Ever heard of emerging generosity?

emerging generosity

Yes, that’s right, wealthy donors from developing countries, notably China and India. They are increasingly giving, donating, caring and sympathizing. Not, as some of you may think, just sell and take. And it’s not only a new phenomena. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have actually been quiet donors for decades.

Global philanthropy

And they are not just generous at home but on a global scale. Profound cultural change and consumers at home starting to demand what their counterparts in the West are demanding are some of the reasons behind. A Chinese company who funds worthy causes all over the world are more popular with Chinese customers.

Not only Westerners are generous

Seems to me philanthropy is frequently associated with only the West. Especially by Westerners. What’s forgotten is that there are giving and caring people of all nationalities. Did you for instance know that 86% of global consumers want businesses to focus as much on the interests of society as their company’s interests?

Emerging markets customers expect businesses to support worthy causes

The majority of Indian, Chinese and Brazilian customers prefer to buy brands that support good causes, but measured on a global scale the figure is actually lower. Edelman, a global public relations company, claims that 8 out of 10 customer in India, China, Mexico and Brazil expect companies to donate part of their profits to worthy causes.

 At least 1,800 foundations in China

The China Foundation Center aims to make Chinese philanthropy more transparent. Their members are a mix of pubic and private foundations, including the Jet Li One Foundation

 As is plain to see from above web sites, China is not just a place where fortunes are being made but also where the rich are turning into the philanthropists of today and tomorrow. It should be noted that many of them are voluntarily giving money away.

 According to the Philanthropy Bluebook 2011, issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, donations in 2010 exceeded 11 billion US dollars.

Philanthropy moving East?

Philanthropy has been done for decades by wealthy Saudi Arabians as well as their neighbours in Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain. The Al Sauds, Al Sabahs, Al Rajhis, Al Zamils and Al Amoudis to name just a few. But they have given donations without announcing it to the world.

 Saudi Arabia was for instance one of the first donors to victims of the tsunami early 2005 but Western media frequently did not even mention their generosity because of the ongoing Saudi bashing.

Considering that developing countries’ economies are vastly out performing the West it’s just a question of how long it takes before emerging market philanthropists start setting up foundations in the West to help our poor. Can’t help wondering how sections of Americans and Europeans will feel about that? Am sure there will be an outcry, especially from prejudiced people objecting to “charity” courtesy of say, Saudi Arabia or China.

Isn’t it time for the world to face up to the fact that we live in global market and recognize that there are generous people of all nationalities. Why is philanthropy mainly being associate with the West? Isn’t it time to give the same kind of recognition and praise to philanthropists from emerging markets? Especially since top donors Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett are doing so. Or are Westerners, or at least parts of Western media, frightened by the prospect of being given charity from the East? What’s your opinion? Are Westerners happy about the world shifting from West to East even when it comes to donations? Or do some people like to cling on to the illusion that all good things come from the West?

Photo: Robert Scoble – Flickr

60 thoughts on “Ever heard of emerging generosity?

  1. Catarina — I've honestly never read any stories that claimed western donors are more worthy of attention than donors from developing countries. I know that organizations like the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation actively encourage partnerships between Western and developing countries to solve intractable problems like Aids and malaria. To me, it doesn't matter at all if a non-Westerner gets credit for his/her philanthropy. The key is to help those in need.
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  2. Hi Catarina, I think it's simply down to publicity. When I was in Dubai, I saw plenty of (local) press articles about M.E. charity work. I think it's simply down to who reads what, coupled with the fact that Western press typically gets wider coverage because it's audience is global to a greater extent.

  3. Catarina, People are the same every where. There are kind people and greedy personnel.
    In Egypt, as in many other countries, many schools, universities, hospitals, churches and mosques are build and run on donations.
    In Egypt Christians and Muslims, of the middle class donate ten per cent of their income, on the average to charities for social support, in the form of tuition fees, medical care and living expenses.
    It is certainly an achievement that materialists are rediscovering the humanitarian side of mankind.

  4. I’m not sure why you think the media in Western countries doesn’t cover foreign philanthropy. I live in the U.S. and especially remember reading about philanthropy from many countries after the tsunami in Indonesia in 2005. Non-profit foundations in the U.S. (in addition to those run by corporations) are anxious for publicity and will reach out to the media to receive it – non-profits so they can try to attract additional donors and corporations so they can show they are good corporate citizens. At this point in history, many of those donor corporations with a presence in the US are actually foreign corporations.

  5. I agree with other commenters that there are giving people everywhere. Publicity maybe not reflect it, but the fact still remains. If you give only to get noticed….
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  6. Hhhhmmmm….Social ethics, or buying with a purchase. This is true that consumers (especially capitalist ones) are using purchasing power for social issues. Its been that way for a long long time.

    But yes generosity is global, in fact I remember Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez donated a basketball court or community center to inner children in Harlem a few years back. And during some of our nation's darkest hours (Sept 11, Hurricane Katrina..etc) the U.S received donations from abroad.

    So not unheard of, just not alot of publicity on our end.

  7. Generosity and charity are definitely not regional traits. I think confusion around western generosity versus eastern giving may come from the inevitable comparisons around the level of generosity. Whether you are looking at generosity as a percentage of GDP or strictly as a dollar amount,western countries do give more than their eastern counter parts. The reasons for those variations are wide ranging and not as some may assume a reflection of the charitable nature of the people, but more likely a reflection of differing circumstances and means. It should also be noted that donations to political parties would be captured in that data and I can only imagine the influence that has on the numbers.
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  8. Catarina it's likely just a matter of the west, ie, USA, focuses on giving credit in our own country to put the spotlight there. I've read most comments on this post and several have said, it's likely mainly a matter of what gets in the press.

