Giving to charity is maturing fast in China, says Rupert Hoogewerf, composer of the Hurun rich list and similar rankings on charity in China to Asia Times. He is noting differences in how much and why the wealthy in the US, Europe and China are giving to charity:
In Asia Times:
“Except for Yu [Panglin, the hotelier]and Huang [Rulun, property tycoon], the mean contribution was about 3%, and this is quite a lot, which is almost the same as in Western countries,” Hoogewerf said. “They are the top people in China in terms of financial status. I think they do well if they donate 1% of their property every year.”
Hoogewerf identified several incentives and disincentives for Chinese business people to back charities.
“In the US and Britain, the tax systems give a lot of encouragement to people who are being successful in their business life to give money away before they die. However, there is no such tax allowance in China, but the Chinese entrepreneurs are willing to help charities. We should treasure that… Besides, a better social security net gives much less incentive for people to donate money to charity. That’s why, in most of the western Europe, people do not tend to be active in donating compared with their US and Chinese counterparts,” he said.
“Furthermore, Chinese entrepreneurs who have had first-hand experience of hardship, such as during the Cultural Revolution, are more likely to give away their fortune to charity when compared with people coming from big families in the US and Europe,” he said.
Hoogewerf’s view on Chinese entrepreneurs has changed over the years.
“They have more self-confidence and confidence in China’s economic growth, so they have longer-term business plans. Ten or 12 years ago, my impression was that most business people had a one- or two-year business plan, with the idea of making money and taking it out of the country as quickly as they could.”
About 25 years ago, there were no charity works in China, as everything was government owned. “Given that charity takes a lot of time [to develop], the priority now should be introducing social responsibility in corporations as this could encourage more people to make charitable donations,” he said.