Last year was a good year for giving in China with donations totaling 70 billion RMB ($10.7 billion US), double that of 2009. Over 80 percent of those billions came from within China. This dramatic rise in giving comes largely from the increasing number of Chinese wealthy who embraced philanthropy this past year—donations that the public and media praised and criticized for being outspoken, unprecedented, and/or unexpected. In April, Hurun published their annual Philanthropy List, which, along with other recent reports on wealthy donors, highlights some of the interesting trends in how the rich are giving and changes in the sector as a result.
Quantity and Quality
In 2010, the Hurun Philanthropy List had minimum donations at US $1.6 million, which rose to US $2 million this year. On average, the lists’ philanthropists gave 1.5 percent of their personal wealth. As Rupert Hoogewerf, creator of the report, said, “there is still plenty of skepticism as to the motivations behind these donations, but–by and large–the philanthropists are beginning to make their mark.”
Many philanthropists tend to stay on the safe side with their giving, a wise choice considering the scrutiny of the wealthy and the major slip-ups that have occurred in the recent past with high profile actors Zhang Ziyi and Jackie Chan. In an effort to have more control over their donations (and also due to the large sums they give) forty-five of the 100 philanthropists have their own private foundations through which (hopefully) informed staff can research reliable projects. Chinese wealthy also continue to give large sums to the Red Cross Association of China, the country’s most high profile charity that also specializes in disaster relief. While it might be safe, this strategy does mean grassroots NGOs rarely benefit from the newly opened wallets of the rich.
The majority of donations for Hurun’s philanthropists were to disaster relief, which is unsurprising considering 2010 saw the Yushu Earthquake, mudslides in Zhouqu County, and drought in the Southwest. Education was a close second followed by poverty alleviation projects and cultural heritage. Environment and healthcare were at the bottom of the list.