The “Learning from the West School” of Chinese Philanthropy

China Philanthropist, February 2014

中文 English

As Chinese philanthropy modernizes and internationalizes, one group of pioneers is seeking to break through various obstacles, casting an eye toward the world, and looking westward to “master skills for self-strengthening” in their effort to advance Chinese philanthropy. In the process, they seek to realize their ambitions and dreams, while encountering skepticism and frustration.

On January 2, 2014 , former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former “junk bond king” Mike Milken, and Richard Rockefeller of the Rockefeller family each arrived in Hawaii on their private planes… Afterwards they all piled into a small van and headed off to a hotel where a group of Chinese philanthropists awaited them. Among them were “China’s Most Charitable” Cao Dewang, Niu Gensheng, who fully embraced charity after leaving the business world, and Lu Dezhi, who became known for proposing a 10 billion yuan [about U.S.$1.6 billion] charitable donation. [Editor’s Note: Cao Dewang, the chairperson and CEO of the Fujian-based Fuyao Glass Industry Group, made news in the philanthropy world when he donated 300 million of his shares in the company (a reported U.S.$530 million value) to establish the Heren Charitable Foundation in 2011.]

This summit meeting represents the most prominent exchange between Chinese and U.S. philanthropists. It was jointly organized by the China Philanthropy Research Institute (CPRI, 中国公益研究院) and the East-West Center [in Hawaii], and jointly funded by the Lao Niu Foundation (老牛基金会), Huamin Charity Foundation (华民慈善基金会), and the Kaifeng Foundation (凯风公益基金会). “On American soil, our Chinese philanthropists having invited U.S. political and business elites and philanthropists to eat and live together. We’ve set aside three days to explore philanthropic cooperation. This is a first,” said Wang Zhenyao, head of Beijing Normal University’s CPRI, to the China Philanthropist magazine.

At first, Michael Bloomberg’s attendance at this forum was seen as his first public appearance after retiring as New York City mayor (though this forum was a private event and closed to the media). He originally planned to stay for half an hour and make a speech, but his interest was so piqued after meeting with Chinese philanthropists that he extended his time to an hour and a half. Henry Paulson participated in the entire three-day discussion. In summing up his career in the U.S. Treasury Department, he said, “I did two things as Treasury Secretary: promote Sino-US relations, and participate in environmental protection.” Mike Milken arrived in Hawaii ahead of time with his grandson, who was diagnosed with cancer this year and expected to only live another 20 months. He never imagined that one day, he would be getting together with Chinese philanthropists. Ray Dalio, founder of the American business investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, also participated. Some philanthropists had just come from ski trips in the U.S., so they brought their ski equipment with them.

“Half of Wall Street’s elite are here,” Chinese philanthropists privately joked.

The lineup of the host’s Chinese delegation was equally formidable. The main participants included: Lao Niu Foundation founder Niu Gensheng; Huamin Charity Foundation founder, Lu Dezhi; Kaifeng Foundation founder and chairperson, Duan Weihong; Fuyao Group chairperson [and founder of the Heren Foundation], Cao Dewang; Dean of CPRI, Wang Zhenyao. They all comprised a group of Chinese entrepreneurs and scholars who became deeply involved with philanthropy relatively early on.

Although China’s philanthropic sector that has only been in existence for less than 30 years, it has developed rapidly. Part of this rapid development is a history of Chinese philanthropists going abroad to draw on and learn from the experiences of their foreign counterparts. At the start of [Deng Xiaoping’s] “reform and opening,” the Ministry of Civil Affairs was established in 1978, becoming the only national mechanism for philanthropy and public welfare; two years later, China’s first charitable foundation – the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (中国少年儿童基金会) – was established. China’s newly established philanthropy sector urgently needed to borrow from Western experience, and likewise international organizations that had not been allowed in China for 30 years were eager to re-enter. After the establishment of U.S.-China relations in 1979, the Ford Foundation began providing funding to China, thereby opening up a channel for philanthropic exchange between the U.S. and post-reform China.

In the subsequent 30 years, a group of philanthropists advocated for the study of Western approaches to, and experience in, philanthropy. They were all too aware of China’s challenges in this area, whether it was throwing off institutional shackles to open up space for citizen action, or seeking to expand the operational space within the system. They saw that the path of philanthropic exchange between East and West would be one of exploration, advances, setbacks, and reassessment. Some called this group of pioneers the “Learning from the West School of Chinese Philanthropy”.

Looking at the World

“There’s something to the “Learning from the West School” label, but it isn’t very accurate and it sells us short. In fact, Chinese philanthropy does enjoy a long history,” said Narada Foundation chairman Xu Yongguang.

The role of Xu’s “Learning from the West School of Philanthropy” had already been set when he became the Director of the Communist Youth League’s Organization Department towards the end of the 1980s. [Editor’s Note: Xu’s position was an influential one. As Director of the Organization Department, he was responsible for personnel decisions in the Communist Youth League.] Xu, who was then doing research on system reform, was struck by the fact that although pressing issues with youth development existed, the government treasury was not investing enough. [Editor’s Note: “System reform” refers to efforts during the 1980s and 1990s by more liberal-minded officials and scholars in China to reform the old, centrally-planned system that China had inherited from the Soviet Union.] From that point on, he studied how other countries tapped into civic resources to address social problems when the government was not doing enough. Having come across the concept of setting up a charitable foundation, he wrote “Establish the China Youth Development Foundation” into the “Plans for System Reform of the Communist Youth League” which was subsequently passed in the Communist Youth League’s 12th Congress. “At that time, travelling abroad was not a possibility, and so I read any materials from abroad that I could get my hands on, so I could learn how a foundation raised funds, how it was managed and how project planning worked.” When the 12th Congress ended its session in 1988, Xu tendered his resignation and in March, armed with a 100,000 yuan deposit, he set up the China Youth Development Foundation, and assumed the role of Secretary General.


In December 2011, Bill Gates met with Xu during his visit to Beijing.

Many years have passed, but Xu still remembered vividly the day when he was first exposed to Western philanthropy.

When the China Youth Development Foundation was founded, its office was located in an old courtyard. It had some funds from the publication of teaching materials for an educational program on taxation for private entrepreneurs around the country that Xu had managed. He used that money to renovate the premises and put up wallpaper. Shortly afterwards, a government leader came to inspect the premises and, on seeing the newly-renovated office, was shocked that “a foundation could carry out such a nice renovation”, and declared that he would never visit again.

Not long after, a delegation from an overseas foundation visited the premises, led by an elderly lady, who during a chat noted her admiration for the tidiness of the office, saying that this reflected the diligence of the organisation, which would undoubtedly assure potential donors that their money would be used properly.
“Those two views,” said Xu, “could never have been more different! This was the first lesson I learned from my interaction with the outside world- that how an organisation presents itself is essential to its work.”

The West’s emphasis on an organization’s image, as well as the organizational structures, management and outlook of the West, influenced many of China’s philanthropic pioneers profoundly.

The current Secretary General of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, Liu Xuanguo, joined the Foundation in 2006, and afterwards participated in a number of overseas exchange trips involving the Red Cross system. He visited the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for Human Progress in France at the invitation of its then-chairman Pierre Calame in July 2009, and emerged from the trip deeply affected. “While our foundation was focused on alleviating poverty, this foundation’s mission was to further the development of humans.”

At the start of 2013, Liu led a delegation from the CRCF on visits to the China offices of the Ford and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations and the Southeast Asian offices of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “From those Foundations’ missions and goals, to their standards of governance, it was obvious that China’s foundations lagged far behind,” Liu sighed. In November 2013, he flew to attend a training workshop organized by the National Foreign Experts Bureau on post-disaster building reconstruction, and on his return he wrote seven entries on his experience.

The numerous overseas trips Liu took gave him a more international perspective and “a more profound understanding of the fundamental mission of social organisations. For a government-sanctioned foundation like ours, concerns about how to better link up with the global community, how to overcome cultural communication barriers, and how to show that we are open-minded and eager to learn were always at the forefront of my mind, and gave me much food for thought,” Liu said.

