NGOs Have a Role in Organizing Society: An Interview with Michael Busgen

China Development Brief, No.55 (Fall 2012)

中文 English

CDB Editor Liu Haiying interviews Michael Busgen, long-time observer of China’s NGO sector, who offers some refreshing commentary on the past, present and future of China’s NGOs.

Introduction: In 1996, Michael Busgen joined China’s Doctors Without Borders disaster relief project. Soon after, he left Doctors Without Borders to work in the China branch of Misereor (the German development agency), about the same time that NGOs in China began to flourish. Ten years later, from 2006 – 2011, he went to work in two Chinese NGOs: the Beijing Capacity Building & Assessment Center (CBAC) and Non Profit Incubator (NPI). While there, he worked on building the capacity of Chinese NGOs. This was a period when resources began flowing to Chinese NGOs on a large scale, and a clear shift occurred in values and the direction of development work. Now, he is working in another international organization – the Heinrich Böll Foundation. In his 16 years of experience, Busgen has experienced two important stages of China’s non-profit sector, and in this exclusive interview with CDB, he looks back on the changes the sector has undergone and comments on the current situation of NGOs in China, clearing up some common misconceptions and offering his own unique analysis.

CDB: What are the major changes Chinese NGOs have undergone in the last 10 years? On many occasions, people have claimed NGOs are an essential part of civil society; what do you believe is the relationship between the two?

Busgen: In these past 10 years, Chinese NGOs have undergone many changes.

First, an obvious increase in numbers. I remember 10 years ago, philanthropists were very willing to support grass-roots organizations, but no matter how hard they looked there were only a few to work with. Hence, funding was spread out among these few, which definitely put the NGOs under a lot of pressure.
Second, an increase in the size of NGOs. Of course, most NGOs today are still small in scale – many don’t even have full-time employees, or if they do, there are only a few. However, there are already a number of medium-sized organizations out there.

Third, organizations have become more specialized and accumulated a significant amount of experience. Many organizations have mastered new skills such as fundraising based on international requirements, project applications, and organizational management.

Fourth, the entire regulatory system and its muddled policy toward NGOs, has changed. Of course, whether this is a good or bad thing is another question.
Fifth, a group of NGO specialists have been cultivated, creating many career opportunities; these specialists are very important to the development of the industry.

Sixth, NGOs are collaborating. At first they weren’t able to cooperate at all and didn’t even communicate, but now it’s happening more and more. And it’s not just domestic collaboration; domestic and international NGOs are also increasingly cooperating.

Seventh, as part of the third sector, NGOs have begun increasing their collaboration with the other two sectors (government and business). This is a major change, and has positive implications, but it’s still not enough. Especially in the last 2 years, in my work at NPI, more and more often I’m seeing governments in urban areas contracting services to NGOs on a large scale. This is a major breakthrough. Governments have moved from not knowing what NGOs are, to being suspicious of their good intentions and questioning their motives, to now paying for their services – this is a really important change.

The last very important change is that domestic funding for NGOs is on the rise. Ordinary people, large corporations, and even foundations, which have just begun supporting NGOs, are now funding NGOs. NGOs cannot rely only on foreign funding if they are to develop in a healthy direction. Aside from funding, a more important problem for organizations is legitimacy – they need to take root in the community. Fundraising alone does not ensure the survival of an NGO; equally important is that the organization demonstrates its value to the community. Of course, one of the reasons NGOs are turning more to domestic funding had to do with the sensitivity of international organizations funding Chinese organizations.

CDB: What do you think about the future development of Chinese NGOs?

Busgen: Despite what I just said, the progress made in the last 10 years has made me very pleased and optimistic. At the same time, we all know that China’s third sector is very underdeveloped. If you want to know the reason, we must first discuss the role of NGOs. What’s their relationship to the other sectors? If we’re not clear on this, then we can’t discuss future growth problems.

The original goal of NGOs1 is to organize society. Organizing society has two goals: one is to get various kinds of social groups to work together; to nurture a spirit of cooperation. We should make people aware that they can solve many problems by working together. The second goal is to give a voice to these social groups when negotiating with the other two sectors. Since many problems touch upon distribution of benefits and opportunities, the policy implementation process should focus on collaboration, by finding policies that everyone can accept and work towards. One of the premises to reaching consensus is the participation of those who represent these social groups. But presently there’s no formal mechanism for this participation, because the governance of society is currently monopolized by the government.

