Chinese philanthropists explore British way of 'giving'

Updated: 2016-04-23 00:42

By WANG MINGJIE in London(

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Chinese philanthropists explore British way of 'giving'

Sir Marcus Setchell(left) and Sir Victor Blank(right) talk about their personal philanthropy experience at Kew Gardens in London, April 21,2016. [Photo provided to China Daily]

To improve under-developed philanthropy in China, a delegation of 18 Chinese philanthropists immersed themselves in studying philanthropy with some of the UK's leading donors in London.

Speakers on the day included Sir Victor Blank, former chairman of Lloyd's TSB Bank, Sir Marcus Setchell, former Surgeon-Gynecologist to Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Household, and Rupert Gavin, the Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces.

Wang Zhenyao, the president of the Shenzhen International Philanthropy Academy, China's first international philanthropy academy, took part in the sessions on Thursday at Kew Gardens.

China is undergoing economic restructuring and to develop sustainable philanthropy in the country during this transitional period is of great importance, said Wang.

Wang used to be the director-general of the social welfare department at China's Ministry of Civil Affairs and is known for his strong support of philanthropic organizations and advocacy for public participation in charity.

In March, Chinese lawmakers approved the country's first charity law, a move seen as an effort to promote domestic charity.

"It's a progressive act for the charity law to be adopted in China, but the biggest challenge to develop a sustainable philanthropy in China remains that we do not know how to do it," said Wang, adding "the philanthropic practice in China is still in a very traditional fashion and the modern philanthropy requires more than the rich merely donating the money to the poor."

It requires a comprehensive system, professional organization and registration, and an open platform which allows private capital to channel it into activities of public interest, in addition to the mere government investment, he said.

Blank, a longstanding British philanthropist echoed Wang's view, saying "It is unrealistic to expect a government to deal with all the issues that the society needs dealt with in order to help the under-privileged."

"There are a growing number of people of significant wealth in China who are seeing it is their wish or obligation to give money to good causes, that is a trend should be welcomed and encouraged," he said.

To build a comprehensive philanthropy, Blank said it is of great importance to create a culture of giving, "to make sure the people who are fortunate enough to have the wealth and fortunate enough to give away to feel that it's the right thing to give. To be able to give is a blessing."

A sustainable chartable work requires trust and transparency, said Oliver Shiell, CEO at Kew Foundation, "trust and transparency are the absolute key to address social and environmental challenges, and to achieve a clear set of goals and objectives."

Kew Foundation is an independent charity that works globally raising funds from individuals, companies and trusts to support Kew's work on plants and fungi.

A recent report by the Cass Business School's Centre for Charity and Philanthropy highlighted Kew Foundation as the second fastest growing fundraising organisation in the UK by revenue over the past five years.

Chinese philanthropists explore British way of 'giving'

Wang Zhenyao, the president of the Shenzhen International Philanthropy Academy. Photo provided to China Daily