Deng Guosheng: how will the Coronavirus Outbreak Affect Chinese Charities?

中文 English

This is CDB’s translation of an interview with Professor Deng Guosheng that was originally published by the WeChat account 社会创新家 (“Social Innovator”) on the 16th of February. You can find the original here.

 

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Editor’s Note

Under the pressure of the international economic downturn, China’s economy is also being strongly impacted by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. What effects may the charity sector suffer in the short and medium-to-long term? How should it respond to the risks brought about by the major outbreak of a public health crisis and by the economic recession? “Social Innovator” (社会创新家) interviewed Professor Deng Guosheng, vice-president of the School of Public Policy and Management of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, regarding these issues.

 

1. The next two years are going to be tough

 

In terms of donations, what short and medium-to-long term effects do you think the economic downturn of the past two years and the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia (hereafter referred to as NCP) will have on the charity sector?

Deng Guosheng: According to my preliminary assessment, the negative effects caused by the NCP epidemic in terms of the overall amount of donations will not emerge in the current year. In fact, only about ten days after the outbreak of the NCP, donations from companies had already exceeded RMB 20 billion, while the public has also passionately participated with funds and material contributions. If we look at the experience gained during the previous “great calamities”, we can expect that, in comparison with the past year, the overall amount of funds collected will increase by a wide margin. Moreover, since this year also corresponds to the final stages of the “poverty eradication” program, the total amount of donations related to poverty alleviation is also expected to be high. Therefore, to sum up, the total amount of donations for the year 2020 is more likely to increase than it is to decrease.

However, donations for the “great calamities” of the past were often overdrawn. If we take the 2008 Wenzhou earthquake as an example, the amount of donations collected that same year reached RMB 107 billion, whereas in 2009 the total sharply dropped to RMB 54,2 billion, just over half of the previous year. In addition, since the “poverty eradication” program is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020, next year’s donations for poverty alleviation are also expected to drop sharply, while the NCP epidemic’s great impact on the economy may particularly influence next year’s donations by companies. If all factors are taken into account, I am afraid that the negative effects on the charity sector will start to be clearly evident in 2021. For this reason, we can expect that in 2021 and 2022 it will become increasingly difficult to fundraise.

Obviously, this is an overall assessment. The NCP’s specific influence in terms of fundraising may differ greatly from one type of charity to another, and structural issues may also emerge.

 

Charities working in which sectors are most likely to suffer the greatest impact?

Deng Guosheng: The amount of donations collected by foundations actively participating in the fight against the NCP epidemic and in the “poverty eradication” initiatives, and from charity organizations providing first-line public services, will presumably increase. However, for what regards organizations working in other sectors, such as entities relying on the government’s purchase of services or on donations coming from big companies, their income from donations is most likely to show a considerable decrease, to the point that, from this year onwards, their future appears quite gloomy.

The most immediate problem is the one related to the salaries, which represents a very concrete challenge. Without any income, charities are not likely to be able to sustain their activities for more than one or two months, and in the long term some of them may encounter serious difficulties. I am even afraid that organizations engaged in certain fields may have no other option but to cut down their projects and lay off employees. Although some organizations are currently displaying good numbers in terms of fundraising, the part that’s growing is mainly the funds related to disaster relief activities, for which management expenses, if there are any, are very low. Hence, challenges related to the management expenses of the organizations will also present themselves.

 

Will the impact on different types of foundations be different, based on the sources of their donations?

Deng Guosheng: Both public and non-public foundations will be impacted in the future. In the medium-to-long term, public foundations will face greater challenges and find it harder to raise money; when it comes to many non-public foundations, the economic downturn will give companies a hard time, and giving is bound to shrink.

 

In the business sector, small and micro-enterprises are more vulnerable to crises. Does the resilience of charity organizations of different sizes also conform to this pattern?

Deng Guosheng: In the face of a crisis, the pattern in charity and business is basically the same, but there are also differences. The common point is that larger-scale foundations are also more resilient to pressure. For example, after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the amount of funds raised by state-backed foundations in 2009 was not in the low ranges at all. Large foundations like the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, the China Women’s Development Foundation and the China Youth Development Foundation did quite well in fundraising, but small and medium-sized foundations had a difficult time.