But a new trend is spreading among NGOs, and it isn’t limited to China. Non-profits are moving further and further away from their original goal of representing their social groups, and more towards serving others and playing a social service function. Whether it’s international or China, the specialization of NGOs has driven them further and further away from their original goal. In China there’s a major misconception; most people think that NGOs are only there to provide social services. Even though providing services may help with organizational survival, social service is merely one piece of the puzzle – the most important thing is actually organizing society. But this topic is rather sensitive in China.

What this society most needs is to allow different groups to seek out their own solutions. In order to solve problems, we’ve got to lay them out on the table first. The role of NGOs is to place these issues on the table and work with the government and corporations to get them resolved. Government agencies should really not be afraid of this cooperation and should not call this a problem. Moreover, within these groups, the word “sensitive” is very interesting. The issues we can’t put on the table at all are the ones deemed sensitive. Why are these sensitive issues a problem? Precisely because they’re understood as “sensitive.” Once the issues are out in the open, it’s no longer a question of whether they’re sensitive or not; instead, the question is, “How can we fix this?” For example, AIDS and the three rural problems (三农问题) were both sensitive 10 years ago, but now that’s not the case at all2.

I’ve always thought that one of the biggest challenges facing Chinese NGOs is that government agencies are afraid of the role they play. Now we can see in places like Shenzhen and Shanghai, where governments have contracted services from NGOs, that NGOs are becoming purely service organizations. I’ve always stressed that organizing society doesn’t threaten its stability, but it is in fact a prerequisite to stability.

CDB: What do you believe are the best conditions for the growth and development of NGOs?

Busgen: Chinese NGO development faces two major problems. One is a lack of trust. Without trust, it’s impossible to organize society. NGOs don’t trust the government, the government doesn’t trust the NGOs, society doesn’t trust the NGOs, NGOs don’t trust each other; even within NGOs there are trust issues. This lack of trust can be seen everywhere. This isn’t just a problem with social organizations, it’s a problem with the whole of society. If your hope is to help people cultivate social capital, and to help each other in the absence of contractual agreements, then you need trust as the foundation. This is one of the most important conditions.

About ten years ago, several organizations started carry out capacity building trainings for NGOs. Many people believed that we first needed a good legal structure, we needed to tell NGOs how to fundraise, and how to manage their organizations. Now, all of these areas have seen progress, but why has the growth of the sector not met people’s expectations? Because these are all secondary issues. We need to return to the core question of what an NGO’s role should be. The primary function of NGOs isn’t necessarily to provide services; it’s to convince people that they can build social trust. On this issue, NGOs can help people trust one another; however, no one is really working on this problem.

The second problem is that China’s education system doesn’t teach people how to change their current situation. This is not a problem limited to China, but in China the issue is very prominent. The current educational system is focused on teaching children how to survive and accept the rules of the current situation and conditions. Within these channels, they can find their place and their path. But there’s very little talk of how students can help effect change in society when they see problems.
I’ve noticed this is a problem within many groups, especially in the last few years when I’ve been helping to build the capacity of NGOs. I’ve run into many organization founders and staff, and they’re more or less just complaining about various situations. I ask them, “Why don’t you change it?” Most people just say, “I can’t change it, I can only accept it.”

Facing such a holistic failure on the part of the education system, who can make up for it? Corporations? They need workers to be obedient, to do what they’re told; they’re trying to make money. The government can only provide top-down methods. Of the three sectors, only the third sector has what it takes to teach people that they can change their situation and help people feel that they can trust each other.

So, if NGOs are going to be the leaders, first they’ve got to focus on themselves. They need to tell their employees that if something is not right, we can discuss it. If the staff don’t cultivate this skill, how can they push forward big changes in society? Hence, if you want to gauge the value of NGOs’ contributions, it doesn’t matter how many programs they’ve got, how much money they’ve raised, how many services they’ve provided. The most fundamental task is to cultivate people, to teach them how to change themselves, how to change their families, how to change their work environment. Once we’ve mastered this, then we can start talking about changing society.

CDB: Over the past few years, whether it’s been international or Chinese NGOs, you’ve worked hard to develop the capabilities of these organizations. In this time, what lessons have you learned from personal experience?

