Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis
Aug. 16 – As my days in China draw to a close, one of the issues I’d like to draw to the attention of our readers is philanthropy – when successful in the country (or anywhere) I personally believe it’s important to contribute something back to the society that has provided. It’s a curious fact that some expats still seem to have a poor attitude towards China even though they are earning a living here. I always felt it a privilege to be in the country, and although it took awhile for me to get my feet on the ground and the business profitable, I wanted to put something back. The great thing about philanthropy anywhere is that it is not mandatory. The act of giving is a truly personal one, and although debates rage about how best to give, I’ve always followed a few simple rules:
- Chose an issue that is close to you personally. You feel more involved and more passionate about it, and that’s quite ok, it’s your hard earned money you’re providing.
- Get some satisfaction out of it researching the organization – because it may not be a charity – that you wish to support. Online is a good way of finding out the quality – although some smaller operations may not have that capability. But get involved, I believe it’s important to ‘feel’ where your contribution is going to and how it will be used.
- The old China excuse that all China is corrupt and they’ll just rip off your money is an dodge by the expatriate miserly. Do your research. There is abuse, but there are plenty of well run causes out there too. Choose wisely and you’ll find plenty of needy causes out there.
- Try to get involved. By definition many causes are cash poor and if money is an issue, they can always do with quite literally, a pair of helping hands. It’s a great way to meet new friends and contacts as well.
I won’t go into any details about how much either myself or my firm contribute or how often, as I feel these are private matters and that benevolence is not a marketing tool. However, for corporate donations, China does allow a tax deduction scheme for donations to charitable enterprises registered with the Government. Many of these China registered entities do outstanding work. However, to give some suggestions, here’s three organizations I regularly support:
Care For Children China
Contact: Robert Glover – firstname.lastname@example.org
Why They’re Cool: Care For Children do a great job with orphaned and handicapped children across the country and even has a school for disabled kids in Beijing. They additionally hold great social and fundraising events. Care For Children does great work throughout China, including some of the country’s most remote yet beautiful regions. If you’ve ever seen a child defaced by a cleft palate – Care For Children provide state of the art surgery for free to get these children fixed and reabsorbed into society. Both the charity – and the children – need your help. Just RMB2,000 can fix a child’s face.
The Surmang Foundation
Contact: Lee Weingrad – email@example.com
Why They’re Cool: These guys, only a small team, provide a lot of relief work in remote, ethically Tibetan areas of China, and Qinghai in particular. Working in earthquake hit zones, they help rebuild communities, including infrastructure, school education and healthcare. Qinghai has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. They get out to some fairly wild areas, and have some wonderful contributions in terms of paraphernalia they regularly auction off to raise funds. They additionally host excellent wine tastings. If you’re into Wild China and Tibet, you’ll love these guys.
The Snow Leopard Trust
Contact: Siri Okamoto – firstname.lastname@example.org
Why They’re Cool: Based in Canada, the Snow Leopard Trust is totally dedicated to preserving this amazing animal, which is critically endangered and can still be found in Xinjiang and Tibet. Sponsorship or support helps protect and maintain the mountain habitat – and the way of life and education that is needed to prevent us from losing this most beautiful of animals.
Being in China as an expatriate always means remembering you are a guest in the country. It is respectful, and morally upstanding, to give something back. It is up to the individual and companies concerned to do so of course, however all I can advise that I’ve had a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in helping a hand. It’s just simply the right thing to do.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Founding Partner of Dezan Shira & Associates, and the Publisher of China Briefing.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Founding Partner of Dezan Shira & Associates – a specialist foreign direct investment practice providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.
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