From GONGOs to the Charity Law, 30 Years of Chinese Philanthropy

公益资本论

中文 English

This article was originally published by 公益资本论. This is an abridged translation.

 

introduction 分行

If a party or government cadre from the 70s travelled to the 21st century, and they were able to see today’s philanthropic sector in China, perhaps they would pronounce the same phrase uttered by the old party cadre who visited the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in the early 90s and couldn’t believe his eyes – ‘we strove so hard for years, just to go back to pre-revolutionary times overnight’.

People in those days had a completely different frame of reference. The main attitudes of the time were: “capitalist philanthropy is hypocritical”, “philanthropy is something that governments should deal with, and only when governments are unable to deal with it do philanthropists appear” and “the increasing popularity of philanthropy is not a good thing because it means the inequality gap is widening”.

For a long time, the People’s Republic of China was wary of capitalism and private business. The government monopolized all public sectors including education, health and social welfare. Non-government subjects were not only forbidden to engage in philanthropic activities, but were also seen as criminals if they did.

Yet, there were always vulnerable groups that needed help. What could be done to address their needs? The solution at the time was that the government oversaw all kinds of work related to poverty-alleviation, and they tried to make sure that every citizen was fed, and every child received an education.

Such practices persisted for years until the 80s, when China’s financial capabilities could no longer support them.

The turning point came in December 1978, when China held the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, marking the beginning of the Reform and Opening-up Policy. The shift in macro-politics helped to prompt the birth of several philanthropic organizations.

July, 1981 – The China Children and Teenagers’ Fund is created. It is the first philanthropic organization with its own legal qualifications in China.

1984 -1985 – Led by high-level officials, the China Foundation for Disabled Persons and the China Green Foundation are founded.

In the early years, all philanthropic organizations were founded and led by the government, and were therefore often referred to as GONGOs (government organized non-governmental organization). Similar to state-owned enterprises, the organizations enjoyed all kinds of favorable policies, and staff members were all civil servants. Charities founded during this period are scarce in number. Since everyone was new to philanthropy, fledgling organizations at the time grew very slowly.

Starting in September 1988, the State Council passed the Management on Foundations, stipulating the nature of philanthropic foundations, conditions of establishment, financing, use of funds and management. From then on, modern philanthropy began to take root in mainland China.

December, 1988 – the China Women’s Development Foundation is created.

March, 1989 – the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) are created. The latter started the renowned Hope Project.

“Our country was very poor back then. Many children were unable to afford their tuition fees, and each year there were one million children who discontinued their studies. Since government funds were limited, each teacher in rural schools was only allowed one piece of chalk”, says Xu Yongguang, initiator of the Hope Project, a milestone public welfare project in China’s charity history. He also served as the secretary-in-general of CYDF during that time.

Government-organized public-fundraising foundations represented by the CYDF made great contributions towards helping the vulnerable. They were also the product of monopoly and bureaucratization. As reputed scholar Zi Zhongyu puts it: “they were an abnormal kind of organization that came up during the transition period.” With increased demand in the philanthropic sector, “they became an obstacle for the development of private philanthropy.”

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Hope Project’s famous “Big Eyes” girl Su Mingjuan

Photo Credit to Xie Hailong

Economic reform during the 90s created a lot of momentum, but it was not until June 1999 that the ninth National People’s Congress passed the Charitable Donation Law of the People’s Republic of China(《中华人民共和国公益事业捐赠法》)as the first law of its kind.

In the same year He Daofeng, the entrepreneur who previously worked at the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CPAD), returned to CPAD and took charge of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA). During his time as head of the foundation, he launched a marketization reform, refusing government subsidies and trying to manage CFPA as an enterprise in which staff were no longer civil servants.

After around ten years, CFPA had become one of the best philanthropic foundations in China — or even the best, as many believe. Even now, there has not yet appeared another GONGO like CFPA. The foundation became a crane standing among chickens. As Tsinghua University Professor Deng Guosheng puts it, “CFPA’s reform carried the obvious signs of one-man heroics, and can’t really be considered representative.”