Busgen: The main challenge that capacity building faces is that NGOs still don’t have a mature management model. When we’re developing organizations, the management style and techniques are mostly taken from abroad, and the content is borrowed from corporate management. For example, the term “strategic plan (战略规划)” was originally used by corporations, but now NGOs use it too.

In the area of capacity building, there’s some borrowed concepts that aren’t useful. For example, in human resources, in order to get people to do things they aren’t intrinsically motivated to do, management relies on incentives and punishments. The underlying assumption here is that people are not reliable and must be controlled. The management’s attitude is that they must control the worker, that the worker is lazy, that they must rely upon the carrot and the stick. But in NGOs, there is no carrot – programs have a fixed budget, and salaries can’t be raised on a whim. And no one dares to use the stick; job responsibilities are high, work environment is poor, and salary is low, so the stick can’t be used.

I’ve always stressed that if you’re thinking of working in the NGO sector, you must have ideals. Idealistic people are already motivated, and if you treat them with the carrot and the stick, it’s an insult to their ideals. These extrinsic motivators pale in comparison to the internal drive so prevalent in the industry, and are not very useful in NGOs.

In reality, there are no “best practices”, but there are plenty that are good enough. The logic behind promoting these so-called best practices is usually that the person doing the promoting thinks he or she knows what is best. According to this line of thinking, everything will be OK. This is a flawed thought process. Organizations from different cultures and different fields need to find their own truth, so capacity building shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it should help organizations solve their own problems in a way that works best for them. During this process, we can tell NGOs what international organizations have done to solve similar problems, but in the end we’re not giving them solutions, we’re just making them better at finding new ones. So a few years ago, I started promoting a learning network in the hope that NGOs, while reflecting on their own experiences, would create different kinds of exchanges which would then generate real knowledge, so that the accumulated know-how of these groups is not lost. NGOs participating in the learning network all face the same problems. But the steps they adopt to solve the problem are all different. This proves that the network is successful, because the goal is to give each organization the self-confidence to seek out its own solutions.

CDB: In the past few years a large number of civic actions driven by individuals have emerged, giving rise to a number of groups. What’s the main difference between these new groups and the older generation of NGOs? What are the most valuable things that these newly-established groups should study?

Busgen: Among the older generation of NGOs there are large differences, such as leadership style and management methods. Even between the newer NGOs there are also many differences; it’s difficult to lump them all together. But I’d still like to try to answer your question.

What I love about the earlier organizations is that they hold onto their ideals. They’re not opportunists; they have ideals, principles, which is wonderful. At the same time, they’ve got many problems; that generation relies on the charisma of their founders, and their evolution has hardly been smooth.

For the newer organizations, what I’m worried about is that they are also one-person operations, yet their founders lack the stature of the founders of the older generation of NGOs. However, these new organizations know how to use the social media space and are always looking for new ways to develop new techniques, which is great. In society there’s lots of red tape, but the virtual world is much more free. However, figuring out how to combine the virtual world with the real world is still a problem. If you only work with problems online, then you’re lacking the involvement of the real world, and not really fulfilling the goal of the organization. Moreover, social media still isn’t the best platform for society to interact, and it can be risky. Many people believe that the Internet allows more people to participate, that it’s very inclusive. But in certain ways, it’s also very exclusive. For example, on Weibo, most of the posts come from people who have benefited from the recent 30 years of economic reform (改革开放) – groups that were originally marginalized are still marginalized by social media. So what seems like an inclusive tool is perhaps an exclusive one as well.

CDB: It is a common conception that Chinese NGOs get most of their funding from international organizations. However, even if there is a lot of international aid, most is distributed to universities and the government; NGOs still receive very little of those funds. In China, funding sources include private foundations, government contracts, corporate CSR partnerships, yet regardless it’s difficult to get out of or change the stereotypes of funders. Considering this situation, what areas are the hardest to change? Throughout this process, what role can NGOs play?

Busgen: Research has shown that many international organizations are funding Chinese NGOs, and that Chinese organizations are still very reliant on international support . The most exciting thing this research found is that Chinese NGOs are developing strong relationships with these international organizations, but their experiences are quite diverse. More than half of these partnerships have space for improvement, and 10-20 percent of the collaborations did not go smoothly. This points to a more fundamental challenge.