However, the charity sector is not a cut-throat competitive environment. Therefore, small and medium-sized foundations and front-line charities that provide services are not likely to quit or close down even if they are hard hit. Times will be tough, projects will be scaled down, jobs will be cut, but “fading away” will not be easy. Some organizations will become less dynamic, and the proportion of so-called “walking dead” foundations may increase within the sector.

 

Beyond fundraising, what direct impact will the NCP epidemic itself have on the operations of charities?

Deng Guosheng: From the look of things, it will be impossible to operate and implement many projects in, at the very least, the first quarter of 2020, and they may need to be postponed. This is an optimistic estimate, but we also need to consider that there will be some time between the turning point and the end of the epidemic, which means prevention and control work will continue for some time. The work of social organizations is different from that of other sectors. It is a line of work which requires frequent contact with people. If it is not possible to carry out business trips, research and demand assessments smoothly, some programs and activities may have to be postponed for even the whole first half of the year.

 

Does this mean that even “money cannot make things happen”?

Deng Guosheng: This may be another kind of challenge because of the special nature of public health emergencies. Many organizations raised money in 2019, but they were not able to start projects in 2020. The impact of the NCP outbreak will be particularly great for poverty alleviation projects for which funds were raised in the second half of 2019, and which were originally intended to be implemented in 2020. The mission of alleviating poverty needs to be completed by the end of 2020, this is a clear order from above. Completing the task, and especially completing it on time, will be a huge challenge.

I expect some platform organizations that plan to conduct offline activities, such as meetings and forums, in the first half of 2020, to be affected and be forced to postpone. This could disrupt the plans and rhythms of many charities.

Summing things up, this NCP outbreak will bring great damage to both the upper and lower reaches of the charity sector, and will have a great impact on the development of the entire system.

 

2. Turning a crisis into an opportunity

 

How should the charity sector face this crisis?

Deng Guosheng: The crisis is unavoidable. The economic downturn is an inevitable global trend. The impact of such a large epidemic cannot be avoided under such circumstances. The problem that the entire sector needs to think about is how to turn this crisis into an opportunity, find chances to work amidst the impact of the outbreak, and at the same time reflect upon the problems and deficiencies of the sector itself.

 

What are the visible opportunities?

Deng Guosheng: Based on the experience of various countries, after similar shocks, although corporate donations may be reduced, small individual donations would not be reduced much and may even increase steadily. In developed countries and regions, charitable donations come more from the general public, and corporate donations account for only a small part, so that charitable donations remain relatively stable. However, the situation in China is exactly the opposite. Therefore, non-profit organizations can seize the opportunity to adjust and change their fundraising structure, get rid of the excessive reliance on corporate donations, and go from large donations to relying on small individual donations to create a more stable source of funds for the organization. In fact, it can be seen from every major disaster that the Chinese public is deeply caring, and the potential for donations by the general public in China is far from being given its full play.

The economic downturn, coupled with the impact of the epidemic, will further intensify social problems and increase the society’s demands. At this time, the charity sector is required to provide more public services and give play to the role of charity as a “third re-distributor”. Non-profit organizations, especially foundations, must think about how to adapt to the new environment and how to change and evolve. For instance, how to use the internet to raise funds in the future and increase the proportion of small private donations, and also how to use the internet to solve social problems and improve efficiency. For example, using online psychological counselling, and providing remote technology and consulting services to reduce costs.

In addition, non-profit organizations should improve their organizational and learning capabilities, and qualified non-profit organizations can also take this opportunity to store up on professional talents. Clearly with the economic downturn there will be employment difficulties for college students, some companies may lay off staff, and a large number of professionals could find themselves out of employment. In the past, compared with enterprises, the competitiveness of non-profit organizations in attracting talent was weaker, but during the economic crisis, for non-profits there is an opportunity to attract talents.

Now is an important stage in community prevention and control. When participating in solving community problems, we also need to turn a crisis into an opportunity.

