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With China’s nonprofit sector rapidly expanding, a delegation of 23 leaders at foundations, non-governmental organizations and businesses in mainland China visited NewBridge Services, Inc. on Oct. 15 to learn about its approach to philanthropy and how it launches innovative programs.
“NewBridge CEO Robert Parker is a respected leader in the nonprofit sector and the hope is the visit will provide our guests with strategies that they can implement in their organizations back in China,’’ said Andy Germak, executive director of the Center for Leadership and Management at Rutgers University School of Social Work.
The center, along with the Huamin Research Center at Rutgers School of Social Work, hosted the group during a four-day study tour visiting six model nonprofits in New Jersey and New York. NewBridge provides counseling, housing and educational programs to more than 8,500 people in northern New Jersey each year.
The delegation members are leaders of NGOs, foundations and the philanthropy arms of businesses enrolled in an Executive Master of Philanthropy degree program at Beijing Normal University.
They asked Parker and NewBridge Chief Development Officer Pam Palumbo how NewBridge operates, how it raises funds, and how it is moving toward competing with for-profit service providers to increase revenues so it can continue to support its mission.
NewBridge had to increase its fundraising efforts as government funding has leveled off in recent years, Parker explained. Palumbo noted that in the U.S., individual donors provide 83 percent of charitable contributions, with foundations giving 12 percent and corporations just 5 percent.
“People think that corporations are big funders, but go to the people, because they’re the ones who give the most,’’ Palumbo said.
Members of the group, most of whom spoke through an interpreter, said they were impressed by the business approach and professionalism of NewBridge and other nonprofits they visited.
“I think this should be the model in China,’’ said Jack Kuang, who runs a Beijing-based nonprofit providing nutritional services to rural schools.
China’s sector of independent nonprofits has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, but they face major challenges. The Communist nation has nearly 500,000 registered NGOs, but most are connected to the government, according to The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. That doesn’t include the number of unregistered independent NGOs, which is estimated to approach 2 million.
“We are honored to be a part of this educational tour sharing what we’ve learned over the past 50 years as a community nonprofit,’’ Parker said. He urged the delegation to apply the advice they’ve heard during their visit to strengthen their nonprofits back home.