Voice of the NGO:Adding Compassion to the Charity Law (first draft)

惠泽人

中文 English

On October 31, 2015, after ten long years of waiting, the Charity Law (Draft) (Charity Law) was finally presented to the world and opened up to the public for recommendations. The passage of this law will mark a historic new stage of development for Chinese philanthropy.With this in mind, as soon as the draft’s was announced, the Beijing Huizeren Volunteering Development Center established a work team named “Our Recommendations for the Charity Law,” which launched a series of events aimed at beginning the process of deciphering the law and gathering feedback for it from the public. In total, over 500 civil organizations participated in the “Our Recommendations for the Charity Law” campaign and more than 100 comments were collected from professionals, volunteers, and members of the community. The majority of the suggestions focused on the definition of charitable activity and volunteer services, charitable organizations and services, collecting donations and donating, promotional measures, oversight and supervision.

As a nonprofit organization committed to promoting volunteer services and capacity building, Huizen is fully dedicated to encouraging civic volunteerism and inspiring individuals to participate in philanthropic, charitable activities and innovative social movements. We strongly believe that the spirit of volunteerism is and will continue to be an everlasting source of support for philanthropy. In the modern era, as China’s society and economy turn to confront a plethora of challenges, citizens not only do not have to be the cause of social problems, but rather they can become a critical force in helping to solve these problems. However, while we are the world’s second largest economy, our charitable donations (monetary and of time) still only amid the last six countries in the world, and our volunteer rate is only 6%! [1] It is not that Chinese citizens lack charitable hearts—what they lack is appropriate legal guarantees and an institutional direction that would encourage and guide them to do good. Because of this Huizeren, bringing together its 20 years of practical experience in volunteer service and the voice of the volunteers themselves, puts forth the following recommendations.

 

Recommendations for the Charity Law as a Whole

We hold that the Charity Law not only provides a foundation of protection for the development of civil society and the nonprofit sector, but it is also essential to the continued development the economy, society, and the core values of socialism. This draft will provide charitable organizations with the ability to register directly, fundraise and receive tax benefits, as well as security and benefits for volunteers.

At the same time, there is one observation to be made: the draft of the Charity Law defines charitable activities as “any not-for-profit activity voluntarily carried out by natural persons, legal persons, or other organizations by donating property, providing volunteer services or through other means.” According to this definition, we can understand charity to primarily consist of donations of money, property, and volunteer services. However, in all the 115 Articles of the law, there are only 11 clauses that involve volunteers or volunteer services. Despite the fact that volunteer activity accounts for about half of all philanthropy, it is only discussed in about 10% of the law itself. There are, however, about 66 clauses that mention donations of property and money, representing 57% of the law. In this and in every law related to our individual and interconnected lives, what we notice the most is cold money; the volunteers who are passionate, caring, and enthusiastic about what they do have not received the attention they deserve from the Charity Law.

In light of this, we strongly recommend that the “volunteer services” and “philanthropy” of charitable organizations should be brought into the Charity Law. Doing so would increase the compassion of the law itself.

 

Defining Charitable Services and Philanthropy

The Charity Law’s draft defines “charitable services” as “non-profit services to others or to society for charitable purposes by charitable organizations and other organizations or individuals.” Here, “others” can be understood to mean close friends, while “non-profit services” can include non-philanthropic services, such as mutual help between close friends, or contact with someone in a marketing position in order to maintain customer relations, or providing not-for-profit services for consumers.

When we asked members of our community and social organizations for their understanding of “charitable services,” the vast majority of people mentioned philanthropy and public welfare, namely serving socially vulnerable groups, individuals without family support, or society generally in an altruistic way.

With the principles of the Charity Law in mind, we believe that this law should:

  • Promote the development of the philanthropic sector; guarantee the philanthropic nature and standardization of charitable organizations
  • Fully embody the social subjectivity of public welfare, while strengthening social, rather than official, oversight and supervision
  • Limit government authority in the philanthropic sector, loosening control
  • Clarify the government’s legal responsibility, while delimiting its boundaries with philanthropy and its equal position with the civic organizations
  • Bring volunteers into the category of donors; strengthen the guarantees and promotion of charitable services to encourage citizens to donate their time and professional expertise.

 

Strengthening Regulations for Volunteer Services

China has tens of millions of volunteer service organizations that are unregistered, yet these organizations still provide volunteer services for urban and rural communities both on and offline. We recommend that those organizations operating within the industry (like industry institutions or special committees) should be put on record when feasible, and brought within the scope of charitable organizations.

