Catching the Rising Tide: Chinese Donor Strategies and Implications

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Catching the Rising Tide: A Report Reveals the Secret of Donor-NGO Relationship in China

Quick Review of Report

  • Five distinctive donor segments with different motivations and strategies
  • Cultivate engagement throughout the donor lifecycle to create healthy strategic donor-NPO relationships
  • Donors can have far greater impact beyond funding, by leveraging their employee volunteers, sharing their expertise and connections, and offering other assets that may be of use to the NPO
  • Stories and data are needed to communicate the NPO’s impact, and for some segments this should be more focused on outcomes versus outputs

This is the first report I have ever seen specific for Chinese donors, with in-depth interviews, insights, and analysis of various donor needs. The report reveals key insights and implications that are critical for the long – term development of the philanthropic sector in China, and help us better understand the behaviors of the various donor segments. It is clear donors can contribute more than just funding to advance our Nonprofits.” Dean of China Philanthropy Institute Wang Zhenyao

On Dec 2nd 2014, the first report on Chinese donors supported by the Skoll Foundation is officially launched. A US-China Team with 4 experts conducted the research and report, “Catching the Rising Tide—Chinese Donor Strategies and Implications”. This first of its kind report reveals five distinct donor segments and their related behaviors around philanthropic strategy, decision-making, nonprofit engagement, and measurement and reporting needs.

The project’s initial purpose was to support the Skoll awardee Half the Sky Foundation and sister organization Chunhui Childrens’ Foundation to better understand their donor needs and better measure and communicate the impact of their programs in China. Donors from Beijing, Shanghai, and HongKong participated through in-depth interviews. Two China based consulting firms Lotus Consulting and Inspiring NPO led the research and which reveals many insights for China’s increasing donor base and nonprofit organizations. It also includes an example of a nonprofit measurement framework (based on donor needs) designed for ChunHui Children.

In the course of the project, the study team realized that the findings, insights and framework did not only apply to Chunhui Children but could also be of benefit to China’s Philanthropic sector. In an invitation-only roundtable an overview of the study findings were shared with the sector, and the positive feedback confirmed the desire for a published report and more discussion on turning the theory into practice. The VP of China Foundation Center, Geng Hesun who participated in the roundtable, said: “The research and its’ frameworks will definitely enhance the understanding between Chinese donors and NPOs and improve the quality of their communication and cooperation.”

Jenny Bowen, the Founder of Half the Sky, and her team were also inspired by the project and report. Jenny said “Storytelling has always been at the heart of Half the Sky’s work. Stories about how children flourish when giving the nurturing care that is essential to healthy development.  Stories about how nannies, Teachers, and foster parents are inspired to make a difference. Skoll’s support of this project has been invaluable in helping us make the critical connection between the stories and the data to even more powerfully illustrate the impact Half the Sky has made in China.”

A focus on capacity building and support is critical for the development of the philanthropic sector in China, which has only emerged over the last 10 years. The Dean of China Philanthropy Research Institute Mr. Wang Zhenyao invests much time and energy in improving the knowledge level of the sector, and he and other visionary leaders hope that more donors and foundations will support research and capacity building to increase the social impact of their philanthropy and advance the sector. The only way to catch the rising tide and improve the sector together is to create more healthy partnership for Donors and Nonprofits based on the key findings and insights revealed in this report.

The next step based on this research will be to offer capacity building workshops to address some of the skills gaps and needs evident for both Donors and Nonprofits in China.

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