Nonprofits and Philanthropy Lab


It seeks to enhance the capacity and governance of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector as a means to attain social impact. We adopt a broad definition of philanthropy, which is concerned about the leveraging of private resources – money, time, space, idea, expertise and network – for public good.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) technological developments pose intricate and complex ethical questions that the industry alone cannot answer. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions. The latter are best equipped to pursue interdisciplinary research that will benefit society.

To help support rigorous and groundbreaking academic research in these areas, Facebook is collaborating with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (esteemed co-chair of the ICDPPC Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI) to launch a Research Initiative to advance Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Asia Pacific region that takes into account different disciplinary perspectives. This line of research will also complement Facebook’s efforts that bolster independent research being done in these areas, like the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI and similar Research Awards offered in other countries and regions, such as India and Latin America.

School Management Review on the Handling of Teachers’ Complaints & Feedbacks and the Management of Teacher Performance (on-going)

The Research aims to support and facilitate a School Management Review to be undertaken by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (the Group), which aims at enhancing the effectiveness of school management under the Incorporated Management Committee (IMC) and/or School Management Committee (SMC) through improving the handling of teachers’ complaints and feedbacks, and strengthening the management of teacher performance. The Research will examine and provide recommendations for action which are instrumental to enhancing the effectiveness of school-based management (for IMC schools) or school management (for SMC kindergartens) in the 18 secondary schools, 14 primary schools, 17 kindergartens and 2 special schools currently operated by the Group in Hong Kong.

Social Integration of South Asians in Hong Kong (on-going)

According the Census and Statistics Department in 2016, South Asians – Pakistani, Nepalese, and Indians, together constituted the biggest ethnic minority group residing in Hong Kong.  Even though the South Asian and local Chinese populations enjoy identical legal, political, and social rights and fulfill similar obligations, they appear to live in two separate worlds. Various figures suggested that the lives of many South Asians were at risk of social, political, and economic exclusion. The purpose of this study was to identify major challenges that South Asians faced when interacting with the local Chinese community, and their main obstacles in attaining societal integration. It also examined the local Chinese population’s perception and social acceptance of South Asians. Recommendations to reduce the service and policy gaps with a view to promoting social inclusion and integration in Hong Kong were made. The investigation was part of the Jockey Club Lab for Cultural Diversity Study, supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

The Giving Hong Kong 2016-2017 Report (on-going)

Supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences at HKU, the Giving Hong Kong Report 2016-2017 is the first report that strives to supply a landscape view of individual, corporate and foundation giving and volunteering behavior in Hong Kong. Giving and volunteering could be considered as efforts in mobilizing societal resources to achieve a better world for all. Hong Kong society is usually regarded as generous even by international standards. However, as giving and volunteering information are rather scattered, it is difficult to have a full picture of the overall philanthropic scene. This report was an attempt to fill this void. In addition, the study provided a forward looking perspective and should be useful to NGOs in identifying newer forms of fundraising and volunteer recruitment methods. Finally, the report has identified a few issues which ought to be addressed in order to take the field of philanthropy forward. The 2016-2017 report was published in 2019 and other activities are still on-going.

Hong Kong NGO Governance Health Survey 2018 (2018 – 2019)

Effective governance is essential to the effectiveness of nonprofits and also the long-term development of civil society and the social sector. In recent years, board governance has taken on increasing importance in the spotlight in Hong Kong’s social service sector. Regarding the oversight of nonprofits, stakeholders and the general public are demanding more transparency, accountability and effectiveness.

The Excellence in Capacity-building on Entrepreneurship and Leadership for the Third-sector (ExCEL3) Project of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has collaborated with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and Governance and Management Excellence (GAME) for Public Benefit to develop a self-assessment tool for measuring governance health of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and to apply the tool to collect data for a landscape survey and analysis. Participating NGOs are offered an agency individual report in which they can find their self-assessment responses, and also relevant information which they could use to compare the governance health of their organizations with that of other participating NGOs of similar size, and to review various areas of governance practices. Further, group debriefing sessions tailor-made for NGOs of different sizes are organized to disseminate the landscape survey findings.

Download Hong Kong NGO Governance Health Survey 2018 findings:

Various government reports have identified certain ethnic groups in Hong Kong to be more vulnerable to poverty risk. In view of the comparatively higher poverty rate of South Asian residents of Hong Kong, and their low usage of public services, including those specifically designed for them, the Special Needs Groups Task Force of the Commission on Poverty contracted a study in 2017 to look into South Asians’ awareness and satisfaction towards a few public services. The South Asian communities in the study consisted of Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalnese; while major public services referred to those offered by the Labour Department, the Employees Retraining Board, the Social Welfare Department, and the Home Affairs Department. The objective was to identify the underlying reasons of the low usage of public services, and recommend improved measures. The report was submitted in 2018.

Social inclusion is a UN target of a sustainable world; it states that everyone, irrespective of one’s characteristics, such as various forms of disability, should be included as a member of society. Participation in the labor market is an important means through which an adult takes part in society. Despite the Hong Kong government’s efforts in nurturing and educating the intellectually-disabled from an early age, and numerous studies that demonstrated the multiple benefits of open employment to the disabled, businesses, public spending, and social inclusion, the chance of open employment for the intellectually-disabled was still rather slim. This study was an attempt to discover the hindering factors behind open employment for the intellectually-disabled, highlighting potential policy and service gaps, and put forward recommendations to improve the situation. The study was supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences, HKU, and completed in 2018.

Twenty-four countries/cities took part in a study to understand lower secondary school students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards civics and citizenship, as well as their participation in related activities within and outside the school. The study was commissioned the Education Bureau, HKSAR in 2016. As a member of the international research consortium, the study followed the research design and instruments of the International Assocaition for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The aim of the research was to find out the ways in which young people were prepared to take up as citizens. Ninety-one secondary schools took part in the research. The report was submitted to IEA and the Educational Bureau in 2018.

This inter-disciplinary ExCEL3 project aims to build the capacity of Non-Governmental Organisations and empower civil society in Hong Kong, as well as build research and teaching capacity in the study of civil society within the University. Through training, sharing, and research, the project seeks to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthen the leadership, management, governance and organisational capacity of the third sector; and build a platform that brings together philanthropists, foundations, and institutional investors with Non-Governmental Organisations, as well as the academic community.