 

The tide of people returning to work has increased the pressure on community prevention and control. What role can social organizations play?

Deng Guosheng: Judging from the current situation, wherever prevention and control work is done well, the social governance system and governance capacity are relatively good. For example, look at places such as Zhejiang, Shanghai, Guangdong, Sichuan. The tide of people returning to work has sharply increased the pressure on first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. In the respect of community prevention and control, the professional advantages of social organizations should be used to stimulate social vitality. For example, in areas of severe epidemic, professional social workers are used to conduct individual case counseling and psychological counseling.

The strength of the communities (社区) in rural areas and some areas in the central and western regions is weak, and the strength of neighborhood committees and village committees is not enough, hence the role of social organizations needs to be exerted as much as possible. The work of community prevention and control carries great responsibilities and pressures. The community committees and village committees often have insufficient staffing and lack professionalism, and sometimes have to adopt methods that are simple and crude. This may cause a lot of contradictions and conflicts, and even pose negative influences on the return to work and economic recovery. Professional volunteer organizations and social work organizations can serve as important supplements to the forces of community prevention and control.

 

What are the requirements for social organizations to participate in community prevention and control?

Deng Guosheng: In recent years, the charity sector has been advocating for the participation of professional volunteers and social workers. In fact, this has already provided certain capabilities, and it has also formed a platform hub in the sector, which is a huge resource that can be activated. It is imperative to establish a cooperative mechanism between government and society, provide institutionalized channels for social forces to participate in the prevention and control of the epidemic, and integrate social forces into the entire prevention and control system.

In general, this epidemic situation is a big test for both the ability of social organizations and the ability of social governance.

 

3. Mechanisms need to be established for effective government-society cooperation

 

During the novel coronavirus epidemic, what shortcomings do you think have been revealed within the philanthropic sector?

Deng Guosheng: Firstly, the networks for cooperation among social organizations are less than perfect; secondly, there’s not enough expertise in responding to epidemics.

Compared with the SARS epidemic in 2003, the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the Yushu earthquake in 2010, and the Ya’an earthquake in 2013, we can see that the ability of social actors, including public interest organizations, has improved significantly. But you’ll also see that the role played by these organizations is still relatively weak.

For example, after this epidemic began, a salient problem was that systematic and efficient cooperative networks were not formed between foundations and frontline social organizations. You’ll see that internet companies, a lot of informal groups like fan clubs and volunteer groups and some alumni associations have played a really big role, purchasing medical resources in short supply from all over the world. They have played an enormous role in overcoming the epidemic. And yet with some formal charity organizations it’s another story, they haven’t really given play to what they can do, or at least their role hasn’t been quite what we would have hoped. Although this is connected to the epidemic being a sudden public health emergency, the capacity of charities in relation to this kind of crisis is limited. But as well as that, there’s the fact that there is a lack of integrative networks for cooperation and collaborative mechanisms between all the different types of social organizations.

So I feel that this crisis is not just a huge test for the national governance system and capacity, but it’s also a big test of the governance abilities and skills of social organizations.

 

After going through a number of natural disasters, weren’t the civic emergency response networks already basically put into place after the 2013 Ya’an earthquake? For example, the China NGO Center for Disaster Relief Reduction.  

Deng Guosheng: The networks established up until now have mostly been for responding to natural disasters. Aside from a small number of charities that participated in the public health emergency in 2003, the vast majority of these organizations lack experience in responding to a public health emergency.

This time, after the epidemic began I spoke with some organizations that operate as platforms and told them that the sector has to take action and get involved. They were all very cautious, saying they would need to think and look into it. This tells us that after all these years of development, when it comes to responding to different types of emergencies, our social organizations are lacking a specialist capacity, and their responsiveness, speed and effectiveness in responding is wanting. This is something that the whole sector needs to reflect upon and get better at going forward.

 

On January 26, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued Public Notice No. 476 designating five Hubei and Wuhan organizations to receive donations and act as the hub for emergency response materials. Did this cause hub platforms in the sector to lose their own space for action?

