With a donation of US$3.1 million, 30-year-old online sensation Papi Jiang was named China’s youngest philanthropist, according to the Hurun Research Institute’s Philanthropy List 2017. The list, which is in its 14th iteration, ranks mainland China’s 100 “most generous individuals” based on the value of their cash (or cash equivalent) donations from April 2, 2016 to March 31, 2017.
Actress and controversial Dior brand ambassador Angelababy, who is 28 years old, was also among the youngest on the list. She donated US$2.5 million with her husband Huang Xiaoming, giving her a ranking of 95th.
Despite China’s growing wealth, charity donations from the country’s super rich have been almost stagnant, according to Hurun’s annual report, which was released on Thursday. The ranking by Hurun is based on a charity threshold of about $US2.2 million. This has remained unchanged in the past decade, even though Hurun’s net worth threshold for making its Rich List nearly tripled from RMB 7.5 billion (about US$1.1 billion) to 22 billion yuan (about US$3 billion) last year.
Not only did the threshold stagnate, but the total value of charitable donations this year dropped 45 percent. However, Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, attributed this shift to Tencent CEO Pony Ma’s “most generous” donation of $2.1 billion in the previous period. With that donation excluded, the trend shifts to just a 1 percent drop.
“Generally speaking, entrepreneurs in China are still busy making their money,” Hoogewerf said. “The Number 100 on the Hurun Rich List has shot up seven times, but the Number 100 of the Hurun Philanthropy List has stayed the same, at US$2m.”
Even so, the value of elite Chinese philanthropy is just 4 percent of what it is in the United States—and this year, more of China’s wealthy entrepreneurs gave to charitable organizations overseas. Tencent co-founder Chen Yidan, who ranked number two on the list for a US$320 million donation, set up the Yidan Award for education in Hong Kong, and several donors have given to their alma mater in the United States.
The lag in charitable giving has also been attributed to mistrust due to lack of transparency from organizations claiming to be charities in China. The most referenced example occurred in 2011, when Guo Meimei, a woman who said she was associated with the Red Cross, posted photos of herself online with luxury goods and expensive dinners. To combat some of this mistrust, the government enacted a law in September giving tax benefits to Chinese charitable organizations that show more transparency.
But according to the latest report, there have been signs of growth. Four more philanthropists have donated more than RMB 100 million to become a “supersize” giver, totaling 31, the most Hurun has seen so far.
This year Xu Guanju, the founder of chemicals and logistics provider Transfar Group topped the list with a US$430 million donation.