As the new middle class is rising, philanthropy is a growing trend in China. We have met Dorit Lehrack, international senior advisor at the China Foundation Center to discuss about the third sector’s priorities in the most populated country in the world
“I think middle class will play a major role in Chinese civil society. “ Says Dorit Lehrack, international senior advisor at the China Foundation Center. According to Lehrack the rise of the middle class in the country will help the growth of philanthropy. “Many young academics have studied abroad and are coming back determined to do something.” We have met her to discuss about the what philanthropy means in the most populated country in the world.
What is the role of the China Foundation Center?
China is the country of mistrust. In the past the foundation sector was not transparent. There was a monopoly of the public foundations and there was a big scandal because nobody knew what happened to the money that were managed by these foundations. Philanthropy went through a very tough time. This is the reason why we are focusing on accountability rather than impact, because without transparency you can never measure impact.
What is the situation of philanthropy in China?
Philanthropy is a way to help resolve the problems related to social differences and created by the country’s economic growth. The concept of foundations is pretty new. There are now 3 thousand foundations and they keep growing. With the opening of China, the western influence has helped people understand the meaning of philanthropy in other parts of the world and this is an incentive for Chinese. There is the need for more foundations to take over what the state is not doing anymore. There is more social awareness in the country.
What kinds of philanthropic initiatives are being launched in the country?
There’s a growing interest from wealthy people in starting a private foundation but they are studying the model, because those people don’t really know what a foundation is about. They need to decide whether they should be an operating foundation or a supporting foundation and if they should work with other NGOs. One of the most delicate matters is trust. This is why we are working hard on transparency. However I believe that private foundations will grow in the future.