Professor Jia Xijin: the History of the Chinese Foundation

中文 English

Editor’s note

This is CDB’s translation of a talk given by professor Jia Xijin, from Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management, on the history of philanthropic foundations in China. The talk was given on the 30th of August in Xi’an, at the the Shaanxi Summit of the China Foundation Forum. The Chinese version was published on the 4th of September 2019 by the WeChat account of the China Foundation Forum. You can see the original here.

 

 

  1. History: the three stages of development of the Chinese Foundation

 

Stage 1: “Fundraising”: the emergence of the Chinese Foundation

 

Since the Reform and Opening Up, there have been three stages in the development of the Chinese foundation, which I will summarise with three words. The first stage is “fundraising”. This marks the emergence of the foundation with Chinese characteristics. Founded in 1981, the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund was the first national-level charity foundation in the new China. It was jointly initiated by the National Women’s Federation and 17 other organisations. The Soong Ching Ling Foundation followed in 1982, the China Foundation for Disabled Persons in 1984, the China Youth Development Foundation in 1989, and so on. The majority were created by “People’s Groups” (人民团体) and had a degree of government background, or could even be seen as bridges created by the party and government to connect with society.

Why did such foundations appear? After the reform and opening up, the government realised that there were a lot of social causes that it wanted to tackle, but there was a lack of funding. At this time, our way of thinking was not for society to do these things for itself, but for society to give money to the government and allow the government to do them. In practice, in addition to national compulsory taxation, a channel for voluntarily donating further funds to the state was opened up. This was the origin of social donations in China, where people donate to the government and semi-official organisations like the Trade Union, the Communist Youth League and the Women’s Federation do the work. The context of the “fundraising” foundations is that social resources were monopolised by the government. Only certain government-related organisations could fundraise in society, and the Chinese foundation originated on this footing. This is the study of the emergence of the Chinese foundation.

The vast majority of foundations established before 2004 had their origins in fundraising. Looking back, there was a completely different backdrop to the establishment of foundations in the United States. The motivation behind the establishment of US foundations was finding a way to use funds donated by entrepreneurs. In this context, the foundation became a “way of distributing funds”.

It should be said that “fundraising” foundations played a big role at the time, such as with Project Hope. At that time, Mr. Xu Yongguang proposed a lot of things, but later continuously tried to revise them. Why? This is the distinguishing characteristic of that stage. For example, in charity, the consensus is firmly opposed to the concept of “zero cost”. But at that time, if you did not say zero cost no one would donate money. I believe that fundraisers knew that this was wrong. How could organisations not need money to operate? But in order to get the masses to understand, you had to first say this so that they would be willing to join in, and then slowly revise it and explain to them that this concept is wrong and there is no free lunch in this world. Therefore, in the beginning fundraising foundations helped the government realise its social interventions. However, with the development of the economy and society, some foundations began to have a certain autonomy and to carry out innovative social projects. The path of the Chinese foundation started like this, so it made a great contribution. Project Hope is a classic example.

It’s just that if things had always remained at this stage, the real meaning a foundation should have would have been lost. Why are there fundraising foundations? This is because the right to undertake social fundraising was monopolised by the government, and nobody else could do so, so this was the only way to have specific organisations with the mission of fundraising. This is where Chinese funds found their significance in that environment. But in a normal civil society, fundraising can be conducted by all organisations and even individuals. Fundraising is a natural right and does not require permission. If fundraising is opened up, you will find that this is not a specific attribute of an organisation at all. That is, the “fundraising” foundation is only the product of a specific stage set against the backdrop of a system with Chinese characteristics. As soon as the monopoly over fundraising ceases to exist, this type of foundation will have no substantive meaning.

