Bill Gates to help rich in China give it away

Bill Gates to help rich in China give it away

Making money may be hard, but giving it away is not as easy as it may seem.

This is why US billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates will help a Beijing university to show the wealthy how to spend on a philanthropic cause.

Wang Zhenyao, dean of Beijing Normal University's China Philanthropy Research Institute, said Gates agreed in June to help launch a philanthropic education programme with the university. Together, they plan to raise 100 million yuan (S$20.2 million) each year from the wealthy in China and the United States.

The programme will focus on classroom teaching and overseas study tours looking at philanthropy for newly wealthy Chinese. It will also involve employees in philanthropic and social organisations, potential donors and training specialists, Wang said.

"China still lacks professional consultancies and training to help potential philanthropists," Wang explained.

The university is working on drafting a detailed plan for the programme, but Wang declined to elaborate because it is still in its infancy and several issues have still to be resolved.

Cheng Gang, president of the China Foundation Center, welcomed the initiative, saying, "Many Chinese entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about becoming philanthropists."

Although the first generation of self-made millionaires and billionaires has shown a growing interest in philanthropy, some have received adverse publicity as people questioned their motives, Cheng said, adding that accusations of showmanship and flaunting their wealth have been leveled at some tycoons.

Chen Guangbiao, a renewable energy and recycling billionaire from Jiangsu province, was targeted in June for his unique approach to charity in the US.

Chen treated 300 homeless people in New York to lunch in Central Park and later donated a large sum to charity for the benefit of the city's homeless.

Zhao Hua, who teaches courses at the Peter F. Drucker Academy in Beijing on managing philanthropic organisations, said many wealthy people in China feel it is unnecessary for them to receive education about charitable work.

However, wealthy Chinese should realise that real philanthropy is about solving social problems, which requires vision, sound management skills and an innovative approach, she said.

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