Shortly after taking over the reins at the China Philanthropy Research Institute in 2010, Wang Zhenyao participated, as a scholar, in a study tour to the U.S. for the first time. On his first trip to the West, he set himself a consistent mantra – “be open-minded, and learn.” During his visit of more than 20 days, Wang visited nearly 20 NGOs and think-tanks. During each visit, he asked the host about their project design, management and review processes, as well as their daily operations and their management and review processes, leaving no stone unturned.


China Philanthropy Research Institute Director Wang Zhenyao (photo: Zhang Xu)

In San Francisco, Wang witnessed the professionalism of his American counterparts, and realised the relative backwardness of the organisations back home. “On my return I saw the problems between the government and civic organisations in a more lenient light. It takes two hands to clap, and it would be unfair to point the finger solely at the government for the unfavourable situation in China.” said Wang.

Xu was deeply impressed by the community foundations in the U.S. In 2010 and 2012, he visited community foundations in the Silicon Valley and Hawaii. The former had only $100 million in funds of its own, but was the trustee of the funds of several hundred family foundations and not-for-profit organizations with funds totalling $1.4 billion. It charged a management fee of 1.5 per cent of the assets, and its services included financial management and project implementation. “As a charitable assets management company which takes in more than $20 million in management fees, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation has built a strong team to manage both funds and projects with high efficiency and professionalism,” said Xu. Taking these foundations as examples, Xu has begun to chart the reform path for China’s public fundraising foundations and the China Charity Federation (慈善会).


The Narada Foundation chairperson, Xu Yongguang (Photo: Zhang Xu)

After the first China Private Foundation Forum in 2009, Xu led a delegation of private foundation representatives to the U.S. At the U.S. Foundation Center, Xu and delegation were left with a deep impression. The Foundation Center has operated for more than 50 years, and created a virtual platform which discloses information about 98,000 foundations in the U.S. In front of a huge screen, Foundation Center employees demonstrated the platform’s operation. On a virtual map of the world, clicking on a foundation’s name showed its donor network, and another click of its recipients brought up the flow of funds and how the funds were used. Taking heart from this, Xu decided to revive an earlier 1998 effort to build a similar information transparency platform for China’s foundations.

Seeing the Chinese philanthropy community turn its outlook outwards, other overseas organisations and philanthropists took the initiative to visit China to provide advice and support.

Peter Geithner headed the Ford Foundation’s representative office in China. He had arrived in China at the start of the 1980s to set up the Ford office. Over the last 30 years, he has remained a steadfast supporter of China’s burgeoning philanthropy community, and has a deep understanding of its development and challenges. He was responsible for arranging the study tour of senior Chinese foundation staff to the U.S. in October of 2010. This tour proved to be a turning point for Chinese philanthropy and led to the creation of the China Foundation Center (CFC, 中国基金会中心网).


The activation of the Foundation’s new information disclosure platform.

In 2011, when the CFC’s project preparation team visited the U.S., the U.S. Foundation Center’s director Brad Smith arranged for training by senior staff, giving the team unprecedented insight into his organisation’s operations. In an email to Xu, Smith wrote, “Creating an information disclosure and sharing platform will allow the citizens of both China and the world to gain a greater understanding of Chinese philanthropy, and its vast potential. We are very honoured to be the CFC’s partner during these early stages, and to witness this great milestone in your history.’

The British Council’s “Social Entrepreneurs Skills Programme” has trained more than a thousand Chinese social entrepreneurs since its inception. “It’s been very effective in spreading the concepts of social enterprise, impact investing and other new concepts. I think it’s very promising,” said Xu.

On December 8, 2011, Bill Gates, who was on an unrelated trip to Beijing, visited Xu and Wang in the CFC’s Beijing office. During the one-and-a-half-hour discussion, Gates shared his views about the American philanthropic tradition, his experiences in international philanthropic assistance, and the similarities and differences between Chinese and Americans in charitable giving by the wealthy. In return, Xu and Wang shared their unique perspectives about recent developments in Chinese philanthropy, and expressed optimism that with things having reached a turning point the future looked rosy. However, Gates threw out a thought that struck Xu. “Wealthy Americans find it harder to donate to charitable causes, because their wealth is mainly inherited and so comes with restrictions. In contrast, many of the wealthy Chinese are self-made individuals, and are free to decide how to direct their donations.” Xu began thinking about the possibilities for giving among China’s wealthy. “There is huge potential here, but China’s wealthy must consider carefully how to pass on their wealth and effectively manage their charitable assets. They have to think clearly and avoid focusing on short-term results. In this respect, China’s wealthy still have much to learn.”

While China’s philanthropic organisations and individuals continue to “look out into the world,” China’s different levels of government are also venturing out to draw upon the experiences of others. “Many of the officials currently in charge of China’s philanthropy policies have studied overseas or undertaken trips overseas, and are able to bring back many new ideas and use them to form a new vision of governance,” said Liu. ‘So in recent years, the policy and regulatory environment for China’s social organisations is not that much different from that of Europe or the U.S.”

Promoting Reform

Inspired by its Western counterparts, the ‘Learning from the West’ School of Chinese Philanthropy has been eager to develop local practices and innovations. But it is bound to be a thorny path. This has become particularly evident over the last decade. According to Xu Yongguang, the 1990s was a period when the government withdrew and citizens stepped forward. But after 2000, the reverse happened. [Editor’s Note: Xu’s observation is striking yet controversial given that grassroots NGOs and private foundations grew particularly rapidly after the early 2000s.]

Creating a platform for exchanges among foundation has always been on Shang Yusheng’s wish list. Ever since 1994, he and Xu as well as Yang Tuan [deputy director of the Social Policy Research Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences] have been working on establishing a China Federation of Foundations, “but we failed eventually because the government wasn’t ready.”

Having studied a number of foreign foundations and worked at the National Committee of the Natural Science Fund (国家自然科学基金委员会), in 1998, Shang Yusheng carried out a major coup in 1998: he facilitated the cooperation between the Ford Foundation and the National Committee in his capacity as the Secretary-General of the China Science Fund’s Research Society (中国科学基金研究会). Sponsored by Ford Foundation, he held a non-governmental organization management conference. Over 200 people attended this four-day conference to discuss topics such as “Foundations, Nonprofit Organizations and the Law”, ‘Fundraising for Foundations”, “Foundation Asset Management’ and ‘Foundations Facing the 21st Century’. ‘It was the first conference in which the development of American foundations was systematically discussed,’ said Shang.

By the end of 1998, under the support of Yan Mingfu, then the president of the China Charity Federation (中华慈善总会), Shang and Xu founded the China Foundation and NPO Information Network, which was later registered as Beijing Enjiu Information Consulting Center (后来注册为北京恩玖信息咨询中心).

Xu has a very high acceptance rate for new things. “I can pick out very quickly what is good, and adopt it if it looks useful. Family foundations, community foundations, United Way, charitable trusts, venture philanthropy, mutual funds and the China Foundation Center are some examples. Xu believes that all of the above can take root in China.

In 1998, Xu took a one-month study tour of the U.S. “That trip allowed me to take in the American philanthropy sector. Many of the things I did after that was influenced by that trip. Some things took over 10 years to push through such as the China Foundation Center and charitable trusts,” said Xu. When he returned to China, he immediately arranged for Cheng Gang, the CEO of the China Foundation Center, to register four domains for the NPO Information Network, using the key words China NPO, China NGO, NPO and NGO.

When visiting the New York Community foundation, Xu was surprised to discover it was so large, managing 1,500 charitable trust funds. “Community trust funds are very diverse, and are entrusted to spend money for philanthropic purposes based on the donor’s request or will.” Xu thought that was a brilliant idea. When he got back to China, he tried to establish a ‘charitable memorial fund’ at China Youth Development Foundation, which allowed a donor to establish a fund in his or her parent’s name with a minimum donation of 10,000 yuan. “Our influence is limited and this effort ultimately did not take off,’ said Xu. Three years later, the Trust Law of the People’s Republic of China was introduced with ‘charitable trust’ on its list. ‘This year, the first charitable trust in mainland China might be set up in Shenzhen.’

