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Philanthropy and Policy in China…

August 3, 2010

I think most of us can affirmatively say that we give philanthropically with a little bit of a “bottom line” in mind. It could be something like tax deductible donations or volunteering at the local hospital for community service hours.

So it’s no surprise that policy issues and the law actually do affect philanthropic actions. This is the focus of an article over at Philanthropy 2173: The Business of Giving. China launched a center particularly for researching philanthropy over in Beijing and it’s interesting to hear (or read) that not only is the largest country in the world funding a project like this, but one of the richest countries in the world is as well. Not to mention taking on the normally conservative mentality re: giving and charity in China — it’s a culture thing, I’m telling you!

Yu Pengnian

Still, with the advent of this type of organization or research project, perhaps there will be bigger and brighter things for China’s philanthropic sector in the future. After all, Chinese real estate mogul, Yu Pengnian, has already donated pretty much all of his rather sizeable fortune (somewhere upwards of $1 billion) to his own charitable organization. Which sounds shady, but it’s not – his own foundation does a great deal of good charitable work. I dug a bit deeper and, you’ll find out that Yu’s own relatives (who were expecting a chunk of that sizeable portion) were rather… “shocked,” to say the least, when they found out about their elder’s generosity. Plus, the man is pretty well on in years so it’s not as though he’s going to be able to earn another $1 billion anytime soon.

Hopefully a government-sponsored research project in China will pave the way to more overall transparency in charitable organizations, which will lead to more trust and more giving.  As we have discussed here, a distrust among some South Asians of the charitable sector is one of the things that stops or causes hesitation about philanthropic giving.

Do you think South Asian philanthropic organizations could do with a greater infusion of government “oversight” (to use the term VERY loosely) to measure their results? Does it depend on whether we’re talking about South Asian charities in North America or in South Asia?  Or do you think they’re all better off alone?

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