 

Stage 2: “Using Funds”: The Rise of Non-governmental Foundations

 

The turning point for the start of the next phase should be 2004. In that year, the new “Regulations for the Management of Foundations” replaced the original method. These regulations differentiated between public fundraising foundations and non-public fundraising foundations. The actual significance is that the category of non-public fundraising foundations was established. Prior to this, “foundations” referred to public fundraising foundations. Organisations which could raise funds could only rely on government organisations to do so. The second stage occurred because our law recognised the fact that society can take money to do things itself, and that this can be legally recognised and given legal form.

The meaning of “non-public fundraising foundation” is that if there are private resources that do not originate from social fundraising, they can also carry out charitable undertakings which we originally considered to be the preserve of the government. The right to fundraise was thus not opened up, but the government’s monopoly on the control of charitable work was. The right to implement charitable undertakings or “do things” was also opened up. If you have money, you can go and carry out your ideas. This may not sound like anything extraordinary, but in the context of that time, seeing entrepreneurs carry out the charitable activities that they wanted according to their wishes was already an epochal leap forward for China.

The regulations on the management of foundations were a turning point. Non-public fundraising foundations started to grow rapidly. At the same time, the growth of public fundraising foundations has always been small and maintained a steady state. In 2011, non-public fundraising foundations overtook public fundraising foundations for the first time. By the end of 2018, there were already 5,109 non-public fundraising foundations, having grown rapidly from zero in 2004. So this is the characteristic feature of this stage.

So what is the function of these foundations? Although the foundation has established this interface for the inclusion of social resources, the social function of the foundation is still focused on its own operations. Therefore at this time a large number of non-public fundraising foundations are using their money to undertake projects themselves, as operating foundations. While Project Hope raises money from everyone to fund schools, non-public fundraising foundations correspondingly use their own money to build schools to help those they want to help.

In comparison, social organisations, especially social service organisations, use social resources to undertake projects. It’s just that the resources of social service organisations may be slightly more diverse, while the funding sources for non-public foundations are relatively unified. It is clear that undertaking projects is not a specific organisational characteristic of foundations. Although the new category of the non-public fundraising foundation was established during this stage, a distinctive social function was not achieved. We have found that many choose to set up foundations for convenience, controllability or for regulatory reasons, but foundations and civil non-enterprise units do not have special functional attributes.

According to statistics from the Foundation Centre Network, foundations which originate from a non-governmental background have grown tremendously since 2004. If the first stage in the development of Chinese foundations, the one of “fundraising”, related mainly to the government monopoly over public fundraising, then in the second stage, the one of “using funds”, the operational characteristics of the foundation are mainly related to the way the Chinese, and especially the rich and entrepreneurs, view wealth. For example, when people look at charity and public welfare, they will pay the most attention to the amount donated by entrepreneurs, rather than the purpose of the donation or how it is used. The concepts of wealth and charity stop at “giving”, so this stage took shape as a result of these kinds of attitudes. We find that in a genuine spirit of charity, donations should be the beginning rather than the end point. But in the specific cultural environment of China the “donation” is the end point, after which you find a few people and spend the money. This represents the characteristic feature of the second stage.

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 15.08.41

A slide from Professor Jia’s lecture, showing the growth in the number of non-public fundraising foundations (blue) and public fundraising foundations (orange) from 2011 to 2018.

 

Stage 3: “Distributing Money”: the Awakening of the Modern Chinese Foundation

 

The third stage is the “path of distributing money” (散财之道). So far this cannot be considered a mature stage in China, but the sector already has this awareness. So this is the awakening of the modern Chinese foundation. Although foundations in China have undergone a long period of development, foundations that truly have the main aim of “distributing money” have just started to awaken. What are the characteristics of such foundations? They distribute money themselves, and are dedicated to giving money to others. They are a resource for social organisations. At this stage, the concept of funding and operational foundations is gradually emerging, and people are starting to distinguish between them. It’s only once people have this concept and can distinguish them that everyone will realise that only funding foundations are real foundations, and organisations that do things themselves are actually social service organisations. Using money to build schools is something that a social service organisation and a charity organisation should do, and they are not real resource repositories. Therefore, funding foundations represent the core of the modern foundation.