It was always difficult to implement government reform, not unlike the twists and turns of state enterprise reform. Philanthropic development had to wait for the power of civil society to manifest itself.

As the world walked into the 21st century, China introduced its first regulations which aimed to encourage the development of non-public fundraising foundations. The Administrative Regulations on Foundations is believed to have been an ice-breaking document for non-governmental charities.

December, 2014 – The Ai You Foundation, formerly known as the Huaxia Foundation, becomes the first registered (regional-level) private foundation in China.

June, 2005 – China’s first national-level non-public placement foundation, the Heungkong Charitable Foundation, is created.

Also in 2005, the annual government work report first spoke of “supporting the cause of charity”. This should have boosted the development of the charity sector. However some regional governments added the words “as a second source of tax revenue” and started to forcefully apportion gains and seek donations, so that charity was instead tainted by power and capital.

Long-standing abuse of power was first exposed during the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. The earthquake, the first national disaster to incite widespread citizen participation, ignited people’s enthusiasm and donations. As there were no credible and accredited private foundations, more than 80% of the 76 billion yuan in donations went to government accounts. Though it is believed that the government didn’t misappropriate the money, a lack of transparency and accounting confusion made many donors discontented with the government-dominated donation system of the time.

The public’s discontent with the donation system can be properly illustrated with the example of Jia Duobao. The herbal tea company donated one hundred million yuan to earthquake victims in Wenchuan. Later the company made an inquiry into their donation, but the foundation that received the money was unable to explain its whereabouts, which made the donors quite unhappy. Then in 2010, when an earthquake struck Yushu in Qinghai province, Central China Television (CCTV) held a fundraising event and stipulated beforehand that all donations must go to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Red Cross Society of China and the China Charity Federation. Jia Duobao donated 110 million yuan this time, but insisted the money go to CFPA. Authorities didn’t accept Jia Duobao’s conditions, and as a result, all donations went to the Qinghai Provincial Government.

Today it is still commonly believed that 2008 was the first year of a new era in China’s philanthropy sector, because the Wenchuan earthquake taught millions of Chinese people a lesson in philanthropy. From then on philanthropy became an increasingly hot word, no longer only discussed in academic fields. In addition, Chinese donors also learned how to actively research the destination of their donations instead of passively handing over their money to unknown accounts.

Distrust in government-organized philanthropy peaked in 2011 with the Guo Meimei incident , which aroused public uproar. The domino effect of social media displayed its destructive power in the philanthropy sector for the first time. Chinese charities encountered unprecedented skepticism, but this time the unfriendly voices came not only from the authorities, but also from ordinary people.

For many in the industry, the period between 2011 and 2012 was the hardest time for China’s philanthropy sector. The Red Cross Society of China took a huge blow and many private organizations were asked to present their financial records when raising funds.

Despite an investigation that proved the Red Cross Society of China innocent, people lost trust in GONGOs. As a result, when the Lushan Earthquake occurred in April of 2013, nearly all GONGOs were put into the doghouse. In stark comparison the One Foundation, a private foundation founded by film actor Jet Li, raised 350 million yuan from more than 6 million individual donors.

The rise of the One Foundation and many other private foundations that sprung up at the time was connected to a series of favorable policies in the “post-Guo Meimei era”.

March, 2013 –  The Institutional Reform and Transformation of Government Functions (《国务院机构改革和职能转变方案》) is released. The regulation is considered to be a breakthrough for social organizations. One of the highlights is that social organizations including charities are no longer required to first apply for the approval of professional supervisory units, but they can instead register with the Ministry of Civil Affairs directly.

September, 2013 – The State Council publishes Guidelines for Purchasing Social Services from Social Forces

(《关于政府向社会力量购买服务的指导意见》)

November, 2013 – The Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening the Reform (《中共中央关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定》) is published. The report speaks of “vitalizing social organizations” and “completing a tax-free system of philanthropy”.

Still, the rapid development of the philanthropy sector could not offset the public’s increasing skepticism towards charity. This skepticism was not only aimed at GONGOs, but also at private foundations. 2014 was a year full of controversies.

