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Initiative on Philanthropy in China Accountability of Civic Philanthropy Organizations in China: Findings from a National Survey by Zhu Jiangang Director, Institute for civil society
Sun Yat-sen University Hu Xiaojun Research Fellow, Institute for Civil Society Sun Yat-sen Univesrity Liu Yifei Research Fellow, Institute for Civil Society Sun Yat-sen University China Philanthropy Summit Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business and Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Indiana University
Indianapolis, Indiana October 31-November 1, 2014 © Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Accountability of Civic Philanthropy Organizations in China: Findings from a National Survey1
Zhu Jiangang, Hu Xiaojun, and Liu Yifei
Since the Chinese reform and opening-up of the economy, one of the most
remarkable changes in the country is the appearance of a growing group of NGOs and
the increasing expansion of their influence. Despite the rapid growth of NGOs, a large
number of studies indicate that the overall institutional environment generally
constrains their development, particularly those with grassroots backgrounds2. Such
constraints are mainly manifested by the inadequate legitimacy of grassroots NGOs
and limited space for their activities (Gao, 2000; Xie, 2004; Zhu, 2004; Deng, 2004).
Corresponding to this restrictive macro environment, many scholars have focused
their inquiries on the specific action strategies taken by Chinese NGOs seeking to
mobilize social resources while avoiding political risk (Zhao, 2004; Wu, 2005; Yang
1 This is a conference paper, please do not cite 2 For example, the "dual management mechanism (shuangcong guanli tizhi)" for social organizations is 2 For example, the "dual management mechanism (shuangcong guanli tizhi)" for social organizations is considered the social system that most constrains the independent development of NGOs. If an NGO cannot find a competent governmental agency that takes charge of the NGO's business, the NGO cannot successfully complete its registration and hence cannot obtain a legal identity. However, an NGO often needs certain network of governmental relations to help it find such competent governmental agency, while it is almost impossible for numerous grassroots NGOs to set up such a network. Besides, the government has applied the "non-competing" principle in respect of the development of social organizations, i.e., only one social organization of the same nature is allowed in one region. Without doubt, such a practice has greatly eliminated the development opportunities of more social organizations. If the effect of the above-mentioned constraint mechanism is gradually waning in certain regions as boosted by innovative development in social construction and social management, the constraint of this mechanism to NGOs' activities can hardly be eliminated in the short run. The social organizations recognized and actively promoted by the government are limited to those that can provide supporting social services to help the government provide social and public services and those engaging in public charitable activities. In contrast, the government still adopts certain suppressing attitude to the social organizations featuring certain political sensitivity, such as the ones protecting labor rights or human rights
2005; Zhang, et al., 2008; He, et al., 2009; Tang, et al., 2011; Chen, 2011). This is one of the reasons that philanthropy has become the main field of congregation of NGOs in China. It is relatively easy to obtain legitimacy and mobilize social resources as a philanthropy NGO. Philanthropy in China has also experienced remarkable change in the 21st century: Communism philanthropy mobilized and organized by the government has been reformed and civic philanthropy emerged from the bottom up (Zhu, 2014). In contrast to the planning philanthropy systematically controlled by the government, civic philanthropy emphasizes the citizen's "voluntary actions for public good" (Payton, 1988). Spontaneous, autonomous and voluntary actions and organizations occupy a large portion of this field. This research aims to explore civic NGOs in China's philanthropy field. We categorize them as Civic Philanthropy Organizations (CPO, minjian gongyi zuzhi, ). Under China's restrictive political environment, how do these NGOs obtain legitimacy and gain independence? As they build their professional efficiency and transparency, to what extent are they accepted by the public? This research seeks to determine and describe the accountability of grassroots NGOs in China, a rarely discussed topic in the field of research on China's NGOs.