Deng Guosheng: Yes, this way of going about things undoubtedly had an objective impact on the role and involvement of social organizations.

When the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake happened, a small number of organizations was designated to engage in public fundraising and use donated cash and materials; in the Yushu earthquake in 2010, this was also the approach adopted to begin with. But having designated organizations centralizing and using the funds and materials was revealed to carry problems, to the point that the related policy documents during the Yushu earthquake were difficult to implement.

By the time the Ya’an earthquake happened, the government’s thinking had changed significantly and they no longer designated a small number of organizations to monopolize fundraising or to deploy donated cash and materials in such a concentrated way. There were institutional channels in place for social organizations’ involvement in the emergency response. At that time Sichuan formed networks for cooperation among social organizations, the Sichuan provincial government specifically put in place a provincial coordinating team for mass organizations (群团组织) to participate in social governance, and Ya’an itself also set up a service center for social organizations and volunteers taking part in the emergency response. You could say that in the history of emergency responses in China, this was an important institutional breakthrough.

 

Why was this achievement not able to play a role in the current response to the epidemic?

Deng Guosheng: The formulation of policy on charity donations during this epidemic is related to the particular local situation in Hubei Province. Before the Ministry of Civil Affairs released this Public Notice, the local government had already issued a policy, designating a small number of organizations to collect donations in cash and kind. One reason for this is that the central region of China is much weaker when it comes to social organization development. Social organizations are not well developed there and the officials aren’t clued up enough on social organizations’ participation in social governance.

During the emergency response efforts Hubei province has been going about things in a really haphazard way, which shows that there are many problems in terms of local social governance systems and capacity. The lessons paid for in blood in past disasters like the Wenchuan earthquake, and the experiences that they have left us, have not been learnt or passed on. In all of this there is a salient problem in that we lack mechanisms for the government to work with society. This means that there’s little choice but to designate a small number of organizations to concentrate donations and manage them in that way. But the result is that these designated organizations lack sufficient capacity and this then creates a kind of dam of donated cash and materials.

Faced with enormous pressure from society in the shape of public opinion, on January 30, the Wuhan Red Cross issued Public Notice No.6 adjusting the procedures for earmarked donations. With this, donated materials from citizen actors behaving autonomously could be directly linked up to the recipients. But this direct linking again gave rise to the chaotic situation seen previously. On February 7, the Wuhan Bureau for Market Oversight and Regulation issued another notice stating that steps would be taken to address cases where there was a suspicion that regulations had been broken by circumventing the Red Cross to donate materials. Trying to bring everything under unified control ends up with efforts being strangled; when efforts are strangled you free things up, but freeing things up then leads to chaos, and chaos leads to attempting to control everything again. In all of this the fundamental problem is that social forces lack institutionalised channels; there’s a lack of mechanisms for the government to coordinate with society during emergencies.

邓国胜:新冠肺炎之后,哪些公益机构的日子难过?

 肖泊 社会创新家
采访 ▏肖泊
编者按
全球经济下行压力下,新冠肺炎疫情又给中国经济带来巨大冲击。中国公益行业会在短期和中长期受到哪些影响?在重大突发公共卫生事件与经济下行风险中,公益行业该如何应对?围绕这些问题,《社会创新家》采访了清华大学公共管理学院副院长邓国胜。
 
1

明、后年日子更难过

《社会创新家》:近两年经济下行,今年开年又遭遇新型冠状病毒感染肺炎(简称NCP)疫情冲击,从捐赠收入的角度看,你判断会给公益行业造成怎样的短期或中长期影响?邓国胜:我个人初步判断,捐款总量上,疫情冲击来带的消极影响不会在今年显现。NCP疫情短短十几天,企业捐款就突破200亿,公众捐款捐物的热情也非常高。从以往“大灾”年份的经验看,捐款总量一般都会较上一年大幅增长;同时,今年还是脱贫攻坚收官之年,扶贫捐赠的数量估计也不会低。所以总的来看,2020年的捐款总量上可能会不降反升。但是,“大灾”年份的捐款往往有“透支”特征。以2008年汶川地震为例,当年捐赠总量1070亿元,到2009年,急剧下降到542亿元,几乎打了个对折。而且脱贫攻坚任务今年完成,明年社会的扶贫捐款也可能大幅下降,尤其此次NCP疫情对经济造成的巨大冲击也会影响到明年的企业捐赠,综合这些因素判断,对公益行业带来的消极影响恐怕会从2021年开始凸显,所以明年、后年筹款可能会更难。当然,这只是总体的判断,具体对不同类型公益机构的筹款影响可能差异会很大,即存在结构性问题。《社会创新家》:从领域划分来看,哪些公益组织受到的冲击更大?