The Charity Law should clearly define the independence, non-governmental (non-political), non-religious, public and not-for profit nature of charitable organizations. Because charitable organizations extensively use volunteers, the Charity Law should clarify the legal relationship between charitable organizations and their volunteers, strengthen the standards of management for volunteer services with charitable organizations, improve the structure of management and responsibilities of the executive committees for these organizations, establish and improve a system of incentivization and protection for volunteers, and promote the professionalization of charitable organizations to build their credibility.

The scope of liability that charitable organizations must face are also issues that many civil organizations care deeply about, especially questions like the following: how many risks and losses related to volunteer services should charitable organizations be expected to bear? When the losses and deficit create damage far beyond what the organization is able to bear, will there be a specialized national fund or specialized insurance plan for these charities? We recommend that charitable services be defined by limited liability in order to most effectively protect the volunteers, volunteer services, and the interests of the charitable organizations.

 

Strengthening Basic Protection for Charitable Services

Basic protection for charitable services should determine a definition and the nature of volunteer services, government responsibility, and a values guideline. Volunteer services are voluntarily in nature, altruistically given, include contributions of time and labor, are nonprofit, and are conducted in an organized fashion. Volunteering means not only citizens acting to help one another in mutually beneficial ways, but also the participation of citizens in public services and social services, as well as the effective implementation of citizen’s rights. Even more important is its role in adding strength to the development of the modern philanthropic sector. Volunteerism is the strongest driving force in charity; it is a spring that will never run dry. In light of this, the Charity Law should do more to protect and encourage it.

Volunteering can come in a variety of forms, from lending a hand to help others, to participating in any kind of activities, organized services and programs. The definition that the Charity Law provides for charitable organizations, services, and activities should be broad and inclusive in order to emphasize the altruistic nature of philanthropic activity.

Charitable organizations and volunteer services not only need to pay the operational costs and management fees, but they also need to provide for things such as security, funds to cover costs incurred during services, and incentives for volunteers. At present in China, the government has a serious shortage of basic capacity building capabilities and financial investment. In 2014, there were already more than 100 million volunteers in China, contributing a total of 1.482 billion hours of volunteer service and 53.59 billion Yuan of national production value to the country. Furthermore, in 2014, the Chinese government purchased 193.4 billion Yuan worth of social services, of which volunteer services only accounted for about 3-5%, or approximately 500 million Yuan. By comparison, the United States invests more than 6 billion Yuan annually in volunteer services, and its volunteer services are valued at over 600 billion Yuan. We can see from this that the ratio of investment in volunteer services in the US is 1:100. In addition to this, according to related domestic and international surveys of volunteer services, and in stark contrast to the general public, close to 80% of people who volunteer report that they are willing to donate money or material goods to charity. At present, China is struggling with a serious lack of resources for philanthropy. In light of this, the government should do all it can to invest in our nation’s volunteer services and strengthen their legal protection and guarantees.

 

Recommendations for Specialized Legislation for Volunteer Services

While researching community volunteer services, Huizeren discovered that over 80% of residents are interested in volunteering, yet less than 10% actually do volunteer. The main reasons for this includes a lack of knowledge about volunteer services, a lack of understanding from the general public about these services, a lack of standardized administration of charitable organizations, and the fact that the bureaucratization of volunteer services is unable to meet the diverse needs of the sector. In the course of the “Our Recommendations for the Charity Law” activity, more than 80% of our volunteers stated that there is a need for specialized legislation for volunteer services. This is critical in order to meet the needs of innovation in social governance and the practical development of social services.

Our detailed recommendations for specialized legislation for volunteer services are as follows:

  • Limit the power of government in volunteer services, increase legislative safeguards as well as tax incentives and financial support, and avoid detailed management and administration of these services.
  • Promote public participation in the oversight of charities, encourage associations within industry and self-regulation. Support platform-based charitable organizations and third party, independent organizations; promote the socialization and normalization of volunteering.
  • Promote cross-sector and inter-disciplinary cooperation for volunteer services and the mobilization of social resources.
  • Standardize charitable organizations and other organizations that use volunteers; standardize volunteer system management
  • Incorporate civic volunteer services into national government statistics and incentive mechanisms; include volunteer workers and charitable donations into the gross national product; provide realistic social benefits, services, and recognition to volunteers and volunteer service organizations.
  • Allow a certain amount of space and room for growth as our society progresses further into the Internet information age; promote the professionalization and modernization of volunteer services.
  • Encourage domestic charitable organizations to participate in international social services; promote international volunteer support and service.