January – The Smile angel Foundation is accused of affiliate transactions.

April – The One Foundation is criticized for “spending money too slowly”.

March – Orphan Yang Liujin receives donations that are more than abundant (超限募捐), stirring controversy among the public.

Meanwhile a degree of civic participation, long anticipated, also began to show itself, best represented by the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Like in the United States, the Ice Bucket Challenge was quite popular for a time. Many foundations took the chance to raise money and received unprecedented support. For the first time, people were convinced that large-scale public participation in philanthropy could happen in China as in western countries. Encouraged by people’s enthusiastic participation, the Tencent Foundation launched the 99 Philanthropy Day, successfully mobilizing over two million people to donate 230 million yuan in just three days.

At a time when everyone can make their opinion heard and public sentiment can be multiplied by orders of magnitude online, the still fledgling philanthropic sector faces both great opportunities and a grave crisis. At this time the Charity Law, after a long period of lobbying and preparation, went into effect in China.

March, 2016. The 12th National People’s Congress passes the Charity Law. This way charity organizations of all stripes, which have been developing in a disorderly fashion for over 30 years, finally have a law that covers them.

The Law was acclaimed by many in the sector, including Xu Yongguang, deputy president of CYDF, who sees it as a way to restrict the government from interfering in the fundraising process, sanctioning any form of apportioning donations that does not respect the rights of the public. This will rely, however, on every citizen and organization making use of the Charity Law to protect their rights.

Further reading:

From Wenchuan to Lushan: An Overview of Disaster Relief NGO Efforts

Xu Yongguang: the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” in China is not “unpleasant”

Charity Law for Dummies

What is the New Pattern and New Vision for Chinese Charity in 2016?

从官办慈善到人人公益,我们走过了了不起的30年 | 迷你版《中国公益简史》

来源:公益资本论(微信号gongyizibenlun)

作者:黎宇琳

一直觉得,写史是一件很酷的事情。

看到《人类简史》,我会想写《公益简史》;看到《明朝那些事儿》,我会想写《公益那些事儿》;看到《激荡三十年》,我会想写一个公益行业的《激荡三十年》。我想写一本能让人在轻松中了解公益的书,一部好看的历史。

2016年12月,《中国慈善家》的章伟升同学邀我写封面,让我在《慈善法》出台之际,梳理一下公益行业这些年的发展,我想,就从这里开始吧,先写一篇迷你版的《公益简史》——让大伙在7分钟左右的时间里看完中国公益的30年。

 

(此版本比《中国慈善家》刊发的略长,属于“细节增强版”)

如果一名活跃在上世纪70年代的党政干部穿越到现在,看到今天的公益慈善行业,他没准会发出“辛辛苦苦几十年,一夜回到解放前”的感叹——就像是90年代初到深圳特区视察后表示接受不了的老派官员。

 

因为那个年代的人相信的,是一套与今天完全不同的故事体系。那时的主流观点是:“资本主义的慈善是虚伪的”、“慈善是政府的工作,政府无力去做,才由慈善家代劳”、“慈善越来越多不是好事,意味着社会越来越不公”。

 

要知道,我国长期实行计划经济,国家几乎包办了教育、卫生、社会保障和社会福利等社会事务的各个方面,“慈善”也是“计划”的一部分,是行政垄断下的一种政府权力。在那个多养几只鸡都要被割“资本主义尾巴”的年代,大规模的民间慈善岂止不被允许,简直要犯政治错误。

 

但是,社会上总有需要救助的弱势群体,怎么办呢?当时的解决方案是:政府要把扶贫济困都管起来,不能让一个公民没饭吃,不能让一个小孩没书读。

 

这样的做法坚持了很多年,但到了上个世纪80年代,国家财政撑不住了。

 

从官办慈善开始

 

一切都要从党的十一届三中全会开始说起。

 

1978年12月,那次标志着“改革开放”的大会不仅为中国带来了私人企业,也同步催生了一批慈善组织:

