October 23, 2010; Source: Time | Thanks to China’s economic fortunes, the country is only second to the United States in the number of billionaires—at least 189 so far. But the amount of money being given to charity by billionaires and others pales in comparison with this country.
For instance, donations last year of $7.5 billion are a fraction of the $300 billion in annual giving in the United States. Although such high profile U.S. givers as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have visited with wealthy Chinese and participated in events designed to encourage more personal giving, “the awareness for philanthropy is still relatively low,” Deng Guosheng, director of Innovation and Social Responsibility Research Center at Tsinghua University, tells Time magazine.
Along with the lack of a cultural impetus to give, government policies also aren’t providing much motivation. While there is a national tax deduction for Chinese givers, that policy only applies to what the magazine describes as “the very few government-sanctioned charities, which are commonly blamed for lack of transparency or even corruption.” Fearing his pledge of $30 million to help low-income households would be diverted to other than charitable purposes, Cao Dewang, CEO of Fuyao Group, the biggest glass manufacturer in China, made the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation sign a contract pledging that the money go to the intended beneficiaries.
Also complicating the growth of Chinese philanthropy are laws that don’t allow private foundations to accept and distribute money, leaving them with little to do to help address social issues or demonstrate the potential for philanthropy to help do good in the country.—Bruce Trachtenberg