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Charity on the cheap (3)

(Global Times)

14:31, November 11, 2011

"In the face of high inflation and rocketing housing prices, our colleagues have gradually become a disadvantage, marginalized group in society," wrote Liu in an article published on the website NGOCN in June this year.

Liu picked November 1, which fell on a Monday, as the day for NGO staff to stop work. The first day of the week, and the first day of the 11th month of 2011 are written in numerals with six ones. The word one in Chinese rhymes with the word "want." Along with increased pay Liu wants his colleagues to be better respected by society and he wants to attract better people to the sector.

Liu's online threat of a work stoppage got some support but also drew harsh criticism.

"Non-profit is about what you can give, not what you can take," an Internet user called "Coffee with sugar" wrote on her Weibo. Another writer declared that a "non-profit career is for rich people who have nothing better to do."

Services aren't free

"NGOs provide people and communities with professional services. Those who are engaged by them deserve a decent life," said Deng Guosheng, a professor with the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University.

Deng's research into the sector shows that China's NGOs can be divided into at least two distinct camps. Government supported NGOs which carry out large humanitarian or social service projects often on national scale are relatively well funded. The country's 1 million independent grassroots NGOs on the other hand need only consist of three people and sometimes cater to a narrow cause or effort.

Government-sponsored NGOs usually have far more resources than grassroots NGOs which mainly rely on donations or short-term government contracts.

Deng says the millions 0f people who work for NGOs and non-profits are undervalued and underappreciated.

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