10 Things you (probably) didn’t know about philanthropy in China


Magazine article

1. In Imperial China, before the communists did away with personal wealth, the wealthiest families who were landlords or warlords were expected, and usually did, take care of the poor and disadvantaged in their communities. As many Chinese become wealthy, some of these Confucian values are being emphasised again.

2. An important change in the Foundations law in 2004 allowed for the first time the category of private foundations. There are now 1,900 private foundations registered in China and the number is growing rapidly. Many of these philanthropists are actively seeking international cooperation and opportunities to learn from different models of philanthropy.

3. An important player is still the “public”, or government-run foundations (the only type prior to 2004), of which there are 1,350 currently registered, and “GONGO’s” (government-run NGO’s). Public foundations and GONGO’s enjoy many privileges that private foundations and NGO’s do not, and make-up a majority percentage of the sector, in financial terms.

4. The largest private donor in China last year gave the equivalent of GBP 374 million to his own private foundation. The top 100 most generous philanthropists donate an average of 1.3% of their personal wealth. 

5. The largest donor in 2011 was the China Education and Development Foundation, a “public foundation”, making donations totalling almost the equivalent of 100 million GBP. The largest sector receiving private donations were universities.

6. The China Foundation Center (CFC) was founded in 2010 by eight private Chinese foundations, with financial support from the Ford Foundation, with a stated objective to enhance transparency and impact in the social sector, through access to data and provision of information.

7. Only donations made to public foundations qualify for tax benefits. Donations to most other legally-registered non-profits and foundations are tax-free for the recipient organisation, but there are no benefits for the donor, in most cases.

8. Approximately two-thirds of charitable giving is from corporations. Of the Chinese companies listed on the stock exchanges in Shanghai or Shenzhen, for which data is publicly available, the median charitable spending was GBP 160 million per year, or just 0.02% of annual revenues.

9. Estimates of the number of grassroots and non-profit organisations, including both those registered with the authorities and those not registered, vary from 200,000 to one million. Local governments, such as in Shanghai and Beijing, have begun to outsource public services to local non-profits.

10. Legal registration is a big challenge for local non-profit organisations. In limited experiments, some local governments are beginning to relax the “dual registration” requirement in which non-profits have had to get a government agency sponsor before they can apply to register their organisation legally.

This article is tagged under:

  • International giving