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Charity in China; Reforming China’s Non-Profit Sector

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China Red Cross, Source: AsiaNews.it

Posted by Jessica Drun, AsiaEye

Recent scandals involving charity misspending and embezzlement have tarnished the image of China’s non-profit organizations (NPO). News of these controversies has spread like wildfire across Chinese micro-blogs and public philanthropy suffered a blow by alienating potential donors. For instance, China saw an immediate decline in blood donations following the Guo Mei Mei incident, in which the supposed general commercial manager of the Red Cross flaunted her lavish lifestyle on Weibo, a Chinese social networking site. The Red Cross in China now reportedly faces a 30-40% shortage. With Chinese people increasingly wary of corruption, monetary contributions to charities have reportedly more than halved from June to August of this year. The consequences of these trends are grave, as Chinese citizens across the board have called for government reform in the country’s nascent third sector—and Beijing is feeling some pressure to respond.

The economic reforms spearheaded by the late Chinese patriarch, Deng Xiaoping, are largely credited with unleashing market forces that spurred China’s rapid growth. The “opening up” policy contributed to a wide scale privatization campaign, leaving in its wake a debilitated social safety net. These trends, coupled with an upsurge of development-induced social problems, have opened space for Chinese NPOs to emerge at the forefront of the country’s public service sector. Under- resourced and overextended, China’s third sector has been a reoccurring topic in legislative debates in recent years—both in the front lines of grassroots initiatives and among many levels of government officials. The situation presents an interesting contradiction, wherein the Chinese government must face the need to address social problems while at the same time realizing that such a move could detract from its authority.

The landscape of the country’s third sector has changed significantly in recent years. This change is reflected in official government statistics that show the number of registered organizations has shot up over 40% between 2005 and 2010 alone. This increase does not include unregistered organizations, which are blocked from formal proceedings by China’s dual-registration system and strict guidelines. Comparatively, the non-profit landscape was practically barren under Mao’s rule and these types of organizations did not emerge until the 1980’s. This surge coincides with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) decision to defer social management responsibilities to NPOs as a means to promote Deng’s economic policies and encourage market forces. The initial non-profits were directly under government jurisdiction but as social problems emerged at a faster rate than the Party could manage, the central government began to defer control and reform the system.

Approaches to reform have been multifaceted. The central government, citing the importance of preserving social order, has sought to revise the current bylaws underlining non-profit management. The central government has overseen the establishment of experimental sites in Wenzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen to test the prospect of transferring more government functions to non-profit organizations. The National People’s Congress and the CCP Central Committee have dedicated a section of the country’s next Five Year Plan (FYP) to charity management, ostensibly to address rising public discontent towards corruption in NPOs.

In Chapter 39 of the 12th Five Year Plan, the central government called for the development of social organization through a streamlined application process, improved tax incentive laws, and policy support a la legal and regulatory protections. Before final approval in March 2011, the government disclosed the FYP guidelines to the Chinese people through a series of public hearings, seeking e-mail feedback and leaving room open for revision. Consequently, a Charity Law, drafted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA), which has been on the table since 2005, has resurfaced for consideration. In July 2011, the government reopened the draft as the “Guideline for the Development of Charity in China” and solicited public input to give direction to charity growth and expedite processes conducive to the 12th FYP. However, the draft has since seen little movement within the legislature.

Meanwhile, frustrated by government inaction, local and provincial governments have apparently taken matters into their hands. Respective authorities in Jiangsu, Ningbo, Hunan, Beijing, and just recently Guangdong have each enacted their own set of regulations, facilitating registration processes and allowing for more accountability in non-profit management. These moves have been commended by officials higher up in the government. In late 2010, a MoCA representative voiced his hopes that these developments will help guide those on a national scale.

The general consensus on the need for reform paints an interesting picture for future developments of the third sector. The timing of the FYP and its related reforms comes at a critical crossroad in China’s development. First, the 12th FYP coincides with a transition of power to its fifth-generation leadership that will take place in 2012. Chinese leaders seek a seamless power change, but they must address the growing challenges posed by increasing social unrest. By adhering to the tenets set by the FYP and by shaping public interests through the charity law, the Party could mitigate discontent among the masses, while at the same time demonstrate responsible leadership. Moreover, promoting China’s international image should provide further incentive for the government to amend its non-profit regulations by legitimizing the new leaders through social progress. It should be noted, however, that certain types of non-profits within the sector, such as those dedicated to religion and human rights, will see little change in their directive.

