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Diaspora philanthropy is often associated with related giving practices among diaspora communities such as crossborder remittances. According to the World Bank, remittances from overseas to developing countries in 2016 totalled $429 billion (World Bank Group 2017). Asian countries account for the largest share of remittances globally, approximately 55% of the total, including $125.8 billion to East Asia and $110.1 billion to South Asia (World Bank Group 2017).

The top three remittance inflows are to Asian countries, with remittance to India totalling $62.7 billion, followed by China with $61 billion, and the Philippines with $29.9 billion (World Bank Group 2017). Although remittance funds are primarily transferred for immediate family use, a portion customarily goes toward charitable purposes and investments for the public good in destination countries. The value of these charitable contributions is difficult to quantify. Were they to total no more than one per cent of annual remittance flows, charitable donations would contribute between three and four billion dollars for charitable purposes to Asian countries alone.

According to the Diversity Council of Australia’s Cracking the Cultural Ceiling report (O’Leary & Tilly 2014), 9.3% of people living and working in Australia consider themselves to be of Asian origin. A recent report by the Australian Council for Learned Academies outlined the unique and crucial role Australia’s Asian Diasporas play, and should play, especially in “innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurialism” (Rizvi et al. 2016: 3). Evidence suggests that Asian Diasporas form a dynamic part of the Australian community, including the philanthropy and social investment sectors (Fitzgerald & Chau 2014).

In view of the growth of Asian diaspora communities generally, and the growing prominence of Asian-Australians in Australia’s social, business and public life, a review of giving practices among Asian-Australians is timely if not overdue. To date little attention has been paid to how Asian-Australian philanthropists give, why they give, where they give, and what kinds of causes they support (Barth 2016). A deeper understanding of the nature of Asian-Australian giving is essential for understanding and realising the opportunities for Australia’s mainstream philanthropy sector to engage more closely with Asian Australian donors and potential donors for their mutual benefit. Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has commissioned the present report as a first step towards meeting this goal.

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