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China Cares: Going on-line to support charities

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

09-20-2017 10:02 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview commentator and editor

Editor's Note: CCTV.com Panview presents 'China Cares' — series of special coverage on China's rural reforms, charities and comprehensive efforts to help those in poverty unlock their potential for success.

It's never been easier in China to donate cash for a worthy cause. By making mobile payments, such as WeChat pay, Alipay and Apple Pay, you can deliver money to a non-government organization (NGO) that is helping the less fortunate in the country.

The Chinese government implemented a Charity Law on September 1, 2016 that eased restrictions over fundraising and operations of registered charitable groups, while they must undergo stricter transparency rules and government financial oversight.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) has granted approval for 12 online platforms to promote charity campaigns, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao.com, news site portal - Sina.com and Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular social media APP.

Tencent takes the lead

The top three largest technology companies in China, known as BAT (Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings), have emerged as major players in online charity fundraising. Tencent Holdings has taken the top spot as most active donor.

The company's billionaire founder and CEO Ma Huateng, pledged to donate 2 percent of Tencent’s annual profits to charity. In April 2016, he offered 100 million shares, worth -US$2 bn. to his charity trust. He believes WeChat can transform China’s charities.

"For example, (as of Sept. 2016) three years ago, 90 percent of donations made on our online platform were done from PC (personal computer), now it's 90 percent mobile," Reuters quotes Ma as saying.

In 2015, Tencent donated RMB480 million to Tencent Charity Funds, accounting for 1.6 percent of the company's RMB29.12bn. profit that year.

9.9 - charity day

In 2015, Tencent had also launched '9.9 Charity Day in China.' All Chinese users of WeChat were encouraged to visit social welfare sites, such as orphanages, hospitals and shelters for abused women and children, as well as post photos for their friends and families to view.

By highlighting volunteerism on Social Media, more people may feel inspired to donate money and time to charitable organizations in the country.

(A poster of the 9.9 Charity Day  Photo from Internet)

(A poster of the 9.9 Charity Day Photo from Internet)

The idea appears to be catching on. More and more Chinese companies, celebrities and media outlets have jumped on the bandwagon. The positive publicity can also increase their customers and fanbase.

According to Beijing Review, Tencent’s goal: "Making charity, a lifestyle choice, connecting users offline with their activities online."

Meanwhile, Website firms can utilize cutting-edge technologies to bring more positive results to charity projects.

Alibaba joins in

Not to be outdone, China's largest e-Commerce giant Alibaba, has launched its charity drive, '9/5 Philanthropy Week.' The company has called for each participant to devote at least three hours to perform good deeds for the needy.

On September 11, the Hangzhou-based company announced that over 270 million acts of kindness had taken place during the week.

"We must shoulder the responsibility for our country and for the whole world in the future," Beijing Review quotes Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma as saying.

China's Charity Law provides added benefits for Alibaba and other donors. They can receive tax credits, along with a waiver on corporate income tax for contributions adding up to 12 percent of profits.

Companies are doing their part to help Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to end poverty in China by 2020.

Overcoming challenges and doubts

As of Sept. 5, 2017, the Chinese government has registered 2,142 NGOs in the nation while 520 of them are qualified to raise money publicly. The Chinese had donated over RMB 1bn. to charity, via online payments, which accounts for 80 percent of all donations in China.

Nevertheless, many Chinese are reluctant to donate, since they fear con artists are perpetrating scams and concerns have arisen that very little money reaches the hands of the poor.

"In the past, NGOs were concerned mostly about finding people who can donate," said Zhang Jianmin, deputy-secretary-general of China Women’s Development Fund. “But now (they must provide more information).”

Zhang added, "Donors need to know who will finally benefit from their donations and what the whole process is like, not only where the money goes."

Turning point for the better

"The exposure of complete and true information guarantees that participants have a good record, which earns public trust and also enables people to select better projects and helps them accomplish their goals," Beijing Review quotes Chen Yidan, sponsor and honorary chairman of Tencent Charity Foundation, as saying.

The Chinese government is making proper adjustments to prevent fraud in charitable giving. Many people would love to donate their time and money for a good cause, but when corrupt practices are rampant, they are unlikely to act with generosity.

President Xi's crackdown on corruption could also play a crucial role to motivate Chinese citizens to tap into their smartphones and send mobile payments to NGOs that are indeed trying to make China better with efforts to eradicate poverty in the world’s most populous nation.


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )


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