Defining Civic Philanthropy Organizations
For the sake of further discussion on the accountability of civic philanthropy
organizations, it is necessary to first clarify our definition of them. It is closely related
to the theory of civil society and the concept of NGOs. As economic marketization
and social transitions continue, the landscape of civil society under authoritarian rule has changed incrementally. Following the vogue of the notion of "civil society" in both the academic and practical worlds in the 1990s, scholars have commented on the major approaches in the study of civil society activism in authoritative regimes. In the Western world, there are numerous definitions of civil society, partially due to its popularity in recent years. The following three categorical definitions of civil society are among the ones most often adapted. Most scholars describe the development of civil society as "the capacity of an organized society to create a zone that stands apart from the state and that serves potentially as a bulwark against expansions of state power" (Unger, 2008, p.2). This overemphasizes the confrontation between civil society and state. Hegelian scholars tend to blur the boundary between civil society and market economy when discussing its definition, suggesting that civil society is a power that protects free market against state intervention (Cohen & Arato, 1992). Tocquevillian and Gramscian scholars focus more on the autonomous organization
s in civil society, making it possible to discuss it in various regimes. However, this definition tends to limit civil society to membership-based associations (Cohen & Arato, 1992). In order to better serve the purpose of examining civic philanthropy organizations in China, a more inclusive and value neutral definition is needed. Hence, we adopt E Dunn's definition, that "civil society is broadly regarded as the domain of relationships which falls between the private realm of the family on the one hand and the state on the other", (Hann & Dunn, 1996, p.27) as the foundation of our
3 theoretical framework
. This definition, though simple, provides a more inclusive framework without presupposed "goodness" or "evilness" of civil society, making it possible to avoid choosing either the pro-democratization or the pro-corporatism approach and to conduct the analysis more objectively. The definition of NGO must also be clarified in order to better understand the role of NGOs in authoritarian China. In the Chinese context, the definition of NGO is extended to a large part of the government-organized organizations (GONGOs) and International NGOs (INGO) in China. Grassroots civil society organizations are different than GONGOs and INGOs. A large proportion of Chinese civil society organizations do not obtain legal status as nonprofit organization
s due to political and legal reasons, even though they fit Salamon and Anheier's definition of an NGO as "organized, private, non profit distributing, self-governing, and voluntary" (1997). Thus, it is problematic to only include NGOs with legal status when exploring this topic in the Chinese context. Instead, all formal and informal private, independent organizations
that show the characteristics of Salamon and Anheier's definition should be considered as NGOs unless abundant evidence suggests otherwise. Based on the above definitions, this research focuses mainly on civil society organizations in the field of philanthropy. Our research will define them as Civic Philanthropy Organizations. Firstly, these CPOs fulfill Salamon and Anheier's definition: spontaneous, autonomous, not for profit and led by a voluntary board. Secondly, they clearly self-limit their activities within the philanthropy field and attentively keep their distance from political issues Thirdly, they are continuously
reorganized overtime. Without clear regulations in China defining NGOs, many organizations are actually just empty shells, without any actual activity. Some organizations exist for only one year, disappearing quickly due to lack of financial resources. This research, based on former study of grassroots NGOs, provides the operational definition of CPO as the following: 1) grassroots NGOs with an autonomous, independent and voluntarily board; 2) limited to the field of philanthropy, including charity, environmental protection, community development, disaster relief, cultural reservation, labor rights and so on, but excluding political issues; 3) having a regular project and team, which continues to work for longer than two years.