We hope that this draft of the Charity Law will demonstrate a full understanding of the modern philanthropic sector and phenomena like the influence of the internet on philanthropic behavior and the rising participation of citizens in the new philanthropy sector, and contain a forward-thinking plan for their management.

 

民间声音:让慈善法更有温度

2015-11-27 惠泽人 专业志愿服务

翟雁(北京惠泽人公益发展中心 理事长)

怀胎十年的《慈善法(草案)》(以下简称慈善法)终于2015年10月31日面世,公开接受公众意见。中国的公益慈善事业也必将因为慈善法的出台而迎来一个历史性发展阶段。为此,北京惠泽人公益发展中心第一时间成立了“我给慈善法提意见”工作组,开展了系列解读慈善法并征集民间意见的活动。截止到11月24日,共动员了500多名社会组织从业人员、志愿者骨干和社区居民参与了“我给慈善法提意见“活动,征集意见100多条,意见更多聚焦于慈善与志愿服务的界定、慈善组织与慈善服务、募捐与捐赠、促进措施与监督管理。

惠泽人作为中国志愿服务能力建设的民间公益组织,长期致力于激发公民志愿精神参与公益慈善服务与社会创新运动,我们坚信志愿精神是慈善永不干涸的源泉。在当前中国经济社会转型面对诸多挑战中,公民不应是社会问题的起因,而应是解决社会问题的重要力量。然而作为全球第二大经济体的中国,我们的慈善捐赠(捐钱与捐时间)在全球排名却倒数第六,志愿服务捐赠率仅为6%![1] 中国公民并不缺少慈善之心,而是缺少合适的法规保障与制度指引,去鼓励人们从善。为此,惠泽人结合二十年志愿服务实务经验与收集到的志愿者声音,提出如下建议。

一、对慈善法草案的总体意见

我们认为,慈善法不仅是第三部门和慈善事业发展的基础保障,对于社会主义核心价值观与经济建设、社会的可持续发展都至关重要。本草案对于慈善组织的直接登记、募捐、税收优惠,以及志愿者保障与社会优待等方面都进行了确定。

同时,我们看到:慈善法草案对慈善活动的定义是“指自然人、法人或者其他组织以捐赠财产或者提供志愿服务等方式自愿开展的非营利活动。”由此定义可以理解为慈善主要是由捐赠财产和捐赠志愿服务所构成。但是,在115个法条中,涉及志愿者或志愿服务的条款仅11个,占据慈善活动半壁江山的志愿服务仅占慈善法10%权重;而与捐赠财产和钱财有关的条款有66条,占57%权重。在这部与每个人的社会生活息息相关的法律里,我们感受到更多是冰冷的钱财,而那些怀有热情、爱心和令人温暖的志愿者并没有受到慈善法应有的关注。

为此,我们特别对慈善法提出把“志愿服务“与”公益性“两人个关键内容纳入慈善组织与慈善服务之中,让慈善法更有温度。

[1] 《World Giving Index 2014》,来源:http://www.cafamerica.org/media/wgi-2014/

 

二、对慈善行为的公益性界定

慈善法草案对“慈善服务”的定义“是指慈善组织以及其他组织或者个人基于慈善目的,向他人或者社会提供的非营利服务”。这里的“他人”可以理解为近亲好友,而“非营利服务”也可以包括非公益类服务,比如亲友之间的相互帮助,或者营销人员为了维护客户关系,而向消费者提供的非营利服务。

我们在征求社区居民和社会组织对“慈善服务”的理解时,绝大多数人都提到了公益性,即慈善服务应当是对非亲缘的、社会弱势群体或社会大多数人的利他性公益服务。

在慈善法立法的原则上,我们认为应本着:

(1)   促进慈善事业发展,保障慈善组织的公益性和规范性;

(2)   充分体现慈善的社会主体性,加强社会监督职能,而非官方性;

(3)   限制政府在慈善领域的公权力,而非控制性;

(4)   明确政府的法律责任,确定与慈善的边界及平等地位;

(5)   将志愿者纳入捐赠人的范畴,加强志愿服务保障和促进,鼓励公民捐赠时间和专业技能。

 

三、加强志愿服务组织的规范

中国有数以百万计的志愿服务组织没有注册登记,但他们依然活跃的城乡社区开展线上或线下的志愿服务。我们建议,能够将这些组织进行行业内(向行业机构或者专项委员会)进行备案,将其纳入慈善组织范畴。

慈善法应明确界定慈善组织的独立性、非政府性(非政治)、非宗教性、公益性与非营利性。由于慈善组织大量使用志愿者,慈善法应明确慈善组织与志愿者的法律关系,加强慈善对志愿服务的治理规范,完善慈善组织的治理结构及理事会责任,建立健全志愿者保障与激励制度及措施,促进慈善组织的专业化建设与公信力。

有关慈善组织的责任边际问题也是许多民间组织所关心的,特别是慈善组织到底应当承担多少志愿服务风险及其损失?特别是遇有重大伤亡和损失远远超出组织承受能力的时候,是否可以有国家专项基金或专项保险进行赔偿?我们建议应当把慈善组织界定为有限责任,以切实保护志愿服务对象、志愿者和慈善组织的利益。

四、加强志愿服务的基础保障

志愿服务的基础保障应当包括志愿服务的定义、定性、政府责任,及其价值引导等。志愿服务具有自愿性、公益利他性、付出时间和劳动、非营利性和组织化等特征,它不仅仅是公民个人之间的互助利他,也是公民参与公共服务和社会事务、实施公民权力的有效路径,更是当代慈善事业发展的重要有生力量,志愿精神是慈善最强劲的驱动力和永不干涸的源泉。对此慈善法应更多地加以保护和鼓励。

志愿服务的形成包括随手助人、各类活动、服务和项目等,慈善法对于慈善组织开展慈善服务的活动形式界定也应当更加宽泛和多元,并强调慈善服务的公益利他性。

志愿服务组织开展志愿服务不仅需要支付服务成本和运营管理经费,也需要对志愿者提供其本保障、服务津贴、志愿者激励等投入。目前在我国,政府对志愿服务的基础施设建设和财政投入严重不足。2014年中国志愿者数量已经达到1亿人,共捐赠了14.82亿志愿服务小时,为国家贡献国民生产价值535.9亿元[1],而2014年度中国政府购买社会服务总额1934亿[2],其中用于志愿服务的估算占3~5%,约为5亿。比较美国对志愿服务的年均投入超过60多亿元,其志愿服务价值为6000多亿元。由此可以看出志愿服务的投入产出比值为1:100。同时,根据国内外志愿服务相关调查发现,近80%的志愿者更愿意为慈善捐赠财产,这一比例远远高出普通公众。在当前中国慈善资源严重匮乏的环境下,政府更应当加大对我国志愿服务的投入和法规保障。

五、志愿服务专项或专章立法建议

惠泽人在开展社区志愿服务调研中发现,有80%以上的居民有意愿参与志愿服务,但是只有不足10%的人能够成为志愿者,主要原因就是缺乏志愿服务教育、公众不了解志愿服务、慈善组织管理不规范、行政化志愿服务无法满足多样化志愿服务需求等。在#我给慈善法提意见#活动中,超过80%志愿者认为有必要为志愿服务专项立法。更好地满足社会治理创新和志愿服务实务发展的巨大需求。

我们对志愿服务专项立法的具体建议:

(1)       限制政府在志愿服务的公权力,加大立法保障、税收优惠和财政支持,而不介入具体服务管理。

(2)       促进公众参与慈善监督,鼓励行业协会与行业自律。扶持平台型慈善组织及第三方独立机构,促进志愿服务社会化与规范化。

(3)       促进各部门跨界、跨领域合作参与志愿服务和社会资源动员。

(4)       规范慈善组织和其他使用志愿者的组织规范志愿者治理体系。

(5)       国家要将民间志愿服务纳入信息统计与认可激励机制中,把志愿者捐赠价值纳入国民生产总值,并对志愿者和志愿服务组织给予切实的社会优待与认可。

(6)       针对互联网信息化时代预留一定的空间与开放度,促进志愿服务的专业化、现代化发展。

(7)       鼓励国内慈善组织参与国际社会事务,促进国际志愿者援助与服务。

希望慈善法草能够对当代慈善的快速发展、互联网信息化时代对人们慈善行为的影响、公民参与新公益的兴起等有更加充分的理解和前瞻性的设计 。

 

[1] 杨团主编,《慈善蓝皮书:中国慈善发展报告(2015)》,社会科学文献出版社,2015年6月。

[2] 来源:中国财政部官网:http://gks.mof.gov.cn/redianzhuanti/zhengfucaigouguanli/201507/t20150730_1387257.html,2015年7月30日。

 

北京惠泽人公益发展中心理事长

Translated by Kelly McCarthy

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