The Role of Faith in Social Investment: An Opportunity for Learning and Collaboration


Astari Sarosa


Co-author: Sangeetha Watson

3 minutes read

This article is part of AVPN’s Faith and Giving initiative.

Faith has long driven giving, especially in Asia. Yet, discussions about the role faith plays in deciding where and how to give are largely absent from conversations about  philanthropy, impact investing, and sustainable finance. Faith-led giving is viewed as a private and personal undertaking.  

With an escalating amount of capital needed to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the contribution from faith-led givers towards addressing humanity’s most pressing needs can’t be overlooked. To better understand the practice and to explore how to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of this capital in generating impact, AVPN has launched a multi-year initiative focusing on faith and giving in Asia. It aims to deepen knowledge, encourage collaboration, and spur action across the continuum of capital. 

“Philanthropy is hard enough without putting labels on it such as secular philanthropy or faith-based philanthropy. I think both groups can learn from each other because both groups actually share the same core, and the same reasons why they choose where and how to give,” – Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO, AVPN

AVPN CEO, Naina Subberwal Batra, launched the initiative at the Spring Rain Global’s 7th Asian Philanthropic Development Conference in Cebu, Philippines, a rare example of a regional forum held specifically to explore the nexus of faith and giving. Organised by Spring Rain Global (SRG), the event saw 200 experts in fundraising and development – many of whom also work as grassroots and religious leaders – as well as social investors, intermediaries and philanthropists come together to develop and deepen collaborative and strategic approaches to generating impact. 

SRG, headquartered in Cebu, was able to gather a representative group from across the Catholic community in the Philippines because of its longstanding capacity building work with churches and other faith based organisations. SRG’s work is in helping them to better tap on philanthropic funding and investment in order to scale their activities and strengthen the sustainability of their programmes.

The conference provided a fitting moment for AVPN to launch the Faith and Giving initiative because it was evident that faith-led practitioners are not only seeking out ways in which to become more strategic in their practice, they are grappling with many of the same questions being asked by philanthropists, impact investors and other stakeholders in the wider ecosystem about how to maximise impact.

Sessions touched on approaches to impact management and measurement and the collective power of the faith-led ecosystem to work collaboratively to support the UN SDGs. It was a clear indication of growing momentum in the faith-led giving community towards being more transparent and aligned with regional and global impact objectives.  

AVPN will kick off the Faith and Giving initiative by first understanding the landscape of the ecosystem in Asia-Pacific to uncover motivations, best-practice,  innovative solutions, and collaborations. Starting with the four largest religions in the region – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam – AVPN aims to chart a path for social investors of all stripes to better leverage the diverse and unique perspectives, expertise, and resources of the ecosystem as a whole to unlock more capital for impact.

We welcome organisations and/or institutions that are currently working or interested in faith and giving to be a part of this initiative by contacting [email protected].


About Spring Rain Global 

Spring Rain Global aims to coach philanthropic development organisations, religious congregations, non-profits, and other organisations in Asia, Africa, and beyond towards sustainability. Through an international team of highly-experienced professionals in the development, philanthropic, and financial planning sectors, SRG helps its clients network and raise funds, supporters, and other resources necessary to continue serving communities in need through the SRG 6-Pillar Capacitation Model©.


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training


Astari Sarosa

Senior Associate, Communications at AVPN

Astari Sarosa is a journalist, content writer, and content marketing specialist. She started her career as a journalist for Indonesia’s renowned National media, Tempo. During her time as a journalist, she was selected as a Young Storymaker for British Council’s Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies programme. As part of the program, she wrote articles about social entrepreneurs and enterprises for Pioneers Post. From there, she developed her passion in writing about the impact industry and solutions journalism. She continued working full-time as an International media coordinator for an NGO in Ubud, Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati. She developed the communication and International media strategy for Ubud Writers & Readers Festival and Ubud Food Festival. She also became a communication consultant for Begawan Foundation and Ruang Waktu Knowledge Hub. Acknowledging the importance of search engine optimization in communications strategies, she started working for a tech company, first as a content writer and then promoted to content marketing specialist. From this experience, she learned how to gain the right audience for the content that we create. Her various experiences in communications helped her to understand different perspectives and needs. However, her ultimate goal is to share solutions stories about social entrepreneurs and enterprises, along with promoting the impact industry.

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