Why Chinese American philanthropists are anonymous

July 29, 2009

This article is excerpted from AsianWeek, “Chinese American Philanthropist: Samuel K. So” as a part its series featuring Chinese American Heroes
Chinese saying

Ever heard of Chinese American philanthropy? In traditional Chinese thinking, philanthropy must be truly executed with total altruism. This humble belief means that a building or major donation given to charity shouldn’t have the funder’s name trumpeted all over it. Building your own reputation or legacy should have nothing to do with charity. The great Confucian scholar Zhu Zhi defined truly philanthropy when he described philanthropy as “Shan yu jen jian, bus shi chen shan” which means “philanthropy intended to be seen by (other) men, is not true philanthropy.” Traditional Chinese philanthropy is conducted anonymously with very little or no public recognition. In America though, many Chinese American philanthropists follows Western traditions, and the names of the donors are carved in stone for all to see, or are listed in public documents frequently divided into groups depending on the size of their donations.

… We can’t possibly include the many Chinese American philanthropists out there that exist in every community. Many will not be rich but give as much as they can. Most Chinese American philanthropists fit into this anonymous category. Whether or not they are rich or poor though the stereotype of a people just out to make money doesn’t fit these Chinese Americans.

The article goes on to mention 5 Chinese-American philanthropists by name. Read the article to learn more >>

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