Monday, October 3, 2011

Philanthropy In Korea

Many of those donating money to society are now being publicized in the media. Their names and  pictures have appeared recently on the front page of the Chosun Daily, though four donors refused to have their pictures displayed. The donors are members of the Honor Society; begun in 2008 with six members, it now has 49. Donors who have given over one hundred thousand dollars of their own money to society qualify for membership.

An article that accompanied the front-page article mentioned that in developed countries individuals donate more money to charity than does industry. In the US, the ratio of individual to industrial donation is 8 to 2. In Korea, the overall increase of donations from what it was in 1999 has been 6-fold, and the amount of monies given by individuals has also increased over that given by industry.

80 percent of  donated money in Korea  is given for religious purposes. In England, the amount given for religious purposes is 13 percent.  In the US, it is 30 percent. In Korea, the amount given to society would be very small, according to a study group finding at a university.

The money donated in Korea would be about 0.54 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product). This would be similar to  Australia and South Africa, and one-third of that given in the US. In Korea, the average Korean would be donating about 200 dollars a year. In the US the average would be about 1,220 dollars, seven times what a Korean donates. In England they are giving about three times what a Korean is giving. Considering that Korea ranks 13th economically in the world, the article says it is a poor showing.

A 2008 survey revealed that the primary reason for not donating was a lack of interest 40 percent. Others:  " don't know where to give," or indicating that there was a lack of trust on how the money would be spent.

Those in the Honor Society feel that education and publicizing the need for more donations have to begin if we want to see an increase in giving. The rich have to give more, they said.  Others thought there should be more tax incentives for those who donate.

The campaign to increase the donation of money in Korea has started. The  Chosun Daily also had an editorial comparing the Honor Society to the Tocqueville Society in the US, whose members give over 10,000 dollars a year to the United Way charity. They started with only 20 members in 1984 and now have 26,890 members.

In Korea, the mass media will have much to do with how successful philanthropic giving will be in the future. The regret of many is knowing that much of the giving is not the kind often described as "one hand not knowing what the other is doing."

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