On the 20th of January, the 2021 New Year’s Communication Conference of the Tencent Charitable Foundation revealed at the Tencent’s 9/9 Charity Day event in 2020, it achieved a total of 2.32 billion yuan in fundraising and more than 57.8 million donations. During the non-matching period of the 9/9 Charity Day, the amount of funds raised in 2020 increased by 46.8% compared with 2019, and the number of donors increased by 88.9%. Based on these statistics, the spokesperson of Tencent indicated that the company intended to promote the “Charity Day” from the current period of three days to regular events at important festive seasons throughout the whole year. The Spring Festival, International Women’s Day, the Chinese Youth Day, International Children’s Day and Mother’s Day will all be included in the new Charity Day plan.
Six years have passed since the first 9/9 Charity Day on the 9th of September 2015. For the past six years, the 3-day Charity Day event has become the public welfare activity with the largest number of participants in China. The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 pushed more public donations to be given for programmes fighting against the deadly virus, and yet, will this contingent rise in donations set greater challenges for the Charity Day of 2021? Uncertainties for the future have propelled Tencent to explore creative ways to combine public interests with data technology.
Each year, a huge amount of labour and resources is invested by organisations in preparation for the 9/9 Charity Day. To get impressive donation results, some organisations will spend half of the year to design and prepare for their fundraising campaigns. However, whether all the investment in resources and energy is proportional to the final fundraising results is still a debatable question. Meanwhile, Tencent said they will also have to devote large amount of personnel, technology and resources to meet the demands of this public event. But there are yet to be evaluations of whether or not these personnel, technology and resources can be effectively used after the three-day event.
Ge Yan, secretary general of the Tencent Charitable Foundation, said many resources were actually not put in effective use. “Even though the 9/9 Charity Day is only for three days, Tencent will need to prepare a large number of servers, cloud resources and technical staff to serve this event. There are huge digital costs behind this. In normal times, these resources are not needed so after the intensive three days, these digital resources will not be used anymore, which is an actual waste.” This is one reason that Tencent proposed to make the Charity Day a more regular all-year-round series of events this year.
Another reality is the haphazardness of fundraising campaigns. Fundraising after devastating natural disasters or public health crisis will easily attract people’s attention and prompt people to give generously. That is why organisations with anti-pandemic programmes got great sums of donations in 2020. Nevertheless, public fundraising like this will not benefit all charitable organisations; in the same manner, the annual Charity Day will always benefit some organisations hugely and leave others behind, depending on what events happen in a specific year.
Data from the Tencent Charitable Foundation shows that each year the platform exceeded more than 40 million times donations. Although the number seems massive, recurring donations only account for a small proportion. There are many one-time impulsive donations made by donors, such as during the three-day period of the Charity Day. But globally speaking, a high-impact organisation will have more than 50% of their donations come from recurring donations which is why cultivating donors who will give consistently is the key to the sustainable, long-term development of any charitable organisation.
Facing this situation, the Tencent Charitable Foundation has decided to pay more attention to developing and promoting products that ask donors to subscribe to recurring donations. The aims are to encourage donors to continue to pay attention to and support public welfare programmes, and allow organisations to obtain stable, sustainable and healthy sources of funds for their programmes. Through pushing the 9/9 Charity Day to become regular fundraising events, the Tencent Charitable Foundation hopes to attract more resources for charitable organisations, and better serve their needs.
“In the future, we will make a breakthrough in upgrading the recurring donation products, cultivating more middle-class donors and creating sustainable resources for charitable programmes to flourish,” said Ge Yan.