    I actually have never thought people weren't giving to problems and causes around the world FROM around the world. It wouldn't make sense. Maybe more press is given in Forbes or Barrons, press related magazines that focus on the wealthy and philanthropy more than the main stream media. And I'm certain every country has media segmentation like that. The think is, we all are not reading these as much as other things.

    I'm just grateful there are the uber wealthy who recognize it is part of what is the right thing to do with their wealth, whether we hear about it or not.
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  9. There are people everywhere, everyday striving to help society. Here in my hometown in California and across the world. It is not about where we live, it is about our character. I believe that philanthropy is not just about money but the impact a person makes on other people.

  10. Catarina,
    The US does cover foreign philanthropy. I remember the US giving credit to the companies that supported tsunami and the toxic waste plant in Japan. I feel that US does come together when there is a tragedy in a foreign country and sends aid through non profit organizations as well as private donors. Maybe the media in foreign countries runs with the news about the US.
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  11. I admit that i did not know that Saudi and China were growing in their philanthropy efforts. I think that the media is so wrong for not promoting it. Credit should be given where it is due, regardless of the source. It might actually even soften the image people have of the countries.
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  12. Sometimes I feel we’re are in tune with one another Catarina! I just read an article showing the results from the Giving Index, about the most charitable countries in the world. Topping the the list was , Myanmar, the US was second. What I found intriguing was the US with the highest Gross Domestic Product was closely paired with, Burma a relatively poor country. What drove Myanmar so high was the high proportion of people donating money, probably because of the Buddhist community. Sadly this is where the US falls way behind, with all we have, we ranked NINTH!

  13. Catarina I really had not heard of the Saudi's emerging generosity so I appreciate that information. Right now, there is a lot of rumbling in the USA about the truth in the Clinton Foundation and their giving practices. But aside from that, we know there are quite a number of uber wealthy people and organizations, who are indeed finally figuring out, how many castles does a person need to live in? Now Warren Buffet never was one to live even at his means. But when Bill Gates saw the criticism coming about how he used his wealth, he headed it off brilliantly, and of course generously. Thanks for keeping us straight!
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  14. Catarina, you have given me an entirely different perspective about the East. Right now we are in the midst of a global refugee crisis and what we”ve heard is that the EU, Britain, Canada and the USA are all participated in taking in refugees but that Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain. The Al Sauds, Al Sabahs, Al Rajhis, Al Zamils and Al Amoudis, etc. are all ignoring the problem. Now I wonder just how true that is or if it’s simply a lack of proper reporting. I’ll be watching for more information about all that. Thanks for this post.

  15. This is a really interesting post, Catarina. I shall have to investigate the China Foundation Centre. I would really like to solicit corporate sponsorships or align myself with a philanthropist who understands the importance of my research and what I am doing with my project.

    Thanks for making us realize that philanthropy is alive and well in all parts of the world, and that they are caring and helpful people in countries where we might least expect it.
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  16. This is news to me. I agree with your statement that the actor Jet Li should receive as much recognition than those in the west. Obviously this is unlikely to happen.

  17. You're absolutely right about philanthropy from other parts of the world being ignored by people in the West. Appreciate the information in your post.

  18. I have always had a different perspective on philanthropy. Franky, if I had billions of dollars I'd donate a ton if it anonymously.The idea that the goal is recognition, and more business is distasteful to me. Perfectly wonderful if it is an unintended consequence, but the idea that anyone donates a ton of money so people with think more highly of them or buy their products, to me, is not a good intention at the get go. It negates the true purpose and sometimes we never hear of the results because the emphasis is on the donor.

  19. I think wherever people live, the media tells stories based on what they feel will make people click or tune in. So we really only ever see a portion of what is happening in the world. I don’t think Americans would take well to foreign countries helping our poor. I think it would be seen as UnAmerican, especially since there is a lot of prejudice against those who are different in the less educated classes.

  20. I think you're right in your perception that eastern philanthropy doesn't get much press coverage in the Western press. In fact, in the US, news from other countries about anything doesn't get much press unless it directly impacts an American interest. You'd be amazed (or not) by how many of us in the USA don't know the name of the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of Mexico. (Confession: I'm not sure of the name of the Mexican President. All I know is that Donald Trump expects Mexico to fund a giant wall on the US border.)

  21. To me, it stands to reason that philanthropy would become a big part of any emerging society/market. I believe that it’s not limited to the West, but maybe that’s where the money has been, until lately when these other countries have started producing wealthy people. Philanthropy is not limited by culture or language, and should be growing anywhere that finances are growing.

  22. I guess i never assumed that the US was one of the only countries big on philanthropy. Of course on Western news they are going to give the statistics on how much US is donating, because that affects us here and we want to know where our money is going. One would have to be pretty naive to think other countries aren't contributing. What does the media say in your country about philanthrooy? I'm curious to know if they highlight the giving by Westerners too and leave China and Saudia Arabia out of their reporting. There are giving and generous people all over the world. But I'm sure each country in their media tends to focus on the issues that affect them. Do you think a Chinese news report highlights how much America is giving or his much China is giving? I wonder…

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