Although Chinese foundations have undergone 30 years of development, foundations which really embody the role of being repositories of resources that provide funds to others have only emerged in recent years. So far, there is no statistical data, but as professor Wang said, the proportion of foundations that provide funding is about 1%. In short there are not more than 100 of them, which is in fact an extremely small number.

 

  1. The Current Situation: the Repositioning of the Chinese Foundation

 

The Charity Law provides legal policy support for achieving a key transformation for the foundation. Although there are many problems with the Charity Law, it has promoted the formation of the concept of the modern foundation. The Charity Law opens up the right to apply for public fundraising status. Any charitable organisation, civil non-enterprise institution or foundation can apply for public fundraising status as long as they meet the relevant conditions. That is, the public fundraising foundation defined in the “Foundation Management Methods” and “Foundation Management Regulations” does not exist in law after the introduction of the Charity Law, and foundations face a repositioning. 

After the introduction of the Charity Law, how can the Chinese foundation reposition itself in the current environment? For a foundation which “uses money”, it is even more necessary to rethink what a foundation is and whether its own organisational attributes have specific connotations.

The definition of many organisations in the United States is based on their attributes, that is, the specific function of the organisation. Without a specific function, there is no specific meaning. Internationally the historical basis for this type of organisation, the foundation, to come into being, has been the existence of wealthy people hoping to achieve specific charitable purposes through donations after they die, thus creating a foundation for asset management.

In the current legal context, Chinese foundations should move towards opening up public fundraising. The trend is to go from government monopoly to the monopoly of specific social organisations, and then to market choice. The foundation as an organisation that uses assets does not have specific attributes, and all social organisations can achieve this. The assets and the vision must last forever. Assets with ambition and vision behind them are where the motivation for the modern foundation lies. Therefore it all depends on whether the foundation can produce such a vision.

There are more than 800,000 social organisations in China, including more than 7,000 foundations. The United States also has more than 1.6 million. But the meaning of these two words is different. In China the meaning of “social organisation” is an organisation with legal legitimacy, while in the United States legal organisations have existed at all times and places, and can be established by any organisation at any time. In the United States and other developed countries, the social organisations regulated by law are tax-exempt. With reference to the standards of the 1.6 million social organisations in the US, China has around 10,000 similar organisations. The number of more than 7,000 foundations is also unreliable, with no more than 100 ones that provide funding. Therefore, when we compare, there are 1.6 million tax-exempt organisations and 100,000 foundations in the United States, while in China there are 10,000 tax-exempt organisations and fewer than 100 foundations. These are comparable figures. This also explains why there seems to be a large number of Chinese social organisations and a vigorous presence of foundations, but we do not feel their existence in our lives.

 

  1. The Future: Foundations and the Charity Ecosystem

 

On the road to future development, the foundation must recognise what the charity ecosystem is and what the specific role of the foundation is within it. There is a division of labor between the three sectors of government, enterprises and society. The foundation plays the role of fund conversion or of bringing resources from the “collection” to the “distribution” sectors.

Cross-domain and cross-sectoral innovation is a trend in contemporary social innovation. Therefore the foundations need to realise that they are situated within a large ecosystem in which social enterprises, social organisations and enterprises all coexist, and everyone represents a link in the chain of legal organisations with charitable purposes. The specific role foundations have within this chain is providing resource support. In the economic sector, banking and financial institutions have specific behaviours. There is no specific difference between large and small enterprises. Our foundations should be able to take on the role of banking or financial institutions in this field. Only by becoming a resource repository can the foundation find its own specific role in the charitable ecological chain and support the structure of the charity ecosystem. 