Similar actions were taken as a result of years of communication and cooperation between Xu and United Way International. As early as the late 1990s, when Xu Yongguang was visiting United Way International, the CEO of the organization told him that their next goal was to allow Chinese organizations to join. Ever since, Xu has been planning on cooperation between United Way International and the China Charity Federation (CCF). Although the CCF has become a member of United Way International, the cooperation did not work well. In 2005, Xu became Vice President of the CCF, and hoped to reopen the cooperation with United Way International to explore new pathways for non-governmental charities to engage in collective fundraising. This attempt eventually failed and in less than a year, Xu resigned from the CCF. Before he left, he called the former president Yan Mingfu. Yan expressed concerned, but also understanding. He only had one request, “Don’t stop helping to advance the credibility of the sector.”

For the past 26 years, Xu has been promoting China’s philanthropic culture. He’s regarded as the ‘father of Chinese philanthropy’. In the meantime, his bold actions have been criticized on numerous occasions.

Using funds from the China Youth Development Foundation’s Project Hope to invest in keeping the organization running was a necessary evil at the time. In the 1998 Foundation Management Regulations issued by the State Council, Article 9 stated that all foundation staff salaries and administrative costs had to be paid for from the interest income of the fund. This is basically asking foundations to operate at no cost and places a great deal of pressure on the foundation. “Back then, the money used to pay for envelopes to allow students benefiting from scholarships to thank the donor, let alone salaries for staff, could come from the donated funds. Regulations did not allow it and neither would the donor!”

Because the investments are made with donations, and because there are losses from specific investments, Xu was blamed and misunderstood for many years for “misappropriating donations”, ” making investments in violation of the regulations”, and “causing huge losses.” In fact, the results so far show that the capital investment of about 120 million yuan for that year was not only recovered but also earned more than 200 million in profit. “At the time, under pressure from different sides, we could only deal with this by taking back the investment. That investment in several courtyard properties in Beijing would by now be worth around several hundred million, but at that time, we were only able to recover about several million from our initial investment.” Here, Xu expresses a bit of frustration.

“Twenty years ago, the first time I saw teacher Nan Huaijin, he told me “defamation comes with growing fame.” As a result, I’m mentally prepared, but also know that I need to adhere to a moral bottom line and be very calm. I’m thinking my next step is to promote family foundations, community foundations, the United Way, charitable trusts, charitable asset management, and social impact investment. Things that represent future trends need to be pushed one step at a time and then they’ll gain momentum” Xu says.

In addition, Xu Yongguang recommends philanthropic organizations seize the opportunities offered by the Internet.” This may mean that the sector will have to go through a restructuring.” He suggested that the government allow some public universities to be run by nonprofit organizations, thereby converting public universities into private ones. “The Rockefeller Foundation established the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, which together can claim a total of 105 Nobel Prizes. It’s shameful to think about how much the government in China has invested in public universities in China.” He believes that Xiamen University and Shantou University, which were originally established with charitable donations, could be the first to convert to private universities. “Foundations that establish universities are not under pressure to make a return on their investment and can focus on developing talent. Only in this way can China hope to produce universities like America’s private universities that can cultivate innovative talent and produce great scholars.”

Compared to Xu’s challenging quest, Wang Zhenyao’s progress in philanthropic exchanges between East and West has been much smoother. In just three years time, Wang Zhenyao has helped to establish a “China-US Strategic Philanthropy ” (CUSP) platform, a China-U.S. philanthropy dialogue among wealthy families, the first East-West Charity Forum, have garnered recognition among both Chinese and American philanthropists and widespread praise by the public. “I think there are still too few philanthropic exchanges between China and the U.S., and many Chinese and American philanthropists are hoping to make use of platforms like CPRI to strengthen communication and exchanges,” Wang notes.

After several overseas trips, Liu Xuanguo has proposed some thoughts about the development of foundations. He believes that the foundation is an innovative social mechanism, and therefore should continue to generate innovations. Leaders of foreign foundation’s generally use the title of “president” or “CEO” so “the titles of foundation staff should be on a par with commercial companies, so as to clarify responsibilities, and make it easier to assess performance.” He put this proposal in a report to the Chinese Red Cross Society’s General Assembly, but received no feedback. He also advocated signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the U.S.-based World’s Children Fund, hoping it would help the Red Cross establish a database for fundraising purposes. “For various reasons, promoting this kind of cooperation did not go smoothly,” Liu admits.

However, his recommendations on “strengthening evaluation of public benefit projects” will soon be implemented by the Red Cross. From 2005 to 2012, during a seven year period, the Red Cross Foundation only completed one project evaluation report, but in 2013 alone, it completed three project evaluation reports. “In the future, we need to put more effort into evaluating public benefit projects, since the evaluation process can help us identify problems, and ways to address them,” Liu said.

In studying Western experiences and approaches, and developing local adaptations, these “Learning from the West School of Chinese Philanthropists” are reflecting on their own roles in promoting the modernization and internationalization of Chinese philanthropy, and assuming a greater sense of mission and responsibility.

Building Bridges

Wang Zhenyao is well aware of his role as an intermediary in philanthrophic exchanges between the East and West. “I feel I serve as a bridge or an intermediary. I facilitate communication between Chinese and American philanthropists by organizing various forums,” he said. Wang is highly welcomed by Chinese and American philanthropists, because of his humility and the attention to detail he puts into his professional work. A philantrophist once half-jokingly remarked that “the future Secretary-General must have qualities which Wang Zhenyao possesses”.

“The social good I’ve conributed to pales in comparison to what philantrophists do,” said Wang. He continued, “I’ve learned many new things and ideas while organizing exchanges and facilitating dialogues between Chinese and American philanthropists. I also bring my expertise in China to the table, which is extremely valued by foreign philanthropists.”

Once, an European NGO academic asked Wang if he knew who the first person in the world to donate all his wealth was. Wang cited several Western philanthropists, but was told that the person was in fact “China’s Fan Li, who in a single lifetime went from rags to riches three times, each time donating all his wealth to the wider community.” [Editor’s Note: Fan Li was an advisor to the state of Yue in the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 B.C.) and later became a wealthy businessman.] The academic also mentioned that China had an enduring history of charity. Wang Zhenyao later compared charity in China to charity outside of China, and realized that the foreign scholar had a point. “Looking at Chinese charity in that light provided me with more faith, confidence and esteem in international dialogues,” said Wang Zhenyao.

According to Xu Yongguang, both Eastern and Western philantrophists have their own unique strengths. In 2012, he travelled to the United States four times, one time attending a prestigious China-US seminar about philantrophy held in Hawaii. The three day meeting began on a caual note, but on the final day, the host allotted one hour for both the Chinese and US teams to separately summarize the proceedings of the seminar and to present what they learnt on stage. Within an hour the Chinese team had set up a Secretariat, elected a Secretary-General, and split themselves into four discussion groups to discuss public trust, capacity building, social innovation and the legal framework for philantrophy. On stage, the Chinese delegation expressed the possibility of discussing these four areas with the U.S. delegation. The US delegation, however, was still composing their thoughts and engaging in vague discussions. The host then noted that “the Chinese group came out with three days worth of outcomes from an hour of discussion, whereas the US group’s discussion generated about 40 minutes worth.”

“Because we developed relatively late, we had to hit the ground running and learn from everyone else. Through the exchange process, we succeeded as late bloomers,” Cheng Gang said. In the past two years, he has attended numerous forums in the philanthropy sector, and developed a new understanding of East-West philantrophy exchanges.

“Western society did not take long to develop innovative constructs such as social enterprise and impact investing. We should catch up with the West in these aspects, or even try to better them,” Xu noted. “Chinese philanthropy has to learn from the West and it has to be as innovative as possible. In 2012, when the China Foundation Center introduced the China Foundation Transparency Index, many Western counterparts were impressed. The president of the U.S. Foundation Center praised it as “a contribution to the world.”

