New spring festival donations trend: Hong Bao charity

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The Chinese tradition of giving gifts of money in red envelopes (Hong Bao) during spring festival turned into a new fad for China’s internet users when internet giants Alibaba and Tencent both started offering electronic “Hong Bao” during the holiday.

NGOs in China responded swiftly to this new trend. Deng Fei, founder of the “Free Lunch for Children” project, started an online initiative in February 9 calling on people to donate their digital “Hong Bao” to charitable projects. Other charitable organizations, notably Maitian Education Foundation and Bixing Youth Fund (碧心青少年关爱基金) quickly joined the cause and started their own initiatives. The result was exciting, Free Lunch, for example, raised 1.13 million yuan in half a month. Furthermore, people participating in Hong Bao charity can also start their own fundraising initiatives, persuading their friends and families to donate money through online platforms such as Wechat.

Besides praise, there are also questions about Hong Bao charity, including questions regarding the use of the donations and the supervision of the process. In response to those questions, Zhan Min, director of Free Lunch Guangzhou office, pointed out all the money they raised through the Tencent online platform would be instantaneously and meticulously listed by the system, and Free Lunch would carefully tract the money and release timely reports about the using of the money.