Giving birth to civil society

English.news.cn   2010-08-31 08:43:14 FeedbackPrintRSS

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Lu Zhao has discovered his own way of keeping a smile on his face - by helping others.

"I smile all the time, because philanthropy makes me happier and younger, " said Lu.

Giving birth to civil society

Five years ago the now 40-year-old set up an organization called Non-Profit Incubator (NPI), which assists in the development of non-profit organizations (NPOs) and social enterprises.

But he came upon this career path indirectly. Before embarking on philanthropy, Lu was a reporter, which led to an interest in business, especially in trade and public relations, an area he would develop over the next decade.

During his Master of Business Administration studies in 2000, he made contacts with many government officials and had the chance to approach people in well-paid positions.

"I would call it a 30-year-old's crisis, when you really wanted to jump out of your old life and do something genuinely meaningful," Lu said in explaining why he turned down the potential to work for a private domestic firm.

At the same time, he was invited by an MBA classmate, a senior government official, to lead a newspaper involved in charity - an area he suddenly realized combined all his skills.

"Whenever I did volunteer work for either school dropouts or drug addicts, I felt so fulfilled. It's totally a different logic from doing business.

"Business seeks the biggest profit, where you earn a lot of money, but the joy is only for yourself. Charity, in contrast, brings about a much broader social effect."

Lu not only found a sense of fulfillment in doing charity, he also discovered many problems that face NPOs, such as poor training and funding.

According to current laws, only organizations registered with local bureaus of civil affairs can receive subsidies from the government.

But governments in China tended to take cautious stances towards these civil organizations. So most received licenses only from local bureaus of industry and commerce, which means they had to be self-financing.

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Editor: Wang Guanqun
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