A Comparison Between Chinese and U.S. Philanthropy

China Development Brief

中文 English

This article is an abridged translation of an article that originally appeared on our Chinese website here.

Defining terms

Like many other concepts, the term “philanthropy” has different meanings in English and Chinese. In China, what constitutes philanthropy has also changed greatly over time. The defining characteristics of philanthropy in ancient China, republican-era China, post-1949 China, and reform-era China all vary. In the wake of economic reform, civil society in China has grown, and the legal environment has, in general, become more welcoming. During this process, the stakeholders of the NGO movement have at times alternately strengthened and weakened the concept, in order to unite or avoid various risks. Thus, the usage of the term “philanthropy” has become more and more complex.

However, in order to compare philanthropy in China and the US, one must establish a reference point. This article chooses to use a very broad definition of philanthropy. Its defining feature is that private sector resources (including from business, families, and individuals) are mobilized to serve the public good. This sense of philanthropy is broader in comparison with traditional notions of “charity” that focus on disaster or poverty relief. Philanthropy includes environment, health, education, community development, art, rights protection, and conflict resolution. In China, the most popular term used to describe these areas is often “public welfare” (公益). However this paper chooses to use “philanthropy” instead of “public welfare” because the author believes that public welfare covers more activities than philanthropy does. For example in China welfare provided by government bodies is also sometimes termed ”public welfare”, a word sometimes used interchangeably with “public interest”, while “philanthropy” usually refers to welfare provided by non-state actors. In many countries in the world, including the United States, “philanthropy” is often used to refer to just private resources. A final reason for using the term “philanthropy” is that it assists in making statistical data more comparable.

Why compare?

The Chinese philanthropy sector really began to grow after the Regulations on the Administration of Foundations were implemented by the government in 2004. The Regulations for the first time tried to develop organized private resources in China and make them available to Chinese non-profit organizations. This is quite similar to what happened in the US around one hundred years ago, after an economic boom had accumulated enormous private wealth. Today in China, private wealth is also beginning to pour into philanthropy. This is the first reason for comparison. Another reason for comparison is to recognize the differences and see if China can learn from past experiences. This article therefore aims to explore the differences between Chinese and U.S. philanthropy and through doing so make an analytical contribution to the growth and development of the Chinese NGO sector.

How large are the sectors?

In 2012, total donations in China reached 81.7 billion RMB. In the same year donations in the U.S. totalled 316.2 billion USD. The US figure stands at roughly 24 times that of the Chinese figure. Donations account for 2% of GDP in the U.S., whereas in China they stand at just 0.16% (12.5 times fewer than that of the U.S.). Meanwhile the total GDP of the U.S. is only slightly more than 2 times than China. The gap in terms of sector size is therefore huge. What about looking specifically at individual donations? In China only 32.4% of the donation comes from individuals. In the U.S. the percentage is 81%. In 2014, the average individual donation in China stood at 60 yuan. In the U.S. the figure was $1007.6 USD, 103 times more than the Chinese figure. China’s ratio of donations to disposable income (0.25%) is also much lower than the U.S., which stands at a large 8.4%.

What can be read into this? One thing to note is that donations from businesses and foundations are often related to the state of the economy as well as laws and regulations. However the level of individual donations reflects the overall maturity and sustainability of philanthropy in a country as a whole.

Where do donations go?

The top five fields where philanthropic money flows to in China are as follows: education, poverty alleviation and social development, medical assistance, disaster alleviation, and human services (basic humanitarian and social services). In the U.S. the top five fields are: religion, education, human services, foundation, and healthcare. Comparing the two reveals several interesting facts.

