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Lu Dezhi

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"Charity is a revolution of the wealthy."

Mr. Lu Dezhi is the founder and chairman of the Huamin Charity Foundation, one of the first private family foundations in China, established in 2013. Mr. Lu’s financial investment company, Tehua Investments, was the primary source of his foundation’s endowment. Mr. Lu is a scholar and thought leader, having published his ideas on philanthropy, business ethics, and collective sharing. He earned a doctorate in ethics from Hunan Normal University and has held guest professor posts at Peking University, Nanjing University, Beijing Normal University, and the Central University of Finance and Economics.

In 2014, he became the first mainland Chinese philanthropist to become a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, a learning network of leading philanthropic families across the world dedicated to fighting global poverty, coordinated by Synergos and cofounded by David Rockefeller. Mr. Lu also serves as vice chairman of the China Foundation Center.

Mr. Lu is committed to advancing concepts of modern philanthropy. His six characteristics of modern Chinese philanthropy include the following:
➤   Purity: having a pure goal in doing charity
➤   Law: operating under a rule of law-based environment
➤   Organized: having a well-organized system of core entities of philanthropy, including foundations and charitable organizations
➤   Foundations: ensuring that philanthropic foundations are sustainable
➤   Nongovernmental: ensuring that the main driving force is nongovernmental rather than governmental
➤   Voluntary: having enterprises and individuals participate in philanthropy under voluntary impulses and in independent ways

Charity is sharing, according to Mr. Lu. He believes that charity is a revolution of the wealthy, inspired in part by world-renowned philanthropist Bill Gates. In Lu Dezhi’s early years, he worked for years in various Hunan provincial government departments, explored China’s rural social security system, and took leadership roles in state-owned enterprises. For a significant part of his life, he devoted himself to private enterprises and learned about enterprise development, laws, and social responsibility. Upon the establishment of the Huamin Charity Foundation, Mr. Lu resigned his corporate roles and focused all his attention on researching theories about modern charity in China.

Similar to many Chinese philanthropists, Lu Dezhi admires old American business families like the Carnegies and the Rockefellers who have amassed fortunes through business while also creating far-reaching foundations and philanthropy networks in the United States. The successful examples, together with the emphasis of family in Confucianism, have inspired Lu Dezhi to also establish a family foundation in addition to Huamin Charity Foundation as a way to “sustain the development of the family” while contributing to the “common good.”

One of the most notable projects sponsored by the Huamin Charity Foundation is the Human Employment Assistance Project (HEAP). HEAP is an annual college student employment assistance program that combines cash assistance, confidence and skill development, and support to find employment and has become a well-recognized “branded” project. The most recent project in 2017 will financially support 3,000 low-income students and provide employment training to 6,000 fresh graduates at 30 colleges.

Beyond individual projects, Mr. Lu and his efforts to establish the Huamin Charity Foundation have had important conceptual and policy implications for how philanthropic foundations should operate in the China context. Basically, Lu Dezhi recognizes that the context of philanthropy in China is different from that in the United States. In the United States, there is already a very large non-profit apparatus and the government is not as involved as the Chinese government. The involvement of government in philanthropy is also one of the major characteristics of Chinese philanthropy. Therefore, Dr. Lu maintains that to further develop philanthropy in China, it is important to develop a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature, among human beings, and between human beings and the nation.

Mr. Lu is also a strong advocate for international collaboration, especially between China and the United States. He believes that philanthropists can play an important role in resolving social problems across the world. But in order to achieve better collaboration, it is important to establish a structure or network that allows philanthropists to better communicate with each other, understand each other, and facilitate potential collaboration opportunities.

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