Community philanthropy on the rise in China, driven by ultra wealthy families 


Shafi Musaddique


Philanthropy and other forms of private social investment are becoming commonly accepted and even expected in China, leading to a positive shift in the way philanthropy is viewed. 

That’s according to a report published by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society analysing ultra-high-net-worth giving in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.  

Individuals and their companies are increasingly seen as part of community solutions by Chinese society. Survey findings from the wealthiest philanthropists, conducted in all three regions, showed that almost all (97 per cent) engage in one or more forms of private social investment. 

Wealth management remains a strictly family affair for the wealthy, with direct personal management and social investment decision-making centralised. Almost three quarters of respondents said that their wealth is primarily managed by themselves and/or their family members. 

Education and health, both historically important for philanthropists in Asia, continue to be among the top areas of interest and engagement among high net worth respondents. 

The report also raised concerns that though there is higher interest in environmental challenges than ever before, little funding is going toward mitigating those challenges, with only 29 per cent of the philanthropists who expressed interest in the environment (35 per cent of all philanthropists) dedicating funding towards climate protection.  

The study also delved into historic practices and variations across the region. Hong Kong’s philanthropic landscape is largely influenced by its position as a global financial centre, as well as historic non-interventionist policies by the British, creating a driver for the private sector and private individuals to provide community related support.  

Hong Kong’s philanthropic culture remains to this day, the report says. In 2019-20, Hong Kong charitable donations (corporate and individual) reached HK$12.89 billion (approximately US$1.65 billion). 

Hong Kong is home to numerous billionaires, with 97 per cent of social sector organisations (both nonprofits and social enterprises) in Hong Kong receiving funding from wealthy individuals and foundations – the highest number to be found anywhere in Asia. 

Shafi Musaddique is a news editor at Alliance magazine.  

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