Firstly, religion. Donations to religious institutions always come top in the U.S. In China, however, the survey category does not even include “religion” although some statistics show that around 0.1% of charitable giving goes to maintaining “religious facilities”. Obviously the religious background and culture in the two countries are the reason for such a gap.Secondly, foundations. In China, 37% of funds flows into foundations – both public fund-raising foundations and non-public fund-raising foundations. This is a number much higher than in the U.S. A major reason for the difference is because of taxonomy. In China the term “foundation” refers to a category of registered “social organization” rather than a “field”, explaining why the Chinese figure does not show in the chart. In the U.S. large private donations are endowed to establish foundations that make grants to various “fields”. However, in China “foundations” includes both those that have been endowed with large donations, and operating foundations that are equivalent to “public charities” in the U.S.

Thirdly, disaster relief and reduction. In China, this has always been one of the top fields to receive donations since data was first made available. There are a number of reasons for this. China is regularly confronted with natural disasters. Disasters such as the 2008 Sichuan earthquake boosted total donations in this field. From a positive perspective, the strong response to the 2008 earthquake shows the large potential in Chinese philanthropy. From a negative perspective, the strength of this field over others suggests that Chinese philanthropic culture lacks maturity. In terms of disaster-relief, how to add-value and cooperate with government is also an emerging issue for philanthropic actors in China. An additional reason for the strength of this field is also that it is attractive to Chinese donors because they can see the results of their donations very quickly. Compared to other fields such as education and environment, disaster relief requires less long-term attention.

Finally, international programs. Since the end of World War Two, the U.S. has been heavily involved in international development. Although involvement overseas declined during the recent economic crisis, in 2012 international donations still accounted for 6% of overall donations in the US. In comparison, China’s international donations remain minimal. One issue lies with the fact that the Chinese public remains sceptical about overseas giving. Aside from dissimilar policies and levels of wealth, differences in values and culture also contribute to this gap. For example, the continuing emphasis on “victimisation” in Chinese culture is not conducive to Chinese engagement in international humanitarianism. This is unfortunate for the overseas image of China.

Comparing behaviour

When analysing philanthropy from the perspective of the family and individual, we see that in the US the average donations per family are consistently at a rate of 2% regardless of economic situation or household income. This figure shows that philanthropic giving is not the sole preserve of wealthy families. Additionally, it suggests that strong philanthropy is influenced by culture and not necessarily impacted by external factors such as taxation or income. Philanthropic organizations in China have begun to realise this important fact and have launched campaigns to encourage micro-philanthropy (微公益) and promote the fact that “everyone can be a philanthropist” (人人公益). However, something like the “Giving Pledge” (http://givingpledge.org/) proved culturally unadaptable in China. While it was very successful in the US and many other countries, the reception of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’s project in China was only lukewarm. This may be due to a difference in attitudes towards wealth, trust, and maybe even aspects of Chinese culture that strongly emphasise the family.

When people talk about “philanthropy”, we often only consider the side of the donor. Yet philanthropy is an eco-system. According to the flow of money, donations are in the upstream. Downstream are philanthropy foundations and non-profit organizations that are serving those in need and trying to solve problems. In the U.S., NGOs are a big industry that accounts for 6% of GDP and 9.2% of the total work force. In China, both figures are likely to still be below 1%.

Notions of citizenship and volunteerism also play an important role in differences. In the US, strong emphases on individuality and independence impact the development and organisation of NGOs. In China, NGOs remain strongly under the influence of government and to a lesser extent business. In the U.S. there is strong youth involvement in philanthropy. The reason is because they were immersed in a philanthropic culture from a young age. Significantly, China still lacks this. Strong ideals of volunteerism in the US encourage people to do philanthropy no matter what their social status, job, income, age, or religion. China has her own volunteerism values which are also strongly encouraged. However sadly in practice it is quite the opposite. In China, the motive to volunteer often comes from the top, and sometimes it is even forced.

