The amount of donations has hit a record 100 billion yuan ($14.7 billion) so far this year - exceeding the total for the past decade - thanks to a groundswell of support from individuals and the private sector, a senior official said yesterday.
The high figure is partly because of an outpouring of generosity after the Sichuan earthquake in May but still represents a quantum leap from say, 2005, when the amount was a mere 8 billion yuan.
Earthquake relief efforts raised 73.7 billion yuan, a figure which includes contributions of about 13 billion yuan from Party members.
"More orderly charitable activities and more inspired public participation have risen in tandem with appropriate systems and policies," said Wang Zhenyao, head of the Social Welfare and Charity Promotion Department at the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The highlights of this year's list are:
The largest donation from an individual is from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, 240 million yuan.
The biggest donor among foreign-funded firms is Novartis China, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, 1.3 billion yuan.
The Century Golden Resources Group, a Fujian-based property firm, donated 258 million yuan, making it the top donor among the country's private firms.
Six domestic tobacco companies, which donated 963 million yuan, have been removed from the award list as a result of complaints from health departments and civil organizations, Wang said.
Despite that, the China National Tobacco Corporation tops all domestic firms with 805 million yuan.
Wang said the overwhelming generosity of the private sector has made it difficult for organizers to select the best charitable enterprises.
"The threshold used to be 8 million yuan," Wang told China Daily yesterday on the eve of the China Charity Awards ceremony to be held today in Beijing.
"This year we had to raise the bar to 15 million yuan."
The ministry is to award 314 enterprises, individuals and programs - including 141 domestic and 48 foreign firms - at the ceremony.
Wang said charity work has also been characterized by the commendable efforts of individual volunteers and NGOs, adding that the China Charity Work Development Guidance Report (2006-10) will be released at the awards ceremony.
"China has entered a new era in which every Chinese - beggars, children and farmers included - has participated in charity work," Wang said. "Philanthropy has become a new, welcome trend."
Most of the charity activities have been initiated by volunteers rather than the government, and NGOs have played a key role, Wang said.
By September, there were more than 1,300 registered foundations, and 4,100 charitable organizations and Red Cross associations above county level.
Despite the sharp increase in donations, this year's figure of 100 billion yuan accounts for only 0.4 percent of the country's GDP, compared to 1.85 percent in the US.