1981年7月
中国儿童少年基金会成立,是中国第一个具有独立法人资格的公益组织
1984年-1985年
中国残疾人福利基金会、中国绿化基金会等组织也在政府要员的主导下先后成立

最早的一批慈善组织,基本由政府主办,被称为“GONGO”(政府主管的非政府组织),与国有垄断企业的性质十分相似:享受各种特殊政策,工作人员都是从国家领工资的公务员。这个时期成立的慈善组织,属于试水阶段,数量十分稀少,大家都不知道该怎么干,机构的发展非常缓慢。

 

直到1988 年9 月,国务院常务会议通过《基金会管理办法》,对公益基金会的性质、建立条件、筹款方式、基金的使用和管理等一系列事项作出规定,现代公益的种子,才算是在中国大陆长出萌芽。

 

有几家很牛的基金会就在那时成立:

1988年12月
中国妇女发展基金会成立
1989年3月
中国扶贫基金会(下称“中扶贫”)、中国青少年发展基金会(下称“青基会”)成立,同年10月,后者发起闻名遐迩的希望工程

“希望工程”标志性的大眼睛,苏明娟,多少人还记得她

“那时候,国家非常穷,很多孩子交不起学费,每年失学的孩子有一百万,政府资金有限,农村校长管的经费是给老师一支粉笔,两支粉笔都没有。”时任青基会秘书长、希望工程发起人徐永光说,当时,一批有政府背景的基金会,为公众参与公共事务开辟了一个机会,动员社会资源和力量,弥补公共财政的不足。

 

希望工程是一个里程碑式的公益项目,生发出很多脍炙人口的故事,其中最为传奇的,要数邓小平化名“老共产党人”为其捐款一事。

1992年6月,北京后圆恩寺甲1号(青基会会址)来了两名军人,要捐款3000元。工作人员请他们留下名字,军人说:“首长特别交代,不写名字。”工作人员一再坚持,军人才说:“如果一定要留名,就请写‘一位老共产党员’吧。”当时,正好有军人在青基会做志愿者,见了悄悄议论:“看起来像是邓家人。”于是工作人员尾随捐赠者,记下了车号,最后确定,那位“老共产党员”,真就是邓小平。

 

事实上,在“92南巡”之后的邓小平有着巨大的政治影响力,但是,他并未动用权力搞摊派,而是选择自己私下捐钱。这个故事被徐永光在多个场合引用,以阐述“慈善属于民间”的进步观点。

 

应该说,以青基会为代表的官办公募基金会在扶贫济困、帮助弱势群体方面做了大量工作,功不可没,但是,那毕竟是计划经济与行政垄断的历史的遗留,资源垄断化、管理官僚化的情况难免,用知名学者资中筠先生的话来说,是“过渡时期一种不正常的机制”,随着社会的发展与公益市场上供需双方快速增长,“实际上起到了阻碍民间慈善事业的作用”。

 

新公益冲击旧体制

 

90年代,经济改革激荡起伏,但是非营利行业的发展少人问津,政策也没有提供什么驱动力,直到1999年6月,第九届全国人大通过《中华人民共和国公益事业捐赠法》,新中国才有了第一部捐赠法律。

 

《捐赠法》出台的同年,出自国务院扶贫办的企业家何道峰“重返”扶贫办,以志愿者的身份实际执掌中扶贫,在一家官办基金会内部开启了“去行政化”的改革,探索一条不拿政府补贴,不占人员编制,像企业一样运作,靠好项目拿社会捐款的市场化道路。

 

十余年后,中扶贫成了中国最好的公益基金会之一,在许多公益界人士看来,甚至可以把“之一”去掉。

2010年,在与知名慈善家曹德旺的“2亿对赌”中,这家基金会硬气而又稳健的作风令人印象深刻。当年,西南五省大旱,曹德旺捐出2亿元,但条件是,中扶贫要保证在6个月之内,让9万多户农民都拿到捐款,差错率要低于1%,管理费用不超过3%—这堪称企业家向公益界提出的,迄今为止最苛刻的要求。中扶贫接招,执行,完成任务,一举奠定其江湖地位。