These advancements in the third sector may also point to the prospect of more comprehensive reform throughout the country. Grassroots movements empower and educate citizens for involvement in the public sphere, which then calls for a more active and informed society, with its own functions and claims. Larger citizen involvement, enabled by a burgeoning nonprofit sector, could lead to a further decentralization of power. This would be in line with the CCP’s “big society, small government” policy that seeks to create a network of social protections wherein citizens serve as intermediaries between the government and social organizations to sustain and promote a “harmonious society”. In essence, nonprofit reform may equip the citizenry with the capacity to take on the Chinese government’s social functions and become that “big society.” The deciding factor, however, is largely dependent on the direction the central government takes from its current Catch-22: toward third sector reform at the cost of its relative power or the continuation of the status quo at the risk of social instability.

Please share and join the discussion on facebook by clicking the “Like” below. Published with the written permission from AsiaEye (Project 2049 Institute).

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Dropshipping: How to start a hands-free online business

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No inventory, no headaches. This is the basic fonament of dropshipping selling model, so If you are thinking to start a new business from home, in this article we analyze the main advantages and disadvantage of drop shipping.

Dropshipping can be a real way to make a little bit of money on the side, all you have to do is work hard and choose a product of your interest as health and beauty, video games, wholesale gadget parts, music, candles or whatever you like yourself.

But, how dropshipping works? There are three different parts to this business model, the suppliers, the e-commerce store or dropshipper and the final customer. And four steps to make it all work together.

In the first place, you will have to list the supplier product on your e-commerce store for customers to buy. Afterwards and in second place, the customer can purchase something from your e-commerce store. The third step comes when you order that same exact product that the customer paid for, from your supplier. So finally your drop shipping supplier will ship this product directly to your final customer, and they will receive the item that they have ordered from your e-commerce store.

Easy right? You will receive the money you sold your product for and the supplier will charge you the wholesale price. So your profit will be the difference between the retail price and the wholesale price that you will pay to your dropshipping suppliers.

How to find products to sell online?

It is time to find products to sell and push for those items you think will succeed and customers will purchase. A good way to start is by importing items from China which will translate into better profits for your e-commerce.

China brands and chinese dropshippers are becoming very popular because they wholesale products with high-profit potential, as a double stereo Bluetooth with DSP for 27.62 dollars, that it can be sold for the retail price of 46.95 dollars. The benefit will be huge.

Or a popular set of knives ship free, a good opportunity to increase your earnings and avoid to invest in shipping. This little opportunity will make the difference in your new e-commerce. Millions of people buy knives every day as they are incredibly useful in the kitchen and required for many outdoor activities like trekking, camping or scuba diving.

Disadvantages and advantages of Drop Shipping

Even If the high-profit opportunities exist, they are not common. In general, low margins are the biggest disadvantage of operating in a highly competitive niche. E-commerce stores need so little in getting the business started, that they can afford to operate in such a low margins.

The inventory issues are another disadvantage of drop shipping. When you are sourcing from multiples suppliers, inventory changes on a daily basis, but to mitigate this problem you can start stocking some of your items. Shipping complexities If you work with multiple warehouses and supplier errors fulfilling the orders can be also tricky to face.

However, the benefits can be very good If you want to make it work and you have the time to invest. The biggest advantage of drop shipping is that you can launch an e-commerce store without having to invest much money in front. With this business model, you don’t have to purchase an item unless you already made the sale and the final customer has paid.

It is possible to work from anywhere as long as you have the internet connection, so make sure you can communicate with suppliers and customers easily. Another big advantage is that is easy to scale, as most of the work to process additional orders will be borne by the suppliers, allowing you to expand and create a better customer service and build the base of a good marketing strategy. So as the popular saying proclaims, If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

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Managing A Renovation Project

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Starting a renovation project can be a big challenge. It is not as simple as the shows you see on TV, a huge amount of planning, legal stuff and sourcing goes on before the work even begins.

Managing a project like this can be a complex affair which is why you need to make sure you know exactly what to do at every stage, and leave no stone unturned.

  1. Assess the Building’s Condition

Before you start to plan a renovation project you will need to know exactly what you are dealing with. You will need to visit the site and run a full check to see if the building is structurally sound, if the foundations are stable and what cosmetic touches you will need to do.

