This edition of Net Savings is a bit different; instead of teaching you how to save money, I’m going to write about how to give it away. It’s no secret that charitable donations experience a steep drop-off after the holidays. However, nonprofits are still in need of financial support to pay for overhead costs and keep their programs running.
In 2014, online charity platforms run by Tencent, Alipay, and Sina contributed to an upsurge in donations totaling more than RMB 100 billion. Though government departments and public charities still made up the majority of recipients, these online platforms accounted for RMB 428 million in donations – an increase of 43 percent from 2013.
The biggest drawback with these online and mobile charity platforms is that they’re only in Chinese. The second is the sheer number of causes (over 8,000 on Tencent Charity alone), which can make it daunting to decide which one(s) to support. In addition, it’s unclear to what extent these charities and nonprofits are vetted by Tencent, Alipay, and Sina.
That said, Tencent Charity did list some foreign nonprofits like Watsi, a Silicon Valley-based organization that crowdfunds medical treatments for people around the world. Users who set up a recurring donation are eligible to have their first month’s donation matched by Tencent. The unlikely partnership between Watsi and WeChat was even covered on CNN Money.
Tencent Charity (WeChat)
1. First, open WeChat and go to the WeChat Wallet screen. Tap “Tencent Charity” (known as 腾讯公益 Tengxun gongyi in Chinese).
2. The interface switches to Chinese. Here’s what the main Tencent Charity screen looks like:
Scroll down to find a list of causes with titles precision-engineered to tug at the heartstrings such as “I want to stay in school,” “Buying warm new clothes for children,” or “Free lunches – small kindnesses, big love.”
At the very bottom of the screen, you’ll find causes sorted by type.
The categories are:
- All (全部 quanbu)
- Medical assistance (疾病救助 jibing jiuzhu)
- Poverty alleviation and disaster relief (扶贫／救灾 fupin/jiuzai)
- Education and schooling assistance (教育／助学 jiaoyu/zhu xue)
- Environment and animal protection (环保／动物保护 huanbao/dongwu baohu)
- Other (其他 qita)
3. Once you find a cause you’re interested in, tap on it to open its page. The screenshot below shows the page for a free lunch program – the “small kindnesses, big love” one.
The numbers at the top of the page detail how much money has been raised so far (yes, that’s over RMB 20 million), the number of people who have donated to this cause, and the number of people who have led fundraising efforts on behalf of this cause.
Below that is a brief description of the cause: “RMB 3 buys them a nutritious hot meal; RMB 660 supports a full year of free lunches.”
The dark orange button with the heart icon allows you to donate (我要捐款 wo yao juankuan) while the light orange button allows you to invite others to donate (邀朋友一起捐 yao pengyou yi qi juan).
Scroll down further to find a more detailed description of the project and the name of the organization; many will even post progress reports, expenditure breakdowns, and financial statements.
4. Click on the dark orange button to donate. A popup with payment options will come up.
The first tap is for recurring monthly donations (月捐 yue juan). Choose one of the default donation amounts or enter one in the blank box. Not every cause supports recurring payments.
To set up a one-time donation, click on the second tab (单次捐 dan ci juan).
Same process – choose or enter a donation amount, then tap the orange button (立即捐款 liji juan kuan). Users will be taken to a payment screen where they can check out using WeChat Wallet or their linked Chinese bank card.
Organizations listed on Tencent Charity include:
- Ofund, a volunteer and advocacy network spanning 1,000 universities across the world – click here for an English description on LinkedIn
- Wardrobe of Love (爱心衣橱), a nonprofit that provides warm clothes to children in need
- A number of public foundations administered by the Department of Social Welfare (社会福利基金会 shehui fuli jijin hui)
There are also one-time causes that raise money for individuals, such as those with urgent medical bills.
Sijia Chen is a contributing editor at beijingkids and a freelance writer who has covered travel, tech, culture, parenting, and the environment. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, The Independent, the Beijinger, Midnight Poutine, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @sijiawrites or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Jim Larrison (via Flickr), screenshots by Sijia Chen