Understanding the Giving Preferences of the Chinese American Diaspora

CADreportcover From Give2Asia’s blog, post written by Ann Hoang

Over the last 25 years, the Chinese economy has grown at breakneck speed, creating enormous wealth as well as opportunity. The effects of this growth extend far beyond the country itself; today’s global Chinese diaspora has consequently risen in influence across a wide variety of industries, from the arts to finance and technology. In America alone, this group’s prominence has demanded the attention of nearly all sectors of society.

The philanthropy field, in particular, has much to gain from today’s influential Chinese Americans. Vital to effective engagement, however, is a solid understanding of why, where, and how this unique group approaches its philanthropy. Unfortunately, little research currently exists. To lay a foundation for further study on this topic, Dien Yuen, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Give2Asia, and Andy Ho, Manager of Global Philanthropy at the Council on Foundations, have released a study exploring the history, emerging trends, and projections of Chinese-American giving.

The study, titled “Chinese-American Diaspora Philanthropy: A Perspective on History, Characteristics and Potential,” can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Asian Business (University of Michigan Press). It offers the insights of two experts within the philanthropic advisory industry on this significant, and yet little-understood, phenomenon.

The report’s key findings include the following:

  • Chinese Americans are rooted in a desire to support their communities—particularly in Asia, where they give most.
  • First-generation immigrants tend to give to the country with which they most closely identify, in some cases even to specific home towns. Ethnic Chinese who settled in different Asian countries before emigrating tend to have multiple country interests.
  • Most Chinese-American donors value the opportunity for hands-on involvement with recipient organizations, whether through research, site visits, or other forms of engagement. Further, they tend to be interested in straight-forward projects with a defined set of beneficiaries, immediate impacts, and measurable results.
  • Because most Chinese Americans have close ties to Asia through their personal and business networks, they tend to be well-informed about issues on the ground. Accordingly, they often have very specific project or program interests.
  • They most consistently give to disaster relief; education and livelihood; women’s empowerment; healthcare; and economic development.

An executive summary version of the article can be downloaded here. The full report can be purchased through the University of Michigan: http://www.umich.edu/~cibe/faculty/jab.html

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