Following our post about GONGO’s below, I found this interesting perspective in an article from NPI today from Xu Yongguang, Director of Narada Foundation, one of the few private foundations in China, about the nature of GONGOs (translated from Chinese):
When GONGOs were set up in the early days, they were designed to be reliant on the government. The good thing about being reliant is that costs are very low, low to a point that when projects are running sometimes the overhead is actually zero.
Yet the problem is that over 70 billion RMB (over US$10Bn) of donations in China go to GONGOs, which use the donated funds to implement government goals and policies. In other words, it is government officials who are doing the work or at least civil servants, in each and every case. The direction the world is going with these matters is that governments aboard usually purchase services from grassroots nonprofits in their countries. Yet in China, it’s totally flipped. Right now in China it’s GONGOs and other charitable entities that purchase services from the government. They don’t have a choice and have to do it this way. The foundations themselves don’t have legs, and there are simply not enough strong grassroots NGO entities. This is something worth reflecting on.
Indeed. Though GONGOs do great work in China and often have access that other charities lack, there is the issue of whether a charity should have more independence from the government, not to mention the lack of transparency into how funds are often spent. Still, it is by far the easiest place to give donations in China. What do you think are other upsides and downsides of the GONGO model?