China is the next powerhouse for philanthropic development

Society & Culture

China not only has the largest number of billionaires in the world but also the highest number of millionaires engaged in environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related investing.

A performer at the Temple of Earth in Ditan Park, Beijing, waits before the re-enactment of a Qing Dynasty ceremony for good harvest and fortune. February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Given China’s substantial resources and newfound aspirations to solve global challenges, Chinese philanthropy is poised to reach dizzying heights domestically as well as unleash new potential global alliances in international development. At the same time, private philanthropy in the U.S. has had consistent engagement, even in light of geopolitical turmoil, with ongoing philanthropic work in China.

Chinese society has, in recent years, experienced a massive expansion of both extreme wealth and charitable giving and is already proving to be a powerful tool for development. Total giving in China has grown to $23.4 billion in 2017, with registered charitable foundations totaling over 7,000 by 2019.

Like the bulk of China’s economic growth over the past 40 years, the recent acceleration of Chinese philanthropic giving has primarily been fueled by private ambition. With 878 billionaires according to the Hurun Rich List (up 257 from 2020), China not only has the largest number of billionaires in the world but also the highest number of millionaires engaged in environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related investing.

Philanthropic giving in China, as analyzed by GCPI, has centered on poverty alleviation, education, and public health. Corporations, driven predominantly by high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, are playing a major role in Chinese philanthropy, contributing 65% of total giving, according to a recent report by AVPN and the Rockefeller Foundation.

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