Chinese donors more comfortable at charity dinners but official donations drop

Chinese donors more comfortable at charity dinners but official donations drop

News (International)

Rich members of Chinese society are becoming more comfortable with being seen at charity dinners, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, giving through official channels has declined by 17%. Meanwhile, the number of not-for-profit organisations increased by 6% last year.

In 2010, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates invited 50 of China’s wealthiest citizens to a dinner to discuss philanthropy and a third declined the invitation. However, three years later, Chinese social media frequently features photographs of wealthy people attending charity dinners and celebrities promoting good causes.

However a recent study by China’s Social Science Academy found a 17% year-on-year drop in donations, and total giving is only 4% of the US level despite the fact that China now has more billionaires than the US.

Billionaire property developer Hui Ka Yan topped Forbes’ annual list of China’s top philanthropists for the second year running. He gave $68m to charity last year. Next on the list was Ren Yuanlin of Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, who donated $43 million. Third was Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, who gave $42 million. 

The Wall Street Journal suggests that the official donation figures don’t reflect the funds going to unofficial channels, which have grown in recent years after some state-run charities have been hit by scandals.

It says: “Businessmen are increasingly turning to nonprofits where they feel they can contribute. For example, the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology, a non-profit organization run by property developers, uses its $4.7 million of assets on projects such as waste-water treatment.”

The paper also says that more people are realising the wider benefits of philanthropy. “Philanthropy is on the rise in China as many realize that charitable giving can bring substantial benefits to their finances, careers and families. Being perceived as a caring entrepreneur can be helpful in a society that tends to resent those who get rich fast.”

A study by the Center for Family Heritage at China Europe International Business School found that entrepreneurs who rank higher in terms of philanthropy are less likely to suffer from government investigations, stock-price declines and reduced government subsidies.


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