Facts about philanthropy in emerging economies: China, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Russia

Alliance magazine

Philanthropy in China

  • The 2004 Regulations on Foundation Management created a distinction between public and private foundations. The first are allowed to raise funds publicly, whereas the latter are not. Most public foundations are GONGOs (government organized non-governmental organizations) but a few independent non-profits managed to register as public foundations.
  • In 2012, there were 2,591 foundations in China, including 1,373 private foundations and 1,218 public foundations. In 2010, there were 6,602 full-time workers working in 1,771 foundations.
  • The total income of Chinese foundations in 2010 was 28 billion RMB. The average revenue of each foundation was 15.87 million RMB, 18 per cent more than 2009 and 13 per cent less than 2008.
  • The total expenditure of Chinese foundations in 2010 was 18.7 billion RMB. The average expenditure of each foundation was 10.61 million RMB.
  • The most popular funding areas between 2001 and 2010 include education, medical care, scientific research, poverty alleviation, public security and safety/disaster relief.

WINGS, based on the China Foundation Center’s 2011 Chinese Foundation Developing Trends Report.


Philanthropy in Indonesia

  • It is hard to determine the exact number of foundations in Indonesia as most non-profits are also called ‘foundations’. There are two types of charitable entity: foundations (which fall under Indonesian law) and associations (which fall under Dutch law, a legacy of the colonial era).
  • Most giving is religious. Islamic religious obligations probably guarantee that most people make charitable donations. There are myriad religious charitable organizations in the country.
  • Issues of transparency and corruption still hamper the sector’s growth and professionalization, and fiscal incentives for giving are lacking.
  • Most family foundations arose from successful business empires. In addition to grantmaking foundations, there are several operating ones (often focusing on education by building schools and libraries).
  • Education tops the list of priority areas for funding. Huge grants are given to universities in Indonesia as well as the Philippines, Singapore, China and the US, mainly to support entrepreneurship and medical training. Rural schools for the poor and access to education for disabled students are also popular areas. Other fairly popular are disaster relief (across the region), wildlife conservation, microcredit schemes and spiritual/Islamic causes.


Philanthropy in Brazil

  • Due to corruption scandals in the 1990s and lack of professionalization in the sector, the word ‘philanthropy’ has a bad reputation in Brazil. ‘Private social investment’ is the general term used.
  • The sector started developing in the 1990s, mostly through corporate foundations. 71 per cent of GIFE’s 144 members are corporations or corporate foundations, which generally run their own programmes rather than making grants.
  • GIFE’s members invested over 2 billion reals (US$900,000) in 2012. Their main areas of funding are education, community development, and culture and arts.
  • With the economic boom and increasing demand for professionalization among families with a tradition of giving, there are a growing number of family foundations that can tackle more controversial issues. In addition, a new network of eight independent funds for social justice was formed in 2012. Its members fund causes related to racial equality, gender, environment, human rights and community development.
  • Legislation is confused and confusing. Owing to a lack of specific legislation for the philanthropic sector, organizations of a very different nature often register in the same category. Moreover, registration is administratively and financially burdensome.
  • Corporations and large foundations can take advantage of some fiscal incentives, but individuals cannot. Donations incur a 3 per cent tax.
  • Most foundations are based in the south (and richest part) of the country.



Philanthropy in Mexico

  • Institutional philanthropy is still not fully developed.
  • Cemefi’s latest survey on solidarity and philanthropy found that 30 per cent of volunteering happens at schools, 24 per cent at a church or religious institution, 15 per cent in the community, and 31 per cent in other activities related to areas such as environment and health.
  • Some local government agencies are considered tax-exempt non-profit organizations and authorized to provide tax-deductible receipts. These agencies compete with NGOs for funding from foundations and corporations.
  • According to a 2010 Cemefi survey of over 350 NGOs, around 9.8 per cent of their income comes from corporations.
  • Among Cemefi’s members, 108 are foundations: 16 community foundations, 52 corporate foundations, 9 family foundations and the rest independent or other types of foundation. Their main areas of work are social assistance and disaster relief, closely followed by education and health. Other important areas are social and economic development, and philanthropy and volunteering.
  • Organizations are eligible for ‘authorized donee status’ if they engage in certain publicly beneficial activities and comply with certain rules and regulations. Activities include aid to the needy, education, environmental protection and human rights promotion. Individuals based in Mexico making donations to organizations with authorized donee status can deduct up to 7 per cent of their taxable income.

WINGS, Cemefi.


Philanthropy in Turkey

  • Most Turks prefer direct giving rather than giving to civil society organizations (CSOs).
  • Few companies have a defined policy or practice for making grants to CSOs. Companies are more likely to provide in-kind donations or technical support or to sponsor a specific activity.
  • Only seven foundations out of 4,500 run grant programmes along with their own operations.
  • The regulatory infrastructure of philanthropy is restrictive. Other impediments to CSOs’ financial sustainability include the small number of those in receipt of international and private sector funds, the limited amount of public funds available for CSOs, and the lack of transparency in funding processes.
  • What is known as community philanthropy is limited to the practices of mutual aid and solidarity; this lacks planning, structured choice, engagement and the potential to meet long-term needs.



Philanthropy in Russia

  • There are about 300 active foundations in Russia compared to 900 listed in the government’s register.
  • 13 per cent of foundations are funded by a single private donor or family and 13 per cent by a single company or group of companies; the other 74 per cent do not have a principal source of funding.
  • The majority of foundations are based in Moscow, with the exception of community foundations, which are located in 15 regions of Russia.
  • Only 14 per cent of foundations are exclusively grantmaking. The majority (63 per cent) combine operational and grantmaking activities.
  • The most popular areas of foundation work are assistance to vulnerable groups (mostly children in need), education, culture and healthcare. For private foundations, education comes top.
  • The 100 foundations studied in more detail cumulatively managed 23 billion rubles (US$800 million) in 2010.

WINGS, based on a 2011 survey of the Russian foundation sector.

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