Philanthropists decrease donations as domestic economy slows down

Updated: 2013-04-11 07:19

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Philanthropists decrease donations as domestic economy slows down

Donations by China's top 100 philanthropists have dropped dramatically for a second year running, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The latest Hurun Philanthropy List 2013 - from the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which documents wealth in China - measured cash or cash-equivalent donations from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

It showed a 44 percent fall to $890 million from the previous period, after a 53 percent fall the year before, when a series of natural disasters dominated the national charitable-giving agenda.

The cut-off total for the latest top 100 list was $1.7 million, a 43 percent drop on the previous $3 million.

The new list showed that philanthropists donated 0.9 percent of their total wealth on average, down from the 1.3 percent last year.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, said the average excluded last year's huge donations by Cao Dewang, chairman of Fujian-based Fuyao Glass Industry Group, and Xu Jiayin, chairman of the Guangzhou-based Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd.

Those two exceptional donations last year also partly resulted in the drop this year, he said.

Despite there being no equivalent survey for overseas philanthropic donations, Hoogewerf said the levels in China were quite reasonable.

"Donations are down for the second year running, as Chinese entrepreneurs figure out ways to make their donations more effective.

"The leadership these individuals bring to China's nonprofit sector far outweighs the value of their donations," he said.

He added that philanthropists are becoming more "systematic" in their donations, thinking more about the result and the ultimate objective of each donation they make

"Also, the country's economy has slowed, and that will definitely have a very significant impact on the amount of donations," he said.

Huang Rulun, 62, chairman of Beijing-based Century Golden Resources Group, is China's most generous philanthropist, after donating $92 million last year, taking his donations to $550 million over the past decade.

Huang was China's most generous philanthropist back in the inaugural 2004 Hurun philanthropy list, and has been in the top five in the annual list ever since.

Much of his money has gone to education, mainly for the construction of schools, and he made a sizeable contribution to Fujian Science and Technology Museum.

Huang has a personal fortune estimated at $2.4 billion, ranking him at 46th on the Hurun Rich List 2012.

Second on the list is property developer Yang Xiu, 52, chairman of Nanjing Tiandi Group, on account of his giving $63 million to his alma mater, Nanjing University, to mark its 111th anniversary. It is the fourth time Yang has appeared on the list in the past decade.

"My dream is to establish a school, especially an engineering college," he said in a previous interview with the local newspaper Yangtze Evening Post.

"But it is impossible to totally rely on myself. I need to work with a leading comprehensive university. That's why I thought about my alma mater Nanjing University. "

Cao Dewang, the most generous donor in 2011, donated a further $7.9 million to take his total donations to $800 million over the past decade.

In 2011, Cao donated 300 million shares in his listed company Fuyao Glass, with a then market value of $563 million, to his private Heren Foundation, named after his father.

Property is still the biggest source of wealth of China's top philanthropists, with the top three all property developers. Forty-three of the top 100 philanthropists come from the property sector, double that of the Hurun Rich List.

In a Hurun report highlighting the Chinese luxury sector, about 20 percent of respondents said philanthropy remains the second-most important way to give back to society, after the payment of taxes.