  1. Stop Deterioration

When you have assessed the current situation of the property you intend to work on, you will also want to make sure that no further damage occurs as you prepare for starting work on the project. You may need to put up scaffolding to keep the building supported or board out floors and the roof to prevent damp getting in.

  1. Check for Grants

It is not likely that you will get a grant for your restoration project, but it is certainly worth looking into. If the building you are working on is listed you may be given funding to carry out the work and make sure that the building’s integrity is kept.

  1. Apply for Permission

One of the most boring and long winded parts of renovation is getting the permission to carry out the work in the first place. As soon as you know you want to start a project, get your application for planning permission, listed building consent and any other things in. It may take a few weeks for the results to come back so it is always worth doing it as soon as you can.

  1. Structural work

The first thing you will need to do in terms of working on the property is making sure that the building has water, electrics and gas supplies- as well as being weatherproof. It may take some installation, plastering and insulating to get the building ready for the rest of the work you plan to do.

  1. Demolition

There may be certain parts of the building that you plan on knocking down and salvaging, so once you’ve stabilised the main structure you can go ahead and do the groundwork.

  1. Issues with Damp

If you are working on an old building, you will find that it is much more likely to be damp than a more modern one. This is because older buildings are made with solid walls. Because of this there is no airflow going through the bricks and therefore condensation builds up much more easily causing damp and mould to grow. To get rid of the damp you may need to call someone in to help you identify the source and to seal up any potential holes for water to enter the home.

  1. Check Drains

Sometimes you may find that the drainage around the property is damaged or blocked- and this can be another cause of damp in the home due to water becoming logged underneath the foundations. You will also want to check what’s connected to which part of the house, and you can do this by putting different coloured food dye down the sink and having someone inside a manhole seeing where the water comes out. It will show you whether your drains are in working order or if they are blocked.

  1. Plan Access

With a large project like this you will need lots of heavy equipment and machinery. Make sure that you have the ability to get the large diggers and other machines to the site without being an inconvenience to the surrounding public.

  1. Managing employees

It is not easy to manage a full group of trade people, but it will be required if you are to work on a large project.  If you are going to be overseeing the development of a home extension or a large row of homes, you will need to make sure that before the work begins you lay out the guidelines, safety laws and provide training to your workers. If anyone gets injured during the construction they could go to a lawyer like Hofmann & Schweitzer if you do not take the time to write down every regulation. It could be worth going over it with a lawyer before your employees sign it.

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New Business Approaches

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Business, like anything in life, can sometimes become a bit stale. Sometimes you need to refresh your approaches to give it that new lease of life that is so badly needs. But, sometimes it is unclear, and you’re not sure which direction you need to take to get the best out of your business. It is something that everyone goes through at some point, but is something that can be easily solved. All you need to do is know your business, and do a little research. Luckily for you, this article is going to give you a bit of advice if you’re stuck with knowing what to do.

Customer Focused

Somehow, this is where a lot of businesses lack. They’re so money driven that sometimes they can lose track of the bigger picture, and the people who matter the most. The customers. They’re ultimately who are going to be giving you the money you so badly desire, so keeping them at the forefront of your mind should be something you’re always trying to do. Even little things like making sure your office is immaculate when customers come in is going to make the difference between a sale or not. If they see somewhere that looks a bit dirty and dingy, they’re not going to want to do business. People prefer places to look tidy and smart. Custodial services aren’t that expensive, so if you know you’re rubbish at keeping the office clean, this might be worth looking into. Another way of making sure your customers are always happy is by doing questionnaires. These can be done either when they come in the store, or online anonymously. This feedback to your should be invaluable.

Marketing

Marketing should be a big approach for any business. If you’re not currently marketing yourself, you really need to look into why it’s important and how your business will benefit from it. If you are marketing already, then you’re already on a step in the right direction. The only downside to marketing is your approaches can sometimes become a little stale. What once used to work for you might not work now. This is where a fresh approach is definitely needed. Do some online research and see which methods you might be interested in. If you haven’t tried it before, SEO and link building is a really good way of gaining your business exposure. It is a risky game, so you are going to be better off hiring a consultant, but it’s definitely worth doing in the long run. Be warned though, you won’t see results straight away, and it is on the more expensive side of marketing. If you’d like to try cheaper ones, then radio or social media marketing might be the route to go down for you. It just might be the case that you don’t get as much exposure from methods such as radio.

New business approaches are bound to only do good for you. Above are just two ways in which you can make your business better.

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