How did Jiangsu become a national pioneer in online giving?

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In just three years, Jiangsu Province has emerged as one of China’s leading forces in online donations. Its rapid rise offers insights into effective practices for using digital platforms to boost charitable giving.

Jiangsu’s online fundraising journey began in 2018 when the province’s Charity Federation set up a dedicated department. Jiangsu’s participation in Tencent’s annual 99 Giving Day expanded from raising around 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) across 13 cities in 2019, to the direct participation of municipal charities raising 78 million yuan from 1.53 million people in 2020. By 2021, donations reached 220 million yuan from 2.93 million people.

The breakthrough came when Tencent Foundation chose Jiangsu as one of five regional charity focus programs in 2022. This brought in not only 50 million yuan in matching funds, but also exclusive access to technology, marketing, design and training resources. Jiangsu proceeded to raise a staggering 320 million yuan through this program.

Tencent Foundation specialists attribute Jiangsu being shortlisted for outstanding performance to a balanced charity ecosystem, and strong growth potential. Mou Qian, online department director at Suzhou Charity Federation, believes rapid growth stems from persistent cultivation of a charitable culture and education. This aligns with Tencent’s aim of driving public participation rather than solely fundraising.

Another key factor is Jiangsu Charity Federation’s strong management capabilities and decentralized model, allowing municipal charities to directly develop and run projects on Tencent’s platform. This year’s Jiangsu Program will feature over 700 projects, more than double other regional programs.

Tencent’s involvement has also standardized project implementation through requiring quarterly progress reports and financial data. This boosts transparency and public trust. According to Mou Qian, while fundraising metrics matter, the ultimate goal is to deliver impactful projects. Fundraising is just part of the process.

For this year’s Jiangsu Program, the common expectation is to build a charitable culture and ecosystem, with diverse participants beyond charities and donors.

Jiangsu offers inspirational lessons for other provinces with nascent online philanthropy. Digital platforms enable rapid growth in donations by connecting givers to vetted giving opportunities. But technology is just a tool. The key is nurturing a vibrant charitable culture backed by strong management capacity among local charities. With this foundation, online donations can transform giving at scale.