CiYuan Newsletter | Q3 2011

CiYuan logo

In This Issue


Strengthening Nonprofit Accountability in China

This year, we have seen significant policy developments aimed at strengthening and expanding the nonprofit sector in China. Last quarter, we discussed the “Corporate Giving Guide,” which provides companies with clear guidelines on how their contributions can have the greatest impact. In this issue, we explore the latest policies designed to help charities in mainland China improve their accountability.

In today’s feature article, BSR Advisory Services Associate Lindsey Lim examines the Ministry of Civil Affair’s new “Guidelines for the Development of the Chinese Charity Sector.” Lim outlines the main topics covered by the guide as well as her own observations of where the guidelines fall short—and what’s needed for effective and lasting change.

Next, following our first NGO-corporate roundtable, we reflect on the partnership opportunities for solving the challenges of of an aging Chinese population.

Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues, and send any feedback or comments to


New Guidelines Strengthen Nonprofit Accountability and Increase Resources for Sector

By Lindsey Lim, Associate, BSR

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Civil Affairs published a draft of the "Guidelines for the Development of the Chinese Charity Sector", which is designed to give the 2,270 registered charities in mainland China broad guiding principles for the sector’s development over the next five years. The guidelines cover:

  • Transparency and disclosure
  • Statistical data collection
  • Third-party and government evaluation
  • Better benefits for NGO employees
  • CSR education for university students
  • Improved public awareness of the sector

After a thorough review of the guidelines, BSR concluded that while the principles represent a step in the right direction, more guidance and clarity will be needed for effective and lasting changes. Some of our key observations include:

  1. The guiding principles indicate that the government is increasing its focus on transparency. However, without clear requirements on what to disclose, NGOs will not have reliable standards to follow, and it will be difficult to reach uniformity across the sector.
  2. Increased supervision of and accountability by NGOs will improve overall transparency and credibility of the sector. In tandem with more stringent reporting and better donor communications, better transparency will provide donors with a better understanding of where their funds are going, how charities operate, and the impact of their donations. Ultimately, this should increase the number of donors and the volume of donations.
  3. The guiding principles indicate that more resources will be directed toward the sector. For example, specialized courses on corporate social responsibility, charity operations, and marketing will be offered that will help the sector develop much-needed technical skills. Additionally, better salaries, welfare, and social benefits for NGO workers will attract more skilled professionals to the sector.
  4. The ministry’s plans to promote the guiding principles more broadly as part of a public awareness campaign is a critical step in improving the general public’s trust in the nonprofit sector as well as understanding of what NGOs do. Currently, a lack of transparency has fostered an environment of mistrust and skepticism among the public.

Overall, the draft guidelines recognize the gaps that are hindering (or slowing down) the sector’s development. However, the principles alone will not make much of an impact without detailed implementation procedures that are carefully designed to meet both the needs and the capabilities of both the sector and the general public.

For more information, check out the Voluntary Disclosure Guide for Charitable Organizations—a forthcoming guide developed by BSR and the CCDIC to help organizations design disclosure standards—which will be released later this year.

What do you think should be included in the implementation guidelines?

Please send your views and comments to

In Brief

NGOs and Business Find Solutions to Serve China’s Elderly

By Adam Lane, Manager, BSR

By 2030, 25 percent of China’s population will be over the age of 60. This drastic demographic shift is creating several health challenges. These challenges affect not only the elderly but also the people around them. For example, families need to provide basic necessities such as affordable healthy food and accommodations; the elderly deal with a lack of affection and emotional guidance particularly when facing sudden personal shocks; and communities try to ensure proper personal care for those living alone.

Recognizing these challenges, BSR’s CiYuan initiative hosted a roundtable for companies to learn about these issues from two local NGOs focused elderly car and to brainstorm ideas for how they could collaborate to meet the needs of Chinese senior citizens.

The discussion focused on four main issues: awareness and prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and psychological health. Local and foreign case studies were also presented to catalyze new ideas, including:

  • Improving product designs so that they are more ergonomic for the elderly
  • Using technology to help the elderly access health care information
  • Utilizing corporate volunteers to work with the elderly to identify and manage psychological or health care challenges such as proper medicines are taken on time and appropriately.

During the discussion, GE proposed a partnership with an NGO to make its worker health clinics at manufacturing sites also available to communities with large concentrations of elderly residents. Intel is now exploring with the NGOs how they could provide communications equipment to give the elderly access to the NGOs’ social services, emergency health care, and meals through restaurant delivery services. Finally, HP invited the NGO Le Ling to present to more than 100 of its employees on possible volunteering opportunities.

BSR will be working closely with the companies and NGOs to develop further these partnerships and others. BSR will also be holding similar roundtables on other issues over the next year.

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.

“ Real innovation starts from the bottom, from people who are close to the social and environmental issues.”

Shao Minglu, Founder
Bright China Foundation | Full profile

“ In the Internet Age—an age of interactions and interrelations—we are committed to leveraging the internet to engage the public in philanthropy. We want to transform traditional philanthropy in order for it to have a more sustainable, profound, and broad impact.”

Dou Ruigang, Executive Secretary
Tencent Foundation | Full profile

See all profiles


Corporate-NGO Partnerships
Foundation Development
NGO Transparency

More resources

On the Horizon

Upcoming Events