In a recent episode of the Breakthrough in Singapore Podcast, Dr. Tan Bee Wan, the Executive Chairman of Integrative Learning Corporation, welcomed Laurence Lien, the Chairman of the Lien Foundation. Laurence is a renowned philanthropist with a vision for major charitable giving in Singapore and beyond.
The interview shed light on the transformative power of philanthropy and the importance of activating love in addressing complex social issues. Laurence’s work revolves around empowering people, especially those with greater resources, to give more and give better. The term philanthropy, as he explains, is about activating love from those who have more to help those who have less, fostering empathy and a sense of ownership for societal challenges.
Laurence’s philanthropic journey began with the Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC), where he focused on bringing philanthropists from the region together to exchange ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, and collaborate for greater impact in fields like education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability. The APC’s success led to the establishment of the Asia Community Foundation, with the goal of growing philanthropy in the region by activating generosity and providing the right opportunities for impactful giving.
One of the key challenges in promoting philanthropy, as Laurence highlighted, is convincing wealthier individuals to give more. He emphasized the need for a shift in the social compact, encouraging people to take ownership of societal issues and recognize their collective responsibility in solving them. The sense of agency is equally important, instilling a belief that people can make a difference and that their efforts will yield positive change.
Overcoming the reluctance to collaborate and address root causes of complex social problems requires innovative thinking, strategic partnerships, and continuous evaluation. Laurence exemplified this approach through APC’s work in Indonesia, where they conducted research to identify the most impactful areas for philanthropic investment. By promoting collaboration among funders and nonprofits, they were able to maximize their efforts and generate meaningful results.
In the context of Singapore, Laurence urged for more collaborative problem-solving efforts that transcend dialogues and lead to true partnerships between government, nonprofits, and foundations. He highlighted the need for humility and courage in the philanthropic sector, encouraging leaders to let go of self-interest, experiment with new approaches, and learn from failures.
Moreover, Laurence emphasized the significance of human values in philanthropy. Activating love and empathy towards those in need forms the basis for sustainable change. He proposed a transformation of the soul, where philanthropy becomes an integral part of society’s DNA rather than a mere act of altruism.
In conclusion, Laurence Lien’s visionary approach to philanthropy revolves around activating love to address complex social issues. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration, innovation, and continuous evaluation in maximizing philanthropic efforts. By fostering a sense of ownership, agency, and empathy, he aims to create lasting, positive change in Singapore and the broader Asian region. Transformative philanthropy goes beyond individual efforts and requires collective action driven by love for humankind.