Corporate foundations and the charity sector: a case study

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The Beijing ByteDance Public Welfare Foundation has selected 15 projects for its newly launched 2022 Social Work Venture Capital Plan, in order to support social organizations in Beijing.

The plan is one of the key focuses of the ByteDance Public Welfare Foundation’s special fund for voluntary work, reported the China Philanthropy Times. Established in June 2021, the fund aims to support and train professional charity workers, build brands and promote project models. As a foundation initiated by an internet company, why did ByteDance decide to set up this fund? Will their initiative encourage other foundations to do the same?

Supporting charity work

Staff at Beijing Social Workers Association have been busy recently, selecting recipients for the charity work venture capital plan.

“We received 80 applications from 74 institutions at the first stage,” introduced Shen Xiaoping, executive vice president and secretary general of the Beijing Social Association. “We then conducted due diligence on the 30 shortlisted institutions and from these 30 we selected 15 as funding recipients.”

As the executor of the plan, Beijing Social Workers Association completed preliminary project selection in early April, with selected projects signed by the end of the month. The projects’ focuses include social work for children, the elderly, the disabled, urban and rural community governance and development, and medical assistance.

“For a long time, the development and survival of charity organizations have mainly relied on government purchases,” according to Shen. “The release of this plan is a bold innovation.”

Exploring different models

The number of professional charity workers in China now exceeds 1.5 million, among which more than 660,000 have obtained professional certification. According to data released by the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, there were about 76,800 such professionals in Beijing at the end of 2021.

ByteDance Public Welfare Foundation initiated the establishment of a special fund for the development of charity workers in June 2021, with the venture capital plan forming an important part of the special fund.

Supporting charity projects has become an important part of the internet giant’s CSR activities. According to a ByteDance spokesperson, through the plan, the company hopes to encourage the selected organizations to use professional methods to effectively solve the difficulties faced by specific disadvantaged groups in certain key fields. By further supporting high-quality projects with great potential, they plan to gradually establish a library of signature projects to set examples for coming up with possible solutions to more social problems.

Innovative social work development model

Since its establishment, the ByteDance charity work development fund has carried out a number of activities such as assisting rural revitalization and grassroots governance through methods like organizing training and supervising research projects. Last year, the Beijing Municipal Social Work Committee and the Civil Affairs Bureau, together with the ByteDance Public Welfare Foundation, launched the Voluntary Service V Venture Capital Plan, which has received 573 applications so far. Forty projects were selected, covering areas such as elderly care, disability assistance, child care and environmental protection.

Companies and foundations taking action to support the development of charity work and voluntary service organizations will help to boost the sector, which also reflects a growing awareness of the need for corporate social responsibility, said Hu Yang, project director of Beijing Huizeren Public Welfare Development Center, an executor of the V Venture capital program.

Paying attention to the development of the charity sector is also an innovation for company foundations, Hu said. “We hope that the special fund for social work development of the ByteDance Public Welfare Foundation can continue its stable operation and that it can further expand its support in the fields of charity work and volunteer services to cover more areas of focus.”