The study of grassroots NGOs and activism in civil society is strongly connected
to research of CPOs. From the early 1990s, the burgeoning development of Chinese
NGOs also attracted extensive attention from the academic community. The
democratization approach and the corporatist approach are principal theoretical
perspectives in analyzing civil society in China (White, 1993; Howell, 1995; Kang,
1999; Saich, 2000; Wang, 2007, 2010; Foster, 2002; Deng, 2003, 2010; Morton, 2005;
Ma, 2006; Spires, 2011). However, from the 1990s to the present, grassroots NGOs
and civic philanthropy organizations especially have changed or developed rapidly in
comparison to their counterparts of two decades ago. Both of the above theories are
insufficient in their explanation of the current situation. Scholars have thus begun to
provide a more nuanced analytical model to explain the complexity of grassroots
NGOs' role in authoritarian China (Ho & Edmonds, 2008; Spires, 2011; Hildebrandt,
2013). In the early debate in the mid-1990s on the relationship between civil society and the state, Ding proposed an innovative explanation of Chinese state-society relations with his conception of "institutional amphibiousness". Ding argues that the dichotomy between civil society and the state in the framework of analysis is only appropriate in some extreme cases and that it is problematic to generalize this framework to all transitional authoritarian states. After conducting a thorough analysis of the China in the 1990s, Ding summarizes the defining components of civil society as "civility, association, autonomy and openness" (Ding, 1994, p.296) and argues with an observation of China that "to apply the concept to circumstances where these elements are scarcely present involves, to borrow a witty phrase, `excessive conceptual stretching'." (Ding, 1994, p.296). Thus, Ding presents institutional amphibiousness as an alternative, or at least supplemental, conceptualization for the analyses of countries "where state-society relations are highly interpenetrated and interwoven" (Ding, 1994, p.318). He argues that institutional amphibiousness is distinct in late communist totalitarian states in Eastern Europe, but still not obviously present in China. Thus, a dramatic political transition is not likely to take place in the very near future. In observation of China in the past three decades, the continuation of the strength and resiliency of the authoritarian state as civil society activism expands forces scholars to find explanations for this puzzle. Ho and Edmonds (2008) propose an explanation of "embedded activism" for this apparent paradox. Ho and Edmonds
acknowledge the growing size of a relatively active civil society in China, while emphasizing that the resilient one-party state incorporates and constrains NGOs. They focus on the "negotiated symbiosis" between NGOs and the state, arguing that NGOs in authoritarian regimes are inevitably embedded in the "semi-authoritarian context". In their edited book, I also used a case study to show the process of authenticating the law and reason in a homeowner right-defending movement (Zhu 2008). The "embedded activism" is echoed by two very recent studies based on in-depth field research with a focus on CPOs. Anthony Spires concludes from his empirical research
that the state will tolerate the existence and operation of illegal grassroots organizations "as long as those organizations' good works can be appropriated by officials and contribute positively to their annual Performance Report
s" (Spires, 2011, p.36), while "suppression always remains an option for officials who deem it prudent" (Spires, 2011, p.36). Hildebrandt goes even further than Spires, arguing that the adaptation of NGOs actually strengthens their amphibiousness, diminishing the possibility of the emergence of an independent civil society within the authoritarian state, rather than vice versa (Hildebrandt, 2013). The notion of "embedded activism" contributes to the literature on China's civil society significantly by proposing a plausible explanation to simultaneous existence of a resilient one-party authoritarian regime and a booming civil society that neither the democratization approach nor the corporatism approach can accurately explain. However, "embedded activism" overlooks the innovation and potential of NGOs in China and overemphasizes the control of the state on NGOs. As Wu points out this
approach is "one-sided to argue that the activists and NGOs thrive on the sympathy and consent of the state, rather than by their own innovations, the legitimacy they have earned from the communities they serve, and other opportunities they obtained independently" (Wu, 2013, p.92). In order to survive and develop, grassroots NGOs and activists adopt many innovative ways to obtain legitimacy and acceptance from the society. Accountability is important in this trend. This research will follow the third approach to describe and explain the accountability of Civic Philanthropy Organizations. The issue of accountability has been a hot topic in the field of philanthropy in China since 2011. As Han (2009) points out, the accountability of CPOs is very different than that of governmental philanthropy organizations in their rights and duties under Chinese law. For CPOs accountability includes not only information disclosure and financial transparency, but also how the institution balances "the multiple-obligations among different stakeholders" (Jordan & Van Tuijl, 2008). Slim2008regards accountability as a process, in which NGOs should be responsible for their value and what they have done. NGO should allow the related people and institutions access to this information. Kovach (2008) focused on NGOs' activities and their impacts on the different stakeholders. One World Trust, in its Global Accountability Project, defines accountability as the balance and response of an organization to the need of stakeholders to fulfill this obligation (Blagescu et al., 2005). The Stakeholder Theory
shows that accountability is actually the relationship of an
organization with its different stakeholders. This relationship is also embedded in the
political and cultural context. It includes the accountability of the organization and its
stakeholders in addition to accountability to mission (Jordan & Van Tuijl, 2008).
Michael Edward and David Hulme (1996) divide accountability as upward
accountability, downward accountability and interior accountability. Transparency,
legitimacy and efficiency are also primary dimensions (Songco, 2006); GAP adds
participation, evaluation and the existence of complaint and response systems
(Blagescu et al., 2005).
