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This section introduces the methodology of profile selection, sampling approach, data collection and analysis.

To develop profiles, the project team identified individual philanthropists who gave an average of at least USD 1 million (RMB 6.1 million) across at least three individual years between 2008 and 2014. The project team ultimately selected 29 Chinese American philanthropists and 35 philanthropists from Greater China. Network experts from the China Foundation Center, Tsinghua University, and Beijing Normal University were also consulted to develop the final list. Efforts were made to interview philanthropists or their key foundation staff when possible, and the project team conducted Internet searches of philanthropists and their associated funding entities using popular web search engines to gather background information. Depending on the availability of philanthropists and public sources, some profiles contain more details than others.

To analyze quantitative data, three databases were used. First, the Million Dollar List is a database of publicly announced charitable donations of USD 1 million (RMB 6.1 million) or more originating in the United States since 2000. Project team members searched individuals, couples, families, and private foundations with typical Chinese surnames to identify Chinese or Chinese American donors who had given at least USD 1 million (RMB 6.1 million). Secondly, for funding entities in the United States, Internal Revenue Service Form 990s were reviewed. The data provided a list of every IRS-recognized foundation nationwide between 2000 and 2014. From this comprehensive listing, Chinese American foundations were identified using a three-step process. First, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles proprietary ethnic name list was applied to both the name of each foundation and each foundation’s board of directors. The ethnic name list contains nearly 123,000 first, last, and middle names and their degree of association with numerous Asian American ethnic group affiliations, and is used to create a measure of ethnic group status in administrative data where none exists. Second, a subset of foundations was identified in which each met at least one of three conditions: (1) it had a Chinese name in its registered name, (2) it had a Chinese-named board chair, or (3) it had a board of directors that was 20% or more Chinese named. Finally, the resulting list of foundations was reviewed to ensure each was founded either by a Chinese American or used funds provided primarily by Chinese Americans. For example, while Dr. Benjamin K. Chu serves as chairman of The Commonwealth Fund’s board of directors, the foundation was established by Anna Harkness in 1918 using Harkness family assets. Thus, The Commonwealth Fund was excluded. Thirdly, for private foundations in mainland China, the project requested data directly from the China Foundation Center in Beijing. Data from 2010 to 2013 were reviewed for foundation’s founder names (individual or corporation), foundation type (individual, family, or corporate), and city of foundation headquarters. For Chinese philanthropists, network experts were also consulted to develop a final list.

A key intention of the project was to establish a minimum giving level of USD 1 million (RMB 6.1 million) and to identify philanthropists who had given at least that amount. The project team did not seek to establish an exhaustive list of philanthropists who met the criteria, nor did we try to account for the comprehensive or cumulative giving of a philanthropist in a given year or over their lifetime.

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