 

千禧年前后,中国公益的原野上长出了中扶贫这样的大树,但环顾四周,在很长一段时间里,这片原野实在是疏落得有些可怜。中扶贫成了一个孤本,直至2016年末,官办基金会的体系里也没能产出另一个差堪比拟的案例,按照清华大学教授邓国胜的说法,其改革“有明显的个人英雄主义色彩,从某种程度上讲,不具有代表性。”

 

公家的改革向来艰难,如同国企改革的一波三折,公益慈善也需要等待来自民间的动力。

 

时间就这样来到2004年,这是一个重要的年份。当年6月,《基金会管理条例》正式施行。该条例首次提出鼓励非公募基金会发展的意见,被视为民间慈善的破冰性文件。自此,中国民间基金会终于登上历史舞台。

 

政策是公益行业第一生产力的说法再次得到验证。

2014年12月
爱佑慈善基金会的前身北京市华夏慈善基金会成为国内第一家注册成立的非公募基金会
2005年6月
广东企业家翟美卿创办了“香江社会救助基金会”。(有意思的是,在很多资料里,香江被称为中国首个全国性非公募基金会,这一说法也没错,因为爱佑在成立之初,是地方性基金会,香江拿到了民政部“001”的批号,是首家“全国性”民间基金会。)

这一时期,官办基金会动作频频,民间基金会也陆续成立,形势看似一片大好,但实则暗流涌动,许多不正之风开始出现,为日后慈善丑闻的大爆发埋下了伏笔。

 

2005年,政府工作报告首次提出“支持慈善事业”,这本是一件好事,但各级政府在后面加了几个字,变成“支持慈善事业,发展第二税源”,这就走歪。许多地方政府挥舞红旗,发动“慈善风暴”,上级动员,强行摊派,以权谋捐,“慈善”开始大规模地染上权力与金钱的色彩。

长时间的积弊,在2008年的汶川地震中首次展现在众人面前。在那场罕见的灾难面前,民间的捐赠热情被点燃,但是,当时缺乏具有国家级别公信力的民间慈善机构(他们也没有公募资格),于是760亿民间捐款,超过8成进入了政府账户,虽说政府也没浪费,大抵都用于救灾,但是,账目混杂不清、缺乏“售后服务”的官办慈善体系让许多捐赠者产生了不满。

 

在这次地震中,加多宝公司为汶川灾民捐了1亿元。其后,该公司想要了解1亿元到底用于何处,但是接受捐赠的机构却无法解释清楚,这让加多宝方面很不满意。尽管在事后的审计中,汶川地震捐款并未发现贪腐情况,但对于捐款人而言,善款去向不明的结果依然让人难以接受。

 

这场“恩怨”延续到了2010年的玉树地震中。据说,当时中央电视台办了一场募捐,事先声明,这次募款只能捐给民政部、红十字会、中华慈善总会。加多宝公益又捐了1.1亿元,但拒绝交给上述三家官方机构,而执意要捐给中国扶贫基金会。有关部门不答应,后来干脆直接下文,要求捐款一律汇缴给青海省人民政府。

 

今天,人们普遍认为汶川地震是中国公益的“元年”,原因就在于,汶川作为一个巨大的历史舞台,对数以万计的公民与企业完成了一次卓有成效的公益启蒙,自此之后,“公益”不再是知识分子圈层里生僻的名词,而成了越来越高频的社会热词,人们也不再是对善款去向漠不关心、对被摊派下来的募捐任务唯唯诺诺的被动公民。

互联网下的多重博弈

 

如果说,汶川、玉树地震中的质疑声音只是暴风雨的前奏,那么2011年的“郭美美事件”则将民间对官办慈善的不信任推向了一个极致,它的关键词是“炫富”。

社交媒体的“链式效应”首次在公益慈善领域展现其强大的威力,此前散落民间、对官办慈善体系星星点点的不满汇成洪流,并泛滥成灾,“慈善”在中国遭遇前所未有的质疑。这次的反对声浪不在庙堂之上,生发于人民群众的汪洋大海中。在许多公益从业者看来,2011至2012年间是这个行业最艰难的时期,红会遭重创自不待言,许多民间NGO在募款时也被不信任的公众要求“查账本”。