A more common reaction among China’s philanthropic pioneers is that the impact of Western philanthropy, such as its “powerful innovations”, “attention to detail” and “lofty missions,” continues to stimulate and inspire their creativity and thought processes.

At the same time, they are considering how the next generation can inherit this nascent platform for East-West philantrophic exchanges. Under current cirumstances, only government officials, entrepreneurs, and senior staff of foundations are given the opportunity to go abroad. “This is a problem many philantrophists face. Our consensus is that we should provide young people with more opportunities. The China Philantrophy Research Institute will be exploring this area, and establishing a mechanism for training and exchanges,” said Wang Zhenyao. The Narada Foundation, under Xu Yongguang’s leadership, has already began working on this area. Its “Gingko Fellows Program” [which gives fellowships to emerging NGO leaders] includes a number of observation and study projects, including one on “Overseas Study”.

As a bridge and intermediary in encouraging Western and Eastern philantrophic exchanges, both Xu and Wang are perceptive enough to identify misunderstandings which occur as the Chinese philanthropy sector learns from the West. “Learning from the West should been uncomplicated, but we tend to beat around the bush and some have adopted this ultra-leftist mindset that “we have to be vigilant against anything Western,” said Xu.

From Wang’s perspective, “cultural barriers” pose huge obstacles to dialogues with the West. “Our system for transmitting knowledge is problematic, and we fail to grasp a basic understanding of some concepts, resulting in certain misunderstandings when we exchange views. Moreover, China’s philanthropic sector needs to pay particular attention to the need for transparency, and must also respect the need for donor anonymity.”

Today, China has become the world’s second largest economy, and many of her companies have integrated into the global economic system. “Yet because Chinese philanthropy has not yet internationalized, it remains stunted. If philanthropy does not internationalize, China will not have fully stood up in the world,” said Wang.

International responsibility

On December 16, 2013, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation convened a People’s Forum on International Social Responsibility at Beijing University’s Yinglie Overseas Exchange Center. Three hundred people attended the forum, including representatives from China’s ministries, the UNDP China office, a delegation from Myanmar, Chinese businesses, multinational companies in China, academics, and international and Chinese NGOs. [Editor’s Note: For more on this forum, see the CDB report “Chinese Aid Abroad: The People’s Forum on International Social Responsibility.”] The forum was also nicknamed He Daofeng’s pulpit, since he is the executive chairman of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. [Editor’s Note: The Chinese term 道场 (dao chang) refers to a place where Daoist or Buddhist rites are performed, or a religious space where someone preaches to influence others, thus a kind of pulpit.]


The Forum was convened by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation in Beijing in December 2013.

The notion that China’s NGOs shoulder international responsibility is a controversial one. The Chinese public and media often think that many domestic groups need assistance, and we should solve domestic problems first, before assuming international responsibility.

“If we say we won’t or don’t care about helping others out because we ourselves are poor, then we will only get poorer,” said He. He gave an example: “If our family is poor and can’t afford schooling for our children, can we then do nothing for a very sick child whose family is poorer than us?”

The philosophy He upholds reflects a position that the “Learning from the West School” of Chinese philanthropists share regarding international responsibility.

On August 16, 2011, the news that several Beijing schools for migrant children had been shut down caused concern among the public. At the same time, the news that the China-Africa Project Hope was going ahead to build 1,000 Hope primary schools in Africa within 10 years at a cost of about 2 billion yuan [over U.S.$300 million] sparked public debate. The organizers of the project, the World Eminence Chinese Entrepreneurs Association and the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), came under public criticism, a number of donors dropped out, and the project went into a tailspin. [Editor’s Note: On this “scandal” and others that took place in 2011, see the CDB article “The Year of Scandal”.]

“Narrow-minded nationalism and self-contemptuous patriotism undermined the China-Africa Project Hope,” Xu Yongguang noted. “Now there are many Chinese companies investing overseas, their image in Africa is very poor, and they are behaving even worse than the previous [European] colonialists in destroying the environment, among other things. Companies carrying out local charity programs could achieve win-win results by improving the investment environment and becoming a part of the local community. Many foreign companies which have invested in China gave no small amount of support to China’s Project Hope.”

A philanthropist told Wang Zhenyao in private that he earned over a billion yuan in Africa, so he should donate some money to local communities. “A very important reason why Chinese companies in Africa and Europe encountered problems is that their owners have not distributed enough charity,” said Wang. At the East-West Philanthropy Forum, when American philanthropists were told that Cao Dewang would increase his investment in the U.S., they suggested he include in his public relations campaign the fact that he had donated nearly U.S.$1 billion in China. By doing so, he would gain the local community’s trust and understanding.

Cheng Gang thinks that conducting charity abroad is an important way to popularize China’s mainstream values. “Over the past few decades, the Chinese public’s education has been particularly narrow, and we have lost our sense of love and tolerance. This is a failure of our culture and education. It only took a few charity activities to be conducted abroad before some so-called ‘patriots’ began expressing their criticism. When China participates in international affairs, why do we think we’re powerful, yet others see us in a different light? We have to ask ourselves, where’s our international responsibility, and what are our mainstream values”?

Liu Xuanguo visited the USA in November 2013. He was moved when he watched a video by the New York branch of Taiwan’s Tzu Chi Foundation about its global relief efforts. “In the major disasters over the world, Tzu Chi is the first to arrive and the last to leave. It is merely a branch of a Taiwan civil organization in distant New York, but its staff’s quality puts us so-called philanthropy professionals to shame. We are promoting China’s soft power, but a civic organization in Taiwan can promote Chinese culture to the world, and this fact made us think.”

In addition to reflecting on the “right path,” the “Learning from the West School of Chinese Philanthropy” has began to take action, trying to show to the international community how China philanthropy is assuming international responsibility.

In terms of organizations, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) is a pioneer. In January 2005, the CFPA, together with the Mercy Corps, donated medicines worth 44 million yuan [about U.S.$5 million] to the tsunami-stricken areas in Indonesia, setting a precedent for Chinese NGOs in their internationalization effort. In 2007, the CFPA instituted a strategic plan to develop into a grant-making, international foundation. Starting in 2008, it began to send aid to Africa where it has built a hospital and sent medical teams with the support of Chinese companies. [Editor’s Note: For more on the hospital, see the CDB article, “The Sudan-China Abu Ushar Friendship Hospital: China’s First Overseas Charitable NGO Project”.]


In July 2011, the Sudan-China Abu Ushar Friendship Hospital built jointly by the PetroChina and the CFPA was completed. The hospital represents the CFPA’s first step in its internationalization efforts, and a new model for PetroChina in carrying out charity overseas.

“As China gradually develops into an economic power, the international community expects more in terms of its role and image on the world stage: changing from an aid recipient to an aid donor, and bearing more responsibility for humanitarian relief, the environment, and conflict resolution. Chinese companies that operate abroad should pay more attention to resource utilization and environmental protection, strengthen their role awareness, and develop appropriate strategies,” said He Daofeng.

The CFPA’s efforts at internationalizing have impressed Liu Xuanguo. “The CFPA has philanthropic activities abroad and carries out projects with local Red Cross organizations there. If anything, the China Red Cross Foundation should be in the lead.”

In fact, Liu has also been thinking about it. In 2010, the China Red Cross Foundation developed a plan to broaden its Red Cross Angels Program to other countries, prepared a budget plan, estimated how much it might need to build a village-level health station in Africa, and contacted several Chinese state-owned enterprises with operations in Africa to develop an action program and research report.

“But there was no real progress,” said Liu regretfully. “In 2013, we developed a program to expand assistance to African and Southeast Asian countries. These projects are being implemented, and will be finished in 2014.”

While social organizations are accelerating their efforts to “go abroad”, China’s philanthropists are also moving in this direction.

