessarily make them adept at giving it away. He stressed the importance of professionalizing good causes and being absolutely clear about motives and results before engaging in philanthropic ventures.

Mr. Nair was joined on the panel by Christopher Lavender, Director, The Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, Hong Kong ; Rory Tolentino, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, Philippines; Lee Poh Wah, Programme Director, Lien Foundation, Singapore and the moderator, Christine Edwards, CEO, The Myer Foundation, Australia who each shared their experience in the philanthropic arena.

Mr. Nair agreed with other speakers that it is best to make charitable efforts work as a business, this means performing proper due diligence and engaging through the right channels. GIFT’s Global Young Leaders Programme, Mr. Nair’s brainchild, was put forth as one model by which family members can be involved in worthy development projects backed by solid proposals and clear execution plans.

When asked about steps that families can take apart from giving money, Mr. Nair stated that social responsibility starts with meeting the laws of the land. He urged family companies to obey all laws, stop exploitative practices in grey areas, and to become wholly transparent. Once companies meet all the laws they can then decide if they want to do more whether it be CSR, charity, or philanthropy.

The Asia Pacific Family Office Conference was the fifth annual private meeting for business and financial families.