Third batch of online fundraising platforms to be selected for official approval

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The twenty officially approved platforms for online fundraising in China are soon going to be joined by a new batch of platforms. The recently released “Notice of the general office of the Ministry of Civil Affairs on the selection of the third batch of public internet fundraising information platforms for charity organisations” states that, following the regulations from the Charity Law and the Administrative Measures for the Public Fundraising of Charitable Organisations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has decided to start the selection of the third batch of online platforms for public fundraising.

The public fundraising platforms are products of the Charity Law. According to the law, charities conducting public fundraising events online have to publish the fundraising information on platforms that have been appointed and approved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Appointing the public fundraising platforms became the legal responsibility of the Ministry of Civil Affairs after the Charity Law came into effect. In order to fulfil this responsibility, the ministry started the selection of the first group of public fundraising platforms in July 2016, four months after the law was passed. In January 2018, the Ministry of Civil Affairs started the selection of the second group of online platforms for charities’ public fundraising. So far, there are a total of twenty online public fundraising platforms that have received approval, including the Tencent Charitable Foundation, Alibaba Philanthropy, Bank of China Philanthropy and Bang Bang Public Welfare.

Now the Ministry of Civil Affairs has once again started a selection of online platforms for fundraising, while it gradually eases the requirements to approve new platforms. According to reports, the selection of a third batch of platforms is intended as a response to the needs of charitable organisations to organise online fundraising, and it aims to maintain a balanced control on charities while avoiding both the decay caused by tight regulations and the misconduct triggered by loose rules.

In mid-2017, the first operational report was submitted by the 13 online public fundraising platforms that were approved at the time. It was reported that between January and July 2017, the 13 platforms had published more than 10,000 fundraising requests from over 200 charitable organisations eligible to organise public fundraising and their partners across the country. The total funds raised exceeded 750 million RMB (114,636,825 USD). There was a total of 465 million virtual donations from internet users.

The report from 2018 showed that in total 20 platforms had published 21,000 requests from more than 1,400 charitable organisations on their fundraising events. Individual internet users participated in these events 8.46 billion times and donated more than 3.17 billion RMB, with an increase of 28.8% compared to the previous year.

In particular, charitable organisations raised 1.725 billion RMB through the Tencent Charitable Foundation, 670 million RMB through Alipay Philanthropy, and 440 million RMB through Alibaba Philanthropy. Other platforms including JD Foundation, Xinhua Philanthropy, United for Charity and Meituan Philanthropy each helped charities raise funds for more than 10 million RMB.

During the 2020 China Internet Philanthropy Summit, held last July, Wang Aiwen, Deputy Minister for Civil Affairs, pointed out in a video speech that over the past three years funds raised through the internet have seen an annual increase of 20%. In 2019 over 5.4 billion RMB was raised through online fundraising platforms, an increase of 68% compared to 2018. It is estimated that since the pandemic began more than 42 million people have donated to charities across the country and to the Chinese Red Cross.

With the promotion of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the platforms have improved their information transparency and online complaint functions, and carried out a series of technological and management innovations such as the use of blockchain. Based on their own characteristics and advantages, the platforms have offered medium and small-sized charities support on their capacity building programmes, including platform settlement, consulting services, skills training, coaching and technical, financial and communication support.

No more than ten applicants will be approved as new public fundraising platforms, according to the notice from the Ministry. A good number of documents have to be submitted along with the application form, and the deadline for applications is the 10th of December. Once the materials are received by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, it will first conduct a formal review and technical evaluation of the applicant, after which a public evaluation and an on-site review and defence will follow.

Unlike the previous times, on this occasion the selection process will include a public evaluation session. The Ministry of Civil Affairs will encourage the public to take part in the evaluation by setting up online evaluation channels. This will help the selection be more open, diverse and transparent.