The Ministry of Civil Affairs releases important data on social organisations in 2019

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On the 8th of September 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs released the Statistical Bulletin on the Development of Civil Affairs in 2019 on its website. The bulletin includes authoritative data on Chinese social organisations, the donations they receive, social workers, elderly care organisations and child protection programmes. The Chinese administrative category of “social organisations” refers to a wide range of different bodies, divided into three main kinds: foundations (基金会), social groups (社会团体) and private non-enterprise units (民办非企业单位). As we have previously argued, only a fraction of China’s social organisations would be considered NGOs by most definitions used in other countries. The grouping also includes various kinds of trade and professional associations, state-organised mass bodies like the All-Women’s Federations, trade unions and private schools and hospitals.

A Charity Times report from the 18th of September identifies five focal points from the Ministry’s bulletin. First of all, compared to the donations received in 2018, the income that social organisations made from donations fell by 5.1% in 2019. Data from the past five years shows that since 2015 the growth in donations has not been linear. Rather, donations have increased and decreased by the year. In 2015 donations were 61.03 billion RMB (approximately 9.028 billion USD), while in 2016 the quantity of donations increased to 78.6 billion RMB. In 2017, on the other hand, total donations dropped to 72.92 billion RMB, but the year after they surged again to 91.97 billion RMB. The year of 2019 saw the donations received by Chinese social organisations once again drop to 87.32 billion RMB (approximately 12.92 billion USD).

The bulletin also unveils a few encouraging facts: by the end of 2019, there were more than 13,000 “donation stations” for regular social donations and charity supermarkets existing in China (the number of the charity supermarkets was 3,528). During 2019, individuals volunteered a total of 16.642 million times across China in the civil affairs sector, and the total time taken up by volunteering exceeded 43 million hours. The total number of registered volunteers in the country reached nearly 140 million. The total number of social organisations increased by 6% compared to 2018. By the end of 2019, there were 866,000 social organisations across the country, creating jobs for more than 10 million people, an increase of 5.8% compared to the previous year.

By the end of the year there were 7585 foundations, out of which 213 registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, 5242 registered with the provincial civil affairs departments, 1534 registered with the municipal civil affairs departments and 596 registered with the county civil affairs departments. Nevertheless, for the past five years, the growth rate in the number of foundations has displayed a downward trend. The growth rate was 16.2% in both 2015 and 2016, whereas in the following three years the rates dropped to 13.5%, 11.5% and 7.8%.

An interesting fact is that foundations not eligible for public fundraising have continued to grow over the past few years, while the number of foundations with public fundraising qualifications has shown ups and downs. Over the five years from 2015 to 2019, the number of foundations not eligible for public fundraising was 3236, 3829, 4629, 5109 and 5670. It can be noticed that the fastest growth occurred after the implementation of the new Charity Law in 2017. Over the same five years, the number of foundations with public fundraising qualifications was 1548, 1730, 1678, 1925 and 1915. The reasons behind this pattern are not clear yet.

Private non-enterprise units and social groups are the other two categories, apart from foundations, into which social organisations are divided. By the end of 2019 there were a total of 487,112 private non-enterprise units, out of which 405,714 were registered with the county-level civil affairs departments. In 2019, it was counted that 371,638 social groups existed, almost 70% of which were registered with the county-level civil affairs departments.

While the number of social organisations has increased, government supervision of social organisations through the civil affairs departments at all levels has also been reinforced. According to the bulletin, 7,142 cases of violations of laws and regulations by social organisations were investigated in 2019, and 6,695 administrative penalties were issued.

Meanwhile, the bulletin reveals that in 2019 in total there were 73,000 people who passed the assistant social worker examination and 21,000 people who passed the social worker examination. By the end of 2019, 534,000 people held the social worker license nationwide. This number included 405,000 assistant social workers.

In 2019 the number of people aged 60 and above reached 253.88 million, accounting for 18.1% of the entire population. 176.03 million people, in other words 12.6% of the population, were aged 65 and above. It was estimated that in 2019, 45.30 billion RMB (approximately 6.702 billion USD) was spent on welfare and services for the elderly.

By the end of 2019, 204,000 elderly care homes had been established, 34,000 of which were registered and 8,207 of which were community care homes. All the elderly care homes nationwide contained 7,75 million elderly care beds, an increase of 6.6% over the previous year. But the average number of beds per 1000 elderly people is quite low – 30.5. beds per 1000 elderly people.

The bulletin shows that total expenditure on child welfare in 2019 was 5.39 billion RMB (approximately 797.255 million USD), of which 3.72 billion RMB was spent on basic living guarantees for orphans and 1.67 billion RMB on other types of child welfare. It was reported that 64,000 orphans were raised by civil service agencies cross the country, with a 1499.2 RMB allowance per person each month. 686 independent child welfare, rescue and protection centres had been built up and registered with the civil affairs departments with 48,000 support staff serving children under protection. A total of 18,000 child vagrants and beggars were believed to have been rescued by these child aid centres throughout 2019.