This research uses "governance""legitimacy""transparency" and "efficiency"
for the framework of accountability, as they are the most important dimensions for
civic philanthropy organizations.
Table 1: Dimensions of CPOs' in China Description
Board is the crucial element of governance; this research will investigate the function and impact of the constituent on NGOs
Legitimacy refers to the acceptance and recognition of the organization by the government. This research will study the status of registration
Transparency refers to the extent of information disclosure. This research will focus on financial management
and public disclosure of financial information
This research focuses on the human resources of NGO and participation of the target that is to be served.
This study will use two main datasets launched by the Research School of
Philanthropy at Sun Yet-sen University (SOP) in recent years. The first one is data
from a national survey of Civic Philanthropy Organizations in 2011. The second one
is newer data collected from the Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database launched in 2013. A brief introduction of these two datasets follows. The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011 Until now, there has not been an authoritative and widely-accepted directory that can comprehensively and accurately reflect the distribution of all CPOs in China. In 2011 SOP launched a national survey in order to collect a series of specific information on CPOs in mainland China
. 3 The range of this survey includes the CPOs' basic characteristics, history, governance, human resources, funding, financial management, projects, information publishing and so on. We accessed our sample through these channels: A. Support from regional NGOs B. Influential grant-making foundations and international NGOs. C. The most influential websites in the philanthropy field of China. D. Special websites set up by NGOs in the same field. E. Information on NGOs collected by SOP in previous research. F. Information of NGOs on websites aimed at NGOs activities. G. Information of NGOs collected by members of SOP when attending seminars, forums, salons and other related activities. H. Official websites of the government departments related to NGOs.
3 There are diverse forms of CPOs, for example, association, private non-enterprise organization, industry and commerce registration. In addition, numerous CPOs do not have a legal status or only attach to another organization, this kind of CPOs' information is hard to collect. So, it is difficult to build up a comprehensive sampling frame that covers all the CPOs in China and execute a standard random sampling process. It is a common problem among domestic surveys about CPOs. So, the sampling of this survey is a non-probability sampling, and it can be seen as a kind of exploratory study.
The respondents in this survey are CPOs in mainland China. We define them as: A. Established in mainland China, not including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or overseas. B. Independent organizations established by nongovernmental individuals or groups. (Student organizations are not included because of their affinity to the school) C. Devoted to philanthropy, including both commonweal (helping the public) and mutual benefit (helping each other within the organization), rather than profit-seeking. D. Both registered and unregistered, whatever the registered property is (foundations are not included). E. Working in the field of philanthropy. F. With a certain organizational structure and system (QQ groups are not included). Through the channels and standards above, we have developed a sample of 1,144
CPOs. This was our sampling process:
A. Based on the definition standard on Statistical Yearbook of China 2011, we
divided the organizations in the sample into 4 regions: east, central, west and
northeast, according to the provinces (or municipalities) they come from.
B. Placed the CPOs within each province in chronological order
.. Those without a
definitive time of establishment are placed at the end of the list.
C. Conducted systematic sampling in different proportions, according to the
conditions of organizations in different regions. In total the scale of sample is 594.
D. The survey was conducted through face-to-face and telephone interviews,
electronic questionnaires, and other methods. Finally, we sent out 594 questionnaires
and received 461 completed questionnaires that we could analyze.
Table 2: Our Survey Sample
Provinces (or Municipalities)
Northeast Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning
Beijing, Hebei, Shandong, Tianjin,
Number of Organizations in Sample 25 169
Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian,
Shanxi, Anhui, Henan, Hubei,
Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Inner
Mongolia, Qinghai, Shanxi,
Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Ningxia,
This data will be mainly used to discuss the issue of accountability of CPOs.
The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013 The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database was launched by SOP, NGO2.0 and the Narada Foundation in 2013. The goal in creating this database was to document the CPOs in mainland China and collect their basic information towards building a directory that can be used by scholars, donors and supportive organizations in the field of philanthropy. It is an online database, on which CPOs can voluntarily register and modify their own basic information The standards of the respondents are the same as The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011. In December of 2013, the database had collected 788 CPOs' information that matched our standards. However, this data is not collected by a standard random sampling process and cannot fully represent the situation of all CPOs in the whole nation. It serves instead as a reference value. This data will be mainly used to describe the basic characteristics of CPOs in China.