In 2009, Feng Lun [of the Vantone Group, a large real estate company, and one of the founders of the Vantone Charitable Foundation] established the World Future Foundation (世界未来基金会) in Singapore, which is the first Singapore-based foundation founded by mainland Chinese entrepreneurs. Niu Gensheng of Mengniu [a large dairy company], which was implicated in the tainted milk powder scandal several years ago, is now actively involved in overseas philanthropic activities. Lu Dezhi [of the finance and investment company, Tehua] began to donate to American universities many years ago. According to the 2013 edition of China’s Top 100 Philanthropists released by CPRI, there were only four Chinese entrepreneurs who made overseas donations of over 200 million yuan [over U.S.$30 million] in 2013.

This is just a starting point. As China philanthropy has modernizes, internationalizes and shoulders more international responsibility, more and more social organizations, nonprofit practitioners and philanthropists will follow.

In 1990, just in his early forties, Xu Yongguang started the first overseas philanthropic exchange. An Bugong, a Japanese citizen who loved Chinese culture, donated 100 million Japanese yen (equivalent to 8 million yuan at the time) to [the China Youth Development Foundation’s] Project Hope. It was a huge donation at the time. As an expression of gratitude, the China Youth Development Foundation collected some Chinese paintings, sponsored a Chinese art exhibition in Japan, and sent these paintings to the Japanese donor.

Xu always remembers the day when he and Li Gang, then director of the Communist Youth League’s International Liaison Department (and currently the director of the the central government’s Liaison Office in Macau), each carried a bag full of tickets for the art exhibition, going door to door to every Sino-Japanese friendship exchange organization, to invite them to attend the exhibition, saying yoroshiku, a Japanese expression meaning “please.” Li had been to Japan dozens of times, and when he met people he knew along the way, he joked that he was “a salesman with a bag on his shoulder.” Twenty-four years have passed since that day.

<strong>中国公益慈善“洋务派”</strong>

在中国公益慈善现代化、国际化进程中,一个先锋群体是如何冲破空间和观念的双重障碍,放眼世界,走向西方,“师夷长技以自强”,进而持续助推中国公益慈善不断前行。一路上,他们寻获光荣与梦想,同时,质疑和无奈也如影随形。

记者|张枭翔 编辑|安言

2014年1月2日,美国夏威夷,纽约市前市长迈克尔·布隆伯格开着私人飞机来了,美国前财长亨利·鲍尔森开着私人飞机来了,前“垃圾债券大王”迈克·米尔肯开着私人飞机来了,洛克菲勒家族成员理查德·洛克菲勒也开着私人飞机来了⋯⋯然后他们共同钻进一辆小小的面包车,开赴一个酒店,在那里,一群来自中国的慈善家正等待着他们,其中包括有“中国首善”之称的曹德旺、退出商界后全心做慈善的牛根生、因提出要捐100亿做慈善而闻名中国的卢德之。

这次峰会是史上规格最高的一次中美慈善家交流活动,由中国公益研究院和美国东西方中心联合主办,老牛基金会、华民慈善基金会和凯风公益基金会联合资助发起。“在美国人的地盘上,由我们中国的慈善家来邀请美国政商名流和慈善家一起吃饭、一起住,封闭三天,进行慈善合作的探讨,这还是头一回。”组织这次中国慈善家美国之行的北师大中国公益研究院院长王振耀告诉慈传媒《中国慈善家》。

本来迈克尔·布隆伯格把出席这次论坛视为卸任纽约市市长之职后的第一次公开亮相(但此次论坛被界定为不对媒体公布的私密性论坛),他原计划待半个小时,作一场讲话,但与中国的慈善家们会面后兴趣高涨,便将时间延长了一个半小时。亨利·鲍尔森完整地参加了为期三天的论坛,总结了他的美国财长生涯,“我当财长就做了两件事,一是推动中美关系,二是参与环保。”迈克·米尔肯带着孙子提前到了夏威夷,当年他被诊断出癌症,预计只能再活20个月时,他无法想象多年后的一天,他将与中美慈善家共聚一堂。美国桥水公司创始人雷·达理也参加了峰会,有的慈善家是刚刚在美国本土滑完雪,带着滑雪用具直接过来的。

“半条华尔街的精英都来了。”中国的慈善家们私下里开玩笑。

东道主中国代表团的阵容同样强大。老牛基金会创始人牛根生、华民慈善基金会创始人卢德之、凯风公益基金会创始人及理事长段伟红、福耀集团董事长曹德旺、中国公益研究院院长王振耀等,作为中方代表团主力参加了这次峰会。他们皆是中国企业家和学者群体中,较早深度参与公益慈善的人。

虽然中国的公益慈善作为一个行业,其发展史还不过30多年,但其发展却迅猛。与其相伴的是,中国慈善领域走出去借鉴国外同行经验的历史。改革开放以后,1978年,民政部成立,成为唯一的国家级公益慈善主管单位;两年后,中国首家公益基金会—中国少年儿童基金会成立。初创的中国公益慈善行业急需借鉴西方经验,退出中国30年的国际机构也渴望再度进入中国。1979年中美建交后,福特基金会开始向中国提供资助,开启了改革开放后的中西方公益慈善交流之路。

之后的30年里,一群主张向西方学习先进公益慈善方法和经验的公益人,清醒地看到了中国公益慈善的缺憾,或挣脱体制的束缚走向民间开辟新天地,或在体制内努力拓展活动空间,在东西方公益慈善交流的道路上摸索、前行、受挫、反思。有人形象地称这个群体为“中国公益慈善的洋务派”。 看世界

“‘洋务派’这个称谓,有点道理,但不太准确,有些妄自菲薄的意味。事实上,我们有悠久的慈善传统。”南都基金会理事长徐永光说。

徐永光的公益慈善“洋务派”角色,在他任职团中央组织部部长时就已奠定。当时是1980年代末,在团中央做体制改革研究的徐永光发现,青少年发展存在大量亟待解决的问题,但国家财政投入不足,怎么办?从那时起,他就研究其他国家是如何在政府投入不足时,利用民间力量来解决社会问题的。他发现了公益基金会的形式,继而把“成立中国青少年发展基金会”写进了由他主笔的、共青团十二大通过的《共青团体制改革基本设想》。“当时没有出国访问交流的机会,就拼命寻找国外的相关文献,学习基金会如何筹款、管理,如何设计项目。”1988年共青团十二大闭幕,徐永光即请辞团中央组织部部长,次年3月,他以10万元注册资金创建中国青少年发展基金会,并任秘书长。

图1 2011年12月,正在北京访问的比尔·盖茨在盖茨基金会北京办事处约见了徐永光。

时隔多年,徐永光仍清晰记得第一次与西方公益慈善碰撞的情景。

青基会建立之初,办公室设在一座老旧的四合院里。恰好那时徐永光主导了一个全国个体工商户税法教育活动,靠教材发行挣了一笔钱,就对办公场所进行了装修,办公室贴了墙纸。结果,装修完没多久,一位领导来视察,看到整洁簇新的办公室,面露愠色,质问徐永光,“一个基金会怎么能装修得这么好?”并声称自己以后不会再来了。

没多久,一个外国基金会访问团到访,团长是一位老太太,在交流中,她突发感慨说:“一看到你们连办公环境都打理得这么好,就感觉你们是一个真正做事的机构,会让捐款人放心。”“天哪!”徐永光说,“观念差异怎会这么大。”

“这是我在国际交流中获得的第一个刺激。”徐永光说,“一个基金会,如果把自己打扮得像乞丐一样,这个机构注定没戏。”

西方公益慈善对机构形象的重视给了这些慈善先行者很多启发,而西方公益慈善机构的运作模式、管理方法和理念态度,更是深刻地影响着他们。

中国红十字会基金会(以下简称“红基会”)现任秘书长刘选国,2006年进入红基会,之后多次到海外参加红十字系统的参观交流。2009年7月,他应欧洲梅耶人类进步基金会主席皮埃尔·卡蓝默之邀出访法国,深入了解了该基金会之后,刘选国大为震惊,“一个基金会,竟然可以把促进人类进步当作自己的使命,而我们的基金会却还停留在扶贫济困的阶段。”

