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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Follow the money : philanthropy in China - who's giving, to whom, and why? Tipton, Benjamin A. E.


Surveys conducted in China suggest that the Chinese are not generous with their resources - their money, time, or help. However, there is much evidence to the contrary, when viewing the data with different lenses. Giving is increasing and the growth of civil society is accelerating. This thesis examines the individual philanthropic giving that occurs in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). By “following the money” this study fills in a gap in available academic literature, and investigates the influences on giving behavior and the particular giving characteristics of the Chinese. This paper examines the social, cultural, economic and political factors; the regulatory framework - such as laws and regulations; and, other developments occurring around the PRC by local authorities responding to civil society crises in transparency and reporting requirements. The research strategies employed throughout are: (1) quantitative surveys, (2) qualitative ethnographic research methods, and (3) field research conducted during 2011. By using recent events such as the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 - when Chinese individuals donated record amounts of resources - and the public trust crisis of 2011, this study reflects on the current issues influencing giving. The qualitative research provides an in-depth look at the historical influences on giving. Data have been collected from government, civil society, and business reports; international and domestic surveys; media reports; PRC statutes and regulations. Some view Chinese as lacking generosity, but perspective on this issue is particularly important when considering the cultural, economic and political differences between people groups compared. This thesis explores the giving that occurs in the PRC and the influences on that giving - which we call - individual philanthropic giving with Chinese characteristics. By following the money, this thesis provides a comprehensive perspective and interpretation of the giving that currently occurs in the PRC and how it differs from giving in other countries around the world.

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