Public interest is risky, those entering the sector need to be prudent
By: Feng Yongfeng 冯永锋
In a blog post, Feng Yongfeng, reporter for Guangming Daily and founder of Nature University, writes about the risks, challenges, and difficulties of the current and future condition of the philanthropic sector in China.
Feng begins by discussing a recent trend of many well-known international companies, which have started hosting “venture philanthropy contests.” However, Feng argues that these contests shift the difficulties of social problems more to those who participate in these contests, and less to those who organize the competitions. The reasons for hosting these contests sound good — planting the seeds for future generations, drawing public attention to important issues, etc.; however, Feng sees this merely as a form of passing along responsibility to others. The organizers identify and research the problems, but take less responsibility for resolving them.
He goes on explaining that China has many foundations that fund philanthropic organizations, but they all operate under a policy of “prove yourself worthy or deserving of funding.” Consequently, in order to receive a small amount of funding, organizations have to grovel, sacrifice their dignity, bow down to those with funds, and fiercely compete with others in the same sector.
Feng continues on discussing the general public’s attitude, which generally prefers participating in philanthropy by donating money or supplies. This type of charity does aid in improving immediate conditions of a community, however, in a society deeply suffering, material help can only do so much. Real innovation in the sector is needed.
In the end, Feng calls those interested in becoming involved in this sector to ask themselves if they are willing to accept the dangers and bear the costs of working for social change and development. The quality of philanthropy in a society is the result of long-term nurturing. It requires the sincerest intentions of every participant in the sector. It builds very slowly. There is no way to exceed or soar about its development, and the risks, he says, are certainly not small.
Translation by Kelly McCarthy