2013年年初,刘选国带领红基会考察团先后走访了福特、盖茨两大基金会在华办事处,以及红十字与红新月国际联合会东亚办事处,“从基金会的使命、宗旨,到治理机构和管理水准,中国的基金会与这些伟大的国际组织的距离还十分遥远。”刘选国大发感慨。2013年11月,他参加了国家外专局组织的赴美灾后重建体系建设培训班,回国后写了七篇考察日志。

多次的海外考察让刘选国的视野趋于国际化,“更加深刻地认识到社会组织的使命。像我们这样带有官方色彩的基金会,未来怎么更好地与国际社会接轨,怎样用大家都熟知的表达方式来沟通,怎样呈现开放、进取的形象。这些问题困扰着我,引发我思考。”刘选国告诉慈传媒《中国慈善家》。

2010年执掌中国公益研究院后不久,王振耀首次以学者身份去美国考察。早在还是官员身份,第一次出访西方世界考察公益时,他就给自己制定了一个一以贯之的原则和目标—“开放、学习”。20多天的考察期间,王振耀密集拜访了近20家慈善组织和智库。每参观一家机构,他都详细询问对方的项目设计、管理、评估,以及机构的运营、管理和考评。

图2 中国公益研究院院长王振耀 摄影 张旭

在旧金山,王振耀见识了美国社会组织的专业化服务,也意识到中国社会组织的落后。“回国后,我就以更宽容的态度看待政府和民间的问题了,两边都要调整,不能一味把板子打在政府身上。”王振耀说。

徐永光则对美国的社区基金会印象深刻。2010年和2012年,徐永光分别参观了硅谷社区基金会和夏威夷社区基金会。硅谷社区基金会仅有1亿美元自有资金,却受托代管了数百家家族基金会和NPO总额达14亿美元的资金。它收取受托资产1.5%的管理费,服务内容包括理财及落实公益项目。“硅谷社区基金会就是一个公益资产管理服务公司,每年超过2000万美元的管理费,使得它可以组建一个豪华团队来打理资产和运作公益项目,实现了慈善资产管理、项目服务的专业化、高效率。”从这些社区基金会身上,徐永光找到了改造中国公募基金会、慈善会的方向。

图3 南都基金会理事长 徐永光 摄影 张旭

2009年首届中国非公募基金会发展论坛甫一结束,徐永光就带着中国非公募基金会代表团去美国考察。在美国基金会中心(以下简称“FC”),徐永光和访问团全体成员受到了极大震撼。FC是一个有着50多年历史、囊括美国98000家基金会数据的信息披露平台。在一块大屏幕前,工作人员展示了FC构建的信息公开网络,点击某一家基金会,该基金会的捐助网络就会详尽地在世界地图上展现,再点击某一受助地,资金的流向和用途便事无巨细地一一呈现。这以后,徐永光决心重启早在1998年就尝试过的中国基金会信息透明平台。

在中国公益慈善界放眼全球的同时,一些外国机构和公益慈善人士也主动进入中国提供帮助。

皮特·盖特纳是福特基金会驻华代表处第一任首席代表。他于上世纪80年代初来到中国,建立了福特基金会驻华代表处,30年来,他始终支持着中国公益组织的发展和能力建设,对转型期中国公民社会发展的现状和挑战也非常了解。2010年10月,中国基金会高层访美活动,即是在盖特纳的精心安排下成行,也正是这个访问活动,催生了中国基金会中心网。

图4 2010年7月,基金会中心网在北京启动。

2011年,中国基金会中心项目筹备小组赴美,FC总裁布拉德·史密斯先生安排高层官员对中方小组成员进行了一周的培训指导,把FC的家底和盘托出。在给徐永光的一封邮件中,史密斯写道:“创建一个信息系统并具备研究能力,将使中国和世界的人们更好地了解中国慈善事业的真实维度,以及其巨大的潜能。我们非常荣幸能够成为中国基金会中心创建时期的合作伙伴,并见证这一里程碑式的伟大时刻。”

英国大使馆文化教育处举办的“社会企业家技能项目”,迄今已培训了1000多名中国社会企业家。“它对于社会企业、影响力投资等新理念在中国的传播起了很大作用。我特别看好。”徐永光表示。

2011年12月8日,正在北京访问的比尔·盖茨在盖茨基金会北京办事处约见徐永光和王振耀。将近一个半小时的讨论中,盖茨介绍了美国的慈善传统、国际慈善援助的经验,以及富人慈善在中美两国的异同。徐永光和王振耀分别从不同角度介绍了中国慈善发展的现状,认为中国慈善事业已经到了一个发展转折期,前景乐观。但盖茨抛出一个让徐永光大为震惊的观点,“美国富人捐财产相对较难,因为美国富人多数是财产的继承人而非创造者,中国的富人多数是第一代创业者,可以自主决定资产去向。”徐永光开始深入思考中国富人慈善的前景,“中国的富人慈善大有文章可做,富人如何理性地进行财富传承,有效运营慈善资产,一定要想清楚,切忌急功近利。中国的富人们还有很多东西需要学习。”

中国公益慈善的个体和机构不断地“看世界”,中国的国家政府层面也在不断“走出去”,以作为顶层设计的参考。“现在中国制定公益慈善政策的这批人,很多都有国外学习和访问的经历,能不断地把先进的东西引进来,进而影响决策层接受新的社会治理理念。”刘选国说,“所以这些年,中国社会组织的政策法规建设,并不比欧美国家差多少。”

<strong>促变革 </strong>

中国公益慈善的“洋务派”,从西方同行那里获得了启发和刺激,并急于展开本土化应用和创新。但这注定是一条荆棘丛生的道路。近十年来,这一特点尤为明显。徐永光认为,1990年代是政府开放空间、中国公益慈善“国让民进”的十年,但2000年以后,中国公益慈善出现了“国进民退”的反复。 创建一个基金会交流平台,一直是商玉生的夙愿。早在1994年,他和徐永光、杨团就牵头筹建中华基金会联合会,“但没成立起来,政府不太愿意。”商玉生说。

1998年,凭借在国家自然科学基金委员会工作期间,研究过很多外国基金会的经验,商玉生干了一件大事:以中国科学基金研究会秘书长的身份,促成了福特基金会与中国科学基金研究会的合作,由福特基金会出资,举办了一次民间组织管理报告会。该报告会包括四个专题:“基金会、非营利机构与法律”、“基金会如何筹集基金”、“基金会的保值增值”和“面向21世纪的基金会”,会议开了4天,有200多人参加。“这是第一次专门系统地介绍美国基金会发展之道的会议。”商玉生说。

1998年年底,商玉生和徐永光在时任中华慈善总会会长阎明复的支持下,共同发起了中国基金会与NPO信息网,后来注册为北京恩玖信息咨询中心。

徐永光对新东西的接受度很高,“我很快能看出哪些是好东西,可以为我们所用,一定要引过来。比如家族基金会、社区基金会、联合劝募、公益信托、公益创投、共同基金、基金会中心网,莫不如此。”徐永光坚信,上述每一项都可以在中国落地、生根。

1998年,徐永光赴美进行了为期一个月的考察,“那一次,我把美国的公益慈善看得透透的。之后我做的很多东西都是受那次考察的影响,有的东西十几年来锲而不舍地在推进,比如基金会中心、公益信托。”徐永光说。回国后,他立即安排基金会中心网总裁程刚为NPO信息网注册了四个域名,关键词分别是China NPO、China NGO、NPO、NGO。

参观纽约社区基金会时,徐永光惊讶于其所管理的1500项公益信托基金的庞大规模。“社区信托根据捐赠人的意愿或遗嘱委托去花钱做公益,资金的流向很多元。”徐永光觉得“这个东西太好了”。回国后就开始在青基会尝试做“公益纪念基金”,即捐赠人最低认捐1万元即可以父母或本人的名字建立一项基金。“力量所限,这项尝试最终没有做大。”三年后,《中华人民共和国信托法》出台,“公益信托”的内容赫然在列。“今年,中国内地第一单公益信托有望在深圳落地。”徐永光告诉慈传媒《中国慈善家》。

