By President Cheng Gang and May Mei, International Affairs Director, of the China Foundation Center
On October 15th, 2019, the China Philanthropy Big Data Research Institute (CPBDRI) was launched in Beijing. CPBDRI is an initiative of the China Foundation Center. Top scholars from Tsinghua University, Peking University and the China Global Philanthropy Institute, as well as representatives from the Gates Foundation and Xinjiang Hongshi Foundation, joined the ceremony and participated in the discussion.
The goal of launching CPBDRI is to apply the comprehensive natural science and modern scientific means like information technology, communication tech, Internet tech, AI tech and mathematics to the field of philanthropy. There are two targets: 1) the Institute will extend its work from the foundation sector to a wider net of social organizations and their activities; and 2), to develop the institute into a think tank platform and explore the contribution of modern philanthropy to the economic and social development based on the big data concept and technology. The Institute belongs to the internal work scope of CFC but is independent in finance as well as its operation.
Mr. Cheng Gang, the President of CFC, said that in the future, based on the two principles of cooperation and openness, the institute will carry out extensive innovative cooperation with universities, think tanks, research institutions and scholars at home and abroad in a more diverse pattern and mind.
The significance and objectives of the establishment of the CPBDRI are as follows: first, the content of the Institute will not be limited to the field of foundations, but will be extended to a wider range of social organizations and their behaviors; second, it will strive to make the Institute a think tank platform, hoping to explore the contribution of modern charity to economic and social development based on the concept and technology of big data.
Prof. Wang Chao from PKU NSD, believes that the CPBDRI can advocate and promote more subversive philanthropic research and actions based on big data in the future.
Prof. Huang Haoming from CGPI, believes that philanthropy big data has important values in highlighting the social value of the sector, promoting the professionalism of philanthropy and improving philanthropy’s productivity. He hoped that the CPBDRI could truly build an infrastructure platform for China’s philanthropy to connect to the world, not only for domestic, but also for international cooperation and opening up.
For those who are interested in China overseas, we hope to make the world have better understanding of China philanthropy and our philanthropic culture through the big data. As we are all living in the information era and connected by Internet, the amount of information we receive has reached an unprecedented height, while the characteristics of information fragmentation also leads to inaccuracies and negative stereotypes. So we hope to present a more comprehensive “in the field” picture and essence of China’s philanthropy through big data. We also hope that through such a measure, we can guide the public to pay attention to the development of charity by using science and technology, such as with big data and machine learning. In brief, we hope to inspire more people in our sector to apply tech and science methods to their work and to view the philanthropic field in more rational way and to make our charity behavior effectively.
CPBDRI will become a good exchange and research platform for scholars, charities, universities and other institutions at home and abroad. We believe the Institute will act as a window for China’s philanthropy to spread abroad, releasing outstanding cases and practices in our country via big data analysis, providing reference for more regions, and promoting the communication of philanthropy data, practice and research internationally.
2. How does your center plan to work with other existing initiatives in China? Outside of China?
The Institute is aimed to be built as an infrastructure for collaboration between us and other research institutes, including universities, think tanks, etc. We have already started our cooperation with UNDP China this year and are talking with IUPUI about future joint research.
The Institute will adhere to two principles, the first is the principle of cooperation and the second is the principle of openness. In the future, the Institute will implement these two principles and cooperate with various universities, research institutions and think tanks at home and abroad, including outstanding young and middle-aged scholars, to produce research results with social influence. At present, the research institute plans to cooperate with two professors from the Institute for Philanthropy Tsinghua University to carry out an analysis and advocacy research based on public welfare big data.
There will be many possibilities in cooperating with overseas friends. We have already initiated some research projects recently and are positive to the future collaboration with more diverse partners. The forms of cooperation can be diversified, and the modes of output and external communication are more flexible.
With the arrival of the “big data era”, the use and development of big data in China’s social and economic fields have been improved day by day. However, although the philanthropy field has been greatly developed in the past decade, the number and net assets of charitable organizations have been highly improved, and charitable activities and projects are increasingly diversified, the development and utilization of corresponding philanthropic big data is still insufficient.
Therefore, we hope to establish such a big data research institute for philanthropy, which will use information technology, communication technology, Internet technology, artificial intelligence technology, mathematics and other comprehensive natural and modern scientific means and tools to serve the philanthropic charities. For this reason, we have made more than two years of preparation and efforts since the end of 2016, and have done extensive work with experts and scholars from major universities Extensive communication.
Gaps in philanthropy data is not only the problem in China, but a worldwide reality. We should have a long-term mindset and attitude to our Institute. Just like China Foundation Center, the road will not be that easy and needs years of efforts accumulation. The establishment of CPBDRI is work of advocacy, to tell others that big data in philanthropy is something important to focus on. Maybe there will be more peers to do this with us in the future. And to note, the creation of CPBDRI does not mean that the big data of philanthropy in China is more advanced than others, we are far from realizing our full potential. However, it is a step in the right direction, and we are excited for what the future holds.
President of the China Foundation Center
International Affairs Director at the China Foundation Center
China Foundation Center is the world’s leading source of China foundation information for shareholders in social sector. Read more on their website: https://en.foundationcenter.org.cn/