Comparing responses to emergencies

The response of a philanthropic sector to an emergency is a reflection of the development state and culture of philanthropy in that country. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, people in China threw themselves into helping out in the relief effort. Organizations mobilized resources, volunteers flooded to the frontline, and countless people donated money. However the attitude of people in China towards disaster relief remains different to that in the US. Almost every humanitarian crisis and natural disaster across the world see’s the involvement of U.S. NGOs. In China, however, support for overseas assistance is largely dependent on nationalist sentiment. This is especially apparent when it comes to countries that have territorial or diplomatic disputes with China. For example, the destruction wrought by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines received almost no response from the Chinese philanthropic sector. True philanthropy should be universal and detached from these narrow-minded political issues.

Historical comparison

In the U.S., religions from all over the world stimulate people’s desire to donate and it is unsurprising that 70% of US donations are to religious organizations. A bond of unity and caring was developed in the US early in the development of its national character. This has been successfully transmitted to contemporary U.S. society. As a nation of immigrants, characteristics such as benevolence and caring are strongly encouraged. Money constantly flows back to a migrant’s homeland as well as to their local community in the US. The US also has strong social capital. Every part of the philanthropic chain – from donors to NGOs or foundations to recipients, is built on trust. It is the guarantee that the system will run smoothly.

In contrast, perhaps the biggest problem with Chinese philanthropy today is the break between traditional forms of philanthropy and the modern philanthropy sector. While today’s philanthropy sector can be said to be growing rapidly, China remains a closed society and its citizens are denied full access to a strong civil society due to a lack of awareness, suspicion, and unaligned and out-dated policies. Even though the supply side of philanthropy in China is booming, both government and regulations still hesitate to welcome it.

Conclusion

The U.S. will continue to take the leading role in philanthropy. It will produce more and more innovations such as social enterprises, social impact investment, and venture philanthropy. As the country with the worlds second largest economy and second largest number of billionaires, in the future China’s own philanthropy sector will likely see a rapid development. However, large challenges remain that mean that it will unlikely catch up with the US any time soon. The biggest problems remain the policy and cultural differences that are outlined above. Undoubtably they are interconnected. In today’s China, policies related to philanthropy represent a complex and sensitive issue, especially due to the prior entanglement of the public and private sectors. On the cultural side, when a state transitions in the rapid way that China has done, it risks losing important building blocks of its civic life. Philanthropic culture seemed to have disappeared in China for several decades. Yet looking back at what has been achieved over just the past decade, and despite all the remaining challenges, we should ultimately have confidence in the ability of institutions to reform, to better serve a stronger civil society and promote a culture of philanthropy. Hopefully, as with the economy, China’s philanthropy sector will also threaten to overtake the U.S. in the future.

 

概念的界定

和许多其他概念一样,“慈善”作为语言文字在中外也有各种不同的定义。在中国,时代是第二个定义“慈善”的维度,即古代、近现代、建国后至改革开放都有不同,就是改革开放后,随着社会从大一统的政府的分离、社会领域的日益丰富和行业细分、政府规章制度的不断完善,“慈善”的内涵和外延也时有演变。在这个过程中,由于全球慈善参与者和关注者、监管者和推动者在全球社会发展和社会运动中有意强化或者弱化此概念,以便形成更大的联盟或者规避某些风险,或者突出另一个发展议题,“慈善”的定义和用法更是大大复杂化、多样化了。

然而为对中国和美国的“慈善”文化进行比较,必须选择一个一致性最大化的参照。本着推动中国社会更好发展的宗旨,本文选择了“大”慈善的概念,即私人资源(个人和企业,包括家族)自发地被动员起来,用于服务公共利益,这也是英文词philanthropy的原意。所谓“大”,就是它既包括救灾救济类的传统慈善,也包括环境、健康、教育、社群发展、艺术、权利维护、冲突解决等等诸多方面。在中国,现在流行的称谓是“公益”。本文使用“慈善”而不用“公益”。这是因为笔者认为,“公益”所覆盖的内容大于“慈善”,如一些政府提供的福利也可能被包括在“公益”里面。世界上其他国家的“慈善”普遍指“私人资源”,包括美国。因此,统计数字的可比性角度,也是本文界定“慈善”的一个重要考量。

 