Based on the data from the Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database
2013, we can see the number of CPOs in mainland China start rising in the 1990s,
growing much faster after 2000 and particularly in recent years.
Figure 1: Cumulative percentage of the CPOs' establishing time
% 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
32.87 20.30 12.56 3.05 4.70 6.85
1939 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Source: The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013, N=788. CPOs in China are mainly located in the east region. They are located the least in
the central region. The development of CPOs in the east reflects that their growth is to
some extent relative to the development of the regional economy. For the located
provinces, we find that Guangdong, Beijing and Sichuan have more CPOs than the
As for the sectors that CPOs serve in, the data shows that adolescents
development, education and a combination of purposes are the top three sectors that
CPOs are focused on. The percentages in the environment, welfare of the disabled,
community development are relatively high as well. On the other hand, organizations
related to homosexuals, women, and animals are far less existent.
Figure 2: Regional distribution of CPOs in China
West 29.70% Central 15.61%
Source: The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013, N=788. Figure 3: Provincial Distribution of CPOs
Beijing Jiangsu Shanxi() Shandong Zhejiang Gansu Henan Guizhou Jiangxi Jilin Tibet Inner Mongolia Qinghai Shanxi() Heilongjiang
4.57 4.57 4.19 3.68 3.68 3.30 3.30 3.17 3.05 3.05 3.05 2.66 2.16 2.16 1.90 1.65 1.52 1.40 1.27 1.27 1.14 1.14 1.02 1.02 0.76 0.76 0.51
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 (%)
Source: The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013, N=788.
Figure 4: Sectoral Distribution of CPOs
Teenager Educa[on Combina[on of purposes Environment The disabled Suppor[ve Community The eldly Rural development Health CSR Other Disaster Culture and art Aids Informa[on network Research Labour Homosexsual Female Animal
17.77 16.24 13.83 13.32 11.17 10.53 7.61 7.49 7.36 7.11 5.96 4.57 4.31 4.19 3.81 2.66 2.66 2.03
34.52 40 (%)
Source: The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013, N=788. We use the expenditure scale of 2012 to measure the distribution of CPO
finances. The data shows that the CPOs' annual expenditures are mainly in the range
of RMB 0-20,000. Further, 61.57% of the CPOs annual expenditures are under RMB
300,000. However, the data also shows that there are some CPOs with a relatively
large expenditure scale. The percentage of those with an expenditure beyond RMB
1,000,000 is 15.56%. This result implies that the financial power of different CPOs is
% 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Figure 5: Distribution of Expenditures of CPOs (2013)
Source: The Chinese Civic Philanthropy Organization Database 2013, N=788. Governance The issue of governance refers to the discussion of who participates, how they interact, and decisions are made in the operating process of an organization. The board of directors and its relative institution is the core of a CPO's internal governance (Zhang, 2008; Chen et al., 2008). Our study thus focuses on the situation of CPOs' boards of directors. The data shows that 69.20% of the CPOs have set up a board of directors. Among these boards, 4.09% have never held a meeting and 55.97% held meetings on an irregular basis. According to an evaluation of the efficiency of the board of directors, respondents showed a generally positive attitude: the percentage choosing "" and "very good" is totally 66.66%, while 12.90% of respondents evaluate the efficiency of their board of directors as "" or "very poor".
Based on the above results, CPOs have been driven by diverse factors in recent years and have paid more attention to setting up a board of directors in order to improve their internal governance structure. However the board of directors' functions, (such as decision making, supervising, and supporting the organization) are generally not fully realized. Some CPOs' boards of directors exist in name only. "The phenomenon of founder" (Wang & Xu, 2004) that some scholars put forward in 2004 still exists, and has not been changed substantially. Figure 6: Does the CPO Have a Board of Directors?
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=461.
Figure 7: Do CPO Boards hold meetings? Never 4.09%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=318.
Figure 8: Evaluation to the board of director's efficiency
Very large 20.44%
Very lible 4.72% Lible 8.18%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=318.
