Three Simple Steps for Philanthropy to China; Guidance One Year After China's New Charity Laws

Rep Office Registration Brings Flexibility to Grantmaking & Long-term Program Building

By Birger Stamperdahl, President & CEO, Give2Asia

Bamboo sandal making is a traditional craft that supports the local economy in Zhouping in Yingjing County of Ya'an City.

Bamboo sandal making is a traditional craft that supports the local economy in Zhouping in Yingjing County of Ya'an City.

January 1st will be the one-year anniversary of China’s new Overseas NGO Law. With a full year now behind us, foundations and nonprofits working internationally have a much better sense of how to work within the framework of China’s new requirements.

To summarize, the law outlines two ways overseas charitable organizations may support activities in mainland China. 

  • By working with a Representative Office in China that is coordinating activities with its own supervisory unit and relevant public security bureau.
  • By having China-based grantee partners apply for temporary activity permits with their individual supervisory units and filing with public security bureaus to legally receive funds from overseas.

While both routes can appear complicated for grant making organizations, it now is clear that working with a Representative Office registered organization is the least burdensome and provides the best long-term solution for corporations, foundations, and individual philanthropy. 

Intermediary organizations like Give2Asia with an established Representative Office in China can offer the following benefits that are unavailable with temporary activity permits:

  • Advised grant making, taking on all the compliance requirements for international grants.
  • In-country project management including due diligence, project-based program management, and reporting.
  • Multi-year grant making, which is expressly not allowed with temporary activity permits.
  • Local resources for long-term partnership, capacity building, and other activities with grantees (or your China-based staff).

Ultimately, Representative Office grant making provides less risk for donors seeking to engage over time with communities; or who want flexible, value-added services that are active on the ground with their projects. 

In addition, Give2Asia is developing a more flexible schedule for making grants. In November, Give2Asia confirmed that it can now initiate new projects in the second quarter of each year by submitting work plan changes to its PSU and the Beijing Public Security Bureau.  In contrast, because temporary activity permits are not intended for long-term relationships and program building, donors can expect more risk of rejection for one-off temporary activity permit applications.

Give2Asia can help by suggesting three simple steps for donors seeking to engage in China with philanthropy and community engagement programs:

  1. Schedule an initial discussion with Give2Asia about your program priorities in China. This can be done with Give2Asia staff in either the United States or China.
  2. From that initial discussion, Give2Asia staff will work with you and your grantee directly to develop a summary project overview and budget for each project.
  3. Once you approve a budget and scope, Give2Asia will take care of all approvals in China and carry out its advised grant making work and program management. 

Learn more about our capabilities in China by clicking here.

Please feel free to email me at bstamperdahl@give2asia.org or to call me directly at +1 415.967.6330.

Happy 2018!