类似的行为还体现于徐永光与联合之路国际的多年交流合作中。早在上世纪90年代末,徐永光在参观联合之路国际时,该机构总裁告诉他,联合之路国际的下一个目标是发展中国机构加入。此后,徐永光为推动中华慈善总会与联合之路国际合作出谋划策,虽然后来中华慈善总会成了联合国之路国际的成员,但合作并不顺利。2005年,徐永光担任中华慈善总会副会长,希望重启与联合之路国际的合作,探索民间公益组织联合劝募的新路子。最后,这一努力以徐永光的失败告终。不到一年,徐永光即辞去中华慈善总会副会长一职,离开之前,他给老会长阎明复打了个电话,阎表示遗憾,也很理解,只提了一条要求,“行业公信力的推动不要中断。”

26年来,徐永光毫不动摇地推动着中国公益慈善文明,被尊称为“中国公益慈善教父”。而与此同时,他大胆创新的做法也屡遭质疑。

青基会的希望工程捐款拿去投资,通过保值增值的收益来支付行政开支,维持机构运行,这在当时是不得已而为之的做法。1988年国务院颁布的《基金会管理办法》第九条规定:基金会工作人员的工资和办公费用,在基金利息等收入中开支,并规定可以进行股权投资。这实质上是要求基金会“零成本”运作,客观上给基金会带来了很大压力。“当时,连让受助学生给捐赠人写信用的信封的钱,都不能从捐款中列支,想从捐款中开销人员工资,法规不允许,捐款人也不干啊!”徐永光回忆说。

因为投资用的是捐款,因为投资还有个别亏损,徐永光饱受“挪用捐款”、“违规投资”、“造成巨大损失”的质疑和误解,“黑锅”背了许多年。实际上,迄今为止的结果是,不仅当年大约1.2亿的投资本钱都已经收回,还净挣了2亿多。“当时在各方压力下我们只能全部处理回收投资资产,在北京购买的几座四合院,现在肯定值好几个亿了,当时只是收回投入的几百万。”说到这里,徐永光有些无奈。

“20多年前,第一次见到南怀瑾老师,他就送我‘谤随名高’四个字。因此我有充分的心理准备,也知道自己需要坚守的道德底线,故一直很坦然。下一步,我想主推家族基金会、社区基金会、联合劝募,公益信托、慈善资产管理的共同基金,还有社会影响力投资。代表方向的东西需要一步一步地推,总会推动起来的。”徐永光说。

此外,徐永光建议公益慈善机构抓住移动互联网带来的机遇。“这或许意味着行业将要进行一次重新洗牌。”他还建议政府把一批公立大学拨给非营利机构,变公办为民办。“洛克菲勒基金会办的芝加哥大学和洛克菲勒大学一共出了105个诺贝尔奖,想想中国那些国家投巨资养着的国立大学,实在令人汗颜。”他认为,厦门大学、汕头大学这类本来就是慈善捐赠办起来的大学可以先变为民办,“基金会办大学没有投资回报压力,可以专心培养人才。如此,中国才有希望出现像美国的私立大学一样培养创新型人才、出大师的大学。”

相比徐永光的艰难求索,王振耀在中外慈善交流方面的进展则要轻松得多。短短三四年间,王振耀推动的“中美战略慈善”交流平台、中美慈善家族高端对话、首届东西方慈善论坛等,都获得中美慈善家的认可,亦收获大众的广泛赞誉。“我觉得中美慈善交流现在还是太少了,很多中美慈善家都希望借助中国公益研究院这样的平台来加强沟通与交流。”王振耀说。

经过多次海外考察后,刘选国相继提出了一些基金会变革思路。他认为,基金会是社会的创新机器,因而自身应不断创新。外国基金会的领导人一般以“总裁”、“CEO”称呼,“基金会的称谓应该与商业公司看齐,这样才能明确职责,方便考核绩效。”他把这一建议汇报给中国红十字会总会,但还没有下文。他还力主与美国的世界儿童基金会签订战略合作协议,希望对方帮助红基会建立数据库筹款模式。“由于多方面的原因,这种合作推进得并不顺畅。”刘选国坦言。

不过,他关于“加强公益项目评估”的思考,很快在红基会得到落实。2005年至2012年,整整七年,红基会只做过一个项目评估报告,但仅2013年一年,红基会就做了三个项目评估报告。“今后要加大公益项目的评估力度,评估能帮助我们发现项目存在的问题,进而找到改进思路。”刘选国说。

学习西方的经验和方法,进而展开本土化实践,这群“中国公益慈善的洋务派”们,正反思着自己在中国公益慈善现代化、国际化进程中的角色定位,并计划承担起更多的使命和责任。

<strong>做“桥梁”</strong>

王振耀很清楚自己在东西方慈善交流中的作用,“我觉得我是桥梁、媒介,我能促进中美慈善家之间的沟通,组织落实一些论坛。”王振耀很受中美慈善家们的欢迎,这源于他谦和的为人和细心的做事态度。“以后选秘书长就要选王振耀这样的人。”有慈善家开玩笑说。

“慈善家们做了那么多好事,我给人家提供点服务不算什么。”王振耀说,“组织中美慈善家交流对话,让我学到很多新的知识、理念,与此同时,我们也会把很多东西带过去,外国慈善家也急需了解中国。”

有一次,王振耀与一位欧洲慈善学者讨论谁是世界裸捐第一人。王振耀举出好几个西方慈善家的名字,对方都说不对,最后,对方告诉他,“是中国的范蠡,他‘三散其财’。”对方又补充道,“其实中国也有很多很好的慈善经验。”王振耀后来对比中外慈善史,方觉外国学者所言非虚。“正确看待中国慈善的价值,自己也就更有信心,在国际交流中底气更足。”王振耀说。

在徐永光看来,东西方慈善家是各有千秋。2012年,他跑了四趟美国,有一次在夏威夷参加一个中美慈善高层交流会。为期三天的会议开得松松垮垮,最后一天,主持人宣布中美两边先分开讨论,一个小时后派代表上台汇报。一个小时内,中方在小组内成立了秘书处,选出了秘书长,分成了四个讨论小组,分别就公信力、能力建设、社会创新和法律四个议题进行讨论。中方汇报人在台上表示,希望就这四个方面与美方展开讨论和对接。美方汇报却依旧悬在空中,还在就理念、道理进行空泛的讨论。“中方在1个小时内拿出的成果似乎经过了3天的讨论,美方的报告看起来像是讨论了40分钟的成果。”主持人评价道。

“因为我们发展得较晚,因此我们的包袱小,有用的就学,拿起来就干。在交流过程中,我们有自己的后发优势。”程刚表示。这两年,他外出参加论坛的频率陡增,对中西方慈善交流也产生了新的认识。

“像社会企业、影响力投资,西方社会发展的时间也不长,我们应该在这些方面努力赶上,甚至弯道超车。”徐永光说,“中国的公益慈善,一是要向西方学习,二是要尽量多创新。”事实上,基金会中心网2012年发布的“中基透明指数”(FTI),就让很多西方同行大为震惊,“这是对全世界的贡献。”美国基金会中心总裁如此评价。

但更多的时候,这群先行者们感受到的依然是西方公益慈善带来的冲击,“强劲的创新动力”、“细致的做事方式”、“崇高的使命”,不断激发着他们的思考和创新行动。

同时,他们也在考虑年轻一代如何传承业已形成的中西方慈善交流机制。现在的情况是,有机会出国交流的公益慈善人士,以政府官员、企业家和基金会高层为主。“其实这也是很多慈善家们在考虑的问题,大家的共识是,应该把更多的机会向年轻人开放。中国公益研究院将来会在这方面进行探索,建立一套交流和培训机制。”王振耀说。徐永光主导的南都公益基金会早已在这方面进行了探索,旗下的“银杏伙伴成长计划”涵盖诸多考察项目,其中一项就是“海外考察”。