In review of the last 20 years of CPO development in China, CPOs have not only
been facing institutional constraints, but also suffering from the pressures of resource
shortage. As a result, the founder of an organization plays a key role during the early
years of his institution. With the founders' bravery, wisdom and tenacity, these CPOs
can survive. Several case studies have shown that some influential CPOs lose
motivation gradually, as they often lack efficient internal governance. This is especially true when the decision making power of the board of directors is taken up instead by the founder, disempowering other players in the organization. This insufficiency in democracy in the decision making process may bring about internal issues in the organization. This "phenomenon of founder" can become an obstacle to building the credibility of an organization. In contrast, organizations that pay attention to building their structure of internal governance, as their founders retire, strengthen their credibility, as their boards of directors play an important role in responding to crises in social trust, financial supervision, and resource motivation. Legitimacy The issue of the legitimacy of grassroots NGOs is always a concern of scholars and practitioners. Legitimacy here means to "be accepted for being judged or trusted that conform to a certain rule". Gao Bingzhong (2000) has given "legitimacy" a series of operating concepts, including social (cultural) legitimacy, legal legitimacy, political legitimacy, and administrative legitimacy. In our study, we focus on the current situation of legal legitimacy of CPOs. The results shows that up until December 2011, 29.32% of surveyed CPOs did not register in any capacity, 11.60% had industry and commerce registration, 48.80% had registered as an association or private non-enterprise organization, and 8.97% had not yet registered but were attached to another organization.
Figure 9: Registration status of CPOs
Registered in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan 0.22%
Industry and commerce registra[on 11.60%
Private non-- enterprise organiza[on 30.20%
Abach to another organiza[on 8.97%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=457. We can see that there is still a considerable portion of CPOs without legal status acquired from the civil affairs department. In 2011, The Ministry of Civil Affairs and local bureaus published relative policies to promote reform of "the dual management mechanism". However, instances such as Uncle Kun's team that helps students in Dongguan failing to apply for legal status 6 times in 7 years and a CPO in Beijing that failed to apply for private non-enterprise organization for 12 years reflect the reality of difficulties with the reforms. Zhu Jiangang (2010) indicated that although some "hard thresholds" were cancelled, the appearance of more "soft thresholds" made the registration of CPOs as difficult as it had been before. Our study also finds that though nearly 50% of our sample did not have formal status (including those not registered, those attached to another organization, or those with industry and commerce registration) from the
department of civil affairs for diverse reasons,4 these CPOS can still perform as grassroots organizations with significant social innovation, having positive impacts on vulnerable groups, providing social services, and promoting social construction. These CPOs also have almost the same degree of social recognition as those with legal status from the civil affair department. Many of the CPOs actually pay more attention to their own accountability and credibility as they do not have legal status.. Some of them cooperate widely with the government, gaining a high level of recognition from the government. We can give a preliminary judgment that apart from some activities,, such as service purchasing from the government and receiving social donations and tax benefits, whether or not a CPO has legal status is not the main factor in their achievement of efficient accountability and social recognition. Transparency The study of CPOs' transparency focuses on their financial management and disclosure of information. The results show that 86.64% of surveyed CPOs have set up a financial management system. Among these CPOs, 73.99% of the respondents indicate that the systems are executed "well" or "very well". In addition, 56.58% of the CPOs have published Financial Report
s (statements) every year, while 28.95% of the CPOs have never published financial reports (statements).5
4 Timothy Hildebrandt's article The Political Economy
of Social Organization Registration published on The China Quarterly had listed the reasons that the civil NGOs did not register, for example, the process of registering was too complicated, and the constrains from Social organization management regulations, and so on. 5 The financial reports (statement) here at least including: balance statement, business activity statement, cash flow statement.
Figure 10: Whether the CPO has a financial management system No 13.54% Yes 86.46%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=458.
Figure 11: The evaluation of the financial management system
Not well 3.54%
Very well 25.25%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=396. Figure 12: Whether the CPO has published financial report or statement
Every year 56.58%
Never 28.95% Not every year 14.47%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=456.
