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Charity on the cheap (5)

(Global Times)

14:31, November 11, 2011

"The professional social services provided by NGOs need to be bought. They don't come free," Wang Zhenyao with the Philanthropy Research Institute told the Global Times.

"The public's misunderstanding in this regard could have a serious negative impact on the healthy development of China's philanthropic efforts," Wang added.

Zheng Xiaojie has realized she can't afford to wait for government grants and private donations to flow into Hongdandan. Over the past eight years Hongdandan has only received one project grant of 56,000 yuan from the Beijing municipal government. She says relying on government handouts "is too little to keep an NGO going," said Zheng, who has yet to receive the cash from the Beijing government.

Like many NGOs Zheng's work with the people she serves is being distracted by a never-ending need to raise funds.

She is now investing her time and energy into developing products like audio tapes that she might be able to sell to other NGOs that provide services to the blind. She promises the revenue will be ploughed back into Hongdandan.

"People will start coming to us for services, and when I prove we're making a contribution to society I think the government will definitely support us," Zheng said, who has promised to give her team a raise. "They deserve it. Working for an NGO means you not only contribute your time and wisdom but your emotions as well."

Worth more than money

Despite the low wages, most people working for an NGO contacted by the Global Times say they are happy with what they are doing. "You should be prepared to discount your salary expectations by 30 percent as working in this sector brings you more honor and a greater sense of achievement than many other jobs. It's just more meaningful," said He Shuzhong, the founder of Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

Zheng agrees working with people in need is gratifying and helping them succeed keeps her motivated

"Just thinking that there will be more blind people like Lina going to universities with other sighted students, using the audio books we made to them, makes me feel very happy and exited, and that's just about enough for me," said Zheng.

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