A new way to do charity: Taobao’s own “Lei Feng Diary”

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Taobao has recently started another fad among China’s internet users. A part of each user’s online account statement contains a section detailing their donations activity called their “charitable statement” [公益账单]. This has become known as “Lei Feng’s Diary” [named after the document supposedly written by charitable role model Lei Feng], and is being shared by users to display their online charitable activity.

Taobao is the biggest online platform for consumers in China, similar to eBay and Amazon. It is reported that charitable activities on Taobao are carried out mainly through the company’s online platforms (charitable online shops, online crowd funding, charitable auctions, etc) and Alipay (China’s leading third-party online payment solution). According to Taobao, approximately 213 million registered users participated in charitable activities in 2014, which raised about 234 million yuan in total. These numbers are strong indications that online charitable giving will be a future trend. For instance, online shop owners can donate a certain percentage of their sales and profits to charitable organizations, the money raised will then be transferred to the specified organizations through Alipay.

Deng Guosheng, Director of the Center for Innovation and Social Responsibility, is quoted as saying that Taobao’s new method of doing charity significantly lowers the threshold for people to participate in philanthropy, and provides new opportunities for future innovations in China’s public welfare sector.