Therefore, it is not enough just to consider the number of foundations, we need to think about the position of the foundation within this structure. In the charity field, in relation to policy, relying on an organisational structure formed by a fundraising monopoly is false. Regarding society, especially participants and donors, a transformation in the way of seeing wealth is required. Foundations need to consider what is ultimately achieved from public donations and participation. The goal of the real charity sector is to achieve a vision, that is the realisation of the society we want. The foundation is an organisation that supports achieving a vision. It is an organisation which provides a sustainable mechanism for achieving charitable goals for assets with a vision. This is the transformation of the future foundation.

My wish is that the foundation can transform into the modern foundation as soon as possible. Thank you!

从“募财”到“散财”,如何把握中国基金会的现状与未来?

 贾西津 CFF2008 9/4
8月30日,基金会论坛·陕西峰会在西安市隆重举行,峰会以“从‘独善’其身走向价值‘共创’:基金会的蝶变之路”为主题,吸引了陕西省及全国各地关心基金会和公益事业发展的200多家机构、300余人与会。本文为您分享清华大学公益慈善研究院副院长贾西津的主旨演讲。
▲ 本文经嘉宾审阅,谨代表作者观点,不代表本平台立场。
一、历史:中国基金会发展三阶段
阶段一 ,“募财”:中国基金会的发生
改革开放以来,中国基金会的发展有三个阶段,我分别概括了三个词。第一个阶段是“募财”,这是中国特色基金会的发生。1981年中国少年儿童基金会成立,是新中国第一家国家级公益基金会,由全国妇联等十七家群团组织联合发起,其后的1982年宋庆龄基金会,1984年中国残疾人福利基金会,1989年中国青年发展基金会(青基会)等等,他们成立的主体大多是人民团体,具有一定的官方背景,乃至就是党和政府所建立的连接社会的纽带桥梁。为什么会出现这样的基金会呢?改革开放之后,政府意识到有大量的社会事业要做,但是缺乏资金。这时候我们的思路并不是社会自己去做,而是社会把钱给政府,让政府做。相当于除了税收是国家强制之外,还开辟一个自愿捐给国家更多资金的渠道,这就是中国的社会捐助起源,由民间捐给政府,通过类似工青妇这样的半官方机构来实现。“募财”基金会的背景是社会资源是政府垄断的,只有政府相关的特定机构才可以从社会募款,中国基金会起始是从社会募集资金的立足点而发生的,这是中国基金会的发生学。2004年之前成立的绝大部分的基金会他们成立出发点都是募资。回顾一下美国的基金会,就会发现成立背景是完全不一样的,美国基金会成立的动机是企业家的善款应该如何使用?在此背景下,基金会成为“散财之道”。
