The past few years have witnessed the rapid development of online charities in China. Although the total number of such charities is still relatively small, their rapid development, public engagement, and mobilization capacity should not be underestimated.
Statistics show that young people growing up in the internet era are keen to donate to causes. As donors, younger generations are more willing to donate and more likely to choose online platforms, with people born after 1980 the most likely to donate online. According to a survey conducted by China Economic Weekly in 2016, people aged 19 to 27 accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total number of donors, with those aged 28 to 36 representing slightly over 20 percent, and those aged 10 to 18 nearly 27 percent.
The willingness and the proportion of China’s young generation to participate in charitable causes is significantly higher compared to other generations. By the end of 2021, the number of registered volunteers aged 14 to 35 exceeded 90 million. In addition, in contrast to their older counterparts, young volunteers focus more on the needs and unique characteristics of the recipients of donations, when planning and implementing volunteer projects. They are good at utilizing resources and working together to solve problems, as well as using social media platforms, which significantly increases the effectiveness of their volunteer services and enables them to deal with emergencies more effectively.
Young Chinese people have become the main force in social entrepreneurship. In 2016, almost 90 percent of social entrepreneurs were aged between 18 and 30. In the context of China’s national rural revitalization strategy, more and more charitable organizations are prioritizing young people returning to their hometowns to start businesses and drive development as the path for promoting rural revitalization.
Young people have become the driving force for internet philanthropy, and the latter has also provided them with a large field to build their dreams. However, internet philanthropy still has much room for improvement. For example, the regulatory framework needs to be strengthened, and there should be more incentives and rewards for young people to participate.
Looking ahead, the current trend suggests that young people will become the leaders of internet philanthropy. To better prepare for that future, the government needs to enhance relevant legislation and help create a favorable environment for the development of internet philanthropy. Meanwhile, better rewards and incentive mechanisms need to be put in place to amplify the sense of social honor in young philanthropists and encourage them to keep contributing to China’s philanthropic sector.