中国和美国比较的原因

中国慈善事业随着2004年《基金会管理条例》的颁布实施取得了“质”的飞跃,因为该条例在中国第一次使私人资源得以组织化,进而弥补了慈善生态链原来前端的缺失。这个节点类似于近100年前的美国——一个经济腾飞产生大量私人财富的时代,也是私人财富即将大规模进入慈善领域的时代。历史节点的相似性使得中美慈善有一定比较意义,此为第一个原因。意味深长的是,中美慈善需要比较的首要现实原因却是现阶段两国慈善发展模式的差异性,尤其是从中国需要借鉴学习的角度,这是第二个原因。第三个主要原因是“可获得性”或者“便利性”。改革开放后,美国慈善机构在中国本土有长达20多年的历史,在资助、从事或者参与的活动领域,美国是出现频率最高的,其实践比较为中国慈善领域所知。其他便于中美比较的原因还是有的,比如语言的优势——英语是中国人掌握程度最好的外语,因此无论是资料的阅读、梳理,还是面对面的沟通、培训,中美之间的交流渠道最顺畅。

本文将主要尝试分析中美两国慈善现状的差异。“文化”在本文是个广义的概念,它体现在一些显性的现象后面,也由各种行为、包括规制行为所表现。本文希望通过对两国慈善文化的呈现、分析,帮助中国更好地培育慈善发展的土壤,创造更有力的慈善发展环境。

 

比较

(一)规模

这里作者选取一些经济指标来比较中国和美国的慈善规模。如表中所示,2012年中国的捐赠总额(款物合计)约817亿元,美国同期是3162亿美元,相当于中国的24倍,两国该值占各自国内生产总值的比例分别是美国2%、中国0.16%,前者是后者的12.5倍。而同期,美国国内生产总值相当于刚刚成为世界第二大经济体的中国国内生产总值不到2倍。两国慈善捐赠体量上的差异是悬殊的。

那么体现慈善文化的另一端——个人的捐赠情况呢?表中显示,2012年中国人均捐赠60.4元,而美国同一数字是1007.6美元,相当于中国的103倍。如果说中国人口众多这个事实影响了这个数字,那么人均捐赠占比人均可支配收入的百分比是不是也能够说明两国慈善文化存在巨大差异呢?在中国,这个数字是0.25%,在美国是8.4%。

表中最后一组数字从另一个角度证明中国慈善文化的脆弱性:在中国总捐赠额中,只有32.7%来自个人,其他则来自公司和基金会。美国有81%的捐赠是来自个人。来自公司和基金会的捐赠较个人捐赠更多受经济形势和法律规制影响,因此个人捐赠越多,该国慈善弹性越大,相对越成熟和可持续。

 

比较

    (二)领域

该表显示的是中国和美国慈善捐赠的(对象)领域,按照所占捐赠总额的百分比,各自前五项是:中国:教育、扶贫与社会发展、医疗、救灾减灾和人类服务;美国:宗教、教育、人类服务(human services,基本的人道主义和社会服务)、基金会和医疗健康。

除开两国对领域概念的少许差异定义,如“扶贫与社会发展”在美国会被分解到其他不同领域,该表还是反应出来一些十分有意义的现象,分析如下:

第一,宗教。捐赠给宗教的数额占比在美国历年来高居首位。根据美国约翰霍普金斯大学萨拉蒙教授在《全球公民社会——非营利部门国际指数》中所提出的分类,宗教分为宗教礼拜组织和宗教服务组织。笔者理解是,表中的数字两者都包括。在中国该项统计中,“宗教”没有出现在“领域”中;但是统计表明,总捐赠额的0.1%投向了宗教场所。虽然在两个国家及世界其他国家,宗教领域所受捐赠额都较其他领域难以得到准确的统计数据,但是中美两国宗教信仰文化和习惯的不同显然是造成捐赠宗教领域规模差异巨大的最重要原因。