As for the staffing of CPOs, 87.34% of the CPOs have accountants, while 88.21% have cashiers.6 The data also showed that 10.97% of the CPOs' employed the same
people as both accountant and cashier, while 7.75% of the CPOs' leaders serve as an
accountant and 13.97% serve as both cashier and accountant at the same time.
Figure 13: Whether the CPO has an accountant and cashier
0 Has accountant
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=458.
Figure 13: Whether the accountant and the cashier are the same person
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=383.
6 A CPO has an accountant (cashier) here doesn't mean that it must be a full-time accountant (cashier), it can be a full-time, part-time or a volunteer that serve in this position.
Figure 14: Whether the leader serves as accountant or cashier % 20 18 16 13.97 14 12 10 7.75 8 6 4 2 0 Leader serves as accountantN=400L eader serves as cashierN=401 Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011. What's more, 53.81% of the CPOs have never accepted an external audit.7 We also see that sponsor and donor, members assembly meeting and the board of director, staff and volunteer are the most prior objects of financial information publishing, the percentages of the above objects reach to 57.70%, 56.83% and 51.41%. Meanwhile, 2.60% of CPOs have never published their financial information to any stakeholders. Figure 15: Whether the CPO has accepted external audit
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=459. 7 The audit here means either the audit for the CPO's whole financial situation, or the audit for a single project.
Figure 16: The objects of publishing financial report
( % )
70 60 57.70 56.83 51.41
40 29.07 30
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, multiple choice. As shown in the results above, though many CPOs have set up financial
management systems, these systems still need to be strengthened in their execution. In
addition a proportion of the CPOs do not even reach the lowest standard of financial
management. For example, the positions of accountant and cashier officially cannot
be filled by the same person. In 2011, some CPOs in China had crises of credibility
due to financial management problem
s, and the public became sensitive toward this
kind of problem. This shows that constructing normative financial management
systems is still fundamental work of many CPOs. On the other hand, in 2011 it was
shown that after suffering suspicion, some CPOs' honest, open and responsible
attitude and behavior won praise from the public.8 We expect that due to the rapid
8 For example, after the financial problem come out , NGOCN had organized an investigative group immediately, and published detailed report and the decision of the board of director after investigation. Facing the similar situation, Qinghai Gesanghua Education Helping Institute entrust an independent assessment agency to launch specific assessment, and publish report to response to the query.
development of the new media, 9 the promotion of official policies, and the emergence of supportive organizations in the same field, 10 CPOs' financial management and information publishing will be improved to some extent, pushing the progress of increasing transparency of CPOs.work performance
Work performance is the external aspect of a CPO's capability. In this study, we
focus on the structure of staffing and the degree of participation of the object to be
The results show that 66.2% of the CPOs have at least one full-time staff member.
Among these CPOs, there are on average 10.4 full-time staff members, with a median
of 4. Meanwhile, 60% of them have less than 5 full-time staff members and 3.3%
have above 50. The research further shows that 44.9% of the CPOs have at least one
part-time staff member, while there are 2.65 part-time staff members on average with
the median among them being 2. In addition, 96.5% of the CPOs have at least one
volunteer worker for them. Has volunteer
Figure 17: CPO Staff
Has part--[me staff
Has full--[me staff
0 20 40 60 80 100 ( %) Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=461.
9 According to the result from Chinese Philanthropy Organization Internet Using Analysis, in the total 401 organizations, 98.75% have used internet, 69.3% have applied domain names, 56.1% have blogs. More information about this report can see http://www.ngo20.org. 10 For example, the supportive organization USDO has published a financial information publishing statement model, in order to make the CPOs publish financial information more convenient and normative.
Figure 18: The distribution of full-time staff
30 20 10 0 <=5
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=305.
Table 3: Statistical results of full-time and part-time staff
Average Std. Median
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011.
We conclude that not only the level of funding of CPOs but also their level of
human resources have recently become quite weak. Throughout their development in
the last 20 years, although CPOs have responded well to social needs and solvingsocial problems
, their capabilities are still far from what is expected of them, which
may weaken their credibility indirectly.
In particular, CPOs are usually absent in response to some significant social
issues, which may disappoint the public. As a result, a lack of capability of CPOs has
become a common judgment of the government.
