Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis
IU Communications

Julie Scholl
Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013

IU professors receive Luce Foundation grant to study development of philanthropic sector in China

Aug. 26, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University professors on two campuses have been awarded grants for a new initiative on philanthropy in China. It will include research projects, workshops and conferences, publications, a new course, student internships and engagement in a philanthropic activity to address a social problem.

China Earthquake

UN Photo/Evan Schneider

As in the United States, the philanthropy sector in China has changed to respond to natural disasters, such as the 2008 earthquakes there.

Print-Quality Photo

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant for the project being led by Scott Kennedy, director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, and Angela Bies, director of international programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"We are going to create an advisory board for the initiative of well-respected philanthropists in the United States and China, who will identify a pressing problem in China, figure out a way to raise funding to address it and then find a vehicle to solve that problem," Kennedy said. "We will both learn and learn by doing."

"Most people who study philanthropy would at least aspire to give something back to practice. However, the depth and extent of this project is far beyond what is the norm -- to have a teaching component, to have a service component and a policy component all in one project," Bies said, adding that this will be a new research model for academics in China.

The Luce grant also will support summer internships for two IU students each year in China, where they will work with existing partners of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, NGOs and foundations.

Kennedy and Bies also will develop a new course on philanthropy and civil society in China, which they will jointly teach at IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

Their philanthropy initiative also is being supported by a two-year $109,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, which will be used to study corporate philanthropy in China. Support also has come from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Office of the Provost at IU Bloomington.

"This international and interdisciplinary project focuses on philanthropic practice and potential in a key area of the world," IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel said. "We are extremely grateful to the Luce Foundation for supporting this innovative research, which also aims to aid the growth of China's philanthropic sector.

"With additional support from the Ford Foundation, we are able to bring together faculty expertise from IU Bloomington's School of Global and International Studies, Kelley School of Business and School of Public and Environmental Affairs along with our esteemed colleagues at IUPUI's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy," Robel added. "Working together with our research partners in China, there is enormous potential to influence positive growth in China's nonprofit sector."

"This project stems from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's deep roots in promoting mutual international understanding of philanthropy, and it will be a central part of advancing our commitment to further internationalizing our work," said Gene Tempel, founding dean of the school. "This is an exciting time in the creation of China's formal philanthropic sector, and we are eager to learn from and with our Chinese colleagues. Engaging with and across diverse key constituents involved in Chinese philanthropy affords our students, faculty and staff unprecedented opportunities to witness and study the development of a philanthropic ecosystem in a nation where changes are occurring virtually daily."

China passed its first large-scale law governing foundations in 2005. Today, there are more than 3,000 registered foundations there. Overall philanthropic giving accounts for 1.5 to 2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. But the quality and capacity of NGOs and foundations are not fully developed, nor is awareness by companies about how to engage with philanthropic organizations.

"We're in very early days in terms of the emergence of China's philanthropic sector," said Kennedy, also an associate professor of political science and East Asian languages and cultures. "China is among the more developed countries in terms of the overall amount of giving and philanthropic activity, but from the perspective of people who look at China, it looks like a very immature sector. It's grown quickly, but it's not very well developed."

Bies, also an associate professor in philanthropic studies, has an extensive background in international development and exchange that includes senior leadership at the Charities Review Council, the American Field Service and projects in Africa, Central Europe, Pakistan and elsewhere.

"It would be wrong to say that China as an ancient culture doesn't have a history of philanthropy," Bies said. "But in contemporary China, the institutions for philanthropy are nascent and they are changing rapidly. I think that philanthropy will play an increasingly important role in the future of China, both in terms of domestic and foreign investment."

She said the developing regulatory environment in China has led universities there to play more of a leading role in conducting research and training in the philanthropic sector than has been seen in other emergent philanthropic sectors. The academy in China is serving as an incubator for significant thinking and action around social entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

Kennedy and Bies expect their project will tap into that environment along with nine research partners at Sun Yat-sen University, Beijing Normal University, Tsinghua University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Conference Board, China Development Brief, the University of Wisconsin Law School and IU's Kelley School of Business and School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Other IU faculty involved in the initiative includes Marjorie Lyles, the OneAmerica Chair in Business Administration at the IU Kelley School at Indianapolis, and Chao Guo, associate professor and director of international programs in SPEA at IUPUI and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

While the project focuses on China, Bies believes what is learned will have applications in emergent philanthropic sectors in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East.

"The growth of and changing role of philanthropy is a global phenomenon," Bies said. "This is an important issue as NGO sectors merge and change, as they emerge and as democratic institutions evolve in various parts of the world."