What international donors need to pay attention to is internal supervision. I think the biggest problem for donors isn’t their own donor policies or management methods, but rather the donor representatives. Often, the donor’s headquarters is very far from China and they don’t have a good understanding of what their representatives are doing. It’s very difficult to monitor whether they’re following protocol or upholding the organization’s principles, and domestic NGOs don’t have a channel to provide feedback. Donors need to find a better way to facilitate communication with their representatives.

Another change in the way donors and NGOs communicate is that donors will generally review projects with the NGOs together; this can become a method for transforming the relationship. I think we can also look at it another way: it’s not up to the donors to ask, “What have you done with my money?” Instead they should look at the results of their cooperation, and ask “How can we work together to improve things?” This is a cooperative, exploratory type of evaluation method, which emphasizes cooperative learning and shared ownership. Adopting this viewpoint can provide funders with an opportunity for reflection and learning.

In this report we didn’t cover Chinese funders. Chinese and international funders have different relationships with NGOs. Compared to international funders, Chinese funders tend to have a more unequal relationship with NGOs. Once they’ve signed a contract with a Chinese funder, they’re no longer a public welfare organization, they’re more of a social enterprise. This trend is very dangerous.

I believe that the ones who most need to change most are not the donors but the NGOs. Because it’s often very difficult for smaller organizations to find a donor, once they find one they must strive to cultivate this relationship. Regardless of whether their cooperation goes smoothly or not, NGOs feel the relationship is an unequal one, rather than one of true cooperation. Because of this, NGOs tend to accept many unfair requirements. In reality, most donors are willing to accept suggestions. The relationship between funders and NGOs is like any other social relationship in which negotiations are essential.

A lively civil society should actively cultivate and restructure many types of societal relationships. In a highly class-conscious culture, this is an important process to study for Chinese NGOs, and not just for its relationship with international donors.


  1. he uses the Chinese term, “social organizations” 

  2. Editor’s Note: The Three Rural Problems were agriculture (nongye), in particular the problem of agricultural industrialization; villages (nongcun), in particular the divide between rural and urban areas due to the household registration (hukou) system; and farmers (nongmin), in particular the problem of farmer’s income and living standards compared to those living in urban areas. 

博盟访谈录:社会组织的功能在组织社会

刘海英 中国发展简报2012年秋季刊

博盟(MichaleBusgen)从1996年就参与了无国界医生在中国的救灾项目,随后分别在无国界医生、米索尔基金会中国办公室工作,这正是中国民间组织开始集体萌生的时候。10年之后,也即从2006年到2011年,他先后加入了两个中国本土组织——北京倍能中心和恩派,从事中国民间组织的能力建设工作,这段时间是中国国内各方资源开始规模进入公益领域的阶段,也是价值理念、发展方向都发生明显变化的时期。现在他又重新回到国际机构——海因里希·伯尔基金会(Heinrich BöllStiftung) 。十六年来,博盟经历了中国民间组织发育的两个重要阶段,在中国发展简报近期进行的专访里,他回顾了亲历的中国民间组织10多年的变迁与现状,并对公益领域的一些似是而非的东西做了独到的观察和分析。 简报:你认为中国民间组织这10多年发生了怎样的变化?在很多场合,人们将NGO看成公民社会的主要组成部分,你认为中国民间组织对于中国公民社会的实质影响和贡献体现在哪里?

博盟:这10多年中国民间组织发生了很大的变化。

第一,数量上明显的增长。我还记得十多年前资助方很愿意支持草根组织,但是找来找去只有几家。于是,很多资助方都将钱给这少数的几家机构,这可能也给他们造成一定的压力。第二是规模上的发展。当然现在大多数草根组织规模还比较小,有的还没有全职的员工,或者只有少量几个,但已经有一些中等规模的组织了。第三,专业化和经验也积累了不少。很多组织学会了很多东西,按照国际规则去筹款、申请项目及民间组织管理等相关的知识。第四,整个法律制度与原来的模糊、甚至空白的状况相比,已经发生很大的变化。当然,这个到底是好事还是坏事是另外的一个问题。第五,培养了一群NGO专业人士,解决了一批人的就业,这个专业群体对行业发展很重要。第六个很大的变化就是NGO之间的合作:原来真是一盘散沙,彼此没有交流与合作,现在合作越来越多。不仅是国内NGO之间的交流,国内和国外NGO的交流也增强了。第七,NGO作为第三部门和第一、第二部门的合作也有所增长。这是很大的变化,这里有比较乐观的发展趋向,但还不够。特别是前两年,我在恩派工作时候也看到,某些城市政府在比较大的规模上开始购买NGO的服务。这是很大的一个突破。从政府原来不知道什么是NGO,到怀疑他们到底有什么样的利益、什么样的意图,再到现在给他们提供经费,这是一个很大的变化。

