OgilvyEarth and Millward Brown collaborated in research looking into relationships between NGO and corporates in China. Beyond looking at the rapidly changing landscape of NGOs, we wanted to take a closer look into how partnership are developed and the evolving co dependence of NGOs and Corporations in this shifting environment.
In the last few decades, China’s focus has been primarily on the nation’s GDP growth. However, economic progress brought about new social problems that have propelled policy makers to increasingly prioritize strategies and measures that will ensure the implementation of social justice and long term prosperity for this diverse nation. Within the 12th Five Year Plan, one of the most important goals in the coming years is to focus on social welfare and the protection of the environment. Over 300,000
NGOs are reportedly now active across
Over the last few years we have also seen a dramatic growth in number and size of grassroots NGOs. A few factors have attributed to the fast growth of this sector. In the wake of the Sichuan earthquake, neither the government nor the market was fully prepared to sustain full scale post quake disaster relief. The gaps in services opened the door for grassroots NGOs to emerge, and just recently the government made an attempt to lift constraints on the NGO registration process by reducing multiple bureau sponsorship to just one bureau. However, many NGOs have reported that this new policy is unevenly implemented at the local provincial level and the system remains very complicated, especially for those with limited networking resources.
There are now reportedly over 300,000 NGOs active in China, however statistics are unreliable and it is more likely that only around 2000 of these are organisationally stable grassroots NGOs.
A crisis of confidence
The growth of this sector has not come without its problems.
“Strengthening transparency should be a
With evolving technologies enabling smaller players to more priority in rebuilding social credibility. easily communicate with their stakeholders and new supporters,
Only clean public power can guarantee a on the one hand digital platforms are a fantastic channel, but on clean society.” Global Times the other hand microblogs have also become the seedbed for quick dissemination of negative word of mouth. A crisis of confidence recently overshadowing the sector was triggered by the online Guo Meimei scandal, which spiralled out of control on China’s microblogging platforms resulting in the public’s questioning of the proper use of funds by big foundations, and this has had a knock on adverse impact on the entire philanthropy sector.
Around the same time as this, other similar incidents occurred and statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed an 86.6 percent drop in charitable giving from June to August. This was despite a number of tragedies including the high speed rail crash, so showed a distinct lack of trust in the foundations sector.
This type of issue has led to the Chinese public demanding more transparency regarding how large foundations actually use funds raised in public. This has provided an opportunity for both the Chinese public and corporations to shift from their traditional social giving model to make plans for diversifying investment in charity and CSR activities. We are starting to see examples of small donations and resources going directly from the corporate sector to grassroots NGOs. Baidu is a great example of such diversification:
“We recognised that government organisations do not need as much access to money to complete projects as
NGOs, so have set up a new program that we hope will help us to meet and help more grassroots organisations doing good things across China” Bei Xiaochao, formally Baidu CSR Manager
Grassroots NGOs face many growth hurdles. The semi legal status of at least one third of this