Donation in China

During my trip of U.S., I discovered behind the prosperity of art, culture and science is the donation system. The schools are donated – Harvard is among the most well known donated schools. There are enough charity organizations to support the homeless, and the artists are well sponsored to contribute on music, painting, theatre, dancing… (Well. I don’t think movie industry is donation based.) If someone has a great idea to do research, it is easy for him/her to find some foundation and get the money they need.

In China, there is a long way to go. As consultant for Smiling Library, I posted two articles on how donation works in China (Night with Smiling Library, Any Advice for Smiling Library). No matter it was in 2004 or 2005, the path for charity organization like Smiling Library is not easy. There are legal constraints (they still don’t know if they can do it legally) and management constraints (how to operate it?)

Donation is a great way to distribute the common wealth of the society. It is better than government budget, which can reach to the smallest area in the society and there are less chances of corruption. More importantly, the joy of donating, seeing the change and get respect are the real meaning of being rich.

9 thoughts on “Donation in China

  1. I am not sure if you mean the common people or the rich guys. As i know, there are such donation in China. For example, some buildings in SJTU and FuDan are donated by someone. Maybe it is not popular as US.

    I believe donation is a good topic to discuss. For chinese, maybe need some concepts changes. Keep up the great work!

  2. Donation is indeed a good way of putting “extra” wealth back to community.

    As far as I know, that the situation is a little bit different in China.

    1. In America & Europe, donators will actually benefit from a tax cut when in China, they just started to discuss this issue after they realized how much Chinese enterprises and individuals had donated after the trunami last year.

    2. How trustful a charity can be? I have no clue… I once heard from a friend that sometimes the organizors will use a big chunck of money on other causes. A lot of charties in China still don’t have a clear financial planning or open booking for us to track…

    3. There are certain organizations that I would not, I repeat, would not deal with. Surprise! Red Cross is one of them.



  3. China has emerged from extreme communism to extreme capitalism in the last twenty-five years, accumulating of wealth is paramount among the younger generation not to mention of sharing.

    In Shanghai I saw people willing to spend $100k in extreme cuisine for one dinner to show off his wealth rather than giving to the charity. I think it will take much longer time for the people to change their view.


  4. billg is very generate on donation. according to ms policy, every penny ms employee donates, the company will donate the same amount as well. but it is a shame that chinese donation is always a lot behind the average.

  5. With the booming extreme capitalism in China, the standard to judge whether a person is successful or not becomes solely based on how rich or famous that person is. Making donation will decrease those people’s wealth and prevent them from becoming ‘successful’. So how can you expect them to do that?

  6. Mainland China only has had a little over 20 years or so of market reforms where people can accumulate individual wealth, so there’s not much of a history of personal donations in mainland China because there’s not much of a history of personal wealth. I think as time goes on, more and more of the well-off will be thinking about how to make use of their wealth for meaningful causes. But right now, pretty much all of the wealthy people in China are newly rich in the last few years and I bet few of them have had the time to think about what to do with their money in the long term.

  7. To contribute tangible time and relief to help the poor and helpless of the community which are the same people provided you with fame and fortune is regarded as a successful citizen.

    I am kind of sad to see the moral standard of China is approaching individualism.


  8. In the UK we don’t do much by way of donations either; universities like Oxford and Cambridge survive on a tiny fraction of what Harvard gets, yet they largely retain their high standards.

    Having said that…donation’s actually a very good way to go. I think the way it works in America is that there are many wealthy people, and it’s hard to award status based on wealth when there are so many. So the way you tell if someone’s important or not is based on what charities they support, and with how much. I understand that the board of governors of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, for example, is extremely hard to get onto.

    So to answer Shane’s question, it doesn’t prevent people being successful, it’s a sign of your success. In England we usually donate anonymously, so you can’t get famous as a charitable patron – but I have a sneaking suspicion that for once the American way has something going for it, as it seems to work to a good end.

  9. The big schools in China (Beida, Qinghua, and Fudan) get huge donations each year probably comparable to Harvard (when you adjust it for what that money can do in China)…

    As for charity groups, there are very few such groups that exist. In many hotels or big shopping malls/department stores, you will find donation boxes for the handicapped or the Chinese red cross or for orphans and thats about it. Very few people feel the need to make donations in China like they do in other countries around the world, its just not a part of the culture, yet…

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