最后一个是非常重要、非常关键的变化,即国内对NGO的资助越来越多。从公众到企业,到刚刚成立起来的愿意支持民间组织的基金会,都开始成为民间组织的资助方。公益组织领域要健康发展,不可能只靠国外,除了依赖性问题,更重要的是你要让组织有合法性,就需要在社区扎根。筹款不仅仅是解决一个NGO组织生存(所谓的“活命”)的问题,也是NGO和所在的社会建立关系的过程,从社会动员资源,就要对社会交代清楚它的价值,当然,出现这一变化的原因也包括国际组织资助国内的组织有一定的敏感性。

简报: 你怎么看中国民间组织的发展前景?

博盟:虽然刚才说过,这十几年的发展让我们高兴和乐观。但同时,我们都认为中国民间组织还是很弱小的一个领域。若究原因,需要先谈谈原则上NGO的作用是什么?和其他部门关系应该是怎样的?如果不谈这个,就不能说清楚民间组织发育的问题。

社会组织的本来功能是组织社会。组织社会的目的有两个:一是让社会上各种各样的普通群体互动、互助,培养一种互助的理念。让大家意识到,其实很多事情不需要别人,只要自己组织好就可以解决;二是在和其他部门谈判的时候代表某个群体的声音。因为很多问题都会涉及到利益和机会的分配,政策制定的过程应该是谈判的过程,寻找一些大家接受的政策和发展方向。达成共识的前提之一是,在决定政策的时候让利益相关方参与到这个过程中来。但目前在国内没有这样一个正式的机制,管理社会是政府垄断的一个功能。

但是现在不仅在中国,在其他国家也出现了一个趋势,即NGO发展有偏离本来功能的趋向,不再是自己组织自己,不是代表自己服务的群体,而是服务别人,成为社会服务的功能。无论是国际上还是中国,专业化会让社会组织从最原始、最根本的出发点走得越来越远。在国内有一个很大的误解,大部分人一致将社会组织理解为给别人提供社会服务的机制。即使出于生存的原因,这也顶多是社会组织的一部分功能,其更重要的目标仍是组织社会。但一旦谈到这个功能,在国内就好像很敏感。

这个社会当前最需要的,是让不同的群体一起寻找解决方案。为了解决问题,首先应该将问题放在桌子上。社会组织的功能和作用是让问题摆在桌子上,和政府、和企业一道解决问题。一些部门真的不用怕这个事情,也不要将它理解为一个问题。然而,在这个圈子里,“敏感”这个词特别有意思。不能摆在桌子上的问题都是敏感的。为什么这些敏感的问题是问题?就是因为它被理解成“敏感”的。一旦将它摆到桌面上就不是敏感不敏感的问题,而是“怎么解决”的问题,比如艾滋病问题、三农问题10多年前都是敏感的问题,现在完全不是这样。

我一直觉得,中国NGO发展中一个很大的负担是有关部门特别害怕这个功能。现在可以看出,在上海和深圳这些政府能够购买服务的地方,几乎都是纯粹的社会服务类的组织。我一直坚持社会组织组织社会不是威胁社会稳定而是稳定社会的一个不可缺乏的前提。

简报: 谈到中国民间组织发育的土壤问题。那么,你认为什么样的土壤才是适宜民间组织发育、发展的呢?

博盟:中国民间组织发育的土壤存在两个大问题。一个是缺乏信任。如果没有信任,永远无法组织社会。NGO不信任政府,政府不信任NGO,社会不信任 NGO,NGO组织之间也相互不信任,员工和老板之间也互相不信,到处都看到不信任的成份。这不仅仅是社会组织领域的问题,也是整个社会的问题。如果希望经过组织社会让人们发现、挖掘社会资本,让大家相互帮忙而不需要什么合同、契约,就需要在信任的基础上。这是土壤里非常重要的成份。

