Rupert Hoogewerf
Rupert Hoogewerf

China´s rich make more money than ever, but charity is not keeping pace with that growth, shows the latest Hurun Philanthropy Report. Some “are leaders of the new pack, and it’s still early days,” says Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and chairman of the Hurun Institute to Barron´s.


Out of 630 billionaires of Chinese origin globally, only 51 have given at least CNY500 million ($80 million) to charity over their lifetime, Hurun Report found in compiling its “big philanthropy” report of global Chinese giving. Simply put: “That’s not a huge amount,” says Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun’s chairman.

Topping the list are four familiar names who gave at least CNY10 billion: Li Ka-shing, the billionaire head of CK Hutchison Holdings; Pony Ma Huateng, Tencent CEO and co-founder; Priscilla Chan who is listed with her husband Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; and Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder and executive chair.

Of the 51, only 25 are from mainland China, another surprise to Hoogewerf who thought mainland Chinese would comprise at least 80% of the list.

But there are several reasons for the meager showing.

First, Chinese wealth may be large and globally apparent, but it’s relatively new. Although those on Hurun’s list of global Chinese philanthropists are age 66 on average, China’s ultra-rich – with $30 million or more in liquid assets – have an average age of 53 versus age 58 throughout Asia, Wealth-X stats show. Chinese are also still in the process of amassing wealth and may not have thought yet about how and where to give it away.

Consider two of China’s most high-profile billionaires Jack Ma and Pony Ma Huateng, who set up charitable foundations from their personal fortunes within the last two years. In 2014 Ma, 52, announced he would donate $2.4 billion in Alibaba shares to a foundation he runs with Alibaba executive vice chair, Joe Tsai, 52. The group works on environmental, health care, education and culture issues in China. Pony Ma Huateng, 45, followed this year by committing to donate $2.1 billion in Tencent stock to a charitable foundation focused on similar issues in China.

“They are leaders of the new pack, and it’s still early days,” Hoogewerf says.

More in Barron´s.

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