Micro-charities struggle with remuneration issue

Updated: 2012-05-24 20:39


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BEIJING - Micro-charity workers are typically poorly paid in China, and for this reason charity experts worry that the country's highly interactive philanthropic organizations may be unsustainable.

Low remuneration is the biggest challenge to the development of micro-charities in China, but the Blue Book of Non-governmental Organizations: Report on China's Non-governmental Organizations (2011-2012) released Monday didn't mention the problem, micro-charity organizers told Xinhua Wednesday.

"Charity organizers' average wage is about 3,000 yuan ($476.2) a month, without any social welfare or health insurance," said Deng Fei, director of the journalist department of Phoenix Weekly, and founder of "Free Lunch" project for students living in remote areas.

"Three thousand yuan is okay in some second-line Chinese cities, but not enough in a city like Beijing," he said.

The "Free Lunch" project, started in April 2011, has involved 500 journalists and employs 13 full-time workers, however, the employees' status could only be considered as full-time volunteers as the project is not organized by a real non-governmental organization, Deng said.

The public demand a high degree of transparency from micro-charities given their interactive nature. "And Chinese do not want much of their donations going to charity workers," he said.

Another micro-charity project named "Wardrobe of Love," started in July 2011 to raise money to buy clothes for poor children by auctioning threads of actors and TV presenters, posted a recruitment advertisement last week on the Internet.

It outlined the monthly wage as 1,500 yuan in the probation period, and later could reach up to 2,000 yuan.

The advertisement triggered furious debate. "People said we are doing 'blood and sweat labor' working for so little," said Qiao Ying, executive director of the project.

"We only have three full-time employees paid 3,000 yuan a month, without any social welfare. One of them lives in the office," Qiao said.

Microphilanthropy, or micro-charity, is defined in the Blue Book as a young charity form which relies on the Internet to draw numerous participants.

The Blue Book says micro-charities in China face three major problems, namely: Internet users do not fully support them, there is a lack of operation regulations and the qualification of rising a public fund is not easy to get.

"Actually, the three major problems mentioned in the Blue Book can be solved and the real bottleneck for micro-charity development is the poor payment of employees," Deng said.

In Qiao and Deng's opinions, the major reason for the poor payment is public's misunderstandings on the charity work.

Chinese think their donations shouldn't be used for charity workers, Qiao said.

"The public needs to know that charity work is a professional vocation, and the charity organization needs operation capital," said Xiao Longjun, deputy general secretary of China Social Welfare Education Foundation.