大概十多年前,一些组织开始针对NGO做能力建设的培训。很多人觉得,我们首先需要有一个完善的法律框架,需要告诉NGO怎么筹款,怎么管理好组织。现在这些方面都有进步,为什么这个部门发展得还是不尽如人意呢?因为这些都是次要的,还是要回到社会组织的作用是什么这个问题上。NGO的首要任务不一定是服务别人,而是让人们相信在这个社会里可以挖掘社会资本。NGO有这样的工作空间可以做到让人彼此信任,然而却没有在这个方面下功夫。

关于土壤的第二个问题是,中国的教育体制没有让人学会怎么转变现状。这可能不是中国独有的问题,但是在中国是个很明显的问题。现在的教育体制主要是告诉孩子,在现有的制度里、在现有的条件下,怎么生存、怎么接受这样的规则。通过这些渠道,让他找到自己的位置和发展。但是很少有人告诉孩子们,当情况不理想的时候,,我们怎么去改变它?

我发现在很多的机构里也存在这样的问题。特别是前几年做能力建设工作的时候,我接触了很多组织的创办人和员工,他们都在或多或少地发牢骚。我问他们为什么不改变?大部分人说:“我无法改变,我只能接受。”

面对这种整体的教育失败,谁来弥补这个缺口?企业吗?它需要员工服从、听话,要学会的是怎么挣钱;政府也只能是以自上而下的方式。在三个部门里,培养改变的能力并让大家感觉到互相信任的,只有第三部门才做得到。

所以,如果在公益组织当领导,你首先要从自己做起,告诉自己的员工,如果你觉得有不理想的东西,我们可以谈。如果员工在机构都不培养这个能力,他怎么能在社会的层面推动大的发展大的转变呢?因此,如果要衡量NGO 的贡献,不是看你做了多少项目,筹了多少钱,做了多少社会服务,最基本的东西是培养人,学会怎么样改变自己,改变自己的家庭,改变自己的工作环境,学会了这个,以后才能谈怎么改变这个社会。

简报:多年来,无论在国际组织还是在中国本土组织工作,你都致力于推动民间组织的能力建设工作,那么在过去已进行多年的中国NGO能力建设,有哪些得失和经验教训可供分享?

博盟:能力建设本身面临的挑战是,公益组织或者社会组织还没有非常成熟的管理模式,我们在做组织发展和组织管理培训的时候,管理模式、管理方法、管理工具大多数都是国外引进的,所讲的内容其实也大都来自企业管理。比如战略规划本来是企业的一个东西,现在也被用到NGO里。 能力建设的内容里,有些借用的东西对我们是没有用的。比如企业的人力资源管理(HR),管理员工是靠激励机制、惩罚机制,为的是让一些人做他本来不愿意做的事情。背后的假设是,人不可以信赖的,我要控制他;人是懒惰的,我要靠胡萝卜、大棒让他听话。但在NGO里,本来就没有胡萝卜,项目预算就那么多钱,不能随便增加工资;棒子更不敢用,本来岗位要求高,工作环境不理想,待遇不如其他部门,因此大棒也不能用。 我一直在强调,如果考虑加入公益行业,就必须得有理想。有理想的人本来就有动力,你再去用这些企业的胡萝卜和大棒去激励他、管理他,这是不尊重人家的理想和动机。这些所谓的激励是低级的激励,在NGO里没有多大用。

事实上,并没有一个最佳的实践,但会有很多好的实践。推动所谓最佳模式背后的逻辑,是推动者认为自己已经知道什么是最好的,按照这一套去执行的话,一切都会好。这是一个错误的思维。不同文化、不同领域的机构都得找自己独特的东西,所以能力建设要关注的不是告诉你一个模式,而是提升机构内部的人解决自己问题的能力,来寻找一个适合他的方式、方法。在这个过程中,可以告诉NGO可以参考哪些经验,国外的组织解决这类问题有什么样的经验,但最终不是给NGO什么办法,而且提升他解决问题的能力。所以我几年前推动学习网络,是希望NGO在反思自己的经验中,产生不同的交流,让这样的交流产生知识、创造知识,而不是消耗知识。学习网络里的组织面对同样的问题,但不同的机构解决的措施却不一样。这才说明网络是成功的,因为目的就是让他们更自信地找出解决问题的办法。