第二,基金会。这一点是统计分类方法不同所致。在中国,当年总捐赠额中有37%是给基金会的,包括公募基金会和非公募基金会。这个数字远远大于美国的数字。不过在中国,“基金会”不是作为一个“领域”,而是作为一种组织类型呈现的,所以在表中没有出现。深究分类方法不同的原因,笔者认为,这是“基金会”的概念在两个国家不同。在美国,基金会不包括相当于中国“公募基金会”这部分,这部分相当于美国的“公共慈善机构”,属于非营利组织或者免税慈善机构。因此,该表中美国“基金会”所受捐赠是指来自私人(往往是“大户”健在时或者遗嘱捐赠)的、用于成立或者壮大基金会的捐赠。换言之,这笔钱是当年和以后慢慢花的,可能用于任何其他的“领域”。

第三,救灾减灾。从有慈善捐赠正式统计以来,在中国,救灾减灾领域占比往往“名列前茅”,其原因是多元、复杂的。这个领域与美国直接可比性不大,然而从中国自身的角度,是有些“信号”作用的:一,该领域主要是应对突发的自然灾害,捐赠呈现如2008年512地震时的大“井喷”和不时的规模不等的“井喷”,致使某年是否有大灾、有几个成为该领域排名前后的直接因素,从正面说,是慈善潜力巨大,从负面讲,是慈善文化不够成熟。二,慈善和政府救济都“挤”向救灾这个领域,如何“分工”、合作是今后越来越突出的问题。,三,救灾的“见效快”“诱导”捐赠人远离减灾和备灾这样耗时耗力的领域,更不用说教育、环境等需要长期投入而解决问题根源的领域。总体说来,在中国,救灾减灾领域持续占领慈善占比前列是值得评估和反思的。

第四,国际。美国从第二次世界大战胜利后,用于美国以外的慈善捐赠一直比较多,近十多年尤其如此,捐赠者既有个人,也有基金会和企业。虽然2008年金融危机后,美国海外捐赠随着总体捐赠水平的下降也有所减少,但是2012年的统计表明,其国际捐赠还是占了总捐赠额的6%,其中比尔盖茨和梅琳达基金会的贡献不小。同时,是年中国得到海外捐赠69.52亿元。而形成对比的是中国向海外的慈善捐赠微乎其微,具体的捐赠行为还经常受到质疑和批评。除了政策制度带来的制约、财富拥有程度等经济因素,文化和价值观的巨大差异比较突出。“慈善”这个词的英文是由两个词根组合而成的——“人类”和“爱”。而在中国,人们还多是“(落后)受害者”的心态,国际人道主义的观念淡薄。这与中国作为日趋接近美国GDP的世界第二大经济体、中国拥有“乐善好施”的传统美誉极不相符。

 

比较

     (三)行为表现

前两节的分析比较宏观,笔者在这一节从微中观层面试图简单剖析中国和美国在慈善文化方面的一些差异。

第一,个人和家庭的维度。

平民慈善。前面提到过,2012年,美国81%的捐赠收入来源于个人;而同期,中国是32.7%。在中国这个数字中,大额捐赠又占有很大比例——全年总捐赠额的7.88%,尽管这个数字已经低于2011年的13.94%。美国有一项研究,虽然不能直接与中国比较,因为统计方法不同,但是对我们可能有一定参考意义。美国每个家庭每年慈善捐赠款约占其家庭收入的2%。这个数字相当稳定。一方面,无论年景如何,就是某年经济状况不利,国内生产总值停滞或者下降,全国平均起来,还是有大约2%的家庭收入会捐出来用于慈善。另一方面,无论家庭收入水平如何,富裕的家庭还是穷人的家庭,都是差不多2%年收入用于慈善捐赠。这个研究揭示了:一,不是有钱人才能做慈善,或者只有有钱人做的才叫慈善。二,慈善是每个人自然的发心,这是内因,经济状况、税收制度等等外因不是人们进行捐赠的决定因素。可喜的是,中国已经开始意识到这个意义,有了“人人公益”、“微公益”等口号。