邓国胜:参与抗击NCP疫情以及参与脱贫攻坚的基金会和一线提供公共服务的公益组织在捐赠收入上可能会有增长;但是其它一些领域的机构,例如,过去主要依靠政府购买服务、依靠大企业捐款的公益机构,未来捐赠收入上可能会大幅收缩,甚至从今年开始,日子就会比较难过了。

眼下最直接的是发工资的问题,这是很现实的挑战。没有收入,一两个月还能撑,时间长了,一些公益机构就会比较难熬。有些领域的机构恐怕不得不收缩项目,甚至要裁员了。即便是一些募款数字暂时比较漂亮的机构,因为增长部分多是与救灾有关的款物,管理费低,甚至没有管理费,所以在机构的管理支出上同样要面对挑战。

《社会创新家》:从捐赠来源上看,不同类型的基金会受到的冲击是否也会有所不同?

邓国胜:无论是公募基金会,还是非公募基金会,未来都会受到冲击。中长期来看,公募基金会面临的挑战更大,筹款更难了;对于很多非公募基金会来说,经济下行,企业日子不好过,捐赠肯定也会压缩。

《社会创新家》:在商业领域,小微企业更难挨过危机,不同规模、体量的公益机构的抗击打能力是否也符合这一规律?

邓国胜:在面临危机时,公益领域与商业领域的规律基本相同,但也有差异。相同的是,规模大的基金会抗压能力更强一些。比如2008年汶川地震过后,2009年“国字号”的基金会当年筹款量也不低,中国扶贫基金会、中国妇女发展基金会、中国青少年发展基金会等,这些大型基金会在筹款上表现都还不错,但中小型基金会的日子就比较难过。

不同的是,小微企业扛不过去就直接“死”掉了,而公益行业不是你死我活的竞争环境,所以中小型基金会和一线提供服务的公益组织即便遭到较大冲击,一般不至于退出、关门。日子会难过,压缩项目规模、裁员,但“死”也不容易。有些机构的活力会降低,行业里所谓的“僵尸”型公益组织的比例可能会增加。

《社会创新家》:除了募款层面,此次NCP疫情本身还会给公益机构的运作带来哪些直接影响?

邓国胜:眼下来看,至少2020年第一个季度很多项目无法运作和执行,需要延期。这应该算是比较乐观的估计,因为还要考虑疫情从出现拐点到结束也有周期,防控工作还是要持续一段时间。社会组织的工作跟其他行业又不太一样,主要是做人的工作,需要高频高密度地跟人打交道,出差、调研、需求评估等等都无法顺利进行,甚至上半年,部分项目、活动可能无法开展和落地了。

《社会创新家》:这意味着即便有钱可能也会很难?

邓国胜:这可能是另一种挑战,因为公共卫生事件的特殊性,很多机构2019年筹到的钱,但2020年没法开展项目。特别是一些扶贫项目, 2019年下半年筹的款,本来计划是准备2020年实施项目的,NCP疫情对它们的影响会比较大。而脱贫攻坚要到2020年的年底收官,这是“死命令”,要完成任务,特别是如期达成扶贫项目的目标,会有较大的挑战。

还有一些平台型机构需要做很多线下活动,比如一些基金会计划2020年上半年开的会议、论坛,估计会受到一些影响,不得不延期。这样一来,会打乱很多公益组织的计划和节奏。