简报:这几年出现大量的个人公益行动、新生了不少组织,他们与早期诞生的民间组织有什么差异吗?有什么样的东西仍然值得新生组织学习? 博盟:所谓的老组织,他们之间的差别也很大,领导风格、管理办法都不一样;新的机构之间也有很大的区别,没有办法一概而论。但是我还是想试着回答你的问题。 早期的组织让我一直很感动的是他们对理想的坚持,不是投机分子、机会主义者,而是有理想、有原则,这个很不得了。但同时它们也有很多问题,那一代机构依赖创办人的个人魅力,很多组织转型的过程很不顺利。

对于新的机构,我比较担心的是,它们少了早期NGO创办人的个人魅力,但是它们依然会被当成是某个人的组织。另外,新生的组织能够利用新媒体的空间,寻求发展的技术,这是很好的。真正的社会环境里还有很多“红线”,所以虚拟世界比真实的世界空间大很多,但最终还是面临一个如何将虚拟世界的交流平台和真实的世界交融在一起的问题。如果仅仅是在虚拟世界接触一些东西,缺乏和真实世界的互动,起不到组织社会的作用;此外,新媒体目前发挥不了社会互动平台的作用,并还有风险。很多人认为新媒体会让更多的人参与,是一种包容;但在某些程度上,这也是一种排斥。因为在中国写微博的人,某种程度上是30年来在改革开放中受益的人。原来边缘化的群体随着新媒体的发展可能更边缘化。所以看起来一个更包容的工具,也许就是一个更排斥的工具。

简报:从资源获得来看,中国民间组织的资助方主要来自海外机构,但即使来自海外的资助大多也分布在高校和政府部门,民间组织获得的资源很少。在国内出现资助型非公募基金会、政府向民间组织购买服务、企业CSR部门成为NGO合作伙伴的时候,还是跳不出资助方主导的窠臼,这种局面目前依然难有改观。由此来看,哪些方面推动变革的力量不够?推动改变的过程中,民间组织可以有怎样的作为?

博盟:调查 (2009年6月启动的“支持中国草根民间组织国际资助方评估”)发现,有多种类型的国际NGO在资助本土组织,中国民间组织仍然对国际机构依赖度较高。这次调查最鼓舞人心的发现是,国际组织方与中国NGO成功的合作关系确实建立起来了,但合作经历可能还有很多差异。有超过一半的合作关系仍然显示还有不同程度的改善空间,有10%~20%的合作关系整体得分较低,这意味着面临更多的根本性挑战。

国际资助方更需要关注的是内部的监督。我们觉得资助方最严重的问题还不是资助方本身的资助政策、管理办法有问题,是代表资助方的人有问题。很多时候资助方总部远离当地,不知道代表资助方的人怎么开展工作的,是否符合资助方的制度、原则,很难对其监督;国内的民间组织找不到反馈的渠道。资助方需要考虑的是如何建立一个围绕这个代表的沟通渠道。 另外一个改变的渠道是,一般而言,资助方都会与接受资助的NGO共同对项目进行回顾,可以成为推动两者关系转变的一种方式。我觉得这里可以换一个视角:不是由资助方评估对方“你用我的钱做了什么”,而是看这个合作关系产生了什么成果,如何一同改进?现在有一种“合作性探究”的评估方法,将评估重点放在共同学习、分享所有权、分担责任、确保不同方向的问责。加上这样一个新的视角,会让基金会有更多的反思和学习的机会。

我们在这个报告里没有专门去观察国内的资助方。国内、国际资助方与NGO的关系有一些差异。国内资助方与NGO的关系比国际资助方与NGO之间的关系更不平等。一旦民间组织成为给国内资助方打工的承包方,那就不再是公益组织,更多的是社会企业,这个趋势很危险。

我认为,首先需要大幅度改变的不是这些资助方,而是那些接受资助的民间组织。因为很多时候,那些比较弱小的机构能够找到一个资助方已经很困难,它们尽量要维持这个合作关系。不管和资助方的合作顺利不顺利,它们自己就认为这个关系是个上下级关系,不是一个真正的合作伙伴关系,所以,对资助方的一些本来不合理的要求也接受。事实上,大部分资助方是愿意接受建议的,NGO与资助方的关系,和其他社会关系一样,谈判是不可或缺的环节。

一个活跃的公民社会应该主动构建和调整各种社会关系。在等级意识很强的文化观念下,这对中国的NGO来说还需要一个学习的过程,而且并不局限于与国际资助方的关系建构过程。

Editor, China Development Brief

Translated by Eric Couillard

Reviewed by Andrew MacDonald

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