Charitable giving in China

25 Oct

Showing some of our clothes prior to donation

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am involved with my University alumni group here in Shanghai.  We have different events – some connected to recruiting, some with welcoming visitors from the University, different networking events, we have the game watches (of course!) and for the first time we had a barbeque/charity event.

The University of Notre Dame puts a big emphasis on charitable giving – whether you are giving your time, resources or money and we wanted to try to connect that into China as well.  It wasn’t quite as straightforward as we expected.  There is no official designation of a charity or an organization that tracks and monitors charities so we had to do all of our own due diligence.

Last year there was a huge scandal with the Chinese arm of the Red Cross where a wealthy young lady who claimed to work for them posted photos of herself in very expensive cars and with famous brand bags and clothes.  The credibility of the Red Cross took a nose dive and it made us all the more skeptical about published claims.

Our initial thought was to do something connected with education which fits the mission of the university, but as we looked for groups it was pretty difficult.  We found some that would allow us to purchase books, but there was no guarantee where they would go.  There was another group that said we could teach English to migrant children, but we had to commit so much time and we had to pay a “training fee” that was pretty expensive before we could go to the school.

Eventually we settled on another type of charity called Buy42(善尚网) – a website that resells almost new and gently used clothes and uses disabled individuals as volunteers.  We had the barbeque as well to incent folks to come and collected two big boxes of clothing.   We feasted on sausages, chicken wings and kabobs and watched a replay of the Notre Dame vs. Michigan State game and also made our contributions.

The charity sent two volunteers to give us an introduction which is a new concept in China.  There is no Goodwill or Saint Vincent DePaul in China – which if you think about it makes sense, so they are trying to start something new here.  I wish them luck and hope that our donations make a difference.

Do you have any impressions about charities in China?  What type of donations do you like to make – time, money or resources?  Any other charity ideas for our group in the future?

8 Responses to “Charitable giving in China”

  1. sarahinguangzhou October 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    No I’m not sure the Chinese generally get the concept of charity. Maybe they feel that their only duty is to their family and not to help the general population? Most of the organizations I came across were actually run by foreigners, mostly affiliated to the church.

    • gkm2011 October 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      Me too, but this one was very local and young people, trying something new. I do feel that most middle aged people don’t seem open to the concept, it will take at least two more generations I think.

  2. thirdeyemom October 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Interesting post! I’ve read a lot about how Gates and Warren Buffett are trying to involve some of China’s billionaires in getting them to give back more of their money and become more philanthropic. China definitely needs it as there are so many inequities there.

    • gkm2011 October 26, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      That sounds consistent with what I have been hearing. The challenge is, which I touched on in the post, is that for the few charities that do exist there is no monitoring system so all the due diligence falls back on the giver. Also I think there is a fear that the government will require kickbacks or put restrictions on scope. Let’s see what happens.

      • thirdeyemom October 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

        Interesting! Keep researching it and writing on it as I’d love to know more….

  3. compostingwords November 2, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    This is a very interesting post. Having been connected to non-profit work for years I can say I have never thought about charitable giving in China. I wonder if there are any women’s groups or micro-financing groups?

    • gkm2011 November 3, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      I believe there are women’s groups that I have heard of, though have not yet participated in. Migrant women often spend long times away from their family and partners. I would guess that micro-financing does exist, but I haven’t been exposed to it yet. I got some interesting comments on this post, so as I learn more I will post about it. Thanks for the comment.


  1. Buying desks – a charity project in Guizhou with ND Shanghai « 中国 Jumble - November 29, 2012

    […] and coordination.  Under our able leader, Monica, we have held game watches, Happy Hours, done a clothing donation event, welcomed students and entertained […]

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