Crowd-funding gives charity groups a lift
Updated: 2015-09-22 07:41
By Chai Hua in Shenzhen(HK Edition)
More than 2,500 organizations from 14 countries and regions joined the fourth China Charity Fair (CNCF) in Shenzhen from last Friday to Sunday. But, 21 of them were special - they were there for a crowd-funding exercise by thousands of individual donors who financed their visit to the fair.
"We raised a total of 110,000 yuan ($17,271), with contributions from more than 2,100 people," said Zheng Songsong, a project manager at zhongchou.com - a Beijing-based crowd-funding platform.
Crowd-funding has emerged as a regular channel for startup enterprises to raise money on the mainland, typically via the Internet, but it's the first time such a large number of charity groups have taken part.
Zheng said most of the 21 organizations involved were small in size and which had been unable to find large financial institutes to support their costs for transportation, accommodation and setting up booths at the fair.
The Home of Love and Health - a health center for cancer patients in Shenzhen - raised almost 20,000 yuan within two weeks to finance the design and construction of its 18-square-meter booth at the fair.
The donations ranged from 10 yuan to 1,000 yuan, and the center drew about 555 donors on Z hongchou.com.
Fan Qingping, director of the health center and also a gastric cancer patient, said the Shenzhen government has been providing them with regular financial support, but the money is mainly used for treatment and rehabilitation of patients.
He decided to lead a team to join the CNCF to draw more public attention and arouse greater care for cancer patients, which he said, is as important as treatment.
"It's not just all about money. It's a way of getting people to pay more attention to and care for cancer patients," Fan said.
Zheng said: "It's also an opportunity for charity groups to attract new investors, and the core value of charity crowd-funding is investor management after the fundraising."
According to Zheng, among all the organizations which initially participated in the initiative, only 21 of them came up with 100 percent or more of their target capital after most of them failed to secure adequate funding.
Xu Jing, a public relationship specialist at NPI Consulting Group - one of the crowd-funding project's organizers - said the design of online charity crowd-funding project should be closely linked to individual investors, otherwise it would fail.
He said another obstacle was that most of the investors are relatives, colleagues or friends of members of charity organizations. "The influence of charity crowd-funding needs to be further expanded."
"The message we would like to send out is that charity organizations can no longer always rely on merely one or several major investors," Xu added. "They need to improve the contents and services of their charity projects, and crowd-funding is a channel to evaluate these projects in order to draw more individual investors."
"They can take full advantage of the Internet-based method to approach more investor groups," Xu suggested.
Ling Hui, an executive of the Youcheng China Social Entrepreneur Foundation, said "Internet Plus Charity" has become one of the highlights of the charity fair as it has raised the efficiency of charity groups in charity recourse distribution, and enriched the experience of public donors.
"Donors who only gives out 10 yuan can also clearly see the usage and outcome of their help through the Internet," Ling said. "Besides, big data can more precisely analyze people's donation habits and provide them with customized charity information accordingly."
Donations from major enterprises rather than individuals, currently hold the key in the execution of charity projects on the mainland. At the CNCF, donations from business groups have reached 8 billion yuan, accounting for 66 percent of the total donations received so far.
(HK Edition 09/22/2015 page7)