Ever heard of 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.

Maarc Zuckerberg with Chinese actor, philanthropist and founder of the Jet Li One Foundation. Should not he get the same kind of recognition as Western philanthropists?

Marc Zuckerberg with Jet Li, Chinese actor, philanthropist and founder of the Jet Li One Foundation. Shouldn’t he get the same kind of recognition Western philanthropists get?

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

33 comments to Ever heard of emerging generosity?

  • Jeannette Paladino  says:

    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.
    My recent post Why Keywords are Essential in Your LinkedIn Headline and Summary

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you are not of the impression there are only Western donors in this world, Jeannette.

  • @GlynisJolly1  says:

    I'm just beginning to see more eastern marketers giving more. And they're doing it in droves. What has happened to us westerners?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Interesting Glynis. Bill and Melinda Gates and other Western philanthropists are, as always, active.

  • GuyW  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Definitely Guy. When I lived in Saudi, Kuwait and Dubai, I also read about charity from that region. Some of my friends there are actually big donors. But the press in the Gulf does not cover Chinese and Indian philantrophy. With all the China bashing going on in the United States the Americans should look at positive aspects of China as well to get a more balanced view. A lot of Americans read my blog but unfortunately they are not into China bashing:-)

  • Adel Ibrahim  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me about philanthropy, Adel. IBy the way, the Saudis were quietly donoting massive amounts of money long before Bill Gates even started Microsoft.

      • Adel Ibrahim  says:

        Catarena, I am pleased to know that you have a ME experience. As you may already know, it is in the culture that donations have to be discreet in order not to hurt the feelings of the receiver.
        Hope the Americans will keep silent and not talk about the support they provide to the third world, especially that the benefits they are getting back are almost ten time in value. Talking does not help it hurts and is not a good propaganda.
        Please do not misunderstand me, I was brought up fond of the States and used to criticize them as a friend. And the good thing is that they listen and appreciate.

        • catarinaalexon  says:

          Thank you Adel. Some of my Saudi friends are huge donors. But they do it quietly.

  • boomeresq  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Suzanne, before reading it in my article, did you know that the Saudis were the first to donate when the tsunami took place in 2005? Am Western and in Europe you rarely see, or hear, anything in the media about philantrophy from outside the West. And my guess is in the United States the majority of media outlets don't mention it either. Why would they when they don't cover international news? Sometimes not even what goes on in other parts of the United States.

  • Geek Girl  says:

    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….
    My recent post Podcast: Letters From Grandma

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      There definitely are, Cheryl. And they don't give to be noticed. Am glad that so many people are of that opinion since philanthropy is, and has always been, practiced by people from all over the world. Throughout history actually. Julius Caesar was, for instance, a generous man. How many associate him with donating money:-)

  • TheGirl  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Interesting points about social etics. Not sure if Chavez fits the picture, but that's depends on what values and principles we have. Who's right and who's wrong?:-)

  • Susan Oakes  says:

    I didn't know Saudi Arabia was the first to donate Catarina. I remember when the earthquake hit Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011. Many countries donated including the eat and the rescue workers included a number from China and Japan.
    My recent post Customers Can Be Tough Judges

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Not many people know about the Saudi donation, Susan. Wasn't prominently featured in the Western press.

  • yearwoodcom  says:

    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.
    My recent post 5 Tips For Finding Joy in Your Work

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me that generosity and charity are not regional traits, Debra. Would love to know where you got the information about what percentage of GDP is given to charity in different countries, Debra. Would be interesting to have a look at.

      • yearwoodcom  says:

        The World Giving Index (Charities Aid Foundation study) would be the best starting point as it is the largest survey of it's nature. The OECD does a study too and would be the one most likely to take into consideration GDP and GNI, though the specific name of the study escapes me. There are likely others as well, but the World Giving is the one that gets referenced most often.
        My recent post How To Build Coalitions

        • catarinaalexon  says:

          Thanks Debra. Will have a look. Catch is for some countries they will not have any data.:-)

  • mkslagel  says:

    I think it will be awhile before many Westerners can acknowledge and accept money from the East. Do we need it? In a sense. Do I think it is amazing that we live in a global society that wants to help others? Yes, but so many people are still blind to the outside world. This should be a good eye opener but I don't believe many people will be comfortable from the get go.
    My recent post Doctors are Turning to Smart Phones to Help Patients

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, let's hope this will be an eye opener to show that you find geneous people all over the world.

  • @patweber  says:

    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.
    My recent post Emotional Baggage Have You Waiting in a Safe Zone?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      True Pat. The media all over the world is editorializing and that determines what gets covered. It's not a priority for say, Fox, to tell their viewers that Saudi Arabia was the first donor when the tsunami happened in 2005.

  • Elizabeth Scott  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      That's a good definition of philanthropy, Elizabeth.

  • Arleen  says:

    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.
    My recent post Jay Z + Samsung Reap the Benefits of Giving Things Away

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad to hear the US covers foreign philanthropy, Arleen. The more donating money is encouraged, the better.

  • becc03  says:

    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.
    My recent post A callout for guest posts

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree that philanthropy everywhere should be given credit, Rebecca.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Thank you George. Glad you like and shared my articles about philanthropy in the developing world.

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