“捐赠承诺"(Giving Pledge)在中国的尴尬。2010年8月4日,由美国微软公司创始人比尔•盖茨和投资家沃伦•巴菲特联合发起的“捐赠承诺”行动号召特别富有的人把他们家庭财产当中的至少50%捐出来,用于慈善。他们两个家庭率先垂范,在美国很快得到了非常积极的响应,并很快扩展到美国以外。看到中国有越来越多的富人且其中有些已经有慈善行为或者意向,2010年9月巴菲特和盖茨来中国摆下“巴比晚宴”,希望有人加入“捐赠承诺”行动,可结果是,没有人听到哪位中国富人做出这项承诺。到2012年年初,盖茨在其年信中披露,全球已经有69人做了“捐赠承诺”,所承诺捐赠的资产达数千亿美元。其中是否有中国大陆富豪尚所不得而知。“捐赠承诺"(Giving Pledge)在中国遭遇的尴尬有许多原因,其中包括财富观、家族传承观、社会信任、表达形式等诸多个人、家庭、社会等各个层面社会的慈善文化因素。

第二,非营利部门的维度。

我们经常说的慈善捐赠往往强调甚至默认是指捐赠一方的。而慈善其实也是一个生态,捐赠处于上游,从资金流向来讲,那它下游的就是谁在做慈善机构、慈善项目,在服务需要的人群,在解决和尝试解决一个个社会问题。在美国主要是非营利组织,慈善机构是其中一部分。在中国相应的也称非营利组织、非政府组织、民间机构、社会组织、公益组织等等。显而易见,没有这些“做事的”的机构,慈善也就不存在。美国的这个非营利部门是一个非常强大的“产业”。2012年美国非营利部门的产值占全国GDP的近6%。如果加上生态链上游的那个捐赠占GDP的比例,整个慈善部门会达到8%强。还有一个数字也可以说明美国非营利组织的规模有多大。2012年在非营利组织供职的工作人员,占美国总就业人数的9.2%。前文提到的美国约翰霍普金斯大学萨拉蒙教授领导的“全球非营利部门国际指数研究”涵盖了40多个国家的数据(不包括中国),平均非营利部门产值占比GDP为5%-6%。中国的统计方法不同,但是从慈善捐赠占比的数字(0.16%)看来,可能不到1%。 本节分别从个人和家庭与非营利部门两个维度列举了中美两国慈善领域的一些现象。透过这些现象,笔者认为美国的慈善文化有以下几个突出特征:

一,公民性。这里的公民性既指慈善捐赠者和非营利组织工作人员及志愿者的身份的公民性,即独立的、各自承担权利和责任的个体和集体;也指其运作的公民性,即以独立的非营利组织为桥梁和载体的慈善生态圈的有效作用。相对来说,在中国,由于“私域”在社会上和产业上的依附和不健全,慈善的实践还时常出现争议,甚至带来人们意识的动荡和政策法规的“探戈”。公民性还体现在慈善精神的传承。慈善作为一种价值观,贯穿于每个人一生及其下一代。美国很多慈善家在被问到为何以这种方式“散财”时,会回答说,是从小看到父母就是这样做的;课余和业余经常与朋友参与社区服务;帮助到别人很快乐等等。慈善或者公民精神不是作为一门课来学的,而是一个公民终身的实践。

二,自愿性。其实这一特性与公民性关系非常密切。自愿性是指是个人的自发选择和行动——不管是捐赠者还是非营利组织从业者,还是志愿者;不管是贫是富;不管是高官还是普通百姓;不管出身、年龄、性别、宗教信仰等等。这一点在中国也非常强调,而实际上,由于种种原因,与此相悖的现象还是广泛存在。比如有些地方政府强迫企业和企业家做其指定的“慈善”,这种从明到暗的“索捐”,严重扭曲本人意愿,破坏慈善文化的良性循环。同时还有各种各样的为功名利禄的“慈善”,就不是“善”了,因为违背了最根本的“公共利益”的目的,玷污“慈善”之名。值得一书的是志愿者文化在中国蓬勃发展,公民性和自愿性体现得比捐赠文化更为“纯粹”,尽管也常有“组织自愿”的诟病,总的方向是积极的。当人们不再需要被组织时,志愿文化会更有力地推动慈善文化健康发展。 比较   