既为东西方公益慈善的“桥梁”和“媒介”,徐永光、王振耀都敏锐观察到了时下中国公益慈善界在向西方学习时存在的误区。“向西方学习这条路,本来可以走得很直,但我们绕了不少弯路,应该警惕‘凡是西方的东西我就设防’的极左思想。”徐永光说。

在王振耀看来,“文化障碍”是当下中西方交流中的最大问题。“我们的知识传导系统出了问题,对一些基本概念的描述理解不清,致使交流时产生冲突。此外,中国公益慈善界尤其要注意公开透明的边界,要尊重公益慈善从业者的隐私。”王振耀提醒道。

时至今日,中国已成为全球第二大经济体,很多企业已融入全球经济体系,“但中国的慈善仍然没走出去,在走出去过程中,慈善这条腿太短了。如果慈善不走出去,中国就还没有真正站起来。”王振耀说。

<strong>国际责任</strong>

2013年12月16日,由中国扶贫基金会主办的“国际社会责任民间论坛”在北京大学英杰国际交流中心举行。多个国家部委的代表、联合国驻华系统代表、缅甸代表团、中资企业代表、在华跨国企业的代表、专家学者、国际国内民间组织代表共300多人参加了论坛。因何道峰是中国扶贫基金会现任执行会长,有人将之称为“何道峰的道场”。

图5 2013年12月,由中国扶贫基金会主办的“国际社会责任民间论坛”在北京举行。

中国民间组织承担国际责任,在中国一直是颇具争议性的话题。公众、媒体大都认为国内还有很多群体需要救助,应该先解决国内问题,然后再考虑承担国际责任。

“如果说我们自己还很穷,对外面所有的人都不帮助,都不管,那我们只会越来越穷。”何道峰回应道,他打了个比方,“如果我们家很穷,孩子上学都很困难,难道就因为这个原因,见到隔壁更困难的病重孩子,我们就可以见死不救吗?”

何道峰所秉持的理念,正是“中国公益慈善洋务派”们面对国际责任时的共同价值观。

2011年8月16日,一则北京多所农民工子弟学校遭关停的消息,引起人们的关注。同时,一条“中非希望工程将在10年内为非洲捐建1000所希望小学,耗资约20亿元人民币”的新闻也进入公众视野,并引发热议。此后,“中非希望工程”当事方世界杰出华商协会和中国青少年发展基金会,开始饱受公众质疑,很多捐赠方旋即退出,项目陷入窘境。

“狭隘的民族主义、自卑的爱国主义,打死了‘中非希望工程’。”徐永光一语中的,“现在中国有大量企业在海外投资,在非洲等地的形象很不好,毁坏环境等方面比老殖民主义时代的力度都大。去海外投资的企业在当地做慈善,有利于改善投资环境,融入当地社区,其实是一种双赢。当年很多到中国投资的外企,对‘希望工程’的支持力度都不小。”

一位慈善家曾私底下告诉王振耀,自己在非洲赚了十多亿,不捐给当地一些说不过去。“中国企业在非洲、欧洲都遭遇很多问题,很重要的一个原因是慈善没有走出去。”王振耀说。“东西方慈善论坛”上,当美国的慈善家们听说曹德旺要加大在美国的投资力度时,纷纷给他支招,建议他在构建公共关系时一定要加上在中国捐赠近10亿美元的事实,因为这样可以获得当地人的信任与理解。

程刚认为,慈善走出去是国家主流价值观输出的一种重要方式。“几十年来,我们的公众被教育得特别狭隘,丧失了爱人类的包容心,这是文化的失败、教育的失败。中国慈善稍微走出去一点,就老有‘爱国者’发出质疑声。”程刚说,“为什么中国在进行国际参与的时候,自己觉得很强大,但别人总是另眼相看。你的国际责任在哪里?你的主流价值是什么?”

2013年11月的美国考察之行,在观看完慈济基金会纽约区展示的全球救灾视频后,刘选国眼睛湿润了,“在全球历次重大灾难中,慈济都是最先到达,最后撤离。一个远在纽约的台湾民间组织的分支机构,其人员素质的水准,让我们这些号称专业慈善工作者的人自叹弗如。我们常常倡导国家软实力,而一个台湾地区的民间组织却能将中华文化推广到世界各地,这不得不引人深思。”

除了在“道”层面上的思索,“中国公益慈善洋务派”们也已开始陆续行动起来,试图让国际社会看到中国公益慈善承担国际责任的表现。

机构方面,中国扶贫基金会是先行者。2005年1月,中国扶贫基金会与美慈组织一起向印尼海啸灾区捐赠了价值4400万元的药品,开启了中国民间机构国际化探索的先河。2007年,中国扶贫基金会制定了向筹资型和国际化基金会转变的机构发展战略,并于2008年踏上援助非洲发展之路,此后又联合了一批企业,在非洲建医院,并派驻医疗队。

图6 2011年7月,由中石油和中国扶贫基金会合作援建的苏中阿布欧舍友谊医院正式竣工。这是中国扶贫基金会国际化实验的第一步,也开创了中石油海外慈善的崭新模式。

“当中国逐渐变为经济大国后,世界对中国在国际舞台上的角色和形象有了新的定义和要求:从受援国变成援助国,对人道主义的救援,对环境、人类和平与地区和平承担责任。中国走出去的企业应该对资源利用与环境保护构建新的视角,加强角色意识并制定应对策略。”何道峰说。

中国扶贫基金会的海外探索让刘选国触动很大,“中国扶贫基金会都已经走出去了,并且在依托当地的红十字会做项目,中国红十字会系统内的红基会理应走在前面。”

其实,刘选国也一直在探索。2010年,红基会曾制定计划,把红基会旗下的“红十字天使计划”拓展到海外,甚至已经做好了预算,测算出了在非洲建一个村级卫生站的费用,还与在非洲开展业务的相关国企进行沟通,制定了行动方案和调查报告。“但是没有实质性的进展。”刘选国遗憾地说,“不过,2013年我们制定了在非洲和东南亚国家展开援助的项目计划,这些项目正在运作,计划2014年完成。”

在社会组织不断加快“走出去”步伐的同时,中国的慈善家也陆续跟上。

2009年,冯仑在新加坡成立了世界未来基金会,这是新加坡第一个由中国大陆企业家出资成立的公益性基金会。曾因“毒奶事件”深陷舆论漩涡的牛根生,现在也正积极部署海外慈善。卢德之则是早已开始对美国的大学进行捐赠。据中国公益研究院发布的《2013中国捐赠百杰榜》显示,仅2013年一年,就有4位中国企业家做出了逾2亿元的海外捐赠。

这还仅仅是个起点。在中国公益慈善的现代化、国际化和国际责任担当的道路上,一批又一批的社会组织、公益慈善从业者和慈善家们正努力前行。

时间回溯到1990年,刚过不惑之年的徐永光,开始了人生第一次出国公益慈善交流,一位热爱中国文化的日本人安部功给“希望工程”捐了1亿日元(当年合800万元人民币),在当时,那是一笔不小的钱。作为答谢,青基会征集了一些中国画,计划在日本举办一次中国美术展,并把画作送给这位日本友人。

徐永光永远记得那一天,他和时任团中央国际联络部部长的李刚(现任中联办澳门主任),每人扛着一个袋子,袋子里装的全是美术展的门票,一路寻找,敲开一家又一家中日友好交流机构的大门送票,恳请“光临关照”。当时已经去过日本几十次的李刚,一路上不断碰到熟人,自嘲自己成了“背麻袋的推销员”。时间已过去了24年。

本文选自慈传媒《中国慈善家》2014年2月刊,版权归慈传媒所有。

Translated by Lauren Gloudeman, Ming Lee, Yifan Liu, Li Hsieh and Bulong Zai

Reviewed by Shawn Shieh

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