“募财”基金会在当时应该说起到了很大的作用,比如说希望工程。在那个时候徐永光老师倡导了很多事情,但是他后面自己不断的试图再去修正,为什么?是那个阶段的特点。比如“零成本”,现在公益共识是坚决反对的,但是那个时候不说零成本就没有人捐款。我相信募集者那个时候就知道这是不对的,组织怎么可能不需要钱运作,但是为了让广大群众理解,你只能这样说才能让他们参与进来,参与进来再慢慢的修正告诉他们这个观念是不对的,天下没有免费的午餐。所以募财基金会一开始是帮助政府实现其社会事业的,但是伴随经济社会的发展,部分基金会开始有一定的自主权,有一定的创新社会项目,从这样的领域上起始了中国基金会的发生之路,所以有很大的贡献。希望工程是一个典例。只是如果一直停留在这个阶段,就失去基金会应有之意了。为什么会有募财基金会,是因为向社会募集基金这个权力是政府垄断的,除了政府别人不能募款,所以这样才会有特定的组织,它的使命是募款,在这个环境下中国的资金会有它的意义所在。但是在一个正常的市民社会里面,募款可以是所有的组织甚至是个人,募款是天经地义的权利,是不需要经过许可的。如果把募款资质放开,就会发现募款根本不是一个组织的特定属性。也就是说“募财”基金会只是中国特色制度背景下的阶段性产物,募捐垄断权一不存在,这类基金会就没有实质含义了。
阶段二,“用财”:民间基金会的兴起
第二个阶段应该从2004年作为转折点。2004年新的《基金会管理条例》代替了原来的办法,这个条例区分出了公募基金会和非公募基金会,实际上的意义就是设立了非公募基金会的类型。在此之前的基金会就是指公募基金会,能募资的组织,只能依托政府的组织才能募资。第二个阶段,是因为我们的法律承认了一个事实,就是社会自己拿钱做自己的事情是可以被法律认可和赋予法律形式的。非公募基金会就是指,如果有一笔民间资源不向社会募集,也可以去做原来我们认为属于政府的那些社会公益事业。募集权没有放开,但政府对社会公益事业的治理垄断权放开了,实施公益事业或“做事”的权利放开了,如果你有钱可以按照你的想法去实现治理。我们听起来好像没有什么了不起的,但是在当时背景中会看到,企业家可以按照自己的意愿去做自己想做的公益事业,这种理念本身其实对中国而言,已经是一个阶段性的跃进。基金会管理条例为契机,呈现的现象就是非公募基金会迅速成长,同时公募基金会的增长始终保持很小的稳态。2001年非公募基金会首超公募基金会,到2018年底,非公募基金会已经有5109家,这是在2004年0家的基础上迅速长起来的。所以构成这一阶段的特点。那么这些基金会在功能上在做什么呢?虽然说基金会设立这个端口已经有社会资源的加入了,但在基金会的社会功能上,仍然是以自己操作为主,所以这个时候大量的非公募基金会,是拿一笔钱自己来做项目,即运作型基金会。如果说希望工程是募集大家的钱来资助学校,相对应的非公募基金会就是自己拿出钱来建设学校,来帮助想帮助的人。
比较一下,社会组织特别是社会服务机构,都是用社会资源来做项目,只不过社会服务机构的资源可能稍微多样性一点,而非公募基金会的资金来源比较单一。可见做项目本身不是基金会的组织特性,这一阶段虽然建立了非公募基金会这一新类型,但并没有实现独特的社会功能。我们发现很多基金会是从便利性上来说,或者从可控性上,或者是从规制的角度去选择设立基金会,而基金会和民非在其功能上并无特殊属性。基金会中心网统计,起源于民间背景的基金会,从04年开始数量有了大的增长。如果说第一个阶段“募财”主要与公募资格的政府垄断权有关阶段,在“用财”阶段,基金会的运作属性主要和中国人们特别是富人、企业家的财富观相关。比如人们在关注慈善公益时,多会关注企业家捐了多少,而不会关注善款的使用目的与使用方式,财富观和慈善观停留在“给出”为止,此时是停留于这样一个财富观和慈善观的前提下所形成的特定阶段。我们发现真正的公益观念,捐赠是开始而不是句号,只是在中国特定的文化环境中,“捐出”就画了句号,然后找几个人自己把钱花掉,这是代表了第二个阶段的特点。
阶段三,“散财”:中国现代基金会的觉醒