    (四)突发局面

这一节笔者将试图继续深入到微观层面探究中国和美国的慈善文化。一些特定的特殊性的事件会是文化或其某一方面的折射,这里仅以对突发局面的反应为例。

慈善在应该最“无私”的地方的表现。就像2008年512地震激发了人们善心的表达,各种天灾人祸发生时,最能反映出人类对弱者的悲悯和同情,渴望予以关心和帮助,能够实施帮助就去做志愿者,不能亲临现场就捐款捐物。那些以救灾和缓和冲突为使命的非营利组织则能够以专业和专注或紧急或持续地予以回应。此时如果说中美慈善文化有什么不同,笔者认为,最显著的不同就是两国民众对发生在海外的大灾的态度。前面讲过,美国的国际慈善捐赠占全年总捐赠额的6%,其中有些就是针对大灾大难的。巴基斯坦的地震、孟加拉的水灾、印尼的海啸、中国的地震、泥石流、日本的地震、海啸、朝鲜的饥荒、菲律宾的台风等等,都有地球另一端的美国的民众和企业进行捐款捐物,也都有美国的非营利组织安营扎寨,实施救助救援。而中国是否有民间的回应,往往取决于情绪,特别是对与其有领土、政治、外交分歧和冲突的国家和地区。例如,2013年发生在菲律宾的台风“海燕”在其近邻中国就应者寥寥。这种“有区别”的慈善心态相较慈善之“人类之爱”的本义,较之他国民众和非营利组织给予中国的无偿而宝贵的慈善心意和资源,显得十分狭隘、自私,中国社会必须予以反思。

 

       比较

     (五)历史传统

已经发表过的中美慈善文化比较的文章基本都是从这个角度。为避免重复,笔者这里只是强调个人认为最重要的,并简单介绍其他相似题目的文章所未提及的重要的方面。 宗教信仰。新教是继天主教、东正教之后的基督教第三大教。基督教新教在美国从信仰人数上讲是最大的宗教。基督教的“救赎”精神成为其信徒从事慈善的主要动因。同时,美国是个多种族的移民国家,很多移民带去的宗教信仰还强化了慈善文化,因为佛教、伊斯兰等世界主要宗教教义中都有鼓励慈善的内容。所以,在美国,获得慈善捐赠最多的领域一直是宗教。有统计表明,在美国的个人捐赠中,70%以上是捐给各种教会及其开办的扶危济困等慈善事业的。

历史传统。一,除了印第安人,最早到美国生活的人是从欧洲去的新教徒,为的是逃避宗教迫害。一方面要面对开辟新家园的种种艰难困苦,另一方面警醒着不要把自己的新家园变成那不堪一面的欧洲,这些新大陆的新殖民者们互相帮助、平等友爱。可以说美国的慈善传统早于美国作为国家的历史,虽然也不过三百多年,确是有深厚的根基而且连绵至今的。二,美国是个“大熔炉”文化,世界各地的移民怀着对新生活的向往,不靠征服,而是靠宽容、互助、平等、友善,靠制度,弘扬着“人类之爱”的精神。此外,在美国,“侨民捐赠”十分突出:每年通过直接捐赠给家乡、汇款、捐赠给慈善中介组织由其转赠的来自华人、印度人、拉美人的善款,源源不断地流入他们故乡的学校、社区。。。在美国的华人捐赠——不管是给故乡的,还是给本地、本社区的,都很突出。

