This past July, the first China Charity Fair entitled “Development, Integration and Transparency” was held in Guangdong. Hosted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and five other government agencies, it was the first event of its kind boasting over 150,000 attendees from all over China. Foundations, corporations, non-profit organizations and provincial representatives flooded to Shenzhen, the economic hub of Guangdong province. There were organizations representing a wide spectrum of interests ranging from poverty alleviation and environmental protection to cultural research and healthcare. The Fair offered a platform on which organizations could share past experiences and success stories. Organizations, corporations, and donors were all encouraged to collaborate and form partnerships. Lectures based on industry research were also given over the course of the three days.
David Ng represented SVG at the China Charity Fair and returned with exciting observations.
A rise in interest and support of the social sector
One of the most interesting initial observations was seeing the main supporters of the event. Along with the central Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Guangdong local government was a primary financial benefactor. There was also a strong representation on behalf of the corporate world. This implies more and more companies are realizing the importance of corporate social responsibility and how CSR can affect their image and brand. Another interesting observation was the strong representation from college students and young professionals especially on behalf of the NPO sector. Due to budget constraints, many of these attendees volunteered both their time and resources to come to Shenzhen and make sure their organizations were represented. Amongst the attendees was a strong presence by the media as well as a rise in organizations providing research on the charity sector in China. Their reports look at current events in the social sector, interpret the latest policy changes, and how corporations can developed their CSR programs. The importance of the social sector is becoming more prevalent in China and the interest and support of this event is a strong indicator of this.
The resourceful non-profits are driven by passion
When you entered the different organization’s booths, you were immediately met with vibrant photos and videos of the work being done. It was surprising to see the depth of work being done with limited resources. Some booths offered visitors ways of experiencing what life is like with a disability while other had elaborate interactive projections. Many organizations offered ways of becoming more involved in the social sector. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, passion, and professionalism of the staff at the various booths. You could tell they were motivated by the people they are helping and the impact the work is having on those who can often not speak for themselves.
A specific section of the fair was a dedicated market place with 19 organizations from over 8 cities across China selling goods ranging from items like baked goods made by children with Autism to iPhone covers decorated by people with disabilities. This market reminded the public that these different groups of people often ostracized from their communities and plagued by stereotypes can contribute to society. The revenue from the items sold went directly back into the organizations and the people who made the goods.
Looking to the future
It is exciting to see the buzz and growth in the charity sector. The start of fairs such as these is the beginning of increased awareness and involvement. We hope that this is the start to less restrictive NPO regulations. It is amazing to see Guangzhou as it leads the country in the philanthropic sector. We look forward to next year’s fair and to see the great impact these organizations have.