第三个阶段,就是“散财之道”。至今为止它在中国仍然不能称为一个成熟的阶段,但行业已经有这个意识,所以说它是中国现代基金会的觉醒。我国基金会虽然已经发展了很长时间,但真正有“散财”这种独特意义的基金会才开始觉醒。这类基金会有什么特性呢?基金会本身是散财的,是专门去给别人钱的,他们是社会组织的资源库。到了这个阶段,逐渐有了资助型和运作型基金会的概念,人们会去区分,有了这个概念区分,大家才认识到,只有资助型基金会才是真正的基金会,干事的组织其实就是社会服务机构,拿着钱建学校,就是一个社会服务机构要做的事情,是慈善机构要做的事情,而不是真正的资源库,所以资助型基金会才是现代基金会的核心特点。虽然中国基金会已经发展了30年,但是真正具有资助的资源库这种特定内涵的基金会也是近年来才兴起。至今为止,因为没有统计数据,但是王老师说的资助型基金会的比例大概为1%,总之不会超过百家,其实是非常小的数量。
二、现状:中国基金会的再定位
实现基金会的关键转型的有个法律政策上的支持是《慈善法》,虽然《慈善法》有很多的问题,但是它促进了现代基金会观念的形成。《慈善法》把公募资格申请权释放出来,任何慈善组织、民非、基金会只要符合相应的条件,都可以申请公募资格。也就是说在《基金会管理办法》和《基金会管理条例》里面所定义的公募基金会在《慈善法》出台之后,这类组织在法律上不存在了,基金会就面对重新定位。
《慈善法》出台后,中国基金会在当下环境下如何重新定位?作为一个“用财”的基金会,更要重新反思什么是基金会、自己的组织属性有没有特定的内涵。美国很多组织的界定是基于其属性,即组织的特定功能是什么,没有特定功能就没有特定含义。基金会这种类型的组织,在历史国际上的生成原因,是基于有钱人希望过世后能够将其善款实现特定的公益目的,因而创立了基金会来实现资产管理。中国基金会在当下的法律背景下,未来应该朝向公募资质放开的趋势发展,从政府垄断到社会特定组织的垄断,再到市场选择。基金会作为使用资产的组织不具有特定的属性,所有社会组织都可以来实现,一笔资产要永远存续,愿景要永远存续,有这样抱负和视野的资产才是现代基金会的动因所在,所以取决于基金会有没有这样视野的产生。中国的社会组织有80多万家,其中有7000多家基金会,美国也是160多万家,但是这两个词的含义是不一样的。中国社会组织的概念是合法组织,而在美国,合法组织是随时随地,任何时候都可以由任何组织成立。在美国或者其他的发达国家,法律规定的社会组织就是免税组织,参照美国160万社会组织的标准,中国大概有1万类似的组织。7000多家基金会也是个虚数,资助型的不超过百家。所以我们比较的时候,对照美国160万家免税组织,10万家基金会而言,中国的免税组织1万家,基金会不到百家,才是可比的数字,这也就解释了为什么中国社会组织看起来数量不少,基金会也生产旺盛,而我们的社会生活中却感受不到它们的存在。
三、未来:基金会与公益生态
基金会在未来发展的道路上,一定要认知到公益生态是什么样的,基金会在其中的特定角色是什么。政府、企业、社会这三个部门之间有一个分工,基金会在这其中扮演资金转换的角色,或者起到资源从“聚财”部门向“散财”部门流向的作用。在当代社会创新中,跨域跨部门创新是一个趋势,所以基金会还需要意识到自己处于这样一个大的生态,生态里可能有社会企业的存在,有社会组织的存在,有企业存在的,大家都是实现公益目的的各类法律类型组织的一个环节,而基金会在其中的特定行为是资源支撑的环节。在经济部门中,银行金融机构是有特定行为的,大企业和小企业是没有特定区别的;我们基金会在这个领域内应该能够成为银行金融部门这样的角色,只有成为资源库,基金会才能够在公益生态链中找到自己的特定角色,撑起公益生态的结构。所以,我们仅仅考虑基金会的数量是不够的,而需要在结构上想到基金会的定位所在。在公益慈善领域,对政策而言,依托于募捐垄断形成的组织性都是虚的;对社会而言,特别是对于参与者、捐赠者而言,需要财富观的转型,基金会对公众的捐赠和参与需要考量最终实现了什么。真正公益部门的目标是要实现一个愿景,是我们所希望的社会的实现,基金会是一个支持愿景实现的组织,是为有愿景的资产提供一个可持续的实现公益目标机制的机构,这才是未来基金会的蝶变。我祝愿基金会能够尽快向现代基金会的方向转型,谢谢大家!整理 | 王梦宇排版丨善达君

Translated by Peta Heinrich

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