社会资本。当今美国是一个社会信任度比较高的国家。社会资本的积累与慈善文化的发展是相辅相成的。慈善生态链的形成本身就体现着社会信任:捐赠人或者企业由于信任而把钱或者直接给予运作慈善项目的非营利组织,或者以志愿者身份参与其工作,或者成立基金会或信托,后者又出于信任拨款给非营利组织,由其组织实施慈善项目或活动。当然这些信任有着制度的保障,也正是合理的制度使得文化得以形成和延续。

中华文化源远流长。中国古代即尊崇“老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼”的利他观,佛教盛行时慈善也随之被广泛宣扬,“天人合一”可以说是中华大地上最早的“环境保护”概念了。凡此,不多枚举。这些优良的传统到现在,虽经过新的制度、新的环境的巨大变迁,还有不少新的体现。比如,2004年以后成立的佛教、基督教背景的基金会或者财力或者人力(志愿者)都十分丰富,更有兼而有之的。

然而,与现代意义上的慈善——有组织的慈善相比,中国的当代慈善还存在很多局限和差距。从文化的角度讲,笔者认为其中最值得提醒现代中国人的就是传统慈善到现代慈善中间的断裂。文化的重要特征和价值之一就是“扬弃”中的传承,而在数十年外部世界慈善大发展的同时,我们关闭了社会、批判了慈善、否定了公民。改革开放以后能够做的是谨慎缓慢地纠错,时而还有停滞和摇摆。当全球慈善势不可挡地来临时,我们的政策制度完善的脚步还跟不上。结果一方面慈善的供给方——资本、时间和善心大爆发,另一方面慈善的实践还在画地为牢、畏首畏尾,效率低和专业性差是比较普遍的问题。前文已经提到的一些如缺乏公民性、慈善不出国门、信善不信“托”(不信任资助更有战略性、更专业的组织,事必躬亲)等现象这里不再赘述。

 

结语:慈善作为软实力

全球慈善蓬勃发展。这一点是有目共睹、无可争议的。一方面是财富的积累、有钱又有闲的可能、科学技术和新媒体的应用,另外一方面就是急剧的贫富分化和日益严重的全球性的问题和挑战,比如说气候变化、艾滋病、埃博拉等为代表的公共卫生问题等等。供需双方共同作用,且以加速度发酵,全球慈善必然随之风起云涌。

那么中国与美国两个国家不同的是,美国会继续起引领作用,包括其慈善行业的规模,也包括他们在慈善领域里源源不断的创新。例如,“社会创业”、“社会影响力投资”、“公益创投”等慈善领域里的新尝试、新运动,即便不是美国最先提出,也是有其在领先阵容,“造势”上更是突出。而中国有可能实现跨越式的发展。仅仅以私人财富做标准,作为拥有世界亿万富翁(拥有净资产超过10亿美元)数第二的国家,中国有“实力”成为慈善大国。中国人口众多也是潜在的“志愿者大国”。然而对中国来说,现在更加紧迫和重要的是制度和文化,而这两点又相互作用。那么,这个“跨域”是否可以实现,恰恰要等这股“春风”了。

慈善制度在中国是一个同样博大而复杂的话题,甚至比文化更甚。中美两国在这方面也表现得像频谱的两端。中国有关制度政策为什么如此难产或者纠结,简言之,就是一个国与民,即政府和公民,或曰“公”(这里不指“公共”的“公”)与“私”之间的关系纠缠不清。因此,作为用于公益目的的“私人资源”却可能被“征用”、“胁迫”、“误导”,使慈善被扭曲、利用。

然而,社会转型期间的问题是难免的,更何况中国的慈善文化有数十年的间断。回望过去10年所成就的,中国应该有信心更有魄力地在慈善领域深化改革开放,完善制度,建设和促进积极的慈善文化。慈善理所应当地能成为我们中国软实力建设的一个重要的领域。人民福祉亦将随之提升,社会良性发展亦可待矣。

Chen Yimei is the Executive Director of China Development Brief

Translated by Zach Lei Zhou

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