CiYuan Newsletter | Q1 2011

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In This Issue


Adopting International Best Practices in Building Effective Partnerships

On behalf of the CiYuan team and BSR, we would like to wish all of our readers a happy Year of the Rabbit!

In our first newsletter of 2011, we share recommendations for how to build effective donor-grantee relationships, which was the final topic of our roundtable series with the Cisco Foundation.

Next, we’re pleased to announce an exciting new corporate-NGO partnership pilot we are rolling out with the U.S.-based Taproot Foundation, HP, and the local NGO Huizeren. The pilot embraces a corporate volunteering model to increase the capacity of Chinese NGOs.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues, and send any feedback or comments to


Creating and Maintaining Successful Partnerships

By Brooke Avory, Associate, Partnership Developmnet,BSR

CiYuan meeting

On February 16, 2011, BSR and the Cisco Foundation held the final roundtable in a five-part series focused on donor-grantee relationships. This event—the largest of all roundtables in the series—linked (via telepresence) more than 30 participants in Beijing and Shenzhen to Cisco Foundation senior staff and their grantee representatives in the United States in Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Jose.

Drawing from the experiences of two of the Cisco Foundation's long-term, strategic grantees—One Global Economy and City Year—Chinese foundations and NGOs reflected on the challenges of the donor-grantee relationship, and particularly how they can adopt international best practices to work in the Chinese context.

The following recommendations—derived from the event—are designed to help donors and grantees create and maintain successful relationships.

Donors and Grantees
  • Strengthen monitoring and evaluation practices: Chinese donors and grantees should work together to set monitoring and evaluation frameworks that are based on international standards but easy to understand and implement.
  • Maintain open and regular communication: Donors and grantees should schedule monthly or bi-monthly check-ins on program progress as well as formal annual reviews. Frequent communication during the early stages of the partnership is critical to helping both parties work through turf issues as well as establish expectations for the relationship as it progresses.
  • Invest in the development and design of your grantee’s projects: Unlike the Cisco Foundation, many private Chinese foundations do not have access to corporate resources—such as products and technical expertise—to support the implementation of NGOs’ programs. Instead, Chinese foundations should consider investing staff time to work alongside their NGO partners on the development and design of projects. This will help donors build trust with the grantee as well as set the grantee and project up for long-term success.
  • Use pilot projects to build trust with donors: NGOs should take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate their ability to carry out small-scale programs that deliver on program goals. This is a critical step in building trust with donors and to securing larger funding opportunities in the future.
What do you think makes an effective donor-grantee relationship?

Please send your views and comments to

In Brief

Bringing Corporate Volunteering Services to China: Tapping Business to Build NGO Capacity

By Adam Lane, Associate, Advisory Services, BSR

The nonprofit sector in China is evolving rapidly. To overcome its most immediate challenge—a lack of technical expertise—BSR is supporting a new, cross-sector partnership among a multinational company (HP), a U.S.-based nonprofit (the Taproot Foundation), a local nonprofit (Huizeren), and a local foundation (the Narada Foundation) to harness business’ human capital to build the capacity of emerging nonprofit organizations.

The Taproot Foundation’s Innovative Model

The Taproot Foundation’s Service Grant Program facilitates professionals who want to donate their expertise to drive social change by ensuring: 1) the right needs at the right NGOs are identified; 2) the right skills are sourced from volunteers; and 3) volunteers’ skills are applied effectively through a careful process of matching and management.

BSR as Partnership Innovator

BSR reached out to the Taproot Foundation to explore interest in adapting their model in China as part of CiYuan. As part of this partnership, the Taproot Foundation is making US$50,000 available in pro bono staff time and more than US$1 million in intellectual property to Huizeren, a local NGO that specializes in volunteer services and was selected by BSR to implement a local version of Taproot’s Service Grant Program.

BSR also engaged the Narada Foundation as a contributing funder in this partnership with the goal of developing an economically sustainable business model for the future. Narada, a leading local foundation dedicated to building nonprofit capacity in China, has made grants to more than 100 local NGOs in the past four years; their grantees will be some of the first to benefit from the program. HP will also provide Huizeren with funding as well as pro bono support in the form of technical expertise and relevant IT systems and software.

As the project develops, BSR, the Taproot Foundation, and HP will continue to support Huizeren by helping the organization build its capacity to manage volunteers; attract broader company interest; measure Huizeren’s impact on NGOs, volunteers, and participating companies; and create a viable business model.

For more information on this project, please contact Adam Lane at

The Future of Philanthropy

Through interviews and conversations with government, nonprofit, and private-sector leaders in China, CiYuan has captured the visions of the future of philanthropy. Visit to learn more about the sector’s history, trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Wang Zhenyao

“It is more pressing than ever before to modernize the philanthropy system in China.”

Wang Zhenyao, President, One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute, Beijing Normal University | Full profile

Liao Xiaoyi

“The future of the earth’s environmental protection lies in China, and within China. The future is in rural China, and it should be driven by social enterprises.”

Liao Xiaoyi, Founder and President, Global Village of Beijing | Full profile

See all profiles


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