On the other hand, other data indicates that we should still remain confident in the
potential of CPOs. Some scholarship has proven that the degree of participation of
clients in a CPO's projects or process of management and decision-making can
directly impact the performance of the organization (Blagescu et al., 2005). The data
shows that 80.31% of respondents consider the degree of participation of their service
clients in their projects as "high" or "very high". Emphasizing the idea and method of
participation increases the efficiency and sustainability of the CPOs.
Figure 19: The evaluation of the service object's participation degree
Very low 1.09%
Very high 29.98%
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011, N=457. Who is the most important stakeholders that the CPOs should be accountable for?
Different CPO has different answer. According to Li's research, he argued that the
subjects and their priorities are different based on different political, legal and
institutional environments (Li, 2010). In order to learn more about the subject and its
priorities in accountability, out survey has investigated what kind of individual or group that the CPOs responsible for.11
The results show that 41.46% of CPOs place "service object" in first position and
27.72% of the CPOs place "sponsor or donor" in first position. The percentage
placing the above two groups in the top three positions are 72.23% and 71.15%, 11 In the survey we let the respondents choose three responsible objects, and place them in the order based on the degree of priority.
respectively. This shows that CPOs have a strong motivation towards "downward
accountability". We find also that some CPOs do not just serve their objects directly,
but also provide a platform for their volunteers to serve them. In this process, they
emphasize harmonious social values such as participation, equality, and respect. It
reflects the level of embedment in a community of a CPO, which is profoundly
valuable in promoting domestic social construction and sustainable development. Figure 20: The CPOs' accountability subjects and their priority
Sponsor or donor
Member assembly mee[ng or board of director Government administra[on Staff and volunteer
Public and media
0.22 1.52 0.67 1.95
At the first place At the first three place
Source: The National Civic Philanthropy Organization Survey 2011.
72.23 71.15 80 ( %)
Conclusion In the survey conducted in 2011, nearly 70% of CPOs had set up a board of directors. It was an important symbol of their increasing capabilities. In general, however, the functions of the board of directors, such as decision-making, supervising, and supporting staff, are still not fully displayed. Some of them exist in name only. Meanwhile, the "phenomenon of founder" that has troubled CPOs for a long time has
not improved substantially; CPOs' founders continue to usurp the board of director's decisions. The lack of democracy in the decision-making process can lead to contradictions or even a breakdown of the organization. This may hugely weaken a CPO's credibility. Therefore, constructing an efficient internal governance structure and especially making the board of directors the core of decision-makers, is a key step in constructing efficient accountability and credibility of CPOs. Although "the dual management system" has been reformed in recent years, there are still difficulties with the actual practice of these reforms, such as the emergence of "soft thresholds" that hinder the registration of CPOs. Our study also finds that although some CPOs do not have legal status from the civil affairs department, they can still fully develop their advantages, cooperate widely with the government, and gain significant recognition from the government and the public.. Indeed, whether or not a CPO has legal status is not the main factor impacting a CPO's efficient accountability and social recognition, apart from certain factors such as service purchasing from the government and receiving social donations and tax benefits. As of 2011, some domestic CPOs had developed crises in accountability due to financial problems. Constructing a standard financial management system is thus still fundamental work for these CPOs. In particular, the execution of these systems should be strengthened. With the rapid development of new media, the promotion of official policy, and the emergence of more supportive organizations in this field, one can foresee that the publishing of financial information by CPOs will be necessarily improved in coming years. However, it is worth noting that financial management is
not merely a technical problem. In fact, it is due to the lack of efficient governance and specifically the lack of supervising. As a result, CPOs should not focus only on technical aspects when solving financial management issues. On the whole, we determine that both the scale of funding and the level of human resources of CPOs have recently been quite weak. Their capabilities are still far away from public expectations, which, may lead to a lack of sustainable credibility. At the same time, however, many CPOs are working down to the community and paying attention to the participation of their objects of service, which ultimately enhances serving efficiency and sustainability. What's more, most of the CPOs will provide a platform for their volunteers for long-term, with about 40% of CPOs considering their service clients as those they have the most responsibility to. This shows a strong motivation towards "downward accountability" and embeddedness in the community. All of these factors make us confident of the future success of CPOs in China.
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