尽管后来的调查表明,郭美美跟红会没有直接联系,但并不足以挽回公众对官办慈善的信任。2013年4月,芦山地震爆发,与官办慈善机构不受待见形成对比的是,超过600万人次向民间公益机构壹基金捐赠救灾款物共计3.5亿元。

壹基金,中国民间的标志性公益组织,由影视明星李连杰创立,脱胎于“中国红十字会李连杰壹基金计划”。2010年,适逢广东推行“小政府、大社会”的行政体制改革,李连杰创办独立机构“深圳壹基金公益基金会”,并以“特事特批”的方式成为国内首家民间公募基金会,此后,壹基金高歌猛进,直至芦山地震后的2014年。

 

壹基金的崛起,以及同时期如雨后春笋般出现的民间公益组织,离不开“后郭美美时代”政府高层一系列的利好政策。

2013年3月
《国务院机构改革和职能转变方案》发布,明确提出公益慈善类等四大类公益组织可直接向民政部门依法申请登记,不再需要业务主管单位审查同意。其中,“探索一业多会”、“放开四类组织登记”等要点,被媒体视为社会组织管理制度的重大改革突破
9月
国务院办公厅印发《关于政府向社会力量购买服务的指导意见》
11月
慈善法立法程序启动;同月,《中共中央关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定》发布,明确传达了高层对“现代慈善”的态度,其中“完善慈善捐助减免税制度”、“激发社会组织活力”的表态令业界鼓舞

但是,在苛刻的互联网上,提速发展的公益慈善行业仍不能满足公民日益增长的期待。社交媒体上无孔不入的质疑,不独针对官办机构,民间组织也不能幸免。2014年是一个争议多发的年份:

1月
嫣然天使基金被指关联交易
4月
壹基金被指芦山地震的善款“花得太慢”
5月
“独居男孩”杨六斤的超限募捐令舆论一片哗然

然而,2014年的公益江湖,也并非一地鸡毛,学者们期盼已久的“公民参与”,也在当年意外地打开了局面。

8月,漂洋过海而来的“冰桶挑战”首次为大陆带来“人人公益”的风潮。当时,美国一名网友发起了一个基于社交媒体的有趣“挑战”,号召参与者在网络上发布自己被冰水浇遍全身的视频内容,并指定他人来参与这一挑战,被邀请者如拒绝,可以选择为一种罕见病捐款100美元。

 

这样通俗有趣、便于参与的“挑战”不仅在美国很受欢迎,在中国大陆也风靡一时,公益组织纷纷借势募捐,收获了前所未有的支持。人们首次确信,在西方国家人人参与公益的盛况,在中国也并非没有可能。

受此鼓舞,腾讯公益慈善基金会在2015年9月推出“99公益日”, 以“1:1”配捐的方式直接“放大”网民对公益组织的捐款。3天内,该活动动员205万人次,募得善款共计2.3亿元,让“人人公益”的风潮真正变成支付平台上的真金白银。

 

这是一个人人皆可表达意见的资讯时代,人们的喜、恶、爱、憎都在互联网上以几何级数被扩大。对于基础依旧脆弱的公益慈善行业来说,这是一个巨大的机遇,也是一次深重的危机,就在这个时候,“怀胎十年”的《慈善法》出生了。

 

2016年3月,第十二届全国人大通过《中华人民共和国慈善法》。野蛮生长30余年,只能从各种政策、法规、意见中寻找动力的公益慈善行业总算是“有法可依”,日后的诸多争议,起码有望达成法律上的共识。

 

业内人士对此寄予厚望,徐永光说,慈善法明确限制政府权力进入慈善募捐,任何不尊重公众权利的募捐摊派将依法受到处罚。但是,这要靠什么?要靠每一个公民、每一个企业运用《慈善法》,抵制这种行为,保护自己的权利。

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