The second annual China Charity Fair was held last weekend in Shenzhen and we sent two of our team members down there to take part in the action.
There were over 800 NGOs and foundations present hailing from all over China. While the majority came from the major cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, there was an increase in attendance of organizations from the western region like Chengdu, Guizhou, and Kunming. With the high frequency of natural disasters, most of these larger NGOs from the coastal cities discussed how they have been reaching out and bringing more resources to these western cities. There was a smaller representation of organizations from the central region like Jiangxi, Anhui, and Hebei. Organizations from this region attribute the small presence to the lack of attention from the general public and deficit of resources and support from the government.
In comparison to last year, there was a higher volume of organizations from second tier cities such as Nanjing, Wuhan and Changsha. This is because many of these organizations have been in incubation programs set up by government entities or NPI for the past 2-3 years and are now implementing programing on their own. While there was a strong presence from these organizations last weekend, most of them are in their beginning phases of development.
There was representation from a wide spectrum of subsectors within the social sector. More and more organizations and individuals are using innovative approaches in combination with various forms of social media to raise awareness to their cause. Campaigns such as Free Lunch, Wardrobe of Love, and Walking Eggs were also present at the Fair. Originally led by famous individuals under the support of different foundations in China, these individuals used their fame and social media to encourage the public to donate to their campaign. For example, Wardrobe of Love was started by two famous new anchors who auctioned their clothing and used the funds to buy new clothes for children in impoverished areas. This is just one example of one of the many campaigns that went viral and had its own booth at the Fair. While it was palpable how crucial the use of social media is for NGOs, many organizations agree that they do not have the bandwidth or resources to implement well-run campaigns or official social media accounts like these campaigns started by famous individuals.
The geographic layout of the fair changed from last year. Operating foundations were located with NGOs. This was beneficial for attendees as operating foundations operate much like NGOs in that they typically implement their own programming and have similar infrastructures to NGOs. There was also a stronger presence of NGOs working on environmental protection or disaster relief. Unlike last year, both of these subsectors had their own sections. The growth of NGOs focused on environmental protection can be attributed to the current rise in attention focused on environmental concerns and with the rise in natural disasters, it is understandable that an increase in organizations focused on disaster prevention and relief was seen.
Though there are many large universities starting their own research institutes, the Sichuan University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University are the first to work in collaboration to start an institute that uses an academic approach in researching prevention and post disaster relief methodology. The Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction is the first research institutes nestled within a university to focus on disaster management and relief.
There was a rise in organizations focused on improving the efficiency of the social sector present at the Fair. For example, the Chinese Organization for Rare Disorders has been working to develop a close-knit alliance between organizations focused on supporting lesser-known rare disorders. As the groups of NGOs form, they can rely on each other for shared resources, information, and support.
Though there were not many capacity building organizations present at the Fair, their presence was palpable as many of them gave free seminars on various topics. For example, NPO gave a seminar on the value of third-party evaluation while the Peter F. Drucker NPO Learning Center delivered a seminar on the management, motivation, and leadership training of social workers. NPI and CBAC also gave several seminars over the course of the Fair.
There was a small representation of corporations with booths presenting their CSR programs. Many of the corporations present were affiliated with a government entity. HSBC stood out as having a well-run and long-term programming with sustainability as a core pillar to their strategic planning. They have been running programs with the consultation of Corporate Citizenship in Action and in collaboration with local and international NGOs all over China for over 10 years. They have been working with Heifer International implementing poverty alleviation programming, migrant children education with Western Sunshine, environmental protection with WFF and community development with NPI to name a few.
Many corporations who have started their own foundations, which implement their own charity programs, had a booth. Tencent, Amway, and Alibaba are just a few that are following this trend. While these companies tend to run their own programs, they typically hire third parties to management information security and budgeting.
The event was well covered with more than 20 media outlets in attendance at this year’s fair. We believe the interest in these type of events will only grow in years to come.