The Next Wave of Philanthropy in China

Dien Yuen2012Dien Yuen looks at the recent trends in philanthropy in China. Dien’s article is the final post of Asian Philanthropy Forum’s “Exploring the Impact of Asian philanthropy” series.

As a researcher and observer of philanthropic trends, I have noticed several themes that I think will affect China’s philanthropic sector in the near future. Even though China’s philanthropic sector is still in its infant stage, global forces and internal changes will have a big influence in shaping how quickly the philanthropic landscape develops. Here are some of my observations for the next wave of philanthropy in China:

Women Playing a Bigger Role in Philanthropy 

A recent report released by Grant Thornton revealed that 94% of businesses in China employ women in senior management roles. The survey looked at 200 businesses in China and found that women in senior management climbed to 51% from 25% in 2012.  We will see women wield greater influence on how corporations approach corporate social responsibility and philanthropic decisions inside the company. As these women gain influence and wealth, they will take an active role in their personal philanthropy journeys as well. Are non-profits and social enterprises prepared to work with these leaders and involve them in their work?

Adopting Western Models But Adding Local Contexts

Several years ago, a group of delegates from China visited the Foundation Center in New York and was so impressed with their work that they went home and created a China Foundation Center. Recently, a group of Chinese students created the China Charity Navigator after surfing the websites of U.S. groups, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving. By following the existing models and layering it with local contexts, China’s social entrepreneurs are building their own philanthropic sector. In a country with more than 2,000 legally registered foundations (many of them operating their own programs), half a million registered NGOs and millions more operating outside the normal process, the ability to scale and serve a significant and relevant number of organizations while meeting the needs of donors becomes the dominant issue.

Giving to China From U.S. Made Easier

U.S. donors wishing to make a gift to a charitable organization in China have a new resource that will streamline their grantmaking. NGOSource is a global online repository that provides grantmakers access to approved groups through a process called equivalency determination (ED). While some groups will not pass ED, many universities, colleges, large institutions and government-type organizations will most likely pass. Once the organization passes ED, other grantmakers can use the same approval to make grants to the organization. The time and cost savings will be significant for the grantmaker. With this resource, many grantmakers do not need to use the services of intermediaries. If NGOs in China and other places outside of the U.S. understand the requirements and documents needed to pass ED, they can attract the attention of other donors – especially if donors prefer to give to an approved list.

Giving Pledge Momentum Will Inspire Chinese

The Giving Pledge started with families from the U.S. In February, 12 new families from outside the U.S. have joined, bringing the total number to 105. In Asia, Andrew and Nicola Forrest from Australia, Azim Premji from India and Vincent Tan Chee Yioun from Malaysia were part of this group. While many Chinese billionaires are still hesitant to join and for many reasons, it is only a matter of time before peer and societal pressures – or a desire to participate and lead by example – will put them in the spotlight.


Posts in this series:

A New Year for Asian Philanthropy to Make an Impact, Victor Kuo

Opening the Window to Philanthropy to China Starts with Transparency, Lijun He

New Trends in Philanthropy in China, Karla Simon

Rise of the Middle Class Donor in Hong Kong, Edwin Lee

Lessons Learned in Philanthropic Impact Investment, Sono Aibe

Evaluation of the Committee of 100 Teaching Scholar Program 2012, Wenjie Tang