综合各种情况来看,此次NCP疫情对公益行业上下游链条会带来较大的破坏,对整个公益行业的发展都会产生很大影响。

2
要把危机转化为机会
《社会创新家》:公益行业要如何面对这场危机?邓国胜:危机已经不可避免,经济下滑是全球趋势,也躲不掉;如此大的疫情,冲击同样无法逃避。如何把危机转化为机会,在疫情冲击中寻找机会,同时反思自身和行业发展中存在的问题和不足,这是整个公益行业需要思考的问题。《社会创新家》:有哪些可见的机会?邓国胜:从各国的经验看,在类似冲击过后,虽然企业捐赠可能会减少,但个人小额捐款受到的影响非常小,甚至还可能会稳中有升。而在发达国家和地区,慈善捐赠更多来源于社会大众,企业捐款只占很小的一部分,所以慈善捐赠可以保持相对稳定,中国的情况刚好是反过来。所以,公益组织可以抓住机会去调整、改变自己的筹款结构,摆脱对企业捐款的过渡依赖,从“傍大款”走向依靠个人小额捐款,为机构创造一个更稳定的资金来源。其实,从每次大的灾害都可以看出,中国的公众是有爱心的,中国普通公众的捐赠潜力还远远没有激发出来。经济下行,再加上疫情冲击,未来社会问题会进一步加剧,社会需求会进一步上升,这个时候,更需要公益行业提供更多公共服务,发挥慈善的第三次分配作用。公益组织、特别是基金会要思考如何去适应新的环境,如何变革。比如,未来如何借助互联网技术去筹集资金,提升个人小额捐款的占比;如何利用互联网技术解决社会问题,提高效率。例如,通过互联网技术开展远程心理辅导,提供远程技术与咨询服务,降低成本等。

此外,公益组织要提升自己的组织能力和学习能力,甚至有条件的公益组织还可以借此机会储备一些专业人才。很显然,经济不景气,大学生就业困难,一些企业可能裁员,会有大量专业人才被挤出。以往,相较于企业,公益机构的人才竞争力较弱,而在经济危机时,对公益机构而言,反而是吸纳人才的机会。

眼下是社区防控的重要阶段,参与应对社区问题时,同样也需要转化危机为机会。

《社会创新家》:返工潮让社区防控的压力进一步加大,社会组织可以发挥哪些作用?

邓国胜:从目前情况看,但凡防控工作做得好的,都是社会治理体系和治理能力相对好的地方。例如,浙江、上海、广东、四川等地。返工潮让一线城市北、上、广、深的压力陡增,在社区防控层面,理应发挥社会组织的专业优势激发社会活力。比如说在疫情严重的地区,利用专业社工开展个案辅导、心理咨询等。农村以及中西部一些地区社区力量很薄弱,光靠居委会、村委会的力量也是不够的,也需要尽可能发挥社会组织的作用。社区防控工作责任大、压力大,社区居委会、村委会的人手不够、专业性不够,有时不得不采用简单粗暴的做法,这可能又会产生大量矛盾冲突,甚至对复工、对经济恢复产生影响。而专业志愿者组织、社工机构可以作为社区防控力量的重要补充。

《社会创新家》:社会组织参与社区防控需要哪些条件?

邓国胜:近些年,公益行业一直在倡导专业志愿者、专业社工,其实已经具备了一定的能力,而且也形成了行业内的平台枢纽机构,是一个可以激发的巨大资源。当务之急是建立政社协同机制,为社会力量参与疫情防控提供制度化的参与渠道,将社会力量纳入到整个防控体系之中。

总的来说,疫情无论是对社会组织的能力,还是对社会治理的能力都是一个大考。

3
需要建立有效的政社协同机制
《社会创新家》:此次NCP疫情中,你认为公益行业暴露出哪些不足?邓国胜:第一,社会组织之间的协作网络不健全;第二,缺少足够的专业性来应对疫情。相比于2003年非典疫情、2008年汶川地震、2010年玉树地震、2013年雅安地震,我们还是可以看出,社会力量,包括公益组织的能力还是有很大提升。但我们还是会发现,公益组织发挥的作用相对还是很弱。比如此次疫情发生后,一个突出的问题是,基金会以及一线社会组织之间没能形成系统的高效的协作网络和机制。你会发现互联网企业,以及很多非正式的比如明星粉丝团、非正式的志愿者团体,还有一些校友会,他们发挥了很大作用,从全球采购紧缺的医疗物质,为战胜疫情发挥了巨大作用但是,一些正式的公益组织,反而作用没有发挥出来,至少不如期望的作用大。虽然这与本次疫情属于突发公共卫生事件有关,公益组织在应对这类事件方面,能力有限。另外,就是各式各样的社会组织之间缺少整体的协同网络和协同机制。所以,我觉得此次危机不仅是对国家治理体制与治理能力的一个大考,对社会组织的治理水平、能力也是个大考。

《社会创新家》:经过几次自然灾害,2013年雅安地震后,民间的救援网络不是已经基本形成了吗?比如基金会救灾协调会。

邓国胜:之前建立的网络主要是应对自然灾害,除了2003年少数公益组织参与过公共卫生突发事件外,绝大多数公益组织缺少应对突发公共卫生事件的经验。

这次疫情发生后,我也给一些平台型机构说,行业要积极行动,积极参与。他们对此都非常慎重,说要考虑研究一下。这也反映出经过多年发展,我们社会组织在应对不同类型突发事件的专业能力、对突发事件的回应性、速度、效率还是不够,这也是未来行业需要反思和提升的地方。

《社会创新家》:1月26日,民政部发出476号公告,指定湖北、武汉五家机构接受捐助,充当救灾款物的枢纽,这是否让行业枢纽平台失去了发挥空间?

邓国胜:是的,这种做法,无疑给社会组织的参与和作用发挥带来了客观影响。

2008年汶川地震,当时也是指定少数机构募款和集中使用捐赠款物;到2010年玉树地震时期,最开始也是采用同样的策略。但由指定机构集中使用款物暴露了许多问题,以至于玉树地震时的相关文件难以执行下去。

到了雅安地震时期,政府的思路有了很大调整,不再指定少数机构垄断筹款,集中使用捐赠款物,社会组织参与救灾,有了制度化的渠道。当时,四川形成了多个社会组织合作网络,四川省政府还专门成立省群团组织参与社会治理协调小组,雅安市也专门成立了抗震救灾社会组织和志愿者服务中心。可以说,这在中国的救灾史上,是一次重要的制度创新实践。

《社会创新家》:为什么这一成果没有在此次疫情应对中产生作用?

邓国胜:这次NCP疫情相关的慈善捐赠政策的形成与湖北的地方特征有关。民政部的这份公告发出前,当地政府已经出台了政策,指定少数几家机构接受捐款款物。其中一个原因是,中国的中部地区是社会组织发展的一块洼地,社会组织不发达,官员对社会组织参与社会治理的认知也不够。

这次救援工作,湖北省搞得如此混乱,说明当地社会治理体系、社会治理的能力存在很多问题。以往汶川地震等大灾大难血的教训换来的经验没有被吸收和传承下来。其中一个突出问题就是缺乏政社协同机制,所以不得不指定少数机构集中捐赠款物的管理。但结果这些被指定机构的能力不足,又造成了捐赠款物的堰塞湖。面对社会舆论的巨大压力,武汉市红十字会在1月30日发出6号公告,调整了定向捐赠流程,这样一来,民间自主捐赠的物资可以直接对接受赠方。然而,直接对接又重新出现了之前的混乱局面。2月7日,武汉市市场监督管理局又发出消息称,对绕过红十字会捐赠物资,涉嫌违法的将被处理。一统就死,死了再放,放了又乱,乱了再统。总的来说,这次社会力量参与突发公共卫生事件,暴露出了很多问题。其中,最根本的还是社会力量缺乏制度化的参与渠道,缺乏突发事件中的政社协同机制。

Translated by Andrea Branco, Laura Feng, Holly Snape and Betty Wang

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