Philanthropy for Sustainable Development in China

November 4, 2020

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the China Foundation Center jointly launched a new report “Philanthropy for Sustainable Development in China 2020” and an online real-time visualization platform. Both demonstrate the contributions from Chinese foundations in promoting the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the potential of the Chinese philanthropic sector in supporting the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Analyzing data sources from nearly 100,000 charitable projects from over 8,000 foundations, the report and the platform demonstrate Chinese philanthropy’s SDG-related practices since the announcement of the 2030 Agenda. The report also shares case studies of philanthropic practices in generating impact on sustainable development through in-depth interviews with representative foundations which have had significant contributions to the 17 SDGs.

The report indicates that Chinese foundations’ work have been highly aligned with the SDGs, and their investment in the SDGs has continuously grown in recent years, with related fund expenditures rising from 29 billion yuan (USD 4.2 billion) in 2015 to 56.2 billion yuan (USD 8.1 billion) in 2018.

SDG1 No Poverty, SDG3 Health and Wellbeing, SDG4 Quality Education and SDG11 Sustainable City and Community are the four SDGs that have attracted the most attention from foundations. Due to the large volume of philanthropic financial flows from foundations located in more developed regions towards less developed regions, SDG-enabling charitable practices in west and central China have been boosted at an increasing speed.

Combining machining learning and manual classification methods, the report generated a key word list for charitable project classification under each SDG. Charities, researchers, and policy makers can use it as a reference to map out charitable projects with SDGs more precisely.

A new dimension -- Flow of Charitable Expenditures has been added to the real-time online platform. Users can navigate geographic flows of charitable expenditures in different regions to understand the dynamics of Chinese philanthropic resource distribution in a more visualized manner.

In addition, the case studies adopted an impact management framework, which is widely accepted by the international SDG financing community, towards charitable impact in China. The case studies demonstrate the potential to incubate charitable projects for social investment, such as impact investing, and to increase foundations engagement in blended finance.

To further integrate the SDGs into Chinese philanthropy, the report recommended the sector to enhance business transparency, pay attention to direct resource and innovative partnerships to close the gaps to advance other SDGs such as climate change and the environment.

Download the Report here.