A report published yesterday by 公益资本论 analyses the performance of the China Charity Federation (慈善会, hereafter CCF) since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The report concludes that the CCF’s network has had great success in attracting donations by both businesses and the public at large, in a far greater measure than private foundations. The CCF, alongside the Red Cross, is one of the five charities that were officially appointed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs to handle all public donations of money and supplies going to the coronavirus outbreak. It was officially established in 1994 as a membership association, with government backing, and reports to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The report points out that, according to figures by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, by the 1st of March 5.89 billion yuan in donations (not counting donations of equipment and supplies) had been made by 132 private companies, and the CCF was one of the main receivers. 37%, or 2.179 billion, of the donations went to branches of the CCF and of the Chinese Red Cross, 15% were given directly to hospitals, and only 5% went to non-profit organizations.
When it comes to donations by private citizens, by the 2nd of March the CCF had received more than one billion yuan in donations from the designated online fundraising platforms, for a total of 64.3% of all donations, while private foundations received 556 million yuan over the same period of time.
The CCF obviously had an advantage over other charities due to the fact that it was one of the five organizations officially appointed to handle donations, and it thus had access to the areas under lockdown in Hubei. The report points out, however, that the CCF also received more donations than the other four officially-appointed charities, including the Chinese Red Cross. The author posits that this is because the CCF’s local branches, which usually operate in a dispersed fashion, acted in concert, turning into a highly effective hub for donations by companies, social organizations and the public.
One example given is of a lady from Guangzhou surnamed Feng, who was travelling in Europe when the epidemic broke out. Wanting to help, she teamed up with her friends to buy medical supplies for 100,000 Yuan and send them back to China. They discovered however that the material could only be exempt from customs duty if one of the officially-appointed organizations handled the paperwork. In the end the Guangzhou branch of the CCF agreed to handle the customs paperwork, solving this problem.
It is also pointed out that the CCF occupies quite a special position among Chinese charities. Since its founding in 1994, local branches were set up in provinces, municipalities and counties around China, for a total of 1996 branches by June 2013, covering the whole country and mostly managed directly by the local Civil Affairs Bureau. During the COVID outbreak, the response to which was led by the state, the CCF has played the role of a channel